Pool owners don’t often think of something non-mechanical as needing constant attention. They know to take care of the pump, the filter, and how to keep the water balanced and clean. If you’ve added a pool slide to your outdoor experience, you may not think of it as a component that needs regular maintenance. However, if you pay special attention to and utilize proper slide care and repair, your slide will last you a long time and will remain safe and usable for years to come.
About Pool Slides
Pool slides can be made of all different kinds of materials. If you have an older pool slide, it is like it’s made up of a fiberglass shell with a coated surface. The more modern pool slides are typically made from a rotomolded polyethylene or a thermoplastic acrylic with the color infused throughout. These require less maintenance and have fewer repair issues.
The ladder element of older pool slides were made of aluminum while the newer ones have a closed design, meaning feet can’t fall forward and through the rungs. It looks nicer, is safer, and you have less spots that can accrue rust and bends.
But even the newer pool slides that are designed to be sturdy and durable need consistent care. Cleaning it regularly and making small repairs as they appear will keep your slide in tip top shape.
Depending on your usage, you should make cleaning your pool slide a regular ordeal—ideally on a weekly basis. Annually, at the very least. Pool slides gather dust, dirt, accumulate oils, and other pollutants on the surface and on the ladder. Ladders can start to rust or develop scale from the pool water.
Cleaning your pool slide regularly also means that it will keep its glossy finish. Keeping it glossed will prevent cracks from occurring which can escalate into rendering your slide unusable.
- NEVER use an abrasive cleaner to clean your pool slide—they can strip the finish on the slide and even cause microscopic tears which can grow with use.
- A good option is something like dish soap and a small cloth.
- For deeper cleaning, you can use a granulated chlorine power (just not chlorine shock). Be careful never to scrub too vigorously for fear of harming the slide’s finish.
- Windex is a good way to polish slide surfaces as well as aluminum ladders.
- Formula 409 and Fantastik are other household cleaners that aren’t too abrasive while still giving you a good clean.
- DON’T use an abrasive scrubber like steel wool to clean the pool slide. Soft, lint-free cloths are the best option.
- DON’T use Lysol, Pinesol, or vinegar to try and clean your pool slide. Any cleaner that is heavy in phosphates/nitrates is best avoided. Whatever you DO use, don’t overdo it and don’t let the cleaner make its way into the pool water.
- Steel/aluminum ladders and legs can be cleaned with the same cleaner you used on your slide.
- Wiping the steel legs with a soft, clean cloth and a little bit of glass cleaner is all it takes.
- If you have scale buildup on your ladder, use a powder cleanser like Bon Ami that is mild and doesn’t scratch surfaces.
- Choose a plastic polish to keep the ladder’s sheen and fill in scratches—something like automotive cleaners/waxes or Turtlewax’s “white polish” finishing compounds.
- Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water
- Tape opened garbage bag at the bottom of the slide to collect rinse water or use a floating bucket so the cleaner-laden water isn’t messing up the water chemistry.
- Spray down the entire slide with your cleaner of choice.
- Wipe down with a lint-free rag.
- Dip new rag into water and wipe entire surface from top to bottom.
- Use your chosen plastic polish to cover cracks and scratches.
- Buff out the polish with a clean lint-free rag.
- Allow to dry for a few days to cure completely.
- Rinse slide well.
Annual Pool Slide Maintenance
Once a year, you should go over your pool slide and make sure everything is right. If you store your slide indoors during the winter (if you have heavy snowfall or intense cold where you live), a good time to do a thorough check is when it’s reinstalled next to your pool come spring.
The water supply system—make sure it’s not worn or leaking when you turn it on.
Ladder treads—if they’re worn down, they need replacing in order to avoid a slipping hazard.
Cracks—in dry conditions, you could have cracks that form over the winter. You want to treat even small cracks as soon as possible to prevent them from getting aggravated.
Bolts—make sure they are fastened securely and none of them are missing. Also check to see if they are rusty or have calcium scale buildup that needs cleaning.
Warning labels—to keep your slide up to code, the warning labels should be readable.
Part of pool slide care is being aware of any damage and being able to repair problems as they manifest themselves. Catching damage early is key in minimizing its effect and lessening the chance that it becomes unfixable. This is true of pool slides, too.
Light scratches in the surface can usually be polished out with a good plastic cleaner or a gel gloss. Just follow the instructions on the label, using a clean cloth to apply the polish and buff into the affected area.
Water Supply Leaks/Connection Problems
New slides use a larger water supply line that is 1 inch in diameter and rarely needs to be replaced entirely. Sometimes connection gaskets will need to be replaced in addition to the valve that turns the water on to the slide. If you have an older ¼” hose, you can buy a kit to replace it entirely.
If you get rust that develops on steel or aluminum legs, touch them up with Rustoleum products to stop the problem before it escalates. You can even buy a matching paint from the manufacturer to cover the rust spots.
Check your treads and replace some grip pads if they’ve become slick or worn. Replace any ladder rungs that have been bent or start to sag as a safety precaution. Check all the bolts and make sure none are missing or stripped. If you have to replace hardware, duplicate the original components, ideally getting them from the manufacturer.
Major Cracks in the Surface
Newer versions of pool slides rarely crack when they’re rotomolded or made of acrylic. If they do, it is fixable. You will need a plastic welder and PE plastic, which can be purchased in rods and then melted into the crack, sanded, and polished.
Fiberglass slides have a greater chance of cracking, usually when the Gelcoat surface gets tears and turns into a crack. You can purchase Gelcoat repair kits or you can contact someone like a local boat repair company to completely re-coat your slide.
- When you winterize your pool, be sure to take your slide inside if you can. The extreme temperatures aren’t good for a pool slide, especially if you have water freezing and expanding inside existing cracks in the finish.
- Make sure no one uses your slide above the recommended weight limit, typically anyone over 275 pounds. This can cause bends in the slide legs and may cause harm to them and/or the equipment.
- If you have a saltwater pool, indoor pool, or pool near the ocean, it’s recommended that you rinse it off almost daily with clear water to remove salt and scale buildup.