How to Maintain a Swimming Pool

This is an overview of how to maintain a swimming pool. Learn how to keep your pool safe, healthy, and clean, so you can enjoy some worry-free fun in the sun.
Written by Liliana Pina
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Pool maintenance starts with being familiar with your pool's needs, and knowing what to do if you experience any unusual issues.
Swimming pools are the ultimate backyard feature! Not only are they good for spending time with friends and family, but they're also great for sneaking in some exercise (or, let's be honest, poolside sun naps). If you’re a pool owner or interested in becoming one, here are the best ways to maintain your pool all year long.
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Know your pool

Pools come in all shapes and sizes. If you're going to properly maintain yours, you must first have a general understanding of how it works. All in-ground concrete pools have four main components that require regular upkeep:
  • Water: contains specific cleaning chemicals (typically chlorine) to ensure it is healthy and safe to use. 
  • Filtration system: keeps the pool water clean by sifting out any stray objects or debris.
  • Interior wall or liner: the interior structure of the pool that comes into direct contact with the water.
  • Skimmer baskets and returns: capture unwanted objects or debris before they can settle on the bottom of the pool.
If you want to learn more about your specific pool model and how it works, consult your pool manual to learn everything you need to know.

Keep water circulating

One way to ensure your pool water remains clean and healthy is to keep it circulating for at least 8 hours each day. This will help reduce the likelihood of algae and bacteria growth (which can negatively impact water chemistry) while also promoting the dispersion of chlorine and other essential chemicals throughout the pool. Increased water circulation also limits the existence of still water and increases the likelihood of contaminants and other particles getting trapped in your pool’s filter system.
To keep your water circulation in tip-top shape, make sure you clean it regularly and make sure that your filtration system is clear.
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Perform water tests regularly

For your pool to function properly, you should make sure your water falls within the ideal range of chemicals on a weekly basis, and most in-ground pools should be fully cleaned and assessed at least once per week. It is essential that you use pool chemicals exactly as specified, as they could potentially cause harmful side effects if not used properly. The four most common water tests include:

pH balance

Assess the pH levels of your pool. To complete, dip a test strip in the water and wait for it to change color to indicate pH range. Pool water pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6. Depending on the result of the test, you may need to add a pH increaser or decreaser to balance the pH.


If frequently exposed to the sun and heat, your swimming pool may be at increased risk for algae growth. Algaecide keeps algae and other related plants away from your pool by killing existing infestations and slowing future growth.

Sanitizer levels

Assessing your swimming pool’s sanitizer levels is one of the most effective ways to keep it safe and healthy. While most pools rely on chlorine, salt and bromine are also commonly used alternatives that require their own unique levels and maintenance plans.

Shock treatments

If your swimming pool water looks different or is beginning to negatively impact your skin and/or eyes, you should consider "shocking" your pool. Shocking entails raising the levels of chlorine and other chemicals in your pool to kill off any existing algae, bacteria, or other harmful pathogens. You may need a shock treatment if you are experiencing:
  • Algae and other plant growth 
  • Dirty, cloudy, or murky water 
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Foul or musty smelling water
  • Heavy rains and windstorms
  • Red eyes and/or irritated skin after swimming

Keep the pool interior clean

Now that you have mastered the more complex components of pool maintenance, you can finally conquer what is right in front of you: the swimming pool itself. In order to keep this area clean, you should scrub down the walls with a pool brush, skim the water with a skimmer, and periodically backwash your pool filter to let out any built-up debris. Additionally, you must always drain and winterize your pool in the colder months to keep the foundation free from cracks and other related damages.

Get your pool checked when you need it

As one of the most complex plumbing systems in your home, your swimming pool can become damaged in ways that are hard to anticipate. If you think there's something amiss with your pool, you should contact a professional as soon as possible to make sure the issues are handled by someone who has the proper education and expertise to resolve them quickly and properly. 
By making sure your pool has everything it needs and keeping to a regular maintenance schedule, you should be all set for a summer of fun!
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How much does it cost to maintain a swimming pool?

Swimming pool maintenance costs around $80-$150 per month, or $960-$1,800 per year. The price will depend on the size and type of pool you have, and may cost you more if you don't do regular maintenance—so make sure to stick to that schedule!

How do you maintain a swimming pool with a sand filter?

Sand filters are the most common type of pool filters, and require minimal maintenance. To keep it in good shape, you'll need to clean it every 2-4 weeks according to the filter's manual, or whenever the water seems cloudy.

How do you maintain a natural swimming pool?

Natural swimming pools can be a good low-maintenance choice for anyone who prefers tending a garden to checking chlorine levels. To keep yours in good shape, make sure to clean the skimmers and filters regularly, and keep the bottom of the pool free of debris. You'll also need to do seasonal maintenance on the water garden, since that is a natural pool's filtration system.
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