Pool Cleaning FAQs in Scottsdale, AZ

Articles, Cleaning Tips

Frequently Asked QuestionsMy pool has a bathtub ring…Floating oils, dirt & waste can combine to form a scum line around the pool; this is why tile, an easily cleanable surface, is placed at water level around the perimeter of the pool. There are many tile cleanser products available which are applied with a scrubbing pad or brush and a little elbow grease. Abrasive cleaners work well, but should be avoided in vinyl lined pools, or pools using products such as Baquacil. On vinyl pools use a vinyl cleaner such as Armor All Cleaner (not conditioner), and on Baquacil treated pools, use a cleanser made without chlorine.

Cleaning the scum inside of the skimmer frequently will help to keep the tile cleaner, as scum sticks itself to clean plastic. Using enzyme products can reduce or eliminate the amount of attention to the scum line as the work to “eat” scum producing substances.

The floor of my pool is covered in leaves…Put on your back brace, heavy leaf removal can be hard work. At this stage, vacuuming through the skimmer or using automatic pool cleaners are very ineffective methods; both will clog up too quickly. The method of choice for the pool janitor is using a leaf rake attached to a telescopic pole. Slowly push the leaf rake along the floor, scooping up leaves into the bag. Work the pool in sections, trying not to create leaf-stirring currents. It takes practice and a strong back, but it can be very effective.

Another method is the use of a Leaf Bagger, a product by Jandy Industries. Attached to a telescopic pole and a garden hose, the Leaf Bagger uses venturi action to suck leaves up into a large attached bag as you roll the unit over the leaves. It’s slow going, but you won’t have to stop to empty the bag too often.

My pool always has stuff floating on top…Firstly, you want to check the influent valving before the pump. We recommends that the skimmer pull in about 75% of the total flow into the pump. For example, if your pool has two influent valves, a main drain and a skimmer, close the main drain halfway while leaving the skimmer valve fully open. If your pool has an attached spa, crack the spa drain valve open slightly, or leave it closed altogether.

If you haven’t purchased a leaf rake, or a “drag bag”, as I sometimes call them, and are holding on to that flat “dip & flip” net that your builder gave you; you are creating your own hell. I strongly encourage the purchase of a nice leaf rake. There are also chemical products which are used to keep surface tension high, moving small debris to the sides of the pool. Another possible problem could be the condition of the weir in the skimmer; you know, that flapper gate thing. Make sure it is operating properly so that it creates a draw or “waterfall” into the skimmer basket. Also check that the water level is not so high that it is above the opening of the skimmer.

Lastly, you may need to trim some of those trees and bushes near the pool. My pool, for example, was specifically built with no vegetation anywhere within wind shot!

What about automatic cleaners?Automatic cleaners are terrific time-savers, and they also help to distribute and circulate the water while (some of them) decreasing the work load required of the filter. There is a wide range of cleaners available, for all types of pools and budgets. Cleaners run from $99.99 to $2,999.99. The more expensive models will vacuum more debris, more efficiently and without compromising the filter system. Refer to the automatic swimming pool cleaner section for available cleaners from Poolcenter.com.

Do I need to brush my pool regularly?Your pool brush attaches to the telescopic pole, and is most commonly used to brush algae off of the walls. Brushing your pool will keep dirt from occupying the small pores and starting small organic farms. Steel bristled brushes, called algae brushes, are very effective on, you guessed it, algae. Do not use a steel brush on a vinyl lined pool.

Done regularly, brushing can also reduce the time spent vacuuming. Brush from the shallow end towards the deep end in overlapping strokes. Circle the pool towards the main drain, and much of the dirt will be swept up into the filter in this manner.

How do I vacuum my pool?Unless you have an automatic cleaner, an in-floor cleaning system or an automatic cover, or sometimes even if you do…you’ll need to manually vacuum the debris. And here’s how…

Roll your vacuum hose straight along the length of the pool. Attach one of the cuffed ends onto your vacuum head which is attached to your telescopic pole. Extend the pole and place the head (with the hose attached) into the water so that it rests on the floor of the pool. Point the head across the pool so that it doesn’t roll down the slope towards the deep end and prop the pole up against the pool’s edge.

From the point where the hose surfaces, begin pushing the hose straight down into the water, hand over hand, until you reach the other end. This is filling the hose up with water so there is no air in it which may cause difficulties for the pump when you attach the hose to the skimmer. Another method of “priming the hose” is to hold the cuffed end firmly over a return fitting to force the air out of the end attached to the vacuum head.

Once the hose is primed, remove the skimmer lid and the basket and stick the hose end into the hole at the bottom of the skimmer. If it sucks it in tightly, great. If not, you may need a threaded hose adapter to achieve a tight fit. Now, the suction that was at the hole is now at the vacuum head. Do not lift the head out of the water with the hose attached, or you will fill the hose with air, losing prime, and possibly drawing air into the pump.

Roll the vacuum head on the floor, over the debris, and VOILA!, you’re vacuuming. The suction will gradually decrease as the pump basket fills with vacuumed debris. When the pressure gauge drops and/or suction is sufficiently decreased, stop the pump and empty the basket. If pressure rises significantly, stop the pump and backwash the filter. Continue in this manner until the pool is clean.

I get no suction when I try to vacuum…Most systems require adjustment to the valving to increase flow in the line through which you are vacuuming. You may want to close all the valves except the one on the line you are vacuuming through. On some systems, closing too many suction valves will cause the pump to cavitate, which occurs when it is starved for water. If the pump begins to shudder and make interesting noises, open the valves until this ceases.

If your suction still sucks, check that the filter is clean and the pump basket has been cleaned. Before vacuuming debris into the pump basket, always make sure the basket is locked into place properly so that debris cannot bypass it and clog the impeller.

My pump loses prime when I try to vacuum…If you notice that your pump begins to draw in air when you connect the hose into the skimmer, possibly drawing in so much air that the pump loses its prime of water, it probably originates from an old, dry rotted hose with holes in it, or a cavitating pump drawing air in through the plumbing or valving.

To check the hose, hold one end tightly against your thigh while you make a tight seal with the other end around your mouth. Blow into the hose; you should feel very strong resistance. If you can blow easily, the hose has one or more holes or splits in it, and you may be able to hear the air being drawn through when it’s hooked up for vacuuming.

When a vacuum hose is hooked into the skimmer and perhaps some valves are closed to increase suction, we are increasing the “vacuum pressure” in the line, creating a front pressure on the pump. This can cause the pump to draw air in places it normally wouldn’t under lower pressure. This situation should be corrected by locating the air source and making appropriate repairs. (Repair info, see pumps)

When I vacuum, the dirt passes right through…When vacuuming fine, silty dirt or debris, you may notice a cloudy stream of dirt coming back into the pool via the return. This can continue slowly, long after you stop vacuuming, and can create a frustrating cycle for the pool janitor at your pool. More common in sand filters than in other types, the dirt can be pushed right through the filter, especially one which may need a sand replacement. Indeed, this situation may indicate internal filter problems. It may also indicate a problem with the filter control valve. Old, loose multiport or push-pull valves can allow water to bypass the filter and return to the pool unfiltered. For more info on valves, click on link.

Another possibility is that the pump is oversized for the filter, and is pushing the water so hard, it pushes dirt right through the filter medium. A sand filter actually works a little better when it’s a little dirty; the added dirt helps to trap more dirt, so don’t backwash prior to vacuuming a pool with a sand filter. You may also use filter aids, added through the skimmer, which provide a gelatinous layer on top of the sand bed to help trap dirt. Another tip is to vacuum to waste, especially if the debris is a fine silt that can clog the filter quickly. To do this, overfill the pool first, and set the multiport valve to the ‘Drain’/ ‘Vacuum to Waste’ position. Roll out the backwash hose, and vacuum the dirt (and water) right out of the pool…to waste.

My coping and deck have become discolored…Leaves and dirt may stain concrete surfaces or, after removing the winter cover, you may see a pronounced color difference. Pressure washing can remove these soils and restore original brightness to concrete and coping stones. A light acid washing on the coping stones also works very well, and algae or mildew can be lifted by scrubbing in a paste of calcium hypochlorite. Read all precautions before working with these dangerous chemicals in this manner.

My tiles have crusty white deposits…

Called efflorescence, this calcium deposit usually originates from grout or setting mortar. To remove, scrape it off the tile/wall, and/or acid wash it. There are products available such as CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust remover), which can be purchased at your local hardware store, will work well for such tasks. Another method for removing calcium deposits is the pumice stone. Pumice is a light porous glassy lava stone that can be rubbed over a pool stain to remove it. You can get a pumice stone that can attach to your tele-pole or a pumice stone that has a handle you can swim with. Works great on cement stains, berry stains and paint.

My plaster is stained…Dirt, leaf tannins, rust and other minerals can stain the finish of your plastered pool. If the stain is organic; left from a leaf or acorn for example, a small amount of granular chlorine added at that location and allowed to settle on the stain will usually remove it instantly. Other non-organic stains will not be removed by chlorine. Do not place chlorine tablets directly into the pool…they will stain and etch the plaster.

If chlorine doesn’t work, acid usually will. Draining and acid washing will remove a thin layer of plaster (and stains), exposing fresh, new looking plaster beneath. A No-Drain acid wash can also be performed, with varying results. For localized stains , a stain master tool can be used to deliver acid directly to the stain. Stains can also be sanded with pumice stones or wet/dry sandpaper.

Generally speaking, you will have a beautiful and safe pool if you hire a professional pool cleaning service in Scottsdale, AZ.

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