Cleaning Your Pool After a Storm

Major storms can wreak havoc on even the cleanest and most well-maintained swimming pools. Storms that bring high wind and significant rain, including hurricanes, can sweep dirt and debris into your pool, while storms that result in flooding can bring with them an even longer list of potential contaminants, such as mud, silt, and bacteria.

Keeping your pool clean and safe under normal conditions can be challenging, but after severe weather, it may seem significantly more difficult. Hopefully you prepared your pool for the storm, but either way, we're here to help. Below are some easy-to-follow tips for returning your pool back to normal and your water back to crystal clear.

Highlights include:

Do Not Remove Water From 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. Although it may be tempting to drain your pool and start over with clean water, removing water from your pool can be dangerous, as this 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 a storm is to remove the debris that is either floating on the pool surface or that has settled to the bottom of the pool. Using a skimmer or a leaf 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. Do not worry about the small dirt particles; they will be vacuumed up later in the cleaning process.

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

An additional step to take before turning the power to your pool equipment back on is removing all plastic coverings and checking 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 circulation and filtration systems.

If there appears to be any presence 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.

DIY TIP: 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 most likely will 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 might be a good time to replace the DE filter media. If you use a cartridge filter, it might 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 major storm, a good amount of water most likely will have 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 sump 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.

Vacuum and Brush Pool Walls and Floor

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.

DIY TIP: If your vacuum 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. 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 Water and Balance Chemistry

Even though your pool will look clean and clear after a few rounds of vacuuming, there will still be a good amount of microscopic and potentially harmful organic contaminants still floating around. If left unchecked, this can lead to algae growth, as well as potentially harmful bacteria in your pool. To stop the growth of these contaminants, begin by using a powerful pool shock such as Cal-Hypo or Chlorine-Free. 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 to balance your 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, 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 storm. After vacuuming and brushing your pool, you will want to run your pool equipment until the water is clean. This may take up to several days, but it is important to make sure your system is running the entire time.

Take extra care to check the skimmer basket, 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 storm, visit or contact your local Leslie’s store or call us at 1-800-LESLIES.