With pool season upon us, you have most likely perfected the art of lounging, splashing, and swimming! Friends and family love hanging out at your house on hot, sunny days. If you want to keep that pool water in pristine condition, you need to have a thorough knowledge of how to clean and maintain your pool. Here’s some information that will cover all the bases when it comes to caring for your pool.

First and foremost, you need to check your pool chemistry. Do this one to two times per week. Your pH level should be kept between 7.2 and 7.8. The lower this number is, the less chlorine you will need to add to the pool. Improper pH levels can also potentially damage the liner.

Then, make sure you clean out skimmer basket(s) weekly—more often during inclement weather. It’s also a good time to check the lint and hair pot that is located on the front of the pool pump. This will most likely need to be cleaned out every couple of weeks. Turn the pump off to perform this task, and release pressure on the system.

Maintain an optimum water level. It should be right at the center level of the pool skimmer or pool tile. If the level is too low, the pump may run dry and burn up. Conversely, if it is too high, the skimmer door will not work properly.

You should also clean the filter regularly. Check it after a heavy storm—chances are it will need a cleaning immediately following bad weather.

If you have a saltwater pool, you must keep the cell generator to your chlorine generator clean and keep your pool balanced so as not to over-salt it.

When cleaning the pool, use equipment that is specially designed for pool use. Choose pool cleaners, brushes, and vacuum heads designed to clean vinyl-lined pools. Store pool cleaning chemicals in a cool, dry place—away from children and pets.

It is also imperative to monitor the water level. Check it regularly so you can detect and repair any leaks as quickly as possible. When large amounts of water drain from the pool, damage to the liner can occur. Additionally, the water line area may fade or stain due to inattention. Wipe down this area on a regular basis with a soft, non-abrasive sponge.

An unconventional way to care for your pool is to throw in tennis ball. Sunblock often rubs off in the pool, which can dirty the water. A floating tennis ball will suck up any extra oils and chemicals that do not belong in the pool. Plus—it floats! It is safe to leave a tennis ball in there at all times, provided it doesn’t tempt the family dog to jump in unattended.

Knowing how to properly care for and maintain your pool will not only make it last longer—it will make lounging poolside, swimming, and partying that much more fun!