Variable Speed Pumps
FloPro VS Pool Pump
Whether you’ve just installed a pool or you’re moving into a house that’s got one, you’re in for a treat! Having a pool is a fun way to stay cool, exercise and bond with your family.
But backyard pools also come with responsibilities, and if you’re not prepared for them, you could be in for a rude shock.
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of eight things you need to know as a first-time pool owner, including how to run your pool pump, when to balance your chemicals, how often to clean your filter and why you need to keep a pool maintenance schedule.
Not only will our tips help you navigate the exciting new world of pool ownership, but they’ll also give you the confidence to keep your pool in peak condition all year round.
Your pump is responsible for circulating water and keeping your pool clean. It does this by pulling water from the pool, pushing it through your filter, heater and chlorinator (if you’ve got one), and then returning it to the pool again. This process achieves three goals: it removes debris from the pool and distributes your sanitiser. (If you don't yet know the difference between a pump and a filter, please refer to this article.)
To make sure your water is always circulating, run your pool pump for 8–10 hours a day in the summer. If you forget to run it or you only run it for short periods, it can disrupt the chemical balance and cause bacteria or algae to multiply. This can pose a risk to swimmers and damage your pool or equipment. If you’re worried about the cost, upgrade to a variable speed pump. It circulates water at lower speeds and for a fraction of the cost of traditional single speed pumps.
However, if you find that your pool is cloudy, either because of heavy use, storms or poor maintenance, you may need to run your pump for longer, usually about 24 hours, or at least until the water runs clear again. In winter, when it’s covered and not being used, you can reduce its operation to 4–6 hours a day.
Top Tip: There will be areas in your pool – like on your steps or behind your ladder – where water won’t circulate properly. These are known as dead zones. Telltale signs are stains on the wall, stagnant water, mosquitos or algae growth. To avoid this, point your return jets at these areas (you can do this by hand) so water can start flowing there.
Pool filters work with your pool pump to keep your pool water clear. The process goes something like this. The pool pump pushes water through the filter, and particles are captured (either by paper pleats if you’ve got a cartridge filter or glass/sand if you’ve got a media filter) before the water is returned to the pool.
As you might guess, there’s only so much a filter can catch before it stops doing its job properly, so it needs to be cleaned regularly. If you’ve got a cartridge filter, rinse it every month with a garden hose until the debris has been removed. Alternatively, check the filter gauge. If the reading is 8–10 PSI (pound per square inch) over the base reading, it’s time for a clean.
If you’ve got a media filter, the process is a little different. You set the filter valve to the backwash position and rinse the media until the water runs clear. Typically, sand will require fortnightly washing, while recycled glass media can be backwashed every 2–3 months. However, if your PSI reading is high due to a high particle load, you can backwash earlier.
Top Tip: To ensure optimal performance, replace your cartridge filter every 3–5 years (or sooner if you see damage to the pleats, bands or end caps). Media filters can last up to ten years as long as you replace the media. Sand should be changed every five years and glass every 8–10 years.
Pool chemistry can seem intimidating at first, but if you’ve got a testing kit and you know what to look out for, it’s fairly easy to keep your pool water balanced. The chemical factors you need to check are chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness. Let’s take a closer look.
Whether you like it or not, swimmers and environmental debris introduce dirt and bacteria into your pool. This can make your water unbalanced, cloudy and unsafe for swimmers. To avoid this, you need a strong disinfectant – chlorine.
There are a few ways you can add chlorine to your pool. You can use liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets, which you can add to a floating dispenser or automatic chlorinator. Another way is to use a saltwater chlorinator. If you’ve got one or you’re considering buying one, it can make sanitising your pool a lot easier. Instead of handling bottles of chlorine, you just add salt (sodium chloride) to the pool. After it’s dissolved, your pump pushes the water through the chlorinator, where chloride ions turn into gas and dissolve in the water, producing chlorine. This then returns to your pool and keeps it sanitised and healthy.
Whatever method you use, chlorine levels should always be kept between 1–3 ppm (parts per million) for optimal sanitation. If the level is too low, add more chlorine or adjust your chlorinator’s output. If the level is too high, allow the chlorine to naturally dissolve (the sun will do this for you) or reduce your chlorinator’s output. But whatever you do, don’t swim in the water until the levels are back to normal again!
The pH levels in your pool show how acidic or basic your pool water is. Ideally, you should aim for a reading of 7.2–7.6. When it’s above 7.6, your chlorine can become ineffective, leading to cloudy pool water. The best way to correct this is with pH Down. On the other hand, if your pH is too low, it can corrode your pool’s surface and fittings. In that case, add some pH Up.
Alkalinity refers to the total concentration of dissolved alkaline substances in your pool water. This amount should be between 100–200 ppm. If it’s too low, it can lead to corrosion of pool surfaces, skin irritation and green pool water. If it’s too high, it can cause scaling, cloudy pool water and high pH. Not a great scenario either way! Low levels can be corrected with Alkalinity Up and high levels with pH Down.
The amount of calcium in your water is critical to the health of your pool. Natural evaporation, chemical imbalances, hard water and high temperatures can all increase calcium hardness, leading to scaling and filter damage. On the other hand, low levels can cause corrosion of your pool surfaces. Aim for calcium hardness levels of 200–300 ppm. If you need to lower the levels, dilute your pool water, use flocculant or add Calcium Down. To raise levels, use Calcium Up.
Filters do a great job of filtering particles out of your pool, but they don’t catch everything – which is why you also need a pool cleaner. Depending on your budget and lifestyle, here are three types of cleaners you can try:
A manual cleaner is ideal if you’re on a budget or you need to manually remove debris from your pool. It’s lightweight and simple to use and consists of a telescopic pole with a vacuum head and hose. Once it’s assembled, the cleaner is moved across the pool in even strokes until the debris is gone. The only downside is that it can be strenuous and time-consuming, so make sure you’re up for the task!
Suction pool cleaners
Suction pool cleaners work with your existing filtration system to provide hands-free cleaning. Many are geared, which means they can reverse out of tight corners and climb your pool walls to give you a thorough clean. Depending on the model and your pool size, they can take 4–6 hours to do the job. On the plus side, you can keep them at the bottom of your pool and activate them when required.
Robotic pool cleaners
Compared to suction pool cleaners, robotic cleaners don’t rely on the pool’s filtration system to run. They have a low-voltage motor that provides quiet, energy-efficient cleaning for your pool. Some even have smart technology that allows them to map your pool and clean it thoroughly in a fraction of the time. While they’re the most expensive option on this list, their speed and energy efficiency can save you money further down the track.
Pro Tip: When cleaning your pool, remember to empty the skimmer and pump baskets. Clogged baskets can affect circulation, reduce water quality and damage your equipment. If your skimmer basket is cracked, replace it immediately to prevent debris from re-entering your pool.
It’s not unusual for water levels to drop because of natural evaporation, backwashing and splashing. When this happens, it can lead to poor filtration and unbalanced water. Or worse, the skimmer will suck air into the system and overheat your pump, leading to expensive repairs or replacements.
To avoid this, keep your water level halfway up the skimmer recess. If you notice a drop, top up the pool with your garden hose. If you’re afraid of overfilling it (and causing a whole new set of problems!), use a pool water leveller that attaches to your hose and tops up your water automatically.
Top Tip: If you notice dramatic or frequent drops that aren’t related to evaporation or splashing, check for leaks in your pool. See our guide on how to find and fix pool leaks.
You won’t be able to keep your pool at its best unless you stick to a weekly pool maintenance schedule. Allocate a day, possibly on the weekend, when you have time to check the chemical balance, empty the baskets, run the cleaner, etc. If the pool is used often or you have bad weather, you may have to do this more often. Lastly, keep a pool diary so you can track everything, including tasks that are performed less frequently, like replacing filter media or upgrading an old pool pump.
One of the biggest mistakes that people new to pool ownership often make is trying to prolong the life of their pool and equipment by putting off repairs. Much like a car, once a problem has made itself apparent, you need to repair it before that small problem makes something much larger also break. It is understandable that unexpected repair and renovation bills can be daunting, but the only thing you will achieve by putting off repairs is that you end up paying more in the long run.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you! When you’ve got a pool, you’re going to rack up some high water, energy and chemical bills, particularly during summer. According to Canstar Blue, the average running cost of a pool is between $660 and $1000 a year. And this doesn’t include heating, servicing or replacing parts and equipment.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to make your pool more economical. You can do this by using a cover, upgrading to a variable speed pump and minimising light use. But it doesn’t change the fact that your bills are going to be higher, so keep this in mind before you install or buy a house with a pool.
New pools are often built to comply with current safety standards. But if you’re buying or renting a house with an old or unused pool, there’s a chance it might not be compliant. Make sure it has the following: a safety certificate, council registration, a visible CPR sign and fencing that complies with Australian standards. If these requirements aren’t met, you could face a fine. In NSW, non-compliance can carry a penalty of up to $5000.
Pool ownership doesn’t have to be daunting when you’re a newbie. As long as you keep a pool maintenance schedule and fix problems as they arise, you’ll be able to keep your pool dive-ready all year round. Here’s a summary of what you need to remember:
We also recommend that immediately after you get a new pool, you should find a reputable maintenance and repair company. Pool service companies help take care of your swimming pool for you and offer professional advice to help you maintain your pool on your own. The little pointers you get from the pool experts can really go a long way. If you need more information about pool maintenance or you want to find an qualified pool service company, contact one of our authorised dealers.
Variable Speed Pumps
FloPro VS Pool Pump
Pure Balance Pool
Pure Protection Pool
Stabilised Pool Chlorine Tablets
Pure Perfection Pool
Pure Perfection Pool
All In One Stain Remover
EL-Series Salt Chlorinator