How To Conserve Your Pool Water This Summer

Reduce swimming pool water loss with these pro tips, good in the summer and year-round.

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There’s no denying swimming pools require a lot of water, especially during the summer months when heat and sunlight cause increased evaporation. And with droughts and water shortages in many parts of the country, you may feel just a wee bit guilty splashing around in your backyard pool.

But take heart. There are plenty of ways to conserve swimming pool water and be a responsible pool owner! We asked the experts at Leslie’s Pool Supplies how can pool owners can conserve water, even as the summer sun tries hard to drink it up.

First things first: The experts say a well-maintained pool actually uses less water per day than an irrigated lawn. How much water your pool needs often has as much to do with preventive maintenance as it does hot summer temperatures. Here are their insights and top tips for conserving pool water this summer and year-round.

Ways to Reduce Water Evaporation

The pros at Leslie’s say that on average, about one-quarter inch of water evaporates from your pool every day. In hot, dry climates, pools can lose even more.

Short of building an enclosure over your pool, there are two ways to reduce evaporation:

  • Invest in a solar pool cover you keep in place when the pool is not in use. Not only will this curtail evaporation, it will help heat the pool water. The downside: These covers can be heavy and unwieldy, especially on a larger pool. While you can unroll and roll them back up by hand, the job is much easier with a pool cover reel. These are our top picks for solar pool covers.
  • Try a liquid solar cover. This is a clear liquid, usually alcohol, that weighs less than water and floats on the surface of your pool. Unlike a traditional pool cover, the pool can actually be used with a liquid cover. Reviews are mixed on the effectiveness of this genre of products, but it’s worth trying before you invest in a standard pool cover.

It’s All About Pool Maintenance

If you keep your pool clean, you’ll use fewer chemicals and backwash your pool filter less often. You can use baking soda to clean your pool and maintain its chemical balance. Leslie’s says that the average backwash cycle uses more than 250 gallons of water, and as much as 1,000 gallons depending on the size of the pool. They recommend the following approaches:

  • Cartridge pool filter systems are the most water-conscious option. They require much less water for their periodic rinsing/cleaning.
  • The less debris your pool filter handles, the longer you can go between backwashing or cleaning the filter. Skim the pool daily and clean the pool filters to remove dirt and debris, and brush all pool surfaces once or twice weekly to avoid dirty buildup. Regularly clean out your skimmer and pump strainer baskets. When possible, use a pressure side or robotic pool cleaner to alleviate strain on your filter system.
  • When swimming pool chemistry is balanced, you don’t have to drain it as often, saving a significant amount of water. Remember to test your water weekly and address any water balance issues immediately. Home test kits are fine, but should be periodically confirmed by bringing a water sample to your pool supply store for in-store testing.

Check for Leaks

Even the smallest leak is a waste of pool water. Moreover, it can worsen over time, resulting in a bigger leak, more lost water and potentially greater equipment damage.

The pros at Leslie’s recommend regularly inspecting your equipment pad including the pump, filter, heater and pipes for spraying, dripping water and/or wet spots. Also, check the area around your pool and equipment pad for any wet areas or erosion. If you’re noticing water loss beyond normal evaporation or splash-out from pool use, you’ve got a leak somewhere.

  • Confirm a suspected leak and rule out evaporation by running a bucket test. Use a pool leak detector or a transparent bucket or cup. Set the container on a pool step and fill it with water so it’s at the same level as the pool. (Note: This test will work better when the pool hasn’t been used for a day or so. Check back after 24 to 48 hours. If the water level outside the container is significantly lower than inside the container, you most likely have a leak. If the water levels are the same, then it’s just evaporation.
  • Some pool leaks and other maintenance issues can be DIYable. But when in doubt, or if you’re not sure where the leak is, it’s best to call in a professional pool maintenance company.

Other Tips for Conserving Pool Water

Leslie’s offers these additional suggestions:

  • If you do have to backwash your filter, consider using that water to irrigate your shrubs, trees or other hardy greenery. Make sure the plants will tolerate this. Don’t do it if the chlorine levels are high or the pH levels are off.
  • Don’t overfill the pool, which will help avoid excess splash-out. Keep water levels about halfway up the mouth of the skimmer. And to really save on water, turn off all fountains, waterfalls and aerators, which increase the rate of evaporation.
  • Fill your pool in the morning or evening while the sun isn’t as intense. Consider reducing the pool pump to the minimum hours needed — this will also save on electricity. Running the pump at night can help with water savings, too.

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel, lifestyle and home improvement writer based in rural Umbria, Italy. Her work appears in The Washington Post, Travel + Leisure, Reader's Digest, TripSavvy and many other publications, and she is the author of several guidebooks. Liz's husband is a stonemason and together, they are passionate about the great outdoors, endless home improvement projects, their tween daughter and their dogs. She covers a variety of topics for Family Handyman and is always ready to test out a new pizza oven or fire pit.