Maintaining Your Above Ground Pool Year Round

Getting a pool is about more than just purchasing the frame and filling it. You’ll also need to perform general pool maintenance year-round. Staying on top of maintenance will help your pool last longer and keep the water healthier and better for you and your family.

It’s more than just skimming the top of the water occasionally. Maintaining your pool isn’t a difficult job, but you will need to spend some time to keep it in good condition.

This guide covers everything you need to know about regular pool maintenance so you can decide if owning a pool is right for you.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to perform all this pool maintenance for yourself. You might be able to hire a professional company to perform some or all of your pool maintenance.

We’ll also discuss the differences in maintenance needs for the different seasons as we go along. That way you know everything you need for good pool maintenance.

Regular Maintenance While Your Pool is Open

Depending on where you live your pool season may be very different. If you have a heater for your pool, that can also extend your active pool season. So, instead of breaking down your pool maintenance by season or month, we’ve broken the maintenance down into offseason and active season.

Most of your maintenance is going to need to happen during the active season, or when you’re actively using and swimming in your pool.

Off-season maintenance is the basic maintenance you’ll need to perform even when your pool isn’t in use, and when you’re getting ready to open the pool for the next active season. We’ll cover that in a moment.

Skimming

Skimming is the most basic form of maintenance that you’ll need to perform. If you live somewhere with a lot of trees you may need to skim your pool every day for leaves, seeds, and other airborne debris.

If you don’t have very many trees in your neighborhood you might be able to get away with only skimming every couple of days.

This process shouldn’t take very long. You’ll just need a pool net. Use the net to skim off any floating debris and discard.

The most important part of skimming your pool is minimizing how much litter gets on the bottom of the pool where you’ll have to vacuum it later.

Best Pool Skimmer
Startgoods Heavy Duty Pool Net

Vacuuming

Even the best skimmers will need to vacuum the pool from time to time. Vacuuming helps to pick up the sand, dirt, and any debris that’s sunk to the bottom of the pool.

That debris may not be harmful by itself, but it’s a potential food source for bacteria and other harmful contaminants.

Even if that debris doesn’t invite bacteria into your pool, it can still make the water cloudy and make it feel scummy. Slimy water is no fun to swim in, so it’s important to make sure you’re vacuuming enough to keep the scum at the bottom of your pool liner.

dolphin automatic pool cleaner
Dolphin Automatic Pool Cleaner

There are two kinds of vacuum you can get, automatic and manual. The automatic vacuums will cover the whole bottom of the pool liner in a random pattern. A manual vacuum takes a little more effort on your part, but you can also control the path of the vacuum a little more closely to make sure it gets all the worst debris right away.

Depending on how much debris your pool picks up you may need to vacuum the whole thing once a week. If you live somewhere with minimal debris or aren’t using your pool as much, you might be able to vacuum less often.

Brushing the Pool Sides

You need to brush the sides right before your vacuum to make vacuuming more effective. There usually isn’t much dust or grit on the sides of the pool, but there is just enough to make a difference in how clean your pool is.

Scrubbing the sides of your pool can also help algae and slim growth, keeping your pool more of a joy to swim in.

There are pool brushes and sponges that can help you keep your pool cleaner, but this is also a job that can be done by hand or with other common cleaning tools.

The Wall Whale Pool Brush
The Wall Whale Pool Brush

PH Maintenance

It’s also important to consider the PH of your pool. Both high and low PH can cause problems and even skin damage and eye irritation. Your PH needs to be as close to 7 (the natural PH of pure water) as possible.

There are several PH balancing chemicals you can use to keep your PH in check. You should check the PH on your pool at least once a week to make sure it’s in safe ranges.

pH swimming pool test strips
JNW Direct Pool & Spa Test Strips

Cleaning Filters

Your filter maintenance depends on a lot on what kind of filter you have, so we’re going to cover the most common varieties.

Sand Filters:

Sand filters should be backwashed to help keep them a little cleaner. You’ll also need to treat the sand with a sand cleaner every few months. The sand itself will need to be replaced after a few years of regular use.

Alternatively, you can upgrade the sand to glass in a sand filter, and the glass will never need to be replaced.

Palmetto sand filters for pools
Palmetto Works in All Pool Sand Filters

Cartridge Filters:

Take the cartridge out and spray it off with a hose until it looks cleaner.

DE Filters:

DE filters also need to be backwashed, just like sand filters. However, you’ll also need to add additional DE every time you clean out the filter.

Pool Heater Maintenance:

You won’t need to perform too much regular maintenance on your pool heater, but it should get a professional maintenance service every few years.

Water Level:

You’ll need to refill your pool occasionally from natural evaporation as well as people getting in and out of the pool and some natural loss from cleaning.

Refilling your pool is usually less of a regular task, so you should check it every time your skim the surface. Make sure the water is above any automatic skimmer baskets or filter intake valves.

Shocking the Pool:

You’ll also occasionally need to add chlorine or another shocking agent to your pool to help take care of bacteria, waste products, and any other contaminants in your pool. Shocking can also help to beat back algae growth.

There are chlorinated and non-chlorinated pool shocking products available, but you should always make sure to follow the directions of the product closely. Every formulation is just a little different and will need different precautions to keep your pool safe and you and your family healthy.

Some people shock their pools once a week, while other people will shock their pools significantly less often. It all depends on how your pool is doing, how much it’s used, and how many waste products naturally get into your pool.

Off-Season Pool Maintenance

There is also some limited maintenance you’ll need to perform even in the off-season.

Lowering the Water Level

One of the first things you’ll need to do before you close up your pool for the season is to lower the water level. It should be about 2/3s full for the winter so that the water has room to swell and freeze without damaging the liner. Lowering the water also helps reduce the stress on your pool liner so that it lasts longer.

Clearing Piping

The pipes to your filter and any other automatic tools on your pool need to be cleared before you pack the pool away for the winter.

If you have an air compressor, you may also want to use that to help make sure as little water as possible is in the piping and in the filters.

You’ll also need to get a special antifreeze (not car antifreeze) to help remove the last of the water so that the piping and equipment can be stored safely.

Shocking the Pool

You’ll also want to shock the pool as you pack it up for the offseason, and then again when you’re getting the pool ready to use again.

Cover your Pool

You’ll also need to cover the pool (with a specially designed pool cover) last to close the pool up. Covering the pool helps to keep the debris out of the pool over the winter, provides it a little additional stability to help with temperature changes, and just generally protects the pool.

Final Thoughts on Maintaining Your Pool Year Round

That’s it! That’s the basics of  above ground pool maintenance. The most important thing is not the equipment you have or which chemicals you choose to maintain your pool, it’s making a habit of maintaining your pool regularly.

The only bad maintenance is maintenance that isn’t happening often enough.

Plan on spending at least a little time on your pool maintenance every week. If you can give your pool even half and hour a week you’ll be in better shape than someone who spends an hour on pool maintenance every other week.