Getting to know Swimming Pool chemicals and learning the basics of water chemistry is tremendously important. One of the most crucial things I’ve found over the years is that for every action there truly is an equal or greater result. For example, when you add chlorine to your Swimming pool you’re also changing other chemical elements. This is not such a bad thing, but the important thing is that we always have to be conscious of “If I do this, what will be the end consequence and what else might be effected by this action?”  Let’s face it the only thing essential about a swimming pool is that the water be fresh and clean. Let’s face something else, too: Achieving this can involve more chemistry than you may have seen since junior year in high school. Here are all the essential concepts and terms you need to know to keep your swimming pool clean. Just be sure to follow all manufacturers’ instructions on the package of a chemical carefully.

Now are a few basic tips when it comes to pool chemicals and maintaining water “harmony”:

Some factors mentioned here are; pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness; all affect one another, so it will take some trial and error to get all three in the proper range at once. Also note that before you add any chemical–especially an acid–to the water, you need to first turn on the pool’s equipment. Make sure the water is circulating when adding chemicals!

I suggest using a drip or reagent based water testing kit. Make sure that your  testing kit can test for several different things (i.E.; total chlorine, free chlorine, bromine, pH, calcium hardness, iron contaminants, stabilizer, etc). Drip testing kits are more accurate than test strips. You’ll save time because you don’t have to take your water to a pool retail store for testing and you’ll only spend about .10 cents per week using a few “drops” of reagent.

Basic Steps To Ensure Your Water Is Chemically Balanced:

Here are the items I would suggest testing right away and in this order. You’ll notice that if these items are in “harmony” and where they should be not only will your chemical consumption be dramatically reduced, but also you’ll be well on your way to maintaining your pool in less than 5 minutes per week and using less than $12.00 per month in chemicals.

Test for total and free chlorine.

Free chlorine should be between 2.0 and 4.0 PPM. You’ll test this using your water test kit that I referenced above. Follow instructions on the testing package.

Test total alkalinity

Determine the water’s total alkalinity. This figure should be in the range of 80 to 150 ppm; 100 to 120 ppm is best. Adjust the total alkalinity by adding sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to raise it or sodium bisulfate (dry acid) to lower it. Test calcium hardness. This should be between 200-400 PPM. Following package instructions add calcium carbonate dehydrate to Increase calcium hardness; add sodium hexametaphosphate to decrease it. Carefully pour the chemical mixture into the pool at various spots a foot or two (about half a meter) away from the sides of the pool.

Test for pH. PH should be between 7.2 and 7.8.

If it’s lower that this you can cause equipment issues and also aggravate your skin. If it’s higher than this you will those nasty “rings” around the water line of your pool. To decrease the pH, add sodium bisulfate or liquid muriatic acid. To increase it, add soda ash (sodium carbonate).  Add more chemicals as considered necessary until the water is in balance.

Treating Water With Chlorine…

Put chlorine granules into water in a nonmetal container, following package directions. Always wear goggles and rubber gloves when handling chlorine, and always put the chlorine into the water–don’t pour the water over the chlorine. Mix for more or less 30 seconds, and leave for 30 minutes to settle. Turn on the filter. Getting as far into the middle of the pool as possible (perhaps by standing on a diving board), pour the chlorine into the pool. Discard any sediment left in the container.  Add chlorine three to four times a week for a swimming pool in heavy use. Always test your water before adding chlorine! Try and use liquid chlorine. It will penetrate the water quicker and will have an immediate impact!

Occasionally, no more than once a week you may need to super chlorinate (shock) the pool to burn any built up bacteria, algae and ammonia. Following chlorine package directions make a solution for super chlorination (it will be three to five times as strong as ordinary chlorine). Add the chlorine solution to the pool after sunset, if possible, as the sun’s ray’s break down chlorine. Before allowing someone to go in the pool, test the residual chlorine level to make sure it has deceased back down below 3.0 ppm.  Maintaining the water free of dirt and debris… Remove any leaves from the pool with a leaf net each time you go swimming. Clear out and rinse off the strainer basket of the skimmer once or twice a week, and as often as daily during falling-leaf season.

Make sure the deck clean by regularly sweeping and then rinsing it with a garden hose. Meticulously clean your pool filter at least monthly. Clean a sand filter by backwashing:  Reverse the flow of water through the filter for 2 to 3 minutes until the wastewater is clear.  For a cartridge filter, remove the filter cartridge and wash it with a hose with a high-pressure nozzle. Replace the cartridge.

Do not add harsh chemicals to the water through the pool skimmer, this could damage the equipment.
Take water samples for testing from at least a foot (30 cm) below the surface for a more accurate reading.  Chlorine also comes in a more expensive but handy liquid form, and in tablets and sticks that you place in dispensers to gradually dissolve.

Filed under: Pool Maintenance

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