By Erik J. Martin
ARE YOU RELYING on a professional to ensure a
foolproof pool? Maybe it’s time to stop paying big
bucks for routine maintenance tasks you can learn
to do yourself.
Jason Linhart did, and he saves up to $1,000 a
year. Six years ago, Linhart bought a house with a
large in-ground pool that had defiantly turned
green. He hired three different pool service companies to evaluate the problem; they all suggested
expensive remedies that he found unacceptable.
“I figured, how hard can it be to fix the problem myself? So I started doing research and surfing the Internet. I learned that you really can do
better yourself [by investing] only a couple minutes a day on maintenance,” says Linhart, who recommends visiting the forum and tutorials at www.
Tom Gamull, a Costco member in Atlanta
with an in-ground pool, says he was spending
$200 monthly on professional maintenance and as
much as $300 for chemicals. Now that he’s become
a do-it-yourself pool owner, he saves as much as
$450 a month.
Aside from cutting costs, another advantage of
DIY maintenance is “having enough knowledge
that, if something goes wrong and your pool service
isn’t available, it’s possible for you to take care of the
issue,” says Sal Paldino, vice president of Pool
Services Technologies Inc. and a Costco member
from Escondido, California.
At minimum, it’s important to understand
how your plumbing and equipment work, as well
as the basics of water chemistry, says Willan
Johnson, founder and CEO of VivoPools, a pool
maintenance provider with headquarters in
Monrovia, California. That means testing water
regularly via easy-to-use strips or dropper kits and,
The Costco Connection
Members will find pool-cleaning chemicals, including chlorinating tablets and shock solution, at
Costco and on Costco.com.
Save money by maintaining that pool yourself
© ALFONSO DE TOMÃ¡S / AGE FOTOSTOCK
based on your pool’s water volume, adding sufficient amounts of chlorine and other chemicals
necessary to prevent bacteria and algae from forming (see sidebar for tips).
Whether you buy chlorine in granulated, liquid or tablet form, “it’s not the brand that’s important but the product’s active ingredients and overall
amount of available chlorine. At least 90 percent is
preferred,” notes Johnson. He says the simplest
route is to buy compressed trichlor tabs that
include three needed chemicals in one: chlorine, a
stabilizer and an acidic compound. You’ll also
need shock (highly concentrated chlorine) to
quickly raise your pool’s chlorine levels every week
or two and after pool parties and heavy rains, and,
if yellow-green stuff starts to grow, an algaecide.
If you live in a seasonally colder climate, it’s
probably best to hire a pro who can teach you how
to close the pool for the winter and reopen it next
year yourself. For in-ground pools, winterizing
requires purchasing an air compressor to blow water
out and add antifreeze to your plumbing lines,
draining about a third of the water out, adding
shock and installing a winter tarp.
OR AS NEEDED
“If you are closing an aboveground pool, also
drain half the water out in the fall if you live in the
North and place a floating inner tube in the middle
to absorb the expansion of ice,” suggests Jeffrey M.
Schulte, the Indialantic, Florida–based author of
How to Clean and Maintain Your Own Swimming
Pool (CreateSpace, 2012, not available at Costco).
Lisa Sleezer, owner of Maddy’s Pool Supply &
Service in Gilbert, Arizona, says there are many free
and valuable resources owners can turn to for training and troubleshooting, including local pool stores
and online forums.
“Owners can also read books and watch
You Tube videos, but they need to make sure those
resources are intended for their climate and environment,” she says. C
© BNPDESIGNSTUDIO / AGE FOTOSTOCK
WANT TO POCKET more
green without turning your
water green? Get in the
habit of performing these
pool chores yourself.
Add chlorine and other
chemicals as needed, preferably after the sun has set for
Run the pool filtration
system at least six to eight
hours a day to filter every gallon at least once daily. (If electricity rates are cheaper after
sundown, run it overnight.)
Empty the skimmer and
Test the water’s pH
(goal: 7. 4 to 7. 6), alkalinity
(goal: 80 to 120 ppm), cyanuric acid (goal: 30 to 70 ppm)
and chlorine (goal: 2 to 4
ppm) levels and adjust the
chemicals you administer
Brush down and vacuum
the pool’s floor and walls to
prevent dirt and scale buildup
and algae growth.
Be sure the filter is running at the recommended
pressure; backwash to flush
the system and decrease
Have your water chemistry professionally tested (free
at many pool stores).
Drain your pool, thoroughly clean it and replace
with fresh water.
Inspect and diagnostically test your pump, motor,
filter, and electric and plumbing systems; follow manufacturers’ recommended
maintenance schedules for
replacing seals and gaskets,
lubricating O rings, and
changing and cleaning filters.
Costco member Erik J. Martin is a Chicago-area
Consider replacing an
older pump with a new vari-able-speed pump that can
save hundreds on your electric bills every year.—EJM