Safety and Maintenance Tips to Help You Enjoy Your Pool

When summer is in full swing it's pool season. "Backyard swimming pools can be great summer fun, but they require maintenance and attention to safety," says the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®. "A swimming pool also can add to your home's resale value." To help you have a safe and fun summer in your pool, the members of the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS® encourages you to consider the following information.

Routine pool maintenance requires between four and eight hours each week during the peak swimming season. Some pool owners choose to hire a professional pool maintenance company. A full-service contract should include weekly inspections and cleaning. As with any contract, review it carefully and sign it only after you fully understand all points. If you plan to handle the day-to-day maintenance yourself, hire pool professionals twice a year; once when the pool is readied for use and again when you close the pool for the winter.

For routine maintenance, you'll need some basic equipment including a vacuum cleaner, brushes, leaf skimmer and water test kit. A swimming pool manufacturer's catalog will offer you these items as well as a number of other accessories to make your maintenance easier.

There are two types of vacuum cleaners. The first works from a vacuum inlet as part of the filter system. It is hooked to the vacuum fitting and is pushed slowly around the bottom of the pool to pull in water, dirt and debris. Leaves and other large objects are caught in the pump strainer and smaller particles are removed in the filter before the clear water is returned to the pool.

The second type of cleaner, a jet cleaner, is frequently used in pools without a vacuum fitting. Similar to a carpet sweeper, it is easily assembled and moves rapidly across the pool surface. The movement of the water pulls dirt and debris off the bottom into a filter bag.

Brushes are required for cleaning pool walls. A nylon brush is recommended for general cleaning and scrubbing, and a stainless steel brush is recommended for removing algae, rust stains and entrenched dirt.

The leaf skimmer is a frame with a plastic mesh skimming net attached. Skimmers are available in a variety of sizes and styles.

Correct maintenance of the pool water is the most important element in pool care. Prevention, rather than cure, is the key to a chemically safe and attractive pool. A regular system of cleaning and purifying, under normal conditions, will prevent any serious problems from developing. Carefully follow all instructions on pool chemicals and call a pool maintenance service or store with any questions.

A clean pool makes a safer pool, but there are also other aspects of safety to consider. Check your with your city hall to ensure that your pool meets all local safety ordinances. If there are no prescribed ordinances, consider instituting the following safety features.

Place a locking fence or gate around the pool. Check it regularly, particularly at night, to ensure the pool area is secure. The fence or gate should be built so that a small child could not slip through. An adult should always be present when small children are in the pool area. It is wise to have members of your family certified in lifesaving and CPR. Check with a local chapter of the Red Cross for courses in both life saving techniques and first aid.

Your pool safety equipment should include a long pole, a ring buoy attached to a strong rope and an easily accessible first aid kit. If the deck seems slippery, have it treated with a nonslip paint containing grit. Determine pool safety rules for your family and their guests and stick to them.

Finally, although pool parties are great fun, remember that alcohol and swimming don't mix. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's research shows that up to seventy percent (70%) of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults involve the use of alcohol. Don't let your summer fun turn tragic!

To get the most enjoyment out of your pool, keep in mind these maintenance and safety suggestions from the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®.

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