Pool Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

1. Vacuuming large debris through a skimmer without using a leaf trap.

Leaf traps contain an inner bag that is used to contain debris. Next to the skimmer, all you do is place it at the end of your vacuum hose. This will prevent nasty clogs from plaguing your vacuum.

It’s fine to forgo a leaf trap if you’re only vacuuming debris that you know is small enough to avoid clogging the skimmer line, but if you’re trying to get bigger items like large amounts of damp leaves, sticks, or other pieces of big yard waste, you’re asking for trouble.

2. Vacuuming algae or large amounts of dirt with multi-port valve set in “Filter” position.

Using the “filter” position is fine if you want to touch up a pool in pretty good condition already. We use this setting all the time when doing touch-ups. But if you want to clean out a pool with a large quantity of dust, you’ll need to set the multi-port valve to handle “waste” instead.

The same goes if your pool has a lot of dirt or algae buildup on it. Using the “filter” setting here will cause the debris and dirt to blow back towards the pool. It’s common to see pool water that’s stained bright green because people have mistakenly tossed the algae and dirt back.

3. Placing an automatic pool cleaner into a very dirty pool.

Take a look at the mistake we just mentioned above, because this mistake causes the same results. You’ll end up with an unsightly green tinge on your pool water due to the particles that have been returned to the pool.

Dolphin, Baracuda, and Polaris… all great automatic cleaners to use on a pool. However, if you need to do some heavy-duty cleaning, you’ll need a traditional vacuum to do the job.

4. Accidentally draining the pool through the backwash line.

It is not difficult to accidentally drain your pool by letting the filter valve gasket fail on your multi-port valve. This often happens if your sand filter experiences backwash.

Luckily, this mistake is easy to prevent. If you use a flat backwash hose – that is, one that can roll out on the floor – you can check if water is backwashing. Do this when your filter valve has been set in the “filter” position. If you can spot backwashing, turn the pump off immediately and deal with the valve leak as soon as possible.

Suppose you use a hard PVC backwash line or one that leads underground; it’s harder to spot leaks by eye. Usually, hard pipes have an open end at the edge of the street or curb. You can examine to see if water is leaking out of it. Pay attention to whether the trickle is temporary or non-stop.

We prefer to plumb PVC unions into horizontal segments of the backwash line. We do this near the valve to examine it yourself for leaks. You can make sure that no water is trickling out at this connection. If water is trickling, that’s a sure sign of a leak.

5. Not brushing the pool.

Yes, this sounds like a really basic demand, but brushing the pool can be incredibly important. Brushes can be even better than vacuum heads for keeping your pool in good condition.

The best advice is to brush the pool weekly when the pool is in regular use. This means the sides and the floor of the pool. When brushing, do so in the direction of the main drain. Brushes are superior to vacuums because you can’t scrub with a vacuum! Not scrubbing will allow algae to flourish after cleanings.

PVC bristle brushes are preferred for frequent cleanings. Stainless-steel ones exist, but they are extremely abrasive and shouldn’t be used regularly. Choose a brush with an aluminum handle.

6. Buying a leaf skimmer instead of a leaf rake.

If you look in the truck of any pool servicer, chances are, leaf skimmers will be conspicuously absent. In its place? The trusty leaf rake. Leaf rakes can do anything the same as a leaf skimmer and even more.

Have you ever grabbed a handful of leaves off the pool floor with your leaf skimmer? It’s a pretty hard feat.

7. Allowing your skimmer basket to “float up”.

New skimmer baskets include a weight that weighs the whole thing down underwater. This keeps it in its proper place. Some people choose to keep using their baskets even without the weight. This is a mistake! The basket will float upwards when the pump is off and stay there even when the pump is on. This leads to debris traveling under the basket instead of into the basket, a common source of clogging.

There’s an easy fix if you don’t weigh your basket anymore. Just get a heavy rock to weigh the basket down. The important thing is ensuring that the rock is bigger than the hole located on the skimmer, so a crack in the basket won’t lead to the rock being sucked into the PVC line as well! When choosing a replacement weight, it’s a bad idea to use anything that can rust over time or degrade.

8. Vacuuming pool with filter valve in “backwash” position.

When you vacuum with the valve set to “filter,” debris is going to travel right where you need it to – into the filter and on top of the sand bed.

If you do the same thing with the “backwash” setting, you’ll end up with dirt under the sand instead of in the filter. You can continue cleaning, but you’ll run into a big problem when changing the valve back to “filter”. When you do this, all the dirt is going to blow right back to your pool!

9. Ignoring the leaves and dirt in an open winter pool.

In the winter, pools should be covered. However, if you choose not to cover your pool, you need to remove debris regularly. This is probably best done weekly if leaves are shedding rapidly. Once that slows down, you can switch to monthly cleanings. It’s also good to vacuum the pool and get rid of any piling dust.

If you don’t maintain the pool regularly, the debris can stain the pool. You might also have a bad time come springtime.

10. Failing to use a wire brush on black algae.

Black algae are notoriously difficult to remove. However, taking prompt action can save you a lot of hassle. To prevent it, first, make sure that the water level is properly balanced.

Unfortunately, algae can still build up when your water levels are taken care of. The issue with black algae is that it can’t scrub off even with a pool brush!
You need a good stainless steel pool brush to deal with black algae. Don’t cheap out and try to use a different brush because a non-stainless steel brush will cause additional stains instead of removing the algae.

Never use a stainless steel brush on a pool that isn’t made of gunite or cement. Other pools can’t handle stainless steel scrubbing and will incur damage. Stainless steel isn’t removing algae from pool surfaces. Interestingly, the metal is breaking the algae’s protective shell to be killed with chemicals.

The next step is to use an algaecide that targets black algae. Robb Black Robacide is an example, available in 32-ounce containers. Read the directions on the label and proceed.

Dealing with algae in its early stages can mean eliminating all the algae in one treatment. If you don’t, you could need a few treatments to succeed. If algae buildup is extreme, you might need to drain the whole pool and use acid to kill off the black algae.

11. Hooking up a vacuum hose full of air.

Vacuum hoses should be primed before connecting to vacuum heads and connected to skimmer suction. If not, the pump will take the air out of the vacuum hose. This will result in pump failure. To avoid this, make sure the hose is submerged in water so it can fill before you start to vacuum.

Begin by attaching the vacuum hose to the head. Then, submerge the vacuum head in the deep water of your pool. Slowly submerge the hose underwater, beginning with the head and gradually including the open end. If you prime the vacuum properly, you can get water to pour from the other open side of the hose.

Now, you can attach the hose to your skimmer.

12. Turning off the pump before dumping a full skimmer basket.

If your skimmer doesn’t have a weir, the skimmer basket must be dumped before turning off the pump. Weir refers to a plastic flap that can close when the pump shuts off. This keeps debris confined to the skimmer. If your pump shuts off and no weir is in place, debris will be released to the pool.

13. Not making sure the pump is priming properly after emptying the pump basket.

You know the routine! Empty the pump basket, tighten the pump lid, and switch the pump on. After this, the pump should start moving water within 15 seconds. You should visibly notice water traveling through the PVC ground pipe.

If this doesn’t happen, you’ll need to grab a bucket and fill it with water to try pouring manually into the pump pot. Once this is done, promptly replace the lid and turn the pump on again.

This is called “priming the pump,” which should get water traveling into the pump once again. You can always visually confirm that the process has succeeded. Without a properly primed pump, damage can accumulate due to the heat levels.

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