Top Tips for Preparing for Pool Season
Are you ready to make a splash in 2019? That is: have you prepped your outdoor swimming pool for the season?
Whether you're a longtime or a new pool owner, getting your pool ready and safe for the season is the best way of getting the max enjoyment from one of the most popular outdoor activities here in Southern California.
With that in mind, here's a quick rundown on how to prep for the pool season in 7 easy steps.
- First, get your gear together. That means the tools you'll need, like a skimmer net and spare parts, and protective clothing for handling chemicals. (You'd be surprised by how many people report to the ER with pool chemical injuries). And be sure to allow yourself enough time both to do the initial tasks and for subsequent filtration and checks.
- If you covered your pool during winter, you'll need to drain any surface water, remove any yard debris that's blown there and then remove the cover. Let it dry before sprinkling it with an alkaline powder, folding and storing it off-ground.
- Visually inspect the pool structure for damage and leaks. Include liners, tiling, ladders and diving boards.
- Don't empty your pool. Top up the water level with a hose if required.
- Clean the filter and add required chemicals. Check chemical levels using a test kit. If your pool uses chlorine, the level should be around 3 parts per million. You may need to shock the pool (adding chlorine to get rid of chloramine impurities). For a useful video on how to do this, see https://youtu.be/-NVMTEnpUh0
The pH balance should be around 7.5 (though some experts recommend slightly lower at around 7.3) . Use an anti-metal additive to eliminate residues and then run the filter for a couple of hours.
- Remove any plugs you installed for winter. Reconnect any equipment you detached, including drain plugs, filter, pump, baskets and so on.
- Run and test the system, leaving the filter system operating for at least 24 hours. Run the pool vacuum to remove any debris. Clean the filter every day until the water is clear.
Too much trouble? Consider calling in a professional to do the job for you! Or, at the least, have an expert test and adjust your water clarity and chemicals balance.
Pool Safety Checklist
Think your pool preps are finished? Guess again! Just as important as having your pool structure and water in primo condition, is ensuring you have all the relevant safety arrangements in place.
That applies both to before the pool is in use and whenever it's being used by youngsters.
Unfortunately, California has the third highest death rate from swimming pool accidents in the US (after Texas and Florida). And according to the American Red Cross, 7 out of 10 young children who drown do so when they sneak into pools without adults knowing.
With that in mind, the first and most crucial task is to make sure your pool is surrounded by barriers and a self-closing, self-latching gate that can be locked. This might be dense hedging, railings or other fencing.
State legal requirements in California were updated in 2018 and call for fencing to be at least 4ft or 5ft high (depending on the type of fence), with the bottom no more than two inches off the ground.
You'll find a good summary of the updated California Pool Safety Law (2018) here: https://tinyurl.com/cal-pool-law
Here are some other things you'll need to add to your pool safety checklist:
- Tell your children and any young visitors, never to go near the pool without your permissions.
- Always have a designated water watcher while kids are in or around the pool and stay in arm's reach of very young tots.
- Install and regularly check anti-entrapment covers and safety release systems on drains and suction outlets.
- Teach your children how to swim. And learn how to do CPR in case of accidents, for both children and adults.
- If you're having a pool party, discourage drinking-and-swimming
Even if you already have fencing and other safety arrangements in place, you should always inspect them as well as reminding everyone of your everyday safety rules.
Pool Maintenance -- The Three Cs
Maintaining your pool and its surrounding environment in good order is essential for both long-term usage and safety.
For example, if you've been adding chemicals to the water, make sure your hose down the pool deck thoroughly before use.
According to the commercially-operated site Swim University (swimuniversity.com), which makes its money by promoting product sales on Amazon, your basic maintenance steps should include checks and action on four key areas -- the water; the wall or liner; the filter system, and the skimmers and returns.
These should be monitored regularly for impurity or damage.
The foundation of proper pool maintenance, the organization says, are the "Three Cs" --
- Circulation , to avoid cloudy water and algae. Run you system for at least 12 hours a day and frequently backwash the filter.
- Cleaning by skimming and vacuuming at least once a week. Consider using an automatic pool cleaner to save time and effort.
- Chemistry , using a testing kit to monitor the composition of the water to ensure the right pH level (see above), alkalinity (100 to 150 ppm) and sanitizer levels (follow manufacturers' instructions)
Even if you have a regular pool maintenance service, you should still make time for routine checks and safety steps.
Is My Swimming Pool Insured?
Clients often ask us if their pool or outdoor spa is covered under their homeowners' insurance policy.
The answer is that, in most cases, these installations are covered as "other structures" against the same perils as a homeowners policy. Coverage is usually capped at around 10 percent of the value of your home and includes liability protection in case someone is injured in or around the pool.
However, there are some exceptions to this type of coverage, so check your policy wording or contact us at Aldrich Taylor Insurance for more information and answers to your questions.
In the meantime, have a great summer in and around your pool!