Cleaning the Skimmer and Pump Basket
Cleaning the skimmer and pump baskets regularly is important to the overall maintenance of your swimming pool. Clogged baskets make your pump have to work harder to try to cycle the water. This can decrease the life and stress the seals in your pump.
With water flow impeded by baskets full of debris, you are not getting the proper turnover rate to properly filter your pool water. For your pool to stay clean and clear the water must be filtered. With your skimmer and pumps baskets full of debris, you are not pulling as much water to the pump, and not filtering as much water as if the baskets were kept clean. This can have a negative effect on your pool maintenance.
Clean the skimmer and pump basket at least once a week by following the directions below:
Cleaning the Pump Basket
- Turn off pool cleaner pump and pool heater. If the heater was in operation you should wait 5-10 minutes for the heater to cool down before turning off the pool pump.
- Close skimmer and main drain valves.
- If the pool pump is located below the water level in the pool, then turn the filter valve to “closed”.
- Remove pump lid.
- Use a garden hose to wash the basket. Baskets become brittle over time and can break easily. It is easiest to clean a basket if the contents are allowed to completely dry. Having a spare pump basket to rotate with the dirty basket is the easiest way to perform this task.
- Inspect the pump basket for signs of damage and replace basket if needed.
- Re-install pump basket. Some baskets will twist-lock in place. Do not over-tighten the basket.
- Inspect pump lid and o-ring for cracks or damage and lubricate pump lid o-ring with petroleum jelly if it appears dry.
- Install pump lid and o-ring. Do not over-tighten.
- Make sure filter valve is in the “filter” position.
- Open the main drain valve all the way.
- Open the air relief valve on the pool filter.
- Turn pool pump on.
- Once the pump has caught a prime, open the remaining skimmer valves one at a time.
- When a steady stream of water is visible out of the air relief valve, close the valve.
- Turn pool cleaner pump and heater back on if desired.
Cleaning the Skimmer Basket:
Turn the pool pump off.
- Remove skimmer lid.
- Remove skimmer basket and empty out.
- Install the basket back into the skimmer.
- Install skimmer lid and turn the system back on.
Proper pool maintenance is a must to keep your pool water sparkling and clean. One of the most important pieces of equipment to maintain is the filter. There are three basic types of filtration systems – Sand, Cartridge and DE. Whichever system you have, you will need to be sure to clean and care for your filter.
A sand filter tank is made of metal, concrete or fiberglass and contains a thick bed of special-grade sand. While filtering, dirty water from the pool comes in through the filter’s inlet pipe, which leads to the water distribution head inside the tank. While gravity pulls the water down through the sand, tiny sand particles catch dirt and debris. At the bottom of the tank, the filtered water flows through the pick-up unit and out the outlet pipe.
If the water flow is slowed by dirt and debris, pressure gauges at the filter inlet and outlet give the pool owner an idea of the blockage level inside. If the inlet pipe has more pressure than the outlet pipe, there is collected debris in the sand. You will then need to baskwash the filter.
The coarseness of sand traps debris particles and over time, the sand will become smooth and round. This sand should be changed every five years. Contact a pool professional to change the sand or you can choose to do it yourself.
Swimming pool filter cartridges work by allowing water to pass through a very fine filter surface. This filter surface captures any impurities that attempt to pass through and hold them until you clean the filter cartridge or replace it.
Cartridge filters have more surface area than sand filters. This allows for fewer clogs and much easier maintenance. Cartridge filters also operate at a much lower pressure than sand. This causes less back pressure on the pump so you have a greater flow of water through the system.
This system is very easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive. Basic cartridge maintenance can be performed by simply rinsing off your cartridge with a garden hose or soaking them in detergent. However, the best way to ensure a clean and sparkling pool is to just simply replace them, which should be done every 3-5 years.
Diatomaceous Earth Filters
The DE pool filter differs from other types because of the filter media itself. In this case, the DE is the filter media. DE is an extremely fine powder that is produced by crushing the fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms. These ancient hard-shelled organisms were similar to algae, but the porous bone material makes an excellent filter when used in this way. The powdered skeletons coat a fabric-covered filter grid that keeps the DE itself from washing back into the pool.
Adding new DE is simple. It goes directly into the skimmer and the pump sucks the DE into place preparing it to do its job as more contaminants enter the water. You will be able to tell when there is enough DE in the system by watching the pressure gauge fall below 8 pounds or into the indicated safe zone on the pump. Backwashing and addition of new DE is required once or twice a year for residential pools.
Vacuuming Your Pool
Proper swimming pool maintenance requires that you vacuum your pool. Most pool owners opt for an automatic swimming pool cleaner, but some also choose to perform this task manually with basic cleaning equipment. Follow the technique below to manually vacuum an above ground or inground swimming pool.
- Attach the vacuum head and pole together. Then attach the vacuum hose to the vacuum head.
- Lower the vacuum head to the bottom of the pool and use a hand-over-hand method to sink the vacuum hose, working from the part attached to the head towards the free end. This will remove air from the hose. You can tell if you have done it properly when water runs out of the hose.
- Connect the free end of the hose to the opening at the back of the skimmer, after taking the skimmer basket off.
- At the filter slab, turn main control valve off, and turn the control valve attached to your skimmer towards the off position until you hear the pump activate. Then open it slightly until the pump can be heard running smoothly again.
- Move the vacuum like you would a real vacuum on a rug, in slow linear passes. If the pool is especially dirty, you may have to empty the pump strainer during this process.
- Do not lift the vacuum head until you have gone back to the filter slab and opened any of the valves you have closed.