1. I take care of my own pool and everything has been fine until recently when I started having problems with algae. I have tablets in the floater so everything should be fine, right?
It is not uncommon to get a small patch or two of algae once in a while. Proper chlorine levels (measured in parts-per-million, or PPM) are essential in order to kill any algae spores before the get a stronghold on pool. Even when using tablets, you still need to check the water with a test kit. The liquid drop test kits are easy to use and far more accurate than the paper test strips. We recommend that during the summer here in the Phoenix area, that you keep a 5 PPM level of chlorine in pool.
2. I have measured the chlorine in pool and it is over 5 PPM. I even shocked it with the powder chlorine. It was OK for a while, but now the algae is back. Should I add algaecide?
Algaecide may or may not help; and some types of algaecide can make the pool even worse. If you want to try it, only use copper-based algaecide and follow directions on label. More is not better.
If you have been using nothing but tablet chlorine in your pool for a couple seasons and especially if it is a small pool, your pool may be suffering from over-stabilization. The tablet chlorine has a compound called stabilizer, that helps chlorine in the tablet last longer. The stabilizer does not go away, and too much buildup of it in pool will actually render the chlorine ineffective. The only way to lower the stabilizer is to drain the pool. We always recommend using a combination of liquid and tablet chlorine. During the peak summer, try a gallon of liquid chlorine and a quart of muriatic acid for pH control. Use one tablet in floater. If you can keep 5PPM doing that, you’re golden. If the chlorine is still low, add two tabs only if necessary.
3. I notice the tablets don’t dissolve much in winter. Should I still use them?
No. Pools need little chlorine Dec-Feb and the tablets don’t dissolve well anyway. Instead, just try a cup of liquid chlorine and a ¼ cup muriatic acid (DO NOT MIX TOGETHER> ADD EACH SEPARATELY TO YOUR POOL.) This well help keep your stabilizer level down.
4. I have heard that saltwater pools are better and easier to maintain. Is this true?
Saltwater pools are definitely easier on the skin and can be less irritating. Salt systems make their own chlorine using a low level of salt and a small DC voltage in a “cell”. The salt needed for the process also acts as a buffer to your skin so you don’t get that drying effect of the chlorine. Salt pools often have far less odor. The water can also have a much softer, smoother feel to it. The water still needs to be properly balanced and especially the pH with normal doses of muriatic acid. We here at HydroBlue Pools think that salt systems are the way to go for the Phoenix area as pools tend to use so much chlorine here. You do get a nicer swimming experience and eliminate the regular chlorine purchases.
5. How often should I backwash or clean my filter?
For a sand or DE filter you want to backwash when the pressure on your pressure gauge reads 10 PSI over your starting clean pressure. Even though DE filters can be back-washed, we actually recommend instead that they are disassembled 2-3 times annually and given a complete cleaning. Back-washing of DE filters really doesn’t get enough of the dirt out of them. Cartridge filter likewise should be given a complete cleaning 2-3 times annually.