PROPERTY MAINTENANCE

We can't stress enough the importance of maintaining your property. You will be protecting your investment at the same time as keeping your home weatherproof inside and out, and enhancing its beauty! There are many different areas of maintenance to be aware of, from the all- important roof, to the maintaining of good foundations in areas where this might be an issue.

Since many people will take the opportunity to fulfil another dream and have a swimming pool, we also include a very clear and straightforward item on pool maintenance.

In this section we will look at:

POOL MAINTENANCE

What could be better than owning your own swimming pool, getting up in the morning and diving into the crystal blue waters in your own garden.

Many people who buy properties abroad are tempted by the appeal of a pool – and rightly so. It's a very tangible luxury that is really not that practical in the UK. However do not be fooled into thinking it is just the case of turning up on holiday and flicking a switch. Owning a pool requires consistent and continued attention – it is not rocket science but it cannot be ignored. Realistically, owners have two choices: look after your own if you are resident here or employ someone to look after it for you. Here, we will concentrate on the process of looking after your own pool but first just a quick word on paying someone to look after your pool for you. Many

people fall into the trap of having a friend or neighbour look after their pool, usually their friend has one of their own and everyone is sure it will not be a problem. This nearly always leads to problems with the pool and then acrimony.  Always use a reputable maintenance company to look after your pool. They have the knowledge and experience to ensure your pool stays in tip top condition all year.

In this article we will look at:

Opening up in spring

If you have a decent winter cover on your pool you will already have a head start here. Remove that and give it a good clean before storing it away somewhere dry and sheltered.

At this point I should add that there are many techniques used to open a pool and nearly everyone does it slightly differently. This covers the basic concepts and highlights a few essential bases to cover.

Have a look at the colour of the water. You should be able to see the bottom of the pool but if you cannot, don't panic! Get your net out and remove any leaves or debris from the pool floor. This may well stir up more debris than you realised was there and now your pool may look quite murky.  It is still not the time to panic.  Remove as much debris as possible, the more you do now the better. When you have exhausted the net, let the water settle and turn your attentions to the pump room.

It is now time to reconnect all your pipework and prime the pump. All systems are different so you should revert to your instruction manuals to make sure it is all correctly reassembled. If your multiport valve has an option for recirculating then turn the valve here and start the pump up. Once this is going and you have a good flow of water, you really are ready to go. Turn the multiport valve to filter and run that for a few minutes to purge the air. Then give the sand filter a really good back wash – at least 5 minutes – before you perform a rinse and return it back to filter.

Now back to the pool to test the water. At this stage you are checking firstly for alkaline and secondly for ph, but obviously not for chlorine at this stage. I recommend that you take a sample of the water to your local pool store and have them analyse it (remember you will need to know the volume of your pool in cubic metres). They will be able to eliminate the guess work and provide you with the best way to start. It normally only costs a couple of euros but it is so important to get it right at this stage. Any errors now will come back to haunt you later. They will test for alkalinity: if it's low they will give you the exact amount of chemicals to make your adjustment; if it's high you will have to change some water, usually emptying around a third of the pool and refilling it. They will also advise on how to get the ph levels correct in conjunction with the alkaline.

Once this part of the process is correctly completed it's time to add chlorine – shock chlorine to be exact. Follow the dosage instructions on your tub but double it. If your water was already very dark when you took the winter cover off, triple the dose. Leave the pump on constant and let it be for 48 hours.

After 48 hours the water should look clearer but, depending on how green it was at the beginning, cloudy. Give it a backwash and rinse, then add another single dose of shock with the correct amount of flocculant tablets, this will make a massive difference to clearing the cloudiness. Come back again every 24 hours, repeating the process until the cloudiness has gone. A couple of treatments should do this.

Once clear, perform another backwash and rinse but this time do not add any chlorine. Leave it for another 24 hours and then add your slow release chlorine. Your opening process is complete.

Season long care

The most important part of your season long care is do not be tempted to ignore your pool. The very minimum you should do is clean and check it once a week, even if it looks clean. Algae and bacteria build up in the pool and it must be regularly cleaned. If you have time or if your pool is used a lot, this should be done twice a week but never leave it a fortnight. Perform a backwash and rinse, clear the skimmer baskets and the basket in the pump, clean the pool completely and remove any loose debris. You should then check the ph and chlorine and adjust accordingly.

Winter Closure

This is perhaps the simplest part of the seasons care but important none the less. The biggest mistake we encounter with clients closing their pools is doing it too early. There is a temptation to close the pool once the last summer guests have departed or when September's warmth starts to cool. The time to close your pool is not determined by the air temperature but by the water temperature. Products vary but, in general, the water temperature should be at 14 or 15° and this is not likely to be reached at least until mid-October, possibly even early November.

The process is simple enough though: start with a good quality winteriser (hivernage), check and adjust the ph level to that indicated on the winteriser tub. Once done add a full dose of shock chlorine and leave the pump running on constant for 24 hours. Come back the next day and then add the correct amount of winteriser for the volume of your pool. Pour this around the edge of the pool and then allow 3 or 4 hours for it to circulate.

After this time you should start to lower the water level. Turn the multiport valve to waste and keep an eye on the skimmer. When the water level reaches the bottom of the skimmer close off the skimmer valve allowing the water to drain from the base outlet only. You want the water level to be approximately 15cm below the skimmer. Get yourself 3 or 4 empty plastic water or milk bottles, half fill them with water and throw them in the pool. This will help prevent your liner getting damaged if it gets cold enough to freeze the water. Finish by disconnecting the pipework, draining the system and fitting your winter cover. Go and get yourself a cup of tea, you've earned it!

Key Points

Have a professional perform the first test of the season Always use good quality products

Regularly clean your pool all season – once or twice a week Do not close your pool too early in autumn/winter

Get a good quality winter cover

Article brought to you by Richard Waldeck – Charente Assistance

www.charenteassistance.fr
www.artisancentral.fr/CharenteAssistance