The sun is shining, even in the shade it’s hard to stand. A jump into the refreshing water would be the salvation now. But building a pool or setting up a pool is not enough. Bathing fun is only guaranteed if the water is really clean.
On hot summer days everyone has probably dreamed of having their own swimming pool in the garden. Anyone can fulfill this wish today without having to dig up the whole garden and plunder the building society loan agreement. The trade offers different pool systems and materials and a suitable model for every budget.
Before buying one, however, you should consider that even with an 8 x 4 m pool you will have to pay around $ 200 operating and water costs for around 50 cbm (that’s 50,000 l) of water a year. That alone is a good reason to keep the water clean and of the best bathing quality.
Keeping the pool clean: Proper protection against coarse dirt
A rain of leaves and flowers is programmed into the pool right next to a leafy hedge or under a tree. It is better placed at some distance from deciduous trees and if possible in a corner protected from the wind.
At least once a year, for example before commissioning, a general mechanical cleaning is due: Walls, floors, corners and niches should be freed from limescale and dirt deposits.
Once the water is let in, a cover will hold off a lot of dirt. There are various options here: The offers range from a simple tarpaulin with a circumferential tensioning cable to the insulating bubble wrap or the robust safety cover to the convenient automatic roller cover.
Cleaning the pool: A good filter system is worth the price
If dirt and insects float on the water after a night without a cover or after a storm, it is best to fish them out with a long-handled landing net. During operation, the filter system removes most of the dirt particles that are blown in or dragged in. It thus reduces the effort for mechanical cleaning and also the use of chemicals.
What you need is a powerful, self-priming pump made from corrosion-resistant material. It must be designed in such a way that the filling volume of the basin is completely circulated once within four to six hours.
Dirt particles mainly collect on the surface. There they are captured by the surface cleaner, also known as a skimmer. The suction nozzles should be positioned so that they are opposite the inlet nozzles of the pool. This ensures constant, even water movement.
Coarse, heavy dirt often sinks to the floor before the circulation pump can suck it in via the surface cleaner. It preferably collects in so-called dead zones, such as the corners between the wall and the floor, where the water is hardly moved.
Even chemical cleaning can only have a very reduced effect here due to the lack of water circulation, and the dirt becomes a breeding ground for germs. The filter system should therefore also have a connection for a floor cleaner, which can be obtained as a simple mechanical device or as a fully automatic cleaner that even works its way up the walls.
The water sucked in via the surface and floor cleaner is pushed through the filter by the pump. The dirt particles get stuck there. A sand filter is not only the first choice from an ecological point of view.
In contrast to a cartridge filter, such as that available for inexpensive pools in department stores, the sand filter offers the option of backwashing and also allows the use of so-called flocculants. These have the effect that fine dirt particles clump together and can therefore be captured by the filter in the first place. You should clean the filter weekly during the bathing season.
Regular water checks in the pool
A sensible cover, regular mechanical cleaning and a high-quality filter system are a good basis for clean water. “Sooner or later, however, there is usually no getting around using chemicals”, summarizes Ralph Walther, consultant for the environment, products and services at the consumer center.
The quality of the water once let in changes constantly. It depends on the temperature and solar radiation, the location, the use and hygiene. The all-round carefree package based on the motto “Take one tablet of this and one tablet of it a week and everything is fine” does not exist. And the automatic dosing system, which constantly measures the constituents of the water and supplies the appropriate agents from a depot, is only used in the large luxury pool, but not in the small pool.
“If possible, every pool owner should carry out a water analysis two to three times a week,” advises Frank Eisele, chairman of the technical advisory board in the Federal Association of Swimming Pools and Wellness. Only in this way can he accurately assess the condition of the water and adjust his maintenance measures accordingly. Those who do not measure at all, irregularly or incorrectly, on the other hand, are easily surprised by cloudy or even green water. That means trouble, a lot of work, waste of care products and thus unnecessary costs.
There are various methods for water analysis that are easy to use even for laypeople. “I recommend that beginners work with test strips,” says our expert. “They are not as precise as reagent tablets, but they are easier to use.”
The most important basic value: the acidity in the pool
First, the pH value, i.e. the acidity of the water, is measured: “It should be between 6.8 and 7.6”, explains our expert. “With a higher pH-value, the build-up of limescale increases. This can lead to skin intolerance. And if chlorine is used, it cannot develop properly.” If, on the other hand, the pH value is lower, this can cause permanent corrosion damage to metal parts of the pool.
An excessively high pH value is corrected with a so-called pH reducer. If the pH value is too low, a pH lifter is used. When it comes to the dosage, a sure instinct is required. Only: it’s not that easy with a simple measuring cup. “In the case of quality manufacturers, these products are packed in foil bags and provided with precise instructions on how much powder should be used in the event of a certain deviation in value and amount of water,” describes a specialist dealer. If the pH reducer or pH lifter has been added, the pump should run for one to two hours so that the agent can be evenly distributed throughout the water.
Pool disinfectants against germs and bacteria: chlorine or bromine?
Then it is measured again – to check the pH value and to check the disinfectant. Combined test strips or tablets are available for common agents such as chlorine or bromine, so that the pH value and the content of disinfectants can be determined in one step.
- Disinfection with chlorine
In the private pool, chlorine is still the most widely used disinfectant: it is the best known and probably also the cheapest. The free chlorine content should be between 0.3 and 0.6 mg per liter. If it is dosed too high, chlorine not only smells unpleasant, it can also have negative effects on health. “Frequent consequences are irritation of the mucous membranes and eyes. If the concentration is permanently high, organic chlorine compounds such as chloroform can develop, which can be harmful to health,” explains consumer advisor Ralph Walther.
- Disinfection with bromine
An alternative to chlorine is bromine. However, since this is also a halogen, the side effects of an overdose are comparable. BSW expert Frank Eisele warns to be careful: “Bromates can form bromates, which are suspected of being carcinogenic.”
If this seems too risky for you, there are agents based on active oxygen (hydrogen peroxide). “They also have irritating side effects when overdosed, but these are overall milder. In addition, these substances are more environmentally friendly and do not pose a disposal problem.” “However, according to our expert, the disinfecting effects of the oxygen agents are comparatively slow.”
Algae in the pool: dosage of algaecides
Not only can germs and bacteria become a problem in pool water, but algae can also spread if they are not properly cared for. “An algicide can only be dispensed with in a pool that is operated with an automatic dosing system and with chlorine”, our expert knows. Otherwise, pool owners should use an algae-killing agent separately as needed.
But there are also products in which a disinfectant and an algicide have already been combined. This makes them more convenient to use, but mostly also a little more expensive and more difficult to dose. Admittedly, those who use this general cleaning package have to invest a lot of time. The effort is rewarded with beaming children’s faces, recognition from neighbors and friends as well as relaxing hours by and in the refreshing, clean swimming pool.
Garden pools for beginners: model overview
- Paddling pool made of PVC or vinyl
For the little ones, an inflatable PVC or vinyl paddling pool with two or three rings and a drain valve at the bottom is still in demand. It goes without saying that colors and design play an important role here. From the builder Bob to the cheerful underwater world, everything is available.
- Dimensions: diameter between 100 and 200 cm, height from 20 to 30 cm filling at 75%: from 0.24 cbm
- Extras: padded floors, more stabilization chambers, thicker and therefore more stable film, canopies, cover and underlay tarpaulins
- Price: from 10 dollars
- Fixed paddling pool
Round fixed paddling pools are also made of PVC or vinyl, but have fixed, standing side walls. Caution: These are not suitable for sitting. An inflatable bead on the upper edge provides additional stability. The water is usually drained through a side valve and a bottom valve. The appearance of these products also plays an important role.
- Dimensions: diameter between 155 and 240 cm, height from 30 to 50 cm, filling at 75%: from 0.85 cbm
- Extras: cover and underlay tarpaulins
- Price: from $ 20
Jumbo and family pools
Jumbo or family pools are mostly square inflatable pools for the whole family. Entry is guaranteed to be gentle over the thick ridges. The foil is a little stronger than in the children’s paddling pool.
- Dimensions: length mostly 200 to 300 cm, width between 150 and 200 cm, height 50 to 60 cm filling at 75%: from 1.1 cbm
- Extras: pump for inflating, cover and underlay tarpaulin
- Price: from $ 25
A round Quick-Pool can be set up by one person, depending on its size, within 15 to 30 minutes: The circumferential ring is inflated – preferably not with an ordinary air or foot pump, but with a compressor. Then the water is poured onto the spread out floor membrane. This then lifts the edge of the pool. Such self-assembling pools are made of several coated, tear-resistant plastic layers. They are usually sold with a filter pump (cartridge filter).
- Dimensions: diameter from 240 to 540 cm, height from 60 to 110 cm filling at 75%: from 4 cbm
- Extras: sand filter, skimmer, access ladder, tarpaulin and other accessories
- Price: from $ 65
According to the manufacturer, setting up a so-called frame set takes an hour, if possible with two or three helpers: This pool is shaped by a metal rod. A handrail forms the upper end. A foil is hung on this rod. Here, too, a filter pump with cartridge is usually included in the price.
- Dimensions: diameter for round models between 300 and 550 cm, height between 75 and 120 cm, filling at 75%: from 8 cbm
- Extras: sand filter, skimmer, stairs, tarpaulin and other accessories
- Price: from $ 200
Steel wall pool
A steel wall pool is particularly hard-wearing and corrosion-resistant: It consists of a metal frame and a metal wall that can be rolled out. A lot of helping hands are required for the construction. The pool is waterproof thanks to a plastic inner cover.
- Dimensions: diameter between 300 and 800 cm, height between 120 and 150 cm filling at 75%: from 8 cbm
- Extras: underlay, stairs, tarpaulin, spotlights and other accessories
- Price: without accessories from just under 500 euros, in a set with sand filter, skimmer, handrail, inlet nozzle and connecting hoses from around 1000 dollars