Understanding Your Swimming Pool: A Complete Guide

Owning a swimming pool comes with the joy of refreshing dips and leisurely afternoons lounging by the water. But behind the scenes, a complex system works hard to keep your pool clean, safe, and inviting. From the variety of shapes and materials to the intricate cleaning systems, let's dive into the workings of a swimming pool.

Pool Shapes and Materials

Choosing the Right Shape: Your pool's shape isn't just about aesthetics; it impacts maintenance and usability. Whether you opt for a classic rectangle, a round oasis, or a custom freeform design, each has its unique considerations for cleaning and pool robot manoeuvrability

Selecting Materials: The material of your pool influences maintenance routines and the longevity of your pool. Materials like gunite (concrete), fiberglass, vinyl, and others each come with their pros and cons, affecting everything from the pool's texture to how well a robotic pool cleaner can navigate and clean.

The Heart of Your Pool: Pumps and Filters

The circulation system in a swimming pool is designed to keep the water moving, filtered, and clean, ensuring a safe and pleasant swimming environment. Here's a basic overview of how it works:

Pumping: The heart of the pool's circulation system is the pump. It draws water from the pool through the skimmer and main drain, pushes it through the filter, and then returns it to the pool through the return jets. This continuous cycle is essential for distributing chemicals and filtering the water.

Skimming and Straining: Before the water reaches the pump, it passes through the skimmer basket, which catches larger debris like leaves and bugs. The pump has a strainer basket as well, which catches finer debris that gets past the skimmer.

Filtering: Once the water is drawn into the pump, it is then pushed through the filter, which removes dirt, debris, and other contaminants from the water. The different types of swimming pool filtration (sand, cartridge, or diatomaceous earth) determines the size of the particles that are removed.

Heating and Treating: After filtering, the water can be passed through a heater to adjust the temperature, if a heater is part of the system. Then, the water can be treated with chemicals as needed (e.g., chlorine) either manually or through an automatic chemical feeder to maintain water quality.

Returning to Pool: Clean, filtered, and treated water is then returned to the pool through the return jets. The placement and angle of these jets are crucial for ensuring efficient water circulation, promoting even distribution of treated water, and avoiding dead spots where algae and bacteria can grow.

Balancing Water Chemistry: The circulation system plays a critical role in dispersing the chemicals that balance the water's pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels. Effective circulation ensures that these chemicals work efficiently throughout the entire pool.

The key to a healthy pool is a well-functioning circulation system that operates several hours each day, depending on the pool size, the volume of water, and the number of swimmers. Regular pool maintenance of the pump, filter, and cleaning of the skimmer and strainer baskets are essential to keep the circulation system working effectively and to ensure the pool remains clean, clear, and safe for swimmers.

Understanding Pool Chemistry

Keeping your pool's chemical levels in balance is crucial for clean and safe water. This includes managing chlorine levels with pool shocking to kill bacteria, adjusting pH levels to prevent irritation, and ensuring alkalinity levels are stable to protect pool surfaces.

Balancing water chemistry goes beyond chlorine and pH levels; it encompasses a comprehensive understanding of alkalinity, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels. Regular testing with a reliable water testing kit allows for precise adjustments, ensuring the water is not only safe for swimmers but also conducive to the longevity of the pool's surfaces and equipment. Seasonal pool maintenance and heavy usage necessitate more frequent testing and adjustments, highlighting the importance of a proactive approach to pool chemistry management.

Keeping the Water Crystal Clear: Cleaning and Maintenance

While it may not be the most glamorous aspect of pool ownership, maintaining a clean and properly functioning pool requires a bit of effort. There’s parts and systems upkeep, as well as cleaning. Efforts in skimming, brushing, and vacuuming play a crucial role in maintaining the pool's aesthetics and hygiene. However, there are some ways to make this work easier and even automated!

We’ve written an Ultimate Guide to Pool Maintenance for you already. The takeaway is that proper cleaning and maintenance are essential in being able to enjoy your pool to its fullest potential. Fortunately, we offer some incredible options to help you in those seemingly mundane tasks that just have to get done.

Automated Cleaning Solutions

Robotic pool cleaners, like our Dolphin Residential and Commercial lines, play a vital role in pool maintenance. They automate the tedious task of cleaning the pool's floor, walls, and even waterlines, saving time and ensuring a thorough clean. 

Robotic pool cleaners also help disperse chemicals and filter water as they move around the pool. That means that in addition to pulling in and trapping debris of various sizes, they also help all of the functions of your pool work more efficiently.

If you’d like to find the Dolphin robot that’s right for your pool (or the pool you’re considering), check out our Help Me Choose quiz!


Opening your pool is a detailed process that sets the tMaintaining a swimming pool is a multifaceted responsibility that requires knowledge, diligence, and a proactive approach. By understanding and implementing advanced filtration methods, regular cleaning routines, precise water chemistry management, and appropriate seasonal maintenance, you can ensure your pool remains a source of joy and relaxation. Embracing these practices will not only extend the life of your pool but also enhance the swimming experience for you and your guests, making your pool the centerpiece of leisure and enjoyment it's meant to be.