Maintenance of swimming pool facilities -- private or public -- is a critical component in providing a safe and healthy recreational experience.
There are three distinct types of maintenance: routine, preventative, and seasonal. Routine maintenance addresses activities that need to be conducted on a daily basis. Preventative maintenance is necessary to prevent problems occurring as a result of poor housekeeping or equipment failure. Seasonal maintenance protects the facility and equipment when the swimming season is over (shut-down), and eases the start-up for the new season.
The following tips serve as a general overview of important maintenance issues. This list is by no means all-inclusive.
The following tips are from Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc.:
Routine maintenance helps keep the pool and spa system operating safely and efficiently. It is recommended that a regular checklist be followed in making routine inspections. It is important to:
- Make sure that each suction outlet has a cover that is installed correctly, screwed down, unbroken, and certified for that application.
- Make sure that all skimmer covers and weirs are in place, properly fastened and unbroken.
- Make sure that the filter pressure gauge is in good working condition, and that the filter pressure is within the operating range specified in your filter owner's manual.
- Make sure that the pump and filter O-rings are sealing properly, and in good condition.
- Bleed off accumulated air from the system, as described in your owner's manual.
- Empty the skimmer baskets and the pump strainer basket of debris.
- Remove any debris or obstructions from the main drain cover.
- Remove obstructions and combustibles from around the pump motor air vents and heater top vents.
- Make sure all chemicals are properly stored (away from equipment).
- Make sure the heater is functioning properly.
- Make sure there is no gas smell around the heater.
- Make sure all grounding and bonding wires are connected, and in good condition.
- Make sure all wiring connections are tight and clean, and all wiring and electrical equipment are in good condition.
- Check the condition of the gaskets regularly if your pool has a deck-mounted junction box -- and replace gaskets as needed -- to make sure the box cannot be penetrated by water.
- Check all equipment to make sure it is in good repair and functioning properly.
The following tips are from the Certified Pool-Spa Operator Handbook from NSPF:
- Check plumbing in bathhouse and restroom facilities for leaks. Verify that benches or other seating is properly secured and in good repair.
- Replace broken or missing lights.
- Clean pool, deck, bathhouse, and other facilities.
- Perform required chemical tests (disinfection, pH, TA, temperature, etc.).
- Check to see that safety equipment is in place.
- Verify that showers, faucets, and toilets are working and in good repair.
Commitment to a program of preventative maintenance can prevent long-term equipment and facility deterioration. Different aspects of preventative maintenance should be scheduled weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
Manufacturers supply detailed preventative maintenance requirements for specific equipment. This information is usually found in the I/O manual.
Facility preventative maintenance requirements can often be determined by conducting an inspection of the facility. "When conducting an inspection, use the senses of touch, smell, sight, and sound. Feel for vibration or heat. Take note of any strange odors. Look for missing or broken equipment. Listen for unusual sounds such as a pump cavitating" (Certified Pool-Spa Operator Handbook, NSPF).
The tips in this section are from Certified Pool-Spa Operator Handbook from NSPF.
Weather is an important factor in the maintenance of pools and spas. In colder areas, a full winterization program may be necessary, while only a partial winterization may be necessary in milder climates. The development of seasonal maintenance programs must take into consideration both the protection of the facility and equipment, as well as the ease of start-up for the next season.
A good winterization program will prevent damage to the facility, including the pool, equipment, buildings, and grounds. A good program will:
- Prevent damage caused by hydrostatic pressure
- Prevent rust and general wear
- Reduce the chance for vandalism
- Inventory and store equipment in a proper manner
- Use a checklist system for disassembling and assembling equipment
In milder climates, it is possible to leave water in the pool and circulate it on a regular basis. For colder areas, the pool may need to be drained, and the circulation system winterized by blowing the water out of the pipes, plugging the inlets and outlets, and filling the piping with antifreeze to prevent freezing of the pipes. Do not use automotive antifreeze because it contains toxic ingredients. Use only antifreeze designed for use in pools and spas.
Seasonal opening checklist
The NSPF Certified Pool-Spa Operators Handbook includes an excellent checklist for seasonal opening of a pool. Some of the items on that checklist are geared toward the owner of the facility, while others are aimed at maintenance activities that need to be completed prior to opening the pool or spa. Some of these include:
- Check for winter damage and vandalism.
- Check to see that repairs and/or renovations scheduled during the off-season were completed.
- Remove the winter pool cover. Clean and store it away for the season.
- Empty all debris from the pool.
- Check for proper operation of the hydrostatic relief valve.
- Drain the pool with a trash pump.
- Rinse down the pool. Flush out gutters or skimmers.
- Sandblast, acid-wash, chlorine wash, recoat, repaint, replaster, fiberglass, patch liner tears, or otherwise prepare the pool surface.
- Remove winterizing plugs and expansion blocks. Uncap the inlets.
- Lubricate all metal parts and hardware.
- Replace gutter drain gates, bolts, gaskets, inlets, and plugs.
- Bolt main drain grates to the pool bottom and secure all anti-entrapment covers.
- Clean and replace skimmer baskets, weirs, and lids.
- Reassemble circulation pipes, pump, and motor.
- Drain antifreeze from pipes and flush with water.
- Pressure test circulation lines to make sure the pipes have not broken during the off-season. Repair any broken or leaking pipes.
- Service/reinstall flow meters, pressure and vacuum gauges, thermometers, and humidity meters.
- Reinstall the hair and lint baskets. Replace gaskets/o-rings. Make sure lid seals tightly.
- Check that all ground wires are connected.
- Clean filter media or elements. Replace if necessary.
- Reinstall chemical feeders, controllers, probes and other feed pumps.
- Reinstall ladders, rails, guard chairs, flags and stanchions.
Seasonal closing checklist
The NSPF Certified Pool-Spa Operators Handbook also includes an excellent checklist for seasonal closing of a pool. Some of the maintenance activities undertaken during closing are:
- Adjust chemical balance of the pool water to recommended levels.
- Treat water with appropriate products to minimize algae, bacteria, or damage to surfaces.
- Empty and store skimmer baskets and hair and lint traps for the winter.
- Drain sand filters. Remove cartridges or D.E. filter elements.
- Lower water level to below the skimmers and return lines for plaster pools. Remove water from recirculation lines.
- Open all pump room valves and loosen the lid from the hair and link skimmer. However, if the filter is below pool water level, close the valves leading from the pool to the filter.
- Grease all plugs and threads.
- Add an antifreeze formulated specifically for recreational water applications to the pipes to prevent bursting. Do not use automotive antifreeze.
- Plug skimmer or gutter lines. Winterize with antifreeze or expansion blocks.
- Make sure hydrostatic relief valve is operational.
- Drain and protect pumps.
- Turn off heater gas supply, gas valves, and pilot lights.
- Properly store any unused chemicals as described on their label to prevent containers breaking and the mixing of potentially incompatible chemicals.
- Disconnect, clean, and store the chemical feeders, controllers, and other chemical feed pumps.
- Clean and protect pressure gauges, flowmeters, thermometers, and humidity meters.
- Remove deck equipment, hardware, and non-permanent objects such as ladders, rails, slides, guard chairs, starting blocks, drinking fountains, handicapped lifts, portable ramps, clocks, weirs, and safety equipment to prevent vandalism. Store in a clearly marked, identifiable, weather protected location. Cap all exposed deck sockets.
- Remove diving boards. Store the boards indoors, upside down and flat so they will not warp.
- Turn off water supply to restroom showers, sinks and toilets. Drain the pipes and add antifreeze. Remove showerheads and drinking fountain handles. Open hose bibs and fill spouts.
Information from the National Swimming Pool Foundation, and Pentair Pool Products is used with permission from these organizations. Their cooperation is greatly appreciated.