Vacations should be fun and relaxing. It’s a nice to return to from that vacation and jump into your pool to cool off after hours out on the road. But what if you walk into your backyard only to find that your sparkling blue pool is now a murky, algae infested swamp? Here’s how to prevent that from happening to you this summer.
First of all don’t rely on friends or neighbors. They just know how to do it! Especially if they don’t own a pool. And odds are they’re going to forget.
If your pool isn’t already operating on a timer, get one. That is the biggest time saver you can have. Have the pool run about 12 hours daily, every day. If you don’t have a timer and can’t get one before leaving on vacation, let the pool run continually 24-7. The little extra you’ll spend in electricity will be well worth it.
Make sure the water is in good balance. The best pool water balance parameters are: pH 7.4 – 7.6, Total alkalinity 100 – 140 ppm, Calcium hardness about 200 – 250 ppm. If the water balance is adjusted properly before your vacation, you shouldn’t have to worry about them slipping too far even if you and your family are gone for up to 2 weeks.
The day before departure vacuum and thoroughly clean the pool. Brush, vacuum and clean all of the pool’s surfaces. Backwash the sand filter or thoroughly rinse the cartridge or DE (diatomaceous filter grids). Don’t forget to recharge the DE filter for proper operation. Make sure that you have added enough slow dissolving chlorine tablets or sticks into the skimmer or automatic chlorinator. If you typically use granular chlorine to sanitize your swimming pool, consider using the slow dissolving products in your pool’s skimmer otherwise your pool will be out of chlorine and out of algae and bacteria fighting protection. Figure on using about one pound of slow dissolving chlorine per about 10,000 gallons or any part of that (i.e., a 14,000 gallon pool should use a full 2 pounds rather than 1.4 pounds) per every 5 days to be on the safe side.
Just before leaving, add a double dose of chlorine shock to the pool AND a double dose of a good quality algaecide. Try to stay away from the gallon types of algaecides, they’re just too watered down do any good. Look for and use an algaecide that has at least 40% active ingredients or more. Copper based algaecides are good for treating algae problems, but not the best when used as a preventative product.
Pools that are treated with biguanide products such as Baquacil or BioGuard Soft Swim should follow the water balancing routine mentioned above then top off the sanitizer level to 40 – 50 ppm, add additional hydrogen peroxide shock (Baqua Shock or Soft Swim “C”) so that the level is “high” on the test strip, and add a double dose of the biguanide system’s algaecide.
If you normally use a solar blanket, consider removing it from the pool or at the least, properly and thoroughly chemically clean the solar blanket. Many pool water quality issues are the result of algae and bacteria “bio-films” growing on the water side of the solar blanket. You don’t even know they are there until you feel that little bit of slime. That’s all that it takes to start a pool problem that could be a major mess and clean up when you return from a great vacation.
One last thing to consider before going on vacation; if you’re not already using a borate based product in your pool such as BioGuard Optimizer Plus or Proteam Supreme, use it. Borates are great algae preventing chemicals. When used at the proper levels in the pool (about 40 – 60 ppm in chlorine or bromine treated pools and 50 – 80 ppm in biguanide treated pools), algae blooms are virtually eliminated. Borates also add to the buffering ability of the water so that the pH and total alkalinity aren’t as affected by large amounts of rain or other larger top-offs of water into the pool. Pool owners and swimmers also find that their skin, eyes and hair feel better in pool water that contains borates (eye doctors use eye rinses that contain borates).
Enjoy your vacation and come home to a nice clean, sparkling blue, crystal clear pool!