The basics of pool operation

A swimming pool will have a skimmer located on the side of the pool .  The skimmer is the point at which water is drawn from the pool by the pump and is key to proper circulation.  The skimmer is designed to trap floating debris from the water surface in a basket .  The basket can be removed from the skimmer and emptied.

The skimmer basket will also trap debris that is vacuumed from the floor of the pool by a manual cleaning vacuum or some automatic pool cleaners.  A plate is inserted into the skimmer over the basket in order to create a suction point for the manual cleaning vacuum or some automatic pool cleaners.  You should check the skimmer basket regularly and empty debris from it so as not to impede the operation of the pump.

Once through the skimmer the water travels along the suction line to the pump itself.  At this point there is a basket built into the pump to trap any debris that managed to get through the skimmer basket.  This is called the hair and lint basket and is designed to trap finer particles of debris.  Again, this basket is removable and should be cleaned regularly.

Water then passes into the filter for the filtration and removal of even finer particles from the water.  Filters are generally sand type filters or cartridge type filters.  Most filters have a pressure gauge built into the filter that will tell you when to clean the filter.  The more clogged the filter becomes the higher the pressure will become and this is normally indicated on the pressure gauge.

Cleaning a sand filter is easy.  Simply turn off the pump and position the handle at the top of the filter to the backwash position.  Turn the pump on and you will see the dirty water rushing out through the backwash line .  Most filters have a sight glass where you can view this happening.  Normally, backwashing for 3-4 minutes is sufficient.  Turn the pump off and move the handle to rinse and run the pump for about 20 seconds.  Again turn the pump off and return the handle to the original filter position and turn the pump on again.  Please don’t wander off while you’re backwashing because the water could quickly drop below the level of the skimmer box and run the pump dry.

The cartridge filter has to be removed from its housing in order to clean it.  Usually this requires undoing a clamp from the top of the filter and removing the lid.  You can then extract the cartridge filter for cleaning.  A hose is all you need to wash away the debris that is trapped in the folds of the cartridge filter.  Sometimes it helps to slightly open up the folds in the cartridge with your fingers to get the hose right in to thoroughly clean the cartridge.  The pump must be off through the entire procedure.  Once the cartridge filter is clean, re-assemble the cartridge filter and replace the lid and clamp.  There will be some trapped air inside the filter housing.  This can be expelled by opening an air bleed on the top of the lid.  Turn the pump on and the air will hiss out of the air bleed.  Continue until water spurts out and when this happens, tighten up the air bleed. You’re back in business.

The clean filtered water will now return to the pool via the return line, but first it will normally be sanitized.  One of the most common systems is a salt chlorinator.  The salt chlorinator cell is installed in the return line and produces chlorine from the salt water by means of electrolysis.  Other sanitizing systems are also available.

The clean filtered sanitized water is now on the way back to the pool via the return line.  The return line is usually divided at this point into the water returns to the pool via several return jets.  It’s a good idea to have one of these jets adjusted to move surface water toward the skimmer and one adjusted toward the floor to move any debris on the floor.  Thus, the cycle is complete and if you run your filtration system the correct amount of time according to the size of the pool, usage and temperature conditions you should have very few problems.