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Cleaning Your Pool After a Hurricane

When taking inventory after a hurricane, the condition of your pool likely isn't one of the first things on your mind — the health of your family and the state your home understandably are top priority. But cleaning your pool after a hurricane is an important step of recovery, for both health and recreation purposes.

Hopefully you prepared your pool for the storm, but hurricanes can wreak havoc on even the cleanest and most well-maintained swimming pool. Storms that bring high wind and rain, such as hurricanes, can sweep dirt and debris into your pool. Large storms may cause flooding, which can create an even longer list of potential contaminants, such as mud, silt, and germs.

Keeping your pool clean and safe can be challenging, but after times of severe weather or natural disasters, it may seem next to impossible. Leslie's is here to help get your pool water back to crystal clear, no matter how dirty your pool might look. Below is the complete list of easy-to-follow tips, including these highlights:

Filling a Pool
Do not drain your pool water.

Pool Skimmer Basket
Clean the pool surface, floor, and walls; the pump strainer; and the skimmer basket.

Electrical Power
Check electrical equipment and restore power when it's safe.

Pool Water Chemistry
Shock and balance the water chemistry of your pool.

Water Circulation and Filtration
Run circulation and filtration systems until water is clear.

Do Not Drain Your Pool

Even if your water is filthy and saturated with dirt and debris, you should never remove all of the water from your swimming pool after a storm. Although it may be tempting to drain your pool and start over with clean water, removing the water from your pool can be dangerous. Emptying a pool after a large storm can lead to your pool “floating” or “popping” out of the ground due to an elevated water table. Your best bet is to clean the water currently in your pool, no matter how dirty it may look.

Skim Leaves and Debris From Pool Surface

The first step to getting your pool back in shape after an instance of severe weather is to remove the debris that is floating on the pool surface and that has settled to the bottom of the pool. Using a leaf skimmer or a pool net, along with an extendable telepole, rake the leaves and debris from your pool. You will most likely need to clean out the skimmer basket often due the amount of debris in your pool. If your tap water service works, use a leaf bagger with a fine mesh bag to remove large debris and small dirt particles. You can also vacuum later in the cleaning process.

If you don't have electricity:

If there is no electricity available when you clean your pool after a hurricane, clear out as much debris as you can and superchlorinate the pool water. Bring the Free Available Chlorine (FAC) level up to at least 5-10 ppm using Di-Chlor Shock or liquid chlorine. Maintain this FAC level to prevent algae and hinder mosquito larvae growth. Once the power is restored, complete the remainder of the steps.

If you have electricity:

Clean Pump Strainer and Skimmer Baskets

Before restoring power and running your filtration system, it is a good idea to clean out the pump strainer and the skimmer baskets. These will most likely have a good deal of debris in them and, if not properly cleaned, could cause your system to clog up.

Check Electrical Equipment and Restore Power

Before turning the power to your pool equipment back on, you will want to remove all plastic coverings and check for any signs of water damage to your equipment. If the equipment is dry, you should be fine to turn the power back on and start running your filter pump.

If there appears to be any signs of water or water damage, do not turn the power back on. Instead, consult a licensed electrician and have him/her come out to your house to check your equipment. To prevent potential injuries, as well as serious damage to your pool equipment, do not try to turn the power on or clean the equipment without first consulting a professional.

Clean and Backwash Filter

Due to the large amounts of dirt, dust, and small particles in your water, your filter will most likely need to be cleaned or backwashed before running the filtration system, as well as several times during cleaning, depending on the severity of the storm. When cleaning or backwashing the filter, make sure to reference the manufacturer’s operation guide to ensure you are cleaning it correctly.

If you use a DE filter, now would be a great time to replace the DE filter media. If you use a cartridge filter, it would also be a good time to remove the cartridges and clean them individually, or even replace the cartridges.

Check the Water Level and Remove Water as Necessary

During the course of a hurricane or severe storm, a good amount of water most likely found its way into your pool. This is OK, all it means is that you should remove the excess water and return your pool to its normal level. Using a submersible pump or a siphon, take out the excess water, and bring your water level back to normal, which should be just about halfway up your skimmer opening or the pool tile. (Before doing this, see the next section.)

Vacuum and Brush Pool Walls and Floor

Before you begin clean up: If your filter system is so equipped, it may be a good idea to vacuum directly to waste instead of running the debris through the filter, as this will clog the filter quickly. To accomplish this will require the water level to be higher than normal as the pool will be draining as you vacuum to waste.

After turning on your pool equipment and restoring your pool water to the correct level, it is now time to begin the process of removing the fine dirt and dust particles from your pool. To do this, start by vacuuming the dirt and debris off the bottom of your pool with a pool vacuum or automatic pool cleaner. Begin at the shallow end of the pool, and always move toward the deep end. Vacuum directly to waste instead of running the debris through the filter, as this will clog the filter quickly.

If you cannot vacuum the dirt and debris to waste, it is important to check the pressure gauge of your filter frequently, and clean and backwash your filter once the pressure is too high. After vacuuming, brush the pool thoroughly to remove dirt and debris from the pool walls, and vacuum again. Repeat this process until the water is clean and nearly clear.

Shock and Balance Water Chemistry

Even though your pool may look clean and clear after a few rounds of vacuuming while cleaning your pool after a hurricane, there will still be a good amount of microscopic and potentially harmful organic contaminants still floating around. If left unchecked, this can lead to annoying algae growth, as well as potentially harmful germs in your pool. To stop the growth of these contaminants in their tracks, begin by using a powerful pool shock like Cal-Hypo Shock or Di-chlor Shock. Add enough shock to raise the chlorine level to around 10.0 ppm.

Once the pool has been shocked and the chlorine level has subsided to around 3.0 ppm, start balancing the water chemistry, beginning with Total Alkalinity. After the Total Alkalinity has been brought to normal levels, between 80 and 120 ppm, you can easily adjust the pH, chlorine, and Calcium Hardness of your water. Once it has been balanced, all you will need to do is run your filtration system until all the water has been properly sanitized.

Run Circulation and Filtration Systems Until Water is Clear

Running your circulation and filtration systems is the last step to achieving a clean and clear pool after a hurricane. After vacuuming and brushing your pool, you will want to run your pool equipment until the water is completely clear. This may take a several days, but it is important to make sure your system is running the entire time. Use a powerful enzymatic water clarifier to help speed up the process.

Take extra care to check the skimmer baskets, the pump strainer basket, and the pressure of the filter while you are running the equipment around the clock. Empty the baskets as soon as they fill up with debris, and backwash your filter if the pressure gauge reads 8-10 PSI higher than the clean starting pressure. This will help keep your equipment running smoothly, and will give you a healthy pool in no time!

If you have further questions on how to clean your pool after a hurricane or severe storm, visit or contact your your local Leslie's store.

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