Pool Care Guide

You have purchased your pool from Memphis’s oldest above ground pool dealer, specializing in above ground pools. We can take care of your pool needs better than anyone. When we are not selling pools, we are helping pool owners.

That’s what we do best. At Smith Pools and Spas, you will always be able to find an experienced team member who is familiar with your pool and equipment.

Having a pool is exciting and keeping your pool clean and clear will be easy. We only ask that you take the time to read through this packet to understand the basics of pool care. As a pool owner, we recommend you start a file for their pool to find pool paperwork easily when needed.

Every pool is different, just as every yard is different. Smith Pool and Spas gives free professional water analysis and advice. Any time you have a problem, bring us a water sample, and our trained staff will walk you through the solution.

Finally, we thank you for your business. We hope we have provided a great form of entertainment for you and your family to enjoy for many years to come.


Pool Safety:

  3. Do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  4. Read all manufacturers’ safety guidelines before using your pool.
  5. Hang safety signs and stickers per manufacturer’s instructions to prevent accidents.
  6. Do not install slides or diving boards on above ground pools.
  7. Inform guests of the pool rules and safety precautions. A “Pool Rules” sign is a great idea.

Chemical Safety

  1. Always add chemicals to water, never water to chemicals.
  2. Keep chemicals in a cool location away from heat and direct sunlight.
  3. Never mix chemicals together before dispensing in pool water.
  4. Keep muriatic acid, rags, paints, oils, and similar items, far away from pool chemicals.
  5. Keep all chemicals and test kits out of the reach of children!
  6. Never place granular chlorine into an automatic chlorine tablet feeder or floater.
  7. Never re-use emptied chlorine pails for storage of other chemicals.
  8. Do not breathe in chemical fumes. Always open in a well-ventilated area and open the lid away from your face.
  9. Keep all containers of chemicals in an upright position.
  10. In case of a spill or accidental contact, follow label instructions.
  11. Do not store chemicals in a motor vehicle.
  12. Never add chemicals while you are in the pool. Read labels for proper wait time before swimming.
  13. Keep containers closed when not in use and use each cap only with its container.
  14. Avoid contact with skin or eyes. Wear safety goggles and rubber gloves when dealing with chemicals.
  15. In case of contact or accidental swallowing, follow the emergency advice on the label, and contact your doctor or poison control center.
  16. Do not intentionally drink large amounts of chemically treated pool water.
  17. Pool water is unsuitable for plants, grass, or other living things.

The pool has been installed-WHAT NOW?

The installers have left. There is a little water in my pool and a pile of dirt in my yard. What do I do now?

Is there anything I should know about filling my pool?

  1. Do not fill the pool above 6” deep if the ground around the pool is damp or soft.
  2. Only use only a standard water hose to fill the pool.
  3. Only fill the pool during daytime sunny hours, and when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees, this will help the liner properly stretch into place.
  4. Fill pool slightly past halfway into the skimmer (see glossary of terms).
  5. Sometimes, the sides of the pool will dent in as the pool fills; this is normal. The dents will pop out as the pool fills with water; this is especially true when filling a pool in cool temperatures.
  6. Do not get in the pool until after 48 hours of filling the pool. Allowing the bottom of the pool to settle helps reduce footprints, although some footprints on the bottom are unavoidable. The bottom will be packed down more evenly as you use the pool.

What do I do with the excess dirt?

  2. Neighbors often look for extra dirt to use in their yard.
  3. Hire a company to haul the dirt off.
  4. Many people use the dirt to fill low spots in their yard or simply spread the dirt and plant grass.

What do I do with the liner hanging outside the pool?

  1. You can trim the excess liner on the outside of the pool after being used for 90 days. Use scissors or a razor blade to carefully cut the liner being sure not to scratch the pool’s wall.
  2. If you do wish to trim the excess liner, it will be tough to fix any unforeseen problems underneath the liner. Thus, it would be best to wait until the pool is well used before trimming the liner.
  3. It is okay if you do not want to cut the liner. You may choose to simply fold up the liner and hang it underneath the pool’s ledge.

What about the vermiculite underneath the liner?

  1. The vermiculite pool cushion is just like it sounds—a cushion underneath the liner formed from a granular substance that gels together as one layer.
  2. you use the pool and the vermiculite packs down. Some wrinkles may develop where swimmers jump into the pool and hit bottom with their heels and where bathers twist their feet on the liner.
  3. The more you use the pool, the firmer the bottom will become.
  4. A vermiculite floor has several substantial benefits. It is non-abrasive, so it will not wear holes in the liner over years of use like sand sometimes does, and it does not get hard like sand. Thus, it stays comfortable to walk on.
  5. Occasionally, small dirt clods may appear in the bottom of the pool underneath the liner.
  6. These dirt clods usually do not hurt anything and can easily be pushed down using a rubber mallet. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

How do I start my filter system?

  1. The pool pump runs on a 110V outlet and pulls around 15 amps. Check your instruction manual for specific electrical instructions for your pump.
  2. The safest way to operate your pump is to have a licensed electrician run conduit underground with a GFCI weatherproof receptacle located beside the pump; this is what most codes require. For convenience, have the electrician install an outdoor on/off switch for the outlet.
  3. Running the pump on an extension cord is not safe, especially if you have small children or pets that may come in contact with the cord or outlet.
  4. If you use an extension cord, you could cause irreversible damage to the pump motor, voiding the motor warranty.

What about the electricity for the pump?

See manufacturer’s papers provided with the filter system for complete information. Call Smith Pool with any questions or concerns. The instruction manuals are very clear and illustrative. 
It will be worth your time to read these manuals. There are also many Youtube videos on pool filter operation.

General Pool Care

What do I do with the yard around the pool?

  1. Do not use sand, pea gravel, or rocks to fill in any areas around the pool frame.
  2. Do not build wood decks over the top ledge, so liner replacement or repair will be easier down the road. Consider that your winter cover secures underneath the top ledge when building a deck.
  3. Treat the pool area for insects and termites, especially in wooded areas. Termites and other insects have eaten through pool liners, voiding the liner warranty.
  4. Keep grass from growing within 1’ of the pool wall. 
    Nutgrass will grow through the liner next to the pool wall if allowed to grow, voiding the liner warranty. 

How do I care for my pool frame?

  1. Keep the pH and Total Alkalinity balanced. Most problems with corrosion on pool frames are directly attributed to improper chemical balance.
  2. Do not over chlorinate the pool.
  3. Fix any leaks in the pool liner immediately.
  4. If the pool water never contacts the pool frame, you will not have any rust problems with the steel wall.
  5. Most of all – do not let the pool leak and keep the water unbalanced. This combination will quickly ruin your pool wall and frame and not covered your warranty.

How do I care for my liner?

  1. Spray around the pool for termites and insects annually when you have your house sprayed, especially if you live in a wooded area.
  2. Do not play with sharp objects in the pool.
  3. Do not use abrasive pool chemicals to clean the vinyl.
  4. Do not drain the pool because the liner may shrink.
  5. Do not allow tablets to sit on the bottom of the pool.
  6. Dissolve all calcium hypochlorite in a bucket of warm water before adding it to the pool.
  7. Keep pH and Alkalinity in balance. The pH should range between 7.2-7.6, and the Alkalinity should be around 100 ppm.
  8. Keep Calcium Hardness in balance. The Calcium Hardness should be at least 100 ppm. Smith Pool can check your calcium hardness for you if you bring us a water sample.

How do I care for my pump?

  1. The more you run the pump, the cleaner and clearer the pool will stay.
  2. Clean out the pump and skimmer basket when the pressure in the filter decreases.
  3. Clean skimmer basket to avoid low water flow to pump.
  4. Never let the water get below halfway in the skimmer; this can cause your pump to run dry, damaging the pump and motor, and not covered under warranty.
  5. Fix any suspected leaks immediately to prevent motor damage since leaking water goes into the motor casing and causes motor failure.
  6. Run an electrical outlet to operate the pump. Inadequate electrical supply will ruin the motor and void the warranty.

How do I care for my sand filter tank?

  1. Backwash filter when water flow to the pool is significantly reduced, or the pressure increases on the pressure gauge by 4 to 5 pounds over normal pressure.
  2. Always turn off the pump when switching dial positions.
  3. Always move the dial handle clockwise.
  4. Chemically clean filter sand when backwashing does not reduce pressure in the tank.
  5. Change filter sand every three years.
    1. Drain all equipment for the winter months.
    2. Replace the gauge each season; pressure gauges wear out often.

How do I keep my pool clean?

  1. Chemical maintenance is the first and most important step.
  2. Keeping debris out of the pool will help your chemicals work more effectively.
  3. Telepoles fit various cleaning devices such as brushes, nets, vacuums, and leaf baggers.
  4. Brush the pool walls and bottom regularly; this will help the filter system clean the pool, reducing vacuuming.
  5. Use a deep leaf net to remove large debris such as leaves, rocks, and sticks.
  6. Use a leaf bagger attached to a garden hose to easily remove large amounts of leaves from the pool.
  7. Vacuum pool when needed or purchase an automatic vacuum to help keep the pool clean.

How do I vacuum my pool?

  1. Backwash your filter and clean your pump basket.
  2. Connect the vacuum head to the telepole. Connect one end of the long white vacuum hose to the vacuum head. Place this in the pool opposite the skimmer.
  3. With the filter running, take the other end of the vacuum hose and hold it over the eyeball to fill the entire vacuum hose with water. You will notice the air bubbles coming out of the other end of the hose.
  4. Once all the air is out of the hose, turn your pump off.
  5. Place the vacuum plate (the round flat piece with a nozzle on top) inside the skimmer on top of the skimmer basket. Bring the end of the vacuum hose through the front of the skimmer and put the hose on the nozzle on the vacuum plate in the skimmer.
  6. Turn the pump on, and the suction will start.
    After a minute or two, go back through the steps to ensure that the air is out of the vacuum hose if you do not have suction.
  7. As you vacuum, your filter will get dirty, and you will begin to lose suction. You may need to backwash your filter and clean your pump basket to regain suction. Do not vacuum while the filter is in the backwash position. Typically, you will vacuum in the filter position.
  8. If your pool is really dirty or algae grows, vacuum to waste; this will expel the debris out to the yard instead of going into your filter. Then refill pool as needed.

Helpful Hints

  1. Spray for termites and other insects around the pool area annually, especially in wooded areas.
  2. Store hoses in shaded areas to make the hoses last longer.
  3. Add chlorine in the evening to minimize chlorine loss due to sunlight.
  4. Direct the eyeball upward to get surface water circulating.
  5. Use a chlorine stabilizer each season to reduce chlorine loss.
  6. When there is excess debris or algae in the bottom of your pool, vacuum with the filter valve in the “waste” position.
  7. Mount ladder system to top ledge per instructions to stabilize the ladder. The installer will not do this at the time of installation.
  8. To extend your pool season, cover your pool at night with a solar cover or use a liquid solar blanket to keep the water warmer.
  9. To cool off your pool water in the middle of the summer, use a pool fountain.
  10. Read all warranty papers, manuals, and safety information.
  11. The more you run the pump and filter, the cleaner and clearer your pool will stay.
  12. Proper filtration and chemical maintenance can prevent many problems.
  13. A pool is just like a lawn. If you keep it up regularly, it’s not hard to manage. But if you let it go without tending to it, it is much work to get it back into shape.

General Pool Care for Chlorine

Taking care of your pool should be easy. The four fundamental concepts in routine chlorine maintenance are:

How do I start my chlorine pool?

  1. To start up your chlorine pool, you need to shock your pool, add tablets, and adjust your pH and alkalinity if required.
  2. Shocking your pool means adding a hefty dose of chlorine at once. Shocking the pool typically brings your chlorine level to 8.0 to 10.0 ppm. We recommend shocking the pool at the beginning to sanitize your fill water thoroughly. Follow the dosage chart on the shock that you choose to use.
  3. Start chlorine tablet usage the next day.

How do I keep my pool sanitized?

  1. Check the level of chlorine at least a couple of times per week.
  2. When the chlorine level is below 1.5 ppm, you need to add chlorine.
  3. There are three ways to keep chlorine in the pool:
    1. Chlorine Tablets.
    2. Granular Chlorine.
    3. Liquid Chlorine.

How do I use Chlorine Tablets?

  1. Check all instructions and warnings on container labels.
  2. Tablets should be used in a floater or an automatic chlorinator connected to your filtration system.
  3. A floater is inexpensive and should be removed from the pool when people are swimming.
  4. Automatic chlorinators are part of your filtration system. The drawback is that your pump has to be running to chlorinate the pool.
  5. Always use trichlor tablets. Do not use calcium hypochlorite tablets. Check the label.
  6. Never put anything other than trichlor tablets in a chlorinator. Not following this rule can be very dangerous.
  7. Remember, when using tablets, the pH and Alkalinity will drift lower. Keep Alkalinity Increaser on hand. (Alkalinity Increaser will increase both the Alkalinity and pH)
  8. Never put tablets in the skimmer because they will corrode pump and filter parts.
  9. Shocking your pool will be necessary every week or so to remove wastes from pool water and keep your water clear. An algaecide may be used in conjunction with tablets to prevent algae growth.

How do I use Granular Chlorine? 

  1. Check all instructions and warnings on container labels. Make sure you know what chemical you are dealing with. Some granular chlorine will need to be dissolved in a bucket of warm water before adding it to your above ground pool because it will bleach your liner.
  2. Add granular chlorine according to product labels when chlorine tests low.
  3. This is an easy method but must be monitored daily, especially in hot weather.
  4. Some powders raise your pH when the chlorine level is high. As the chlorine level comes down, the pH will also come down.
  5. Never put granular chlorine in an automatic chlorinator.
  6. Shocking your pool will still be necessary every week or so to remove wastes from pool water and keep your water clear. An algaecide may be used in conjunction with granular chlorine to prevent algae growth.
  7. Some pool owners have trouble keeping their pool clear when using granular chlorine because of the residue in most powder chlorines.
  8. Dichlor is a good substitute for calcium hypochlorite shock. It is more expensive but does not have to be pre-dissolved and will not cloud the water.

How do I use Liquid Chlorine?

  1. Check all instructions and warnings on container labels.
  2. Liquid chlorine is easy to use since it is already dissolved; it will not cloud your water and works quickly.
  3. Liquid chlorine will raise your pH when the chlorine level is high. As the chlorine level comes down, the pH will come down also.
  4. Like granular chlorine, liquid chlorine usage requires checking the chlorine level in the pool often and adding small amounts of chlorine.
  5. Liquid chlorine is excellent for shocking your pool. Shocking your pool will still be necessary every week or so to remove wastes from pool water and keep your water clear. An algaecide may be used in conjunction with liquid chlorine to prevent algae growth.

Smith’s Pool Hints

  1. A good and easy combination for chlorine maintenance is using tablets for your constant chlorine source and liquid chlorine for shocking. If you begin to have algae problems, supplement the tablets with a weekly dosage of preventative algaecide.
  2. Keep up with pH and Alkalinity to boost chlorine efficiency and prevent corrosion of equipment, pool, and liner, especially when using chlorine tablets.
  3. Use a chlorine stabilizer at the beginning of every pool season to cut down on chlorine consumption. The stabilizer protects the chlorine from the sun’s UV rays.

How do I remove waste to keep my pool clear?

  1. Shocking your pool will be necessary every week or so to remove waste from pool water and keep your water clear, even though your chlorine level stays at the correct levels. Shocking the pool typically brings the chlorine level up to between 8.0 and 10.0 ppm.
  2. Regular chlorine levels will not keep your pool water in good condition.
    Wastes build up and need to be “oxidized.” Shocking your pool with a hefty dose of chlorine will oxidize wastes in the pool.
  3. Liquid chlorine is excellent for shocking your pool since it is already dissolved and works quickly.
  4. Granular chlorine can be used, but many brands cloud pool water.
  5. Shocking is also used when you run into problems, such as when the pool is green or cloudy.
  6. It is always a good idea to shock your pool after heavy rains.

How do I prevent algae growth?

  1. Regular chlorine and shocking maintenance will usually control algae.
  2. Under certain conditions, algae will still grow even though low chlorine levels are present in the pool. In these cases, it is good to supplement chlorine use with a strong algaecide.

How to keep up with pH and Alkalinity?

  1. Test your pH when you check your chlorine. Some test strips will check Alkalinity, pH, and free chlorine.
  2. If your liquid test kit does not check for Alkalinity, bring a water sample to Smith Pool and Spa once a month to check your Alkalinity.
  3. Alkalinity is a pH buffer. Your pH will fluctuate less when the Alkalinity is in balance.
  4. Before adjusting the pH, adjust the alkalinity. When your pH is low, you add pH up or increaser. When the pH is high, add pH minus.
  5. When your Alkalinity is low, add Alkalinity increaser. When your Alkalinity is high, add pH minus.
  6. Be careful not to overshoot your adjustment. Add in small increments and check between additions to avoid adding too much.

How do I close my chlorine pool for winter?

  1. Add winter kit according to the directions on the equipment.
  2. Plug eyeball and put “gizzmo” in the skimmer.
  3. Unhook filter system from the pool and drain all water from pump and filter and accessories.
  4. Label all hoses and adapters for easy assembly in the spring. Once you have labeled the hoses, you can disconnect them.
  5. Remove all drain plugs from equipment. Remove any salt systems and other accessories that should not freeze.
  6. Remove ladders and steps from the pool.
  7. Inflate air pillow and tie loosely at ends, so it floats in the middle of the pool.
  8. Drape winter cover over pool frame and air pillow.
  9. Run the cable through the cover grommets.
  10. Attach the cable to the winch and ratchet tightly. The winch helps you snug the cover around the pool frame.
  11. The covers are not designed to allow the water to run off the pool.
  12. Pump excessive water off the cover.
  13. Smith Pool and Spa sell electric pumps and siphon pumps, and these will help your cover last longer.

General Care for Low Chlorine Systems

How would I maintain my Frog System pool?

  1. Check your pool water for the proper balance.
    Your pH should be between 7.4-7.8, and your Total Alkalinity should be between 80-150.
  2. On the first day, shock the pool with 1 lb of dry chlorine or 1 gallon of liquid chlorine per 10,000 gallons of water to burn off contaminants and activate the cartridge. Add 1 Frog algaecide that lasts 90 days.
  3. Keep chlorine level at 0.5 or higher using a chlorine floater or frog low chlorine packs.
  4. Shock pool once every few weeks.
  5. Balance pH and Alkalinity regularly.
  6. This is a straightforward system. It also has benefits in keeping a low chlorine level in the pool. Less chlorine means less smell, less corrosion, and less fading.
  7. It does require purchasing a mineral pack every season.