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Mikey's Pools is CPO Certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation

Mike Smolen
Cert. No. CPO-438001

Frequently Asked Questions

How much water is in my swimming pool?

To figure the total amount of water in your pool, take your pool's length, width and average depth as well its shape. To determine average depth, take depth of shallow end added to depth of deep end, then divide by two to get average depth (i.e.; 3ft (shallow end) + 8 ft (deep end) = 11. Divided by 2 = 5.5 avg. depth)
  • Rectangle Pool: Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5 = Total Gallons
  • Round Pool: Diameter x Diameter x Average Depth x 5.9 = Total Gallons
  • Oval Pool: Maximum Width x Maximum Length x Average Depth x 6.7 = Total Gallons
  • Free Form Pool: Average Length x Average Width x Average Depth x 6.7 = Total Gallons

What is balanced swimming pool or spa water?

A balanced swimming pool is when the sanitizer, pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness are all within acceptable ranges. The two most important things to remember about the health of your pool are that it must be sanitized and it must be balanced. The most popular way to sanitize your pool is with chlorine. On the other hand, many spa owners sanitize their spas with bromine. Keeping your pool balanced, which means keeping the five basic pool water components (pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, total dissolved solids and stabilizer) within their proper ranges, helps your sanitizer work more effectively and protects your pool's finish and equipment.

The recommended ranges for balanced water:

Chlorine: 1.0 to 3.0 ppm
pH: 7.4 to 7.6
(For low pH, add pH plus. For high pH, add acid or pH minus.)
Total Alkalinity: 80 to 140 ppm
(Low alkalinity requires Total Alkalinity Increaser. High alkalinity requires Muriatic Acid.)
Calcium Hardness: 200 to 400 ppm

Total Alkalinity: Total alkalinity refers to how much alkaline is in the water. However, you must look at Total Alkalinity as it relates to pH, as the two go hand in hand. High alkaline water leads to low pH. Low alkaline water leads to low pH. For now, just remember that most swimming pools should have an alkalinity reading of around 100 ppm.

pH: Keeping your pH level within its proper range is not only important for swimmer comfort, it's also important for keeping your equipment and pool finish in good condition. pH refers to the acidity or baseness of your pool water. All you need to remember is that a proper pH level is around 7.4 to 7.6 on a pH test kit's numeric scale. 0 to 7 reflects a low or acidic pH, 8 to 14 means the pool has a high pH level. Low pH readings mean your chlorine will dissipate quickly. High pH levels make chlorine inactive — and that means you're using more chlorine than you really need and algae may still form.

Calcium Hardness: Anyone who has ever washed their hair in hard water knows that hard water doesn't do much for getting up a good lather. But in your pool, just the right amount of calcium is essential. Too little and your plaster can erode. Too much and your water could become cloudy, scale and stains could form. 200 to 400 ppm is the general range for calcium hardness, while 300 ppm is ideal for the average pool.

Stabilizer: Stabilizer is to chlorine like your home's insulation is to keeping in hot or cold air — it helps retain your chlorine longer just as insulation helps retain heat or air conditioning. Stabilizer is even added to some chlorine compounds to protect them from the effects of sunlight. When your stabilizer level is low, you'll use a lot more chlorine. When it's too high, you may need to dilute your pool water to bring it back into the 40 to 70 ppm ideal range.

What is the proper way to handle swimming pool chemicals?

Failure to properly handle and use chemicals can result in serious personal injury or death.

READ AND FOLLOW ALL LABEL DIRECTIONS. Call your local pool professional if you have any questions about any of your chemicals.

Do not mix ANY pool chemicals together. Doing so can be dangerous resulting in fire or serious injury.


Be careful when opening a chemical bucket. Be sure you are outside or in a well-ventilated area.

Store all chemicals in a cool dry place, out of the reach of children. Secure all lids tightly.

Why is my pool water cloudy?

Cloudy water is usually due to not having enough sanitizer, poor filtration or other contaminants brought in by swimmers. Things to look for:
  • Check your water balance either using a good test kit or by taking a water sample to your local pool professional.
  • High calcium hardness, total alkalinity and pH can cause cloudiness. Check your sanitizer level, it may be too low.
  • Run your system 24 hours a day until the cloudiness is gone.
  • Super chlorination may be needed especially after rain or heavy usage. Over a period of time, your pool gets used to the same level of sanitizer and needs to be super shocked to get it back to working again to rid the pool of contaminants.
  • Your filter may not be the right size. Most filtration systems need to operate a minimum of 6 hours or more per day. Is your filter is in good condition? Depending on the type filter you have:
    • Does the sand need to be changed? (Depending on use, sand in sand filters should be changed every 3-5 years.)
    • Are the cartridges or grids torn or worn out?
All of these can contribute to poor circulation.

How do I vacuum my pool?

In order to vacuum your pool, you will need:
  • Vacuum hose long enough to reach far end of pool and deepest part of pool
  • Hose must have no holes in it
  • Vacuum head that moves freely and is designed for your type of pool (Vinyl or Gunite/Concrete)
  • Aluminum Telescopic pole
Set up your pool's pump circulation system to have the skimmer line wide open and the main drain line closed. This will ensure good vacuuming suction. Attach swivel end of hose (if there is no swivel end, either end will do) snugly to the vacuum head. Lay out the remaining hose straight on the pool deck. Attach the vacuum head to your telescopic pole. Place the vacuum head into the pool and hold on to pole so it doesn't go completely into the pool. Take a hold of remaining hose and slowly push down on the hose into the pool, which will fill the hose with water (“burping” the hose). If this is done properly, when you get to the end of the hose, water will pour out of the end of the hose you are holding in your hand. If your hose is floating on the surface of the water, there is too much air in the hose and your pump could lose prime. Pull the vac head and hose out in this instance and try again. Once you have successfully “burped” the hose, place the free end of the hose into the skimmer hole or skimmer plate.

If you have more than one skimmer, you may want to block the flow into the skimmer not being used to vacuum by using a properly sized plug in the skimmer hole. This way you will get the best suction for vacuuming. If you have too much suction (the vac head is sticking to the pool surface), either open your main drain a little or remove the plug from the other skimmer.

My pump is not working. What's up?

Is the motor running? If not, check the circuit breaker to see if it kicked off. If the breaker is fine and the pump is still not coming on, check to see if there is power to the motor. (You may need to contact a pool care professional.)

The motor is running, but no water is moving in the pump basket.

  • Is the water at the right level in the pool?
  • Is the skimmer door (weir) stuck in the upright position?
  • Are the skimmer baskets or the pump's hair and lint trap full of debris?
  • Does the filter need backwashing or cleaning?
  • Is the impeller clogged with debris? (This should be handled by a pool professional.)
If after checking and correcting all of the above items there is still no water movement, it's time to call your local pool service professional.

Help! My heater is not working!

Check to ensure that the gas valve is open and the heater is on. Your filter could be dirty which reduces flow to the heater; backwash or clean the filter to see if that helps. Next, clean debris from your skimmer baskets and pump basket. If you have a time clock, check to be sure it is set to allow enough time for the heater to work.

If these suggestions don't work, you will need to contact a pool professional.

Opening Your Pool This Summer
Starting up a new pool or reopening an existing one? Mikey's Pools can help keep it simple. Our swimming pool opening service includes:
  1. Remove the winter cover (if applicable) after eliminating all debris and water from the cover surface. Use a quality cover cleaner to clean, and protect the cover, let dry, then fold and store it in a dry, cool place.
  2. Inspect all equipment including pump, filter, heater, diving board, ladders and chlorinator for proper installation and operation. Replace any and all plugs on your pump strainer housing that may have been removed when the swimming pool was closed in the fall.
  3. Remove any leaves and debris from the pool bottom with a leaf net. Empty skimmer baskets and pump strainer basket.
  4. Add water up to the pool level recommended by the manufacturer — usually halfway up the skimmer.
  5. Take a sample of your pool water for a complete analysis, then balance the chemical levels accordingly.
  6. Remove organic waste.
  7. Take preventative measures against algae buildup.
  8. Add sanitizer to provide continuous disinfection. Sanitizers are available in various forms, which can be added to your pool via the floater, skimmer or automatic chlorinator.
  9. Run the filter system for at least twenty four hours. During this time, brush the walls and vacuum the pool floor.
  10. Retest your water and balance the pool accordingly. Once your pool water is balanced, your pool is ready to be enjoyed all season long!