Now that the summer is officially over and our swimming season has drawn to a close, I thought I would look back at the wonderful time we had this summer swimming in our pool. This seems particularly momentous given the shaky start we had with our pool this year and the Pool Plights I suffered through last year. As I have written before, we leave our pool open all winter since it looks so much better than having it covered with a heavy plastic cover that makes it appear as if it were a waste dump site. But this does come at a price.
In February, we had a significant ice storm that sadly encouraged the top of our neighbor’s tree to decide to go for a brisk winter swim in our pool.
Fortunately, our neighbor sent over his yard crew the next day to take out the tree and remove the debris from the flowerbed where it fell. But this still left me with the challenge of getting all of the small debris out of the pool, an inordinate amount of organic matter that serves as wonderful food for algae growth.
That still left us with replacing the 16-year-old arborvitaes that were crushed under the treetop. Due to the backlog of tree work that needed to be done over the entire city because of the storm, it was not until the middle of April that we could get our regular tree guy out to replace them with a new row of arborvitaes. They also cut down the many broken branches that were still hanging in the tops of our trees.
Surprisingly, not long after, with the water temperature still quite cold, we developed our first algae bloom, no doubt thanks to all the organic matter deposited in the pool when the treetop fell in. I was really shocked as it is usually not until the water temperature is much warmer before the telltale sign of green algae begins to show up. A quick trip to the pool store for some needed chlorine shock and doubling up the amount normally applied thankfully cleared it within a day. But then I began to notice the water level dropping during the week, way before it was hot enough to be explained by evaporation. I knew this meant we likely had another pool liner leak somewhere.
I followed the pool store’s instructions to isolate if the leak was with the pool equipment or with the pool liner. Seeing the water level continued to fall even with the pump off confirmed that it was a liner leak. Thankfully from our last liner leak, I still had my water levelizer—a device connected to a garden hose that acts like the float inside your toilet—slowly adding water to the pool to match the water lost.
Due to his backlog, it was almost another month before the pool diver could come out and explore the pool for possible leaks.
After checking some of the usual suspects (pool light, previous leak patch), the diver found a large tear close to where the deep end merges with the shallow end.
He said it looked like something had fallen in the pool and punched a hole in the liner. I mentioned we had had the top of a tree fall in but that it was in the deep end. Not realizing it at the time, I forgot that our tree men had had to pull down a large broken limb from the top of our magnolia tree, right above where the leak was. Maybe when that came down, it landed in the pool punching a hole in the liner.
So once the leak was fixed and the levelizer had been removed, the only other trouble I had with the pool was by mid-July, the pool filters had gotten quite dirty.
All of that small debris, mostly fine dead needles from the arborvitae, unfortunately made it through the skimmer basket and the pump strainer.
The brown color on the filters is fine dirt blown into the pool that made it past the filtering stages. But then just by chance, I ran across something at the pool store that I had not seen before—filter savers.
These fine mesh bags are designed to fit inside the skimmer basket but since mine are old-style with an internal handle, they only fit on the exterior like a sock on a foot.
But the advantage this gave me was that I could see what made it through the skimmer basket and then was caught by the bag. This small debris (seen on the bottom of the basket) was what had been dirtying up my filters for years. I only wished I had discovered these years before.
With all of these remedies in place, the pool was practically maintenance free for the rest of the summer especially with the addition of those filter saver bags. Amazingly, the algae did not rear its ugly green head until the third week of August which meant I was not out there every other day brushing the algae bloom off the walls up into the highly chlorinated water to kill it. Last year, with all the challenges I had with the pool, I seriously considered taking my wife’s advice about getting a weekly pool service this summer. But, as it turned out, I really didn’t need it.
Over the summer, we had a blast in the pool. Our in-town granddaughter went to different day camps during June and July and each day when she got out, she would come over in the afternoon for a good swim. Over the summer, she really advanced in her swimming skills forever leaving her “triangles” behind…
…and fearlessly swimming around in the deep end diving down to the bottom.
In July, our daughter and her family came to town and since we were having a heat wave at the time, her boys managed to get in a swim in the morning right after breakfast and then another in the afternoon with their cousin.
At one point when we had a COVID scare and our granddaughter was isolating with us, the pool even became an outdoor poolside restaurant.
While temperatures in August were cooler than July, the pool temperature stayed warm enough for swimming until the unofficial ending of summer on Labor Day.
Hopefully over the winter, we won’t have any disasters that require unexpected pool maintenance. I mentioned to my wife that this was the easiest summer of pool maintenance I could recall ever having. If next year is the same as this year, I definitely won’t need that weekly pool service. Because when I think about it, I have over 20 years’ experience as our pool boy.