If you have a pool you’ll already know that they require regular cleaning and maintenance. Messing around with inferior equipment costs time and takes the edge off what can be a pleasant few minutes spent around the pool every day or two. Buy the best equipment you can afford and it will pay off in the long run.
The broom is a vital tool for pool cleaning, especially for pools with a rough interior finish such as pebbles. The bristles dislodge algae from the tiniest of crevices, and if you brush often the algae won’t have time to discolour the finish permanently.
Be especially careful if you have a vinyl liner pool. Choose a broom head with no sharp edges and long bristles that can reach into corners without the broom head making contact with the liner.
I’ve seen and made some bizarre handles for poolcleaning gear over the years, but the best thing to do by far is to use a good-quality aluminium extension handle. They’re lightweight, durable, and compact when closed, enormous when telescoped, and able to accept many different accessories.
Look for a scoop that will effectively pick up leaves, sticks and other objects from the bottom of the pool. A scoop needs a thin edge to do that, and a large leaf bag – not so that you can fill it right up (it would be too heavy), but to accommodate large pieces of debris such as fern leaves, sticks, and even small pool toys. Scoops can be subjected to significant strain, so chose one that’s strongly built yet lightweight. Check them regularly, as bolts and nuts can tend to work loose. Repair tears in the net when they first appear with a strong waterproof adhesive.
A pool cleaner is essential for outdoor pools. It’s amazing how much debris lands in a pool in a day, even if no one is swimming. A pool cleaner won’t keep your pool perfectly clean, but having one (even in a pool surrounded by heavy vegetation) means that you’ll only need to spend a few minutes tidying up before taking the plunge on the weekend.
Most pool cleaners have only one moving part. These are generally replaced when they wear out although the various skirts, hoses and other components do wear out and break down in the sun and chemicals, and will need to be replaced regularly – especially in abrasive pebble-finished pools.
Like pool cleaners, these save you stacks of time through the week, but more importantly, they help keep the water in clean, healthy condition. For small chlorinated-pools you can use a floating chlorine dispenser to keep a constant level of stabilised chlorine in the water. These are ideal if you’re unable to check the pool daily - especially in hot weather. Salt-water chlorinators are available that automatically dose the pool with chlorine by converting the salt (sodium chloride) into free chlorine by using an electrolytic cell. For completely fresh water there are ozone units. Ozone is a powerful disinfectant that leaves no residue or taste in the water. The ozone is contained in a tube and doesn’t survive in the water long enough to reach the pool itself, so the pool water is completely fresh. All of these units require monitoring, adjusting and cleaning, but this is insignificant compared to dosing a pool daily with chlorine.
As with most things, you get what you pay for with pool chemicals. The higher-quality ones are purer, more concentrated and more effective. Keep that pool balanced and you won’t have to use too much of any chemical - they can be expensive! Keep them somewhere out of the weather and sunlight where the kids can’t get access to them. Don’t keep empty containers and never mix chemicals unless you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Thermometers may seem like an optional extra, but they make the difference between slipping comfortably into the water and losing your breath from the shock of the sudden cold. There are many fun, floating thermometers that can be tied-up in a convenient place, or simply floated in the skimmer box.
Pool testing kits are an essential item. The easiest to use are the kits that have little strips that simply dip in the pool water to measure pH, total alkalinity and chlorine levels - no mixing or counting drops of indicator fluid. Water balance is important for many reasons, but probably the most important is the effect of the water on skin and eyes. When the pH is way off your swimmers will have sore eyes, burnt skin, ear problems and so on. Test and adjust the water at least once a week so it doesn’t get too far off the scale.
Pool chairs, floats and toys of all shapes and sizes are great fun. To make them last as long as possible in the harsh pool environment, rinse them in fresh water, dry and store out of the direct sunlight. Don’t leave objects floating in the pool. Apart from deteriorating quickly, they attract leaves and debris, so the skimmer and vacuum can’t remove them. Remember that contaminants in the pool are using up chlorine and imbalancing the water’s pH.
With all that spare time you’ll want a comfortable spot to relax. Poolside is the place to be with friends in summer, so get the biggest table that comfortably fits. My preference is timber because of the way it looks, feels and for its durability. It does, however, require regular maintenance and refinishing to keep it looking and feeling good.
There’s never been a wider range of outdoor furniture in aluminium, stainless steel, cast iron, plastics and composites so you’ll have no trouble finding something to suit your poolside. Shade is vital if you want to be comfortable outdoors, so set up an umbrella or two around the pool - at least one at the table and another well away from it, so the kids can go there and give you a little peace. Most umbrellas can be inserted into the table, but with an umbrella base you can position the umbrella for maximum shade as the sun gets lower in the sky. Some umbrellas have a cantilevered base for even more adjustability and versatility.
Peace of mind
It’s hard to relax if you’re worried, so learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) so you’ll have confidence that you can handle an emergency. Make sure the pool gates are in working order and that they aren’t propped open. Nothing beats constant supervision of children, but every parent knows that you can’t watch them 24/7.
Try to never have glass – especially clear glass – around the swimming pool. Broken glass is practically impossible to find in a swimming pool, and the smallest piece can cause severe injury. There are many stylish alternatives in metal, plastics or wood.
For more tips for in and around the home go to home-dzine.co.za