Summer is upon us, and it’s time to put together your agenda for a fun-filled season of barbeques, backyard gatherings and other poolside activities. But while you’re in the midst of making your weekend plans for the next couple months, don’t forget about the responsibility of maintaining your pool.

It’s easy to lose sight of maintenance when all you want to do is enjoy the crystal clear water you’ve been waiting for all offseason. So create a maintenance schedule that keeps you on track and ensures pool care is part of your summer agenda.

The importance of a maintenance schedule

Maintaining your pool according to a schedule can ensure small issues you can handle easily early on do not become major headaches down the road, says Paul Gillio, senior technical services rep with the North American Water Products division

of Arch Chemicals, Inc., now part of Lonza.

“The challenge you have when you do get a problem with your pool, whether it’s cloudy water or growing algae, is that it takes a lot of effort to get rid of it,” Gillio says. “There aren’t a lot of quick fixes for these problems, and it could take several days to solve them, so it’s best to keep a maintenance schedule to avoid and reduce any issues.”

According to Shannon Martin, vice president of Texas Blue Lake Pools in Amarillo, Texas, having a preventive maintenance schedule is a more effective approach than reactive maintenance—treating your water only after a problem surfaces. “If you have to react to a problem, it’s going to cost you more and take more time, she says.

Here are examples of the tasks you should tackle on a daily, weekly and monthly basis:

Daily maintenance

Adjust pH and chlorine levelsTo ensure your pool is comfortable for family and guests, it’s important to develop a routine for adjusting your water’s pH and chlorine levels daily, creating a log to track adjustments. The typical pH level is between 7.2 and 7.6.

If you throw a party or have a heavy bather load, it’s important to adjust pH levels before and after swimmers are in the pool, as lotion, hairspray, deodorant, perspiration and even laundry detergent from swimsuits and clothing affect pH, Martin says.

To control pH levels in a chlorine or

bromine pool, look to POOLIFE® pH-Plus® to increase pH and POOLIFE® pH Minus to lower pH and alkalinity. The POOLIFE® Stabilizer & Conditioner also can help reduce chlorine loss that occurs due to intense sunlight. The BAQUACIL® pH Increaser and BAQUACIL® pH Decreaser also will help control pH levels in BAQUACIL®-treated pools.

Check your skimmer, and empty your pump basketsLocation will play a key role in how often you complete these tasks. In West Texas, where the wind blows constantly, Martin says it’s important to check skimmers and empty pump baskets often. “I also service a rural area where people have critters and frogs, so it’s important to check and dump [the baskets] as necessary,” she says.

Mother Nature also plays

a big role in how often you deviate from your schedule and maintain your pool on an as-needed basis, Gillio says. “If an enormous amount of rain water is added to your pool, you not only want to adjust your pH and chlorine levels, but [also] empty your baskets and check your skimmer, because [the rain] can cause imbalances,” he says.

Weekly maintenance

Shock your poolWhether you have a chlorine or chlorine-free pool, it’s important to add a shock treatment weekly, unless higher bather loads or weather dictate otherwise. For example, you should shock the pool as

a preventive measure after a rainstorm, Gillio says.

If you have a

chlorine pool, POOLIFE® TurboShock®—Step 2 in both the new POOLIFE® Brite

Stix® System and the tried-and-true POOLIFE® Multipurpose Tablet System—will get rid of organic waste and dissolve quickly. If your pool is chlorine-free, the BAQUACIL® Oxidizer—Step 2 in the BAQUACIL® CDX™ System—maintains an oxidizer residual in your pool to keep your

water clear and contaminant-free.

Treat and destroy algaeAlgae can turn your clear, blue water cloudy and green in a heartbeat. It can even cause unpleasant odors around your pool. Fortunately, there’s a host of pool care products—including an exciting algaecide new in 2012—that can destroy existing algae and prevent future blooms.

For chlorine pools: The new POOLIFE® Defend+® algaecide prevents algae, and it also acts as a clarifier to take care of your cloudy water. If mustard algae is your primary issue, consider the POOLIFE® AlgaeKill II product. If it’s green algae affecting your pool, look to the POOLIFE® Super AlgaeBomb® 60 or the POOLIFE® AlgaeBomb® 30.

For chlorine-free pools: The BAQUACIL® Performance Algicide is effective against all types of algae, and the BAQUACIL® Algicide gets rid of green, black and mustard algae.

Brush and vacuum your poolUnless your pool has endured excessive swimming, rainy weather or windy conditions, brush and vacuum once a week. Martin says it’s important to agitate the walls with a brush and vacuum thoroughly to get rid of debris that can accumulate in your water.

Monthly maintenance

Clean the filterIn addition to the available pool care products you can use as part of your maintenance schedule, you also should consider chemically cleaning your filter regularly, Martin says. Filter maintenance depends on the type of

filter you have and how much you use the pool.

Test your waterTo ensure your water is balanced and not over- or under-treated, it’s important to have your dealer test your water at least once per month. (To find your local dealer, click “Where to Buy” in the top-right corner of this Web page.)

“I have customers who come by the pool store while they’re out on their Saturday morning routine,

and I test their water for free,” Martin says. “I suggest everyone make this a part of their maintenance routine.”