Does it look like it’s going to rain? Sometimes it can be worse, as the guy on the telly says a storm is heading your way. Among other concerns, you would not want that above ground swimming pool lying in your backyard to be ruined by, odd as it may sound, rainwater.
Flooding caused by heavy rain and wind from severe weather can loosen the soil on which your pool is standing. As you know, above ground pools need to be positioned on flat surfaces such as yards. If this basic foundation gets eroded by heavy rain, it can lead to serious damage on the pool’s structure.
Also, the grass and flower shrubs planted near and around the pool can be at risk from any voluminous overflow of rainwater collected by your pool during a storm. Gardens usually benefit from rain during a normal drizzle, but strong torrents brought by storms are a different matter. Newer models of above ground swimming pools, in particular those available at Outbax such as Bestway pools, are getting sturdier than ever, thanks mainly to big strides in the technology and the quality of materials used in producing them.
Recently introduced units have steel side walls. However, climate change has also spawned fiercer weather patterns. Cyclones and even tropical depressions, occurring most frequently in Australia between November and April, seem to be dumping more rain these days. Luckily, you can save yourself from being in such a pretty pickle. By knowing your above ground swimming pool’s important components in relation to intense rain and by acting fast, you can protect your pool and continue to make splashing memories in it after the storm. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
1. First order of the day: Clean up
Before the weather turns sour, take out from your pool the rubber ducky, other toys and inflatable floats, as well as leaves and twigs that may have fallen from trees nearby. There may be small metal objects that you have neglected since you last used the pool. These objects can quickly turn into destructive projectiles that can badly damage the bottom or vinyl side walls of your pool when the storm’s strong wind starts shaking them vigorously.
Whilst you’re at it, inspect the trees in your yard and cut out twigs and branches that appear ready to snap. You don’t want them breaking off during the storm and diving straight into your swimming pool. If the tree looks too frail to withstand the coming strong wind and inundation, it may be better if you can have that tree cut down entirely before it can damage your pool and property or hurt people. What about garden tools and lawn chairs lying around? The coming storm can have enough force to not only knock them down but also to toss them around. Even the grills you use for barbecue parties are vulnerable to storms. It’s better to take all these items to a safe place.
Do you remember the repair kit that went with the original package you received upon delivery of your above ground pool? Use it now. Inspect the pool’s outer walls, and patch up any dings or scratches before they erupt into something more serious at the height of the storm. Do the clean-up before the rain starts really pouring. Working in the rain is a lot more difficult and makes you prone to danger, especially when handling the electrical components of your pool. You may also be exposing yourself to a lightning strike.
2. Mind the water level
An empty above ground swimming pool can easily be crumpled and uprooted by a storm’s strong wind. You certainly wouldn’t relish seeing your pool sitting on your roof or at a neighbour’s yard after the storm, would you? You can avoid that by keeping your pool filled with water ahead of a storm. The best argument against fully draining it is that the volume of water will act as a weight that will keep your pool steady and firmly attached to the ground, able to hold its own against the strong wind. If you think the pool will overflow during the storm and flood your garden or even your living room, it will be wise to leave space in the pool for the expected downpour by keeping the water level a few inches below the top.
At any rate, a drain mechanism in your swimming pool can be adjusted to prevent overflow. The runoff should flow into the drainage system. Also take note of your pool’s filter system. There are at least three kinds of filter systems in the market but for above ground swimming pools; the most popular is the cartridge filter type.
Find out if there is a need to detach any of the connectors, hoses, hose clamps, and fittings that link the filter pump and the swimming pool. If they are not easy to detach, keep them stable so they won’t be swinging around when the wind comes pummelling hard. It is also important to keep in mind that the motor that runs the electrical filter pump attached to your above ground swimming pool can be damaged when a skimmer suction line is left running. Air can be sucked into the line which can lead to a pump motor malfunction.
There is no hard and fast rule on swimming pool water levels for all of Australia. In the tropical areas — Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia — the temperature is higher, so the rate of water evaporation is also elevated. However, cyclones or tropical depressions with heavier rainfall also have a higher rate of probability in this area, so that would mean a bigger swimming pool allowance for storm-induced rain.
3. Pay attention to water chemistry
There is also the matter of your backyard pool water chemistry that you should pay attention to. Regular monitoring of a swimming pool’s chemical balance ensures healthy levels of alkaline, pH (power of hydrogen, a measure of acidity), and calcium. The interaction of these chemical elements determines the water’s cleanliness. After all, one of the reasons you may have acquired the swimming pool is to keep a healthy body; unsanitary water in the pool can militate against that goal. Rain water has a low pH level, indicating its high acidity.
As it falls from the sky, rain collects various particles, dust, pollen, and pollutants that combine to lower the pool water’s pH level. An excessive amount of rain water penetrating into your swimming pool will therefore alter the pool water’s ideal chemistry balance. For swimming pool water to be suitable for regular use, a pH level in the range of 7.4 to 7.6 is considered suitable. Any level lower than this range can cause corrosion in the mechanical parts of your pool. The level of acidity is also manifested in the pool users’ complaints of irritation in the skin or eyes.
Bigger problems arise when dirt and bits of waste find their way into your pool during a storm and pollute the water by spawning the growth of algae. Not only is algae unsightly, algal blooms also give rise to toxins that make people and pets using the pool ill. The debris deposited into your pool during a storm needs to be cleared promptly as soon as the weather improves.
Even before the storm hits, preventive action against algae can be done by adding chlorine and algaecides to the pool water. However, be very careful that you do not put in too much because that would also have a harmful impact on the chemistry of the pool water. Contact the support staff at Outbax or at above ground swimming pool maker Bestway to be sure you are doing it correctly.
4. Turn off power
Once you have cleaned the water and treated it against contamination, you will no longer have use for electricity-driven devices related to your above ground swimming pool. Switch the power off. Preferably, cover the disconnected equipment (such as the filter pump, lights, and heater) with water-repellent material.
Electrical motors for pumps, which are among the most expensive accessories for your swimming pool, are best protected if you take them inside your garage or somewhere else far from rain damage. If you have a portable generator in your yard, cover it or better yet, put it in a safe place. This can save you a lot of trouble — and dollars. You can do that, too, with any solar cover that you may be using for your pool.
5. Determine if cover is needed
Whilst it is preferable that you keep your swimming pool covered ahead of heavy rains to keep contaminants away, the cover may also be of little value in the event of strong winds accompanying a storm. It can easily be ripped off by gusts or torn by falling branches, sticks, or other sharp objects. As such, when a hurricane is inevitable, it is a good idea to simply leave the pool uncovered. But be prepared for a possible major clean-up of the pool later.
A surface skimmer from Bestway can help facilitate the chore of clearing swimming pool debris before or after the storm. Attached to the filter pump, the skimmer collects floating leaves and other dirt before they reach the pool’s bottom where they can be more difficult to remove. The pool cover also catches wayward leaves. They stay dry there and are later easily blown away by the breeze, whereas leaves that fall into an uncovered pool means more organic matter that will need more chlorine treatment even if the skimmer is capable of collecting much of this debris.
In areas experiencing higher temperatures during normal circumstances, the rate of evaporation is greater so a pool cover can help reduce that. Additionally, it can also minimise the need to top off the water level periodically. A pool cover can prevent damage to skimmers that are bound to have shorter lifespans if evaporation results in water levels exposing the cleaning device over long periods. If you leave your pool without cover in the rain, you might also want to take advantage of the added pool water by letting it flow through to the filter. Just keep it flowing at backwash mode, and wait for the water to reach the level you regularly use.
6. Restore the pool to normal condition
When the storm has blown over and you have time to attend to your backyard pool, prioritise the chores you will need to accomplish. Some of these tasks may at first look daunting and unpleasant, but you will have no choice but to get them over with, hopefully with the help of the rest of the household. You started preparations for the storm with a clean-up. Most likely, you will find yourself having to do it again after the storm. There will be a lot of things to pick up around your garden before attending to the pool.
For cleaning the pool itself, start with the pump strainer which may have collected a lot of dirt during the storm. It’s going to be easy to make that functional again once it is unclogged. Use a vacuum if you want to have peace of mind about your pool’s cleanliness. Go over the electrical parts and equipment carefully. The last thing you would want is to damage those accessories if wrongly plugged back to the power source whilst still wet. Putting them on again may even be deferred if you see any major damage that requires a replacement. Play it safe before turning the power back on. Finally, you will need to check out the water chemistry.
If there is a need to rebalance it, get on with it. Any big change in the colour of your pool’s water after the storm can signal a need to correct the chemistry balance before you can safely start wading in it again. Should you need further professional assistance, there’s a customer service team at Outbax that you can call. As Australia’s leading online shop for outdoor and camping gear, Outbax is accessible from your laptop computer or mobile phone. Additionally, Bestway has a support staff that can provide guidance on problems. The Bestway web site will ask only for a copy of your proof of purchase and a picture of the product and help will soon be coming. Once these problem areas have been resolved and fixed, you will again be happy about enjoying a dip in your above ground swimming pool. If you have yet to buy one, check out our range of above ground pools now!