How Swimming Pools Work

maintaining a swimming pool

As we stated previously, pools are basically enormous holes in the ground, filled with water. However we were being somewhat disingenuous in saying this, because the water in your swimming pool is doing far more than just sitting around waiting on swimmers to enjoy it. In truth, the water in a swimming pool is constantly active, flowing into and out of the pool through a complicated system of pipelines and filters. A good understanding of precisely how the water in your swimming pool works is vital to understanding why certain maintenance actions are vital to the health and life time of your pool.


A swimming pool without a drain is going to turn unsafe (and frankly revolting) really quickly. Usually, a swimming pool has one or two primary drains pipes in addition to the other more customized drains we’ll be discussing just below.

The primary drains pipes in a swimming pool have to be put at the most affordable point in the swimming pool basin. Their job is to obtain rid of all the heavy particles that gathers in a swimming pool– and you ‘d much better think that there will be a lot of heavy particles that collects in a swimming pool. The particles exits the pool through the primary drains and passes through the pipe systems to the swimming pool filter.

So you may have asked yourself: why two drains pipes? The reason to set up two primary drains instead of simply one is to avoid serious safety problems. As anybody with a bath tub knows, water tends to form a vortex when it drains quickly from a basin through a small opening. In a typical swimming pool, the amount of water being channeled through a drain is so high that the vortex produced can actually trap a child versus the bottom of the swimming pool, rendering them not able to get away and quickly drowning them. This is obviously not the intended use for a pool drain. So a 2nd drain is generally set up (together with all of the other types of drains pipes in a normal swimming pool) in order to decrease the total amount of water that requires to drain pipes from a single opening in the swimming pool basin. Drains ought to likewise be equipped with “antivortex coverings”, which assist to regulate pool drain and avoid dangerous vortexes from forming.


Main drains help to clear all the heavy debris from a swimming pool. Skimmer drains assistance to clear all of the light debris that floats on the surface area of a pool. This might look like a minor or just cosmetic issue, however even over the area of one day a severe amount of debris can form on the surface of the water in your swimming pool, from fallen leaves to summer insects to even worse. The skimmer drain permits water to sluice easily from the top of the swimming pool through the skimmer basket, removing big amounts of debris before it can get in the filtering system.

Skimmer drains are generally geared up with a “floating dam”, which is a type of door that swings open and shut depending on the quantity of water pushing against it. When operating correctly, the drifting dam will swing open and confess just as much water as the drainage system can handle into the swimming pool’s pipes.

Skimmer drains pipes likewise have a secondary gain access to pipe in addition to the drain causing the filtering system. This is called the “equalizer line”, and it links to the primary basin of the swimming pool someplace below the water line. If the water level in the pool drops listed below the level of the drifting weir due to extra heat, regular upkeep, or for any other cause, this allows the swimming pool to continue to draw only water through the skimmer basket line and avoids any air being pulled into the filtering system (which causes apparent problems.) The equalizer line needs to be outfitted with an antivortex covering, similar to the primary drains.

Pump Systems

he water does not take a trip through the drain by gravity and water pressure alone. In order to make the pool run efficiently, an electrical pump system has to be used.

The pump system is simply a little pump casing linked to the different drains and pipelines that service the swimming pool. It’s normally kept out of sight from the remainder of the swimming pool, in part because it’s not actually attracting take a look at (comparable to the factor human internal organs are kept inside the body, not outside) and in part due to the fact that keeping the pump out of sight also keeps it safe (ditto with human internal organs.).

Pumps need to be equipped with strainer baskets that capture incoming particles prior to it reaches the actual filters. An excellent skimmer basket and drain covers will go a long method toward catching debris before it can trigger you any problem, however a strainer basket is necessary as a “last line of defense.” Part of swimming pool maintenance includes clearing and cleaning the strainer basket regularly.

Filtration Systems

When the water leaves the pool through the drains pipes, it requires to pass through a filtering system. This purifies the water by pulling out particles and permits tidy water to return to the swimming pool, keeping the pH balance stable and keeping the water from getting cloudy.

The filter system in a pool is relatively large and is usually kept above ground for easy gain access to and maintenance. It looks something like a gigantic metal urn connected to various pipes.

There are several various types of filters. Among the most basic is a sand filter. When unclean water enters the purification system from the drains, pressure forces the water to take a trip down through the sand. The sand traps dirt and particles and leaves the exiting water clean.

Remember the following caveat: despite the fact that it’s called a sand filter, you cannot merely pour any old sand into the filter and hope for the finest. Only use specialized sand purchased from a trusted pool supply shop or other supplier. This sand will have an unique square-crystal shape, created for usage in pool purification. This ought to go without stating, however as you understand, setting up a pool is a significant financial investment– much better to be safe than sorry.

The two other major types of filters are diatomaceous earth filters and cartridge filters. Diatomaceous earth filters contain special grids lined with “diatomaceous earth”, which are essentially the small skeletons of sea animals called “diatoms” blended with routine sand. Diatomaceous earth is a little more costly, however filters pools better and can be simpler to keep. Cartridge filters are exactly what they seem like: long plastic housings lined with fabric or other straining products. Cartridge filters do a better job of cleaning particles from swimming pool water, however will require regular replacement in addition to “backwashing” upkeep (which we’ll cover shortly.).

Return Valves

When water leaves the filter, it can go to one of 2 locations. One is the city sewer system. The other is the pool. The return valve is the connection from the bottom of the filter tank (where tidy water collects) to the swimming pool itself.

Return valves also create a good deal of suction throughout use, and should be covered by antivortex coverings if possible. Ideally your swimming pool will have more than one return valve to lessen any issues triggered by vortex formation. Return valves are the small “jets” that come out of the side of the pool, and any kids using the pool must be warned not to obstruct the water streaming in through the “jets” in order to avoid any issues with developing additional suction in the filtration system. (Once again, this appears like good sense, however for some reason kids naturally love to block off the return valves in a pool– if we all understood why kids take such satisfaction in this, we ‘d no doubt be a lot better in our adulthood than we are.).

Other Needed Fixtures

There are 2 other components that you’ll desire to have in your swimming pool. Although these aren’t as essential to making your pool work, they’re still good things to have and conserve you a lot of work in regular maintenance.

One is a connection to refill the pool with fresh water from the city water system. You can in theory fill up a swimming pool with any source of fresh water (garden pipes, bearing containers one by one from a local well), but having a direct connection to the water system in the pool itself saves you a lot of work when you’ll inevitably need to replenish some of the water system in your swimming pool. This can occur due to easy usage (water splashing onto the swimming pool deck, water performed on the body when leaving the swimming pool, swimming pool water utilized to fill a squirt gun or other toy) or due to underlying conditions (strong heat causing pool water to vaporize.) It deserves the time and additional cost to merely install this connection when you set up the swimming pool itself.

The other optional however essential component in a pool is the vacuum port. This is used to attach pool vacuum cleaners to the filtering system of the pool.

Hang on, you may be believing. I currently have all these elegant drains to catch debris and dirt on the bottom of the water as well as on the surface area. Why should I need to have a vacuum as well?

The answer is just that as efficient as your main drains and skimmers are, they can’t capture every little bit of dirt and particles. If you have a concrete pool in particular, lots of dirt will gather in the rough spots of concrete or plaster that line the swimming pool basin. The drain might manage this dirt if the dirt ever made it to the drain, however it normally remains trapped along the side of the pool, where it makes the concrete appearance shoddy and unappealing.

There are two choices for cleaning it. One is to take a brush, dislodge all the dirt, and expect the very best. The other is to use a vacuum cleaner which can remain in the pool all the time, snaking along the surface area, gradually getting dirt, and passing it through to the filter for disposal. It’s slightly more expensive and you’ll have to carry out some regular maintenance on the swimming pool vacuum, however in the long run you’ll be investing some loan to conserve great deals of effort and time: usually an excellent bargain.

Something to keep an eye out for when choosing a pool vacuum: take note of how the pool vacuum works. Some pool vacuums have their own on-board pumps and motors, while some work by drawing suction power from the swimming pool’s main pump system. There are benefits and drawbacks to both choices.

Normally speaking, having an onboard pump for a swimming pool vacuum is probably the much better idea, because it puts less total tension on your swimming pool and guarantees that if there’s an issue with your pump system, you can a minimum of keep the pool rather clean while the problem is being fixed.

Having an onboard pump involves some additional upkeep on your part, nevertheless, and most likely some ongoing costs in terms of keeping the vacuum motor/pump assembly powered and operating. As long as you have some type of vacuum, though, you’ll be saving yourself immeasurably more work in regards to basic maintenance than you’ll be spending on the vacuum assembly itself.

Bells and Whistles

These are in no other way necessary, however there are additional alternatives to make your swimming pool experience more pleasurable that you might to consider when choosing and installing your swimming pool. These can include slides, spas, bench seating, step or ladder exits, and diving boards.

Normally these alternatives don’t involve much in the way of extra upkeep (except, naturally, for day spas, which we’ll speak about in a later chapter.) When selecting bells and whistles for your swimming pool, the most sensible thing to think of is security. Some type of swimming pool exit is a must to prevent people from hurting themselves by slipping when they’re climbing up out of a pool along the side.

Ladders are a low-cost alternative, but bench seatings or molded actions are typically more secure and more visually appealing. Any extra molding you take into your pool basin will offer dirt and particles more of an opportunity to collect, nevertheless, and will cost you more in regards to total maintenance time. Typically the additional satisfaction you’ll get out of the swimming pool will offset this extra maintenance, however it’s still a great idea to be familiar with these things prior to the massive hole is dug in your backyard (as I’m sure you ‘d concur.

Basically, that’s all there is to the operating parts of a swimming pool. There’s just one huge problem in keeping your swimming pool working that we have to cover prior to moving on to real maintenance concerns: the significant concern of water quality.