The 5 Keys to Good Pool Care

What do you want? Sparkling blue, crystal clear pool water!

The  5 Keys to Pool Care are easy to follow and for the average swimming  pool, will only take an hour or less to complete each week.


Each of the keys work synergistically with the others to provide you with the best method of swimming pool care.  

Whether you  have a custom designed 35,000 gallon pool with rock slides and  fountains or a simple 5,000 gallon aboveground pool for the kids or grandkids, proper care is essential for everyone's health and safety as  well as long life for the pool and its equipment.  

These are the 5 Keys to Good Pool Care:

  1. Circulation
  2. Filtration
  3. Cleaning
  4. Testing
  5. Water Chemistry & Chemicals

Let's look at each of them in some detail...


Key #1 - Circulation

EVERYTHING needs good Circulation!

Good  circulation in your pool means much more than filtering water - it's  getting all of the water in the pool moving & through the filter.


Circulation is more than filter or pump turnover;  its removing dead spots - you know those areas where algae always seems  to grow or where dirt & debris always seems to accumulate.  The better the water is circulating, the better the filtration, the cleaner the pool.  In fact it typically takes more than FOUR turnovers to get all of the water completely filtered.

The picture shows how much of your pool water is typically filtered in a normal filter turnover.  Turnovers  are normally determined by "how much" water can go through the filter  system - not what is actually filtered.  A "typical" turnover is in the  range of 4 - 6 hours depending on horse power of the pump & motor,  pipe size, valves, and other plumbing system features. It takes about 4 turnovers to properly circulate & filter 98% of your pool's water!


Why does it take so much time & effort?   Mainly, it's due to dead spots.  Dead spots are those areas of the pool  where the water may not completely move or circulate.  Dead spots are  the "birthing grounds" for algae & biofilms resulting in green or  cloudy water. These are the most common areas of would be dead spots: 

  • the bottom half of the pool especially in pools without main or bottom drains
  • corners of rectangular pools
  • the "exact" center of almost all round & most oval pools - especially aboveground pools
  • behind ladders and / or stairs
  • areas directly adjacent to pool skimmers & return fittings
  • a combination of all of the above

Here are the best cures to poor pool circulation & dead spots.  And most of the ideas won't even cost you a penny!

  • Use the pool.  Swim, splash, play. Do laps.  Invite some friends over to have some fun.  Regular use of your pool is  the   single best thing you can do to give it better circulation.
  • Brush & vacuum.  It's like brushing &  flossing your teeth.  You know you have to do it.  Brushing the pool  walls at least once a week (preferably twice) prevents algae &  biofilms from setting roots and becoming a real headache in very little  time.  For some "uber-brushing" consider a Wall Whale   brush.  You'll get up to 10 times the brushing force with the effort of one hand.
  • Be sure to point those eyeballs & return  jets DOWN.  You don't want to see ripples on top of the water. You want  circulation throughout the pool.  Consider installing a  Circulator instead of the standard eyeball - can provide up to 1500% better circulation in your pool.  Awesome new product.
  • Run the filter a minimum of 8 hours daily.  Every day.  To save money & electricity, use a timer to turn the pump on & off and use multiple settings to spread out  the time to catch some of those "off-peak" electrical hours.

One turnover only filters about 42% of the water in your pool!
One turnover only filters about 42% of the water in your pool!

Key #2 - Filtration

Run that Filter!

Now that the water is circulating properly, good  filtration removes dirt, debris & even certain large bacteria &  algae.  Sand filters remove the largest particles, Cartridge filters remove smaller particles & DE filters remove the smallest.  Let's look at the 3 types of filters & how they work. Sand, Cartridge & DE  (diatomaceous earth).


Sand filters. All sand filters have 3  things in common as to their performance: 1. they all use sand (some  older filters may use a combination of sand & gravel). 2. Dirty  water enters in the top of the filter tank & flows down through the  sand which filters out the dirt & debris (down to a size of about 25  - 40 microns - visible dirt & debris).  3. Cleaner, filtered water  is collected at the bottom of the filter tank & pushed out of the  filter & returned to the pool.

Sand filters have been the most common filters used  in the swimming pool industry until recently.  These filters are great  when using non-chlorine sanitizing products such as biguanides (i.e.  BioGuard Soft Swim or Arch Chemicals Baquacil).  For most people, sand  filters will perform a very adequate job.

Cartridge Filters.  Like sand filters, all  cartridge filters have 3 things in common: 1. They all use some type of  pleated fiber cartridge. 2. Dirty water enters in to the filter tank  & flows through the cartridge which filters out the dirt &  debris (down to a size of about 10 - 20 microns - much smaller, but  still visible dirt & debris & some algae). 3. Cleaner, filtered  water is collected on the other side of the cartridge & pushed out  of the filter & returned to the pool.  Some folks notice a cleaner  difference compared to sand filters.  

Cartridge filters can be used with any  pool sanitizing system.  Because of their relatively large filter  surface area (the pleated fiber material can be as large as several  hundred square feet as compared to under 4 square feet in the largest  residential sand filter), cartridge filters generally take a long time  to get dirty between cleanings. A properly sized filter may only need to  be cleaned 2 or 3 times per season.  When sized right, less vacuuming  may be needed due to the finer filtration.

As with all filters, sizing it properly is critical.   Never under size.  Never.  This is a true case for the axiom, "you get what you pay for."  An undersized cartridge filter MAY initially do the  job, according to the sizing charts, but in short order you will be  disappointed in the performance of the filter and in the amount of work  you now need to do.

DE Filters. DE or Diatomaceous Earth  filters offer the finest filtration available.  DE filters use grids or  "fingers" called septums that hold DE (fossilized microorganisms) that has the properties of a fine but gritty powder.  DE filters have the  ability to filter particles as small as 2 - 5 microns in size (the size  of algae & even some large bacteria).   

Water goes into the filter & passes through the DE coated septum.  Under a microscope, DE looks like little sponges with  tiny holes & nooks & crannies that trap all kinds of stuff.   The clean water is then collected & returned back to your pool.

In many places you can or are urged to use DE replacements, such as Aqua Pearl, which are lighter in weight & more biodegradable than DE. Especially compared to sand filters, you don't  get just filtered water, you get polished water.

DE filters eliminate many pool care problems because  of the superior filtration.  A DE filter has the capability to take a  dark green, algae encrusted pool & turn it into a crystal clear paradise in a matter of a few days. Many pool owners notice how less  often they "need" to vacuum the pool.  However, there is more care  needed in maintaining a DE filter.

ALL FILTERS: Filter your water for 8 to 12 hours (minimum, preferably 24 hours) every day from  opening to closing. Use a timer so that you don't forget and save money.  By the way, for the best filtration, be sure to chemically clean your  filter about twice each season to remove accumulations of greases, oils  & other swimmer and environmental waste that clog your pool filter  & that routine backwashing & rinsing will NOT remove. 

Click here for 'How to..." care for your filter.

How a Sand Filter works... unfiltered water goes in, cleaned water comes out
How a Sand Filter works... unfiltered water goes in, cleaned water comes out

Key #3 - Cleaning

EVERYTHING requires cleaning!

We know that you purchased your pool for enjoyment & relaxation, but like all of our toys, we have to maintain them.  Simple, regular cleaning helps circulation, filtration & water chemistry!  

By cleaning areas underwater, the circulation is greatly improved, the  filter can pick up more stuff or it has less to pick up, and with proper  cleaning, less chemicals are used. 

Here's what Pool cleaning involves:

  • Regular vacuuming
  • Regular brushing of the walls & water line
  • Dealing with leaves & other debris that "blow in" from everywhere
  • Chemical cleaning of the filter
  • Regular cleaning of the liner or pool tiles
  • Regular cleaning of the solar blanket and / or winter cover

A final area to look at cleaning is the pool  filtering system - the entire system - especially the plumbing lines.   The understanding of biofilms in pool systems is major source of many  problems including algae and cloudy water.  Click here for more  information on biofilms & how to  remove biofilms

Skim & remove heavy debris as needed, Vacuum & brush weekly.
Skim & remove heavy debris as needed, Vacuum & brush weekly.

Key #4 - Water Testing

Don't rely on just how the water looks...

Test your pool water at least 2 times per week &  have it professionally  tested & analyzed monthly for best results.  Testing keeps you up to  date on what's going on with your pool water.  Don't rely solely on how  the water looks.  

In fact most of the SERIOUS water problems that we see  (skin rashes, colored hair, pool surface etching, etc.) occur when the  water is "crystal clear" about the middle of the swimming season.  Make  pH, total alkalinity & calcium hardness adjustments promptly.   You'll protect the filter system, the pool surfaces, get better chlorine  & sanitizer efficiency and virtually eliminate red eyes & dry  skin. 

Weekly test for sanitizer levels, pH & Total Alkalinity. Monthly checks of Calcium Hardness & metals, keep your pool not only looking great, but protects the pool, its equipment & most importantly YOU from unseen changes that will cost more to fix rather than prevent.

At PoolSpaGuru, we offer you onsite, in-home Computerized Water Testing & Analysis utilizing the most up to date technology & information. Really on almost 50 years of specialized Pool Water care expertise. Why trust your pool's health to someone who's just following computer prompts?

PoolSpaGuru performs 10 basic or standard tests and can perform up to 15 additional (including metals, bacteria & demand tests) depending on your level of care or need.

Find the right Test kit for your needs right here

Testing is EASY! Do it!
Testing is EASY! Do it!

Key #5 - Water Chemistry & Chemicals

NOW we can deal with the Pool Chemistry & Chemicals

Pool care water chemistry IS easy - just 4 simple steps

  1. Maintain a constant level of sanitizer in the pool. Slow dissolving chlorine sticks or tablets; proper level of biguanide (BioGuard Soft Swim); bromine; salt level.
  2. Shock the pool weekly or at a minimum every 2 weeks (biguanides shock every 3 to 4 weeks). Shocking oxidizes unfilterable wastes & breaks up chloramines that lead to cloudy  water, algae, smelly pools & red eyes.
  3. Add algicide weekly or at least every 2 weeks to swimming pools to prevent algae growth.  A good quality algicide (concentrates sold in  quart sizes) backs up the chlorine or sanitizer in case it is exhausted  due to heavy bather load or heavy rain.
  4. Maintain good water balance. Without good water balance, the sanitizer doesn't work properly or efficiently.  The  water   can become cloudy (high pH) or aggressive (low pH - water is  often times really clear).  You'll also protect your friends & family who use your pool. 

These 4 steps are 4 of the 5 Pillars of Good Pool Water Care. Click here for details

You  don't have to be a certified chemist to operate your home swimming  pool!  All PoolSpaGuru water care programs are pool owner & consumer friendly.  

No matter which one you choose was designed with your safety & enjoyment in mind.  As long as you can "follow the program," pool water care is easy &  shouldn't take much more than 5 - 10 minutes (including clean up) each week to accomplish. 

When it comes to Swimming Pool Chemicals & Chemistry, you get what you pay for...
When it comes to Swimming Pool Chemicals & Chemistry, you get what you pay for...