Cleaning Your Swimming Pool.
Cleaning and Servicing Tools
Some of the most commonly used pool cleaning tools are described in next section. You may have used them one time or the other to cleanse your pool.
Telescoping pole or telepole is heart of the cleaning system. Telepoles are made of aluminum or fiberglass. There are several sizes, from a 4-foot pole that telescopes to 8 feet, all the way up to a 12-foot pole that telescopes to 24 feet (by pulling the inner pole out of the outer one). The one you will use most on pools is 8 feet long, telescoping to 16 feet. The end of the pole has a handgrip or a rounded tip to prevent your hand from slipping off the pole. The tip might also include a magnet for picking up hairpins or nails from the pool bottom. To lock the two poles together, there is a cam lock or compression nut ring.
When you purchase your first telepole, take it apart and observe how this cam system works. Sooner or later, scale, corrosion, or wear and tear will clog or jam the cam. Rather than buy an entirely new telepole, you can take it apart, clean it up, replace the cam if necessary, and get on with the job.
The other locking device for telepoles is a compression nut ring. By twisting the ring at the joint of the two poles, pressure is applied to the inner pole, locking the two together.
At the end of the outer pole you will notice two small holes drilled through each side, about 2 inches from the end and again about 6 inches higher. The various tools you will use are designed to fit the diameter of the pole. You attach them to the pole by sliding the end of the tool into the end of the pole. Small clips inside the tool have nipples that snap into place in one of these sets of holes, locking the tool in place. other tools are designed to slip over the circumference of the pole, but they also use a clip device to secure the tool to the holes at the end of the telepole.
Leaf rakes are used to remove the leaf and other debris from the pool. Figure 1 shows a professional, deep-net leaf rake. The net itself is made from stainless steel mesh and the frame is aluminum with a generous 16-inch wide opening. There are numerous leaf rakes (deep net) and skimmer nets (shallow net) you can buy, but only the one pictured will last. The cheap ones are made from plastic net material and frames. Although the original price is about twice that of the cheap ones, metal ones last a long time and resist tearing when you are scooping out huge volumes of wet leaves after a windy autumn day. They also stand up to rubbing them along rough plaster surfaces, thanks to a rubber-plastic gasket that fits around the edge, unlike the plastic rakes that break or wear down when you apply such pressures.
The leaf rake shank fits into the telepole and clips in place as described previously. Some leaf rakes are designed so you can disassemble them and replace the netting, which is fine if you have the time and patience to do it.
Wall and Floor Brush
Wall brush are used to remove the dirt, stains and other material sticking on the interior surface. The wall brush is designed to brush pool and spa interior surfaces. Made of an aluminum frame with a shank that fits the telepole, the nylon bristles are built on the brush either straight across or curved slightly at each end.
The curved unit is useful for getting into pool corners and tight step areas.
Wall brushes come in various sizes, the most common for pool use being 18 inches wide. Don't ever use a wire brush that is not stainless steel in a pool or spa. Steel bristles can snap off during brushing and leave stains on the plaster when they rust. Also, if they are a bit rusty already, when you brush the plaster you will transfer the rust to the plaster, causing a stain.
Vacuum Head and Hose
Vacuum are used to suck the dirt out of the pool or spa. There are two ways to vacuum the bottom of a pool or spa. One sucks dirt from the water and sends it to the filter. The other uses water pressure from a garden hose to force debris into a bag that you then remove and clean (leaf vacuum).
The vacuum head and hose are designed to operate with the pool or spa circulation equipment. The hose is attached at one end to the bottom of the skimmer opening and at the other end to the vacuum head. The vacuum head is also attached to the telepole. With the pump running, you glide the vacuum head over the underwater surfaces, vacuuming up the dirt directly to the filter.
Vacuum heads are made of flexible plastic, with plastic wheels that keep the head just above the pool surface. The flexibility of the head allows it to contour to the curvature of pool corners and bottoms. Adjustable-height wheels allow you to set the vacuum head to the best clearance for each pool's conditions. The closer to the surface, the better the removal of dirt. But if the suction is too great, it might suck the vacuum head right onto the surface, rendering it immobile. In this case, adjust the head height upward.
Wheels for vacuum heads are made of plastic or high-tech composite resins. Their bearing systems can be as simple as a hole in the wheel through which the axle is inserted or wheels with ball bearings to distribute the load and help the vacuum glide smoothly.
Some commercial vacuum heads are made several feet wide and are built of stainless steel. Another type is a plastic helmet style, with a ridge of bristles instead of wheels. This vacuum head is used for vinyl pools, fiberglass spas, and when breaking in new plaster. In each of these cases, standard wheels can tear or score the surface. The brush vacuum is not only less harsh, but it brushes dirt loose from the surface being vacuumed for easier removal.
Hoses are available in different models, and in various lengths (10 to 50 feet). The hose cuff is made 1 1/4- or 1 1/2-inch diameter to be used with similar vacuum head dimensions. Cuffs are female threaded at the end that attaches to the hose so you can screw replacement cuffs onto a hose. The best cuffs swivel on the end of the hose, so when you are vacuuming there is less tendency for the hose to coil and kink. Another valuable hose fitting is the connector. It is designed with female threads on both ends to allow joining of two hose lengths-a useful feature when you encounter a large or extremely deep pool.
Leaf Vacuum and Garden Hose
The Leaf vacuum is used when there are many leaves or other debris in the pool. Its effectiveness is dependent on the water pressure form the garden hose. Leafmasters are made in rigid plastic or aluminum.
The leafmaster is one which is attached to the telepole and a garden hose, operates by forcing water from the hose into the unit where it is diverted into dozens of tiny jets that are directed upward toward a fabric bag on top of the unit. The upwelling water creates a vacuum at the base of the plastic helmet, sucking leaves and debris into the unit and up into the bag. Water passes through the mesh of the bag but the debris is trapped.
Fine dirt passes through the filter bag, but a fine-mesh bag is sold for these units that will capture more dirt. When the bag has a few leaves in it, they will also trap much of the sand and other fine particulate matter that would otherwise pass through.
The only other drawback to the leafmaster is if you are in a location where water pressure from the garden hose is weak. The result is weak jet action and weak suction. The other result is that as debris fills the bag, the weight of it (especially wet leaves) tips the bag over, scraping the pool floor, stirring up debris, or tangling with the hose. The latter problem is easily solved by putting a tennis ball in the bag before placing it in the pool. The tennis ball floats, keeping the bag upright.
To remove the leaf vacuum, turn it slightly to one side and slowly lift it through the water to the surface. If pulled straight up, some of the debris is forced out of the bag and back into the pool. So do not turn off the water till the leafmaster is out of the pool water and on to the deck.
Tile Brush and Tile Soap
Tile brush is used to clean the tile. Tile brushes are made to snap into your telepole so you can scrub the tile without too much bending. Mounted to a simple L-shaped, two-part aluminum tube, the brush itself is about 3-by-5 inches with a fairly abrasive foam pad for effective scrubbing.
Tile soap is sold in standard preparation at the supply house. Mix one part of muriatic acid to five parts of soap. This will help cut the stubborn stains and oils, but it will also eat into the plastic on the tile brush pads and plastic barbecue grill brush handle, so keep rinsing them in pool water after each application and scrubbing. Don't use other types of soap in place of tile formulations, because they might foam and suds up when they enter the circulation system.
Cleaning a spa is much like cleaning a pool, only many of the tools are smaller.The smaller version of the leaf vacuum is called spa vacuum. It works on the same principle using a garden hose for water pressure to create suction. The dirt and debris are forced into a small sock and, like the leaf vacuum bag, fine dirt passes through the bag.
The spa vacuum attaches to the telepole and is provided with various attachments, much like a household vacuum cleaner, for getting into crevices or brushing while you vacuum. The spa vacuum is also a useful tool for sucking up small hairpins, nails, coins, or other hard to grab items from the bottom of pools.
Pumic stone are used to remove the scale from tiles and other deposits or stains from plaster surfaces without scratching them excessively. The soft pumice stone is made from volcanic ash and is used for its abrasive action. Pumice stones are sold as blocks, and as small bladed stones that attach to your telepole for reaching tight spaces and underwater depths. Since pumice stones disintegrate, it is advisable to scrub before you vacuum clean the pool. A good alternative to pumice, which scratches easily on fiberglass, is a block of styrofoam or similar plastic foam.
Many leaves will stain plaster, but they bleach out with normal chlorination over a few days. Some stains simply cannot be removed, such as when rebar or a rebar tie has started to corrode from beneath the pool floor.
The acid spotter is a useful tool, which allows you to deliver full-strength acid to a stain at the bottom of a body of water. The disc portion attaches to the telepole for placement over a stained area. A small plastic hose runs from the disc to a bottle of muriatic acid on the deck. You start a siphon and drain acid into the disc, where it is kept in direct contact with the stain. It is time-consuming and not always necessary.
Water Testing Kits
Test kits and Thermometers are important part of cleaning and maintenance. Using your test kit, perform the necessary test to make chemical adjustments in the water. Pool and Spa owners must still conduct home tests of their pool or spa water at least once a week.
A thermometer is needed to check heater performance, spa temperatures, and other questions or concern about pool or spa water.
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