So many valves
Did you know that a cleaner pool is just as simple as turning a couple valves? The top few inches of pool water is where all the “yuck” lives. Rain water, unsaturated dirt and debris, runoff chemicals from your lawn and even your roof, and all those tiny bugs that blanket the top of your pool after these summer rains push them through your screen enclosure occupy the top layer of your pool water. (Hopefully you remember to keep your mouth closed next time you enter a cannonball contest!!)
Although nothing can truly clean your pool as well as actively skimming the surface and maintaining your water’s chemistry, mitigating the exposure to these contaminates is relatively simple as long as your pump is pulling the correct proportion from your drains. Before we do that, there are two important factors that need to be addressed to ensure our little valve turning exercise is effective. First, is your water level at least halfway up, but not completely above the top of your weir? (That’s the little door on the side of your pool that feeds your skimmer drain.) Too low and the yucky layer will remain in your pool. Too high and the skimmer drain won’t be able to work as efficiently. Once your water level is within that Goldilocks range, we can look at the other factor. Is your filter cleaned on a regular schedule? Every filter design has a suggested cleaning cycle set by the manufacturer, but that’s a topic for another blog. For now, let’s just assume your filter is operating at an optimal level.
Now that we have these two factors out of the way, let’s go back to our original question…How do we get a cleaner pool by turning a couple of valves? In order to pull from that yuck layer, we want about 75% of the water coming from the skimmer drain and about 25% from the bottom drain (sometimes called the “main drain”). Now you might be asking why we don’t simply pull 100% from the skimmer drain. There are two basic reasons. First is a safety issue for your system. If your water level happens to fall below the weir or if something blocks the skimmer drain you could run the risk of running your pump dry causing expensive service calls. Secondly, did you notice my use of the adjective “unsaturated” when referring to the dirt and debris on the top of your pool? No matter how efficiently that layer is cleaned there will always be an element of these contaminates that find their way to the pool floor, so in this case the bottom drain helps collect the stuff that’s too heavy for yucky-town.
So there is a pool of information (pun intended) but no clear answer to the original question. The easiest way to find this 75/25 ratio is by opening your skimmer drain fully and setting the bottom drain to the midway point. Sounds easy, right? But do you want to know an easier way to have your pool looking better than ever? Hire a certified pool professional to manage your pool’s cleaning cycle and properly balance your water’s chemistry. Mention this article when you contact us to receive a free estimate.