Why Testing Your Pool Water Is Important
Your pool, while it looks like a pond, is more of a chemistry lab. The chemicals in your pool can either keep it clean or make it potentially dangerous. Testing your water is the only way to know for sure what those invisible chemicals are doing in your water.
You need to test your water often. While it might seem like a hassle, its a good thing! The better balanced your water, the less cleaning and water changing.
Algae In Swimming Pools
Algae are single-celled organisms that grow quickly in the right conditions and can turn the water in your swimming pool green within a few hours. Chlorine will help prevent growth of algae. Talk to a pool specialist to get advice on how to treat algae.
You can use a brush and garden hose to remove algae from pool surfaces. The next day, vacuum the settled algae from the floor of your pool – don’t try to remove it by running the filter. Make sure you check the TA, pH and calcium hardness before you allow anyone to swim.
Get Your Water Checked Before You Go
Take a sample of your pool water to your local pool store and get it professionally checked.
Make sure when you get it checked that you correct any issues before you go. You want to make sure that your pH and alkalinity are properly balanced and your sanitizers levels are correct.
- pH: 7.4 to 7.6
- Alkalinity: 100 parts per million to 150 ppm, with 125 ppm being ideal
- Calcium Hardness: 175 ppm to 225 ppm, or 200 ppm to 275 ppm for concrete and plaster pools
- For Chlorine Pools: 1 ppm to 3 ppm
- For Bromine Pools: 3 ppm to 5 ppm
- For Biguanide Pools: 30 ppm to 50 ppm
- For Salt Water Pools: 0.5 ppm of chlorine
- For Mineral System Pools: 0.5 ppm of chlorine
Also, make sure your pool is clean and crystal clear before you leave.
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How To Safely Manage Your Backyard Inflatable Pool
In a nutshell
Inflatable pools for the backyard are extremely popular in the summer of COVID-19. View a video on how to help prevent accidental drowning at www.poolsafely.gov.
Has COVID-19 turned you into a part-time backyard pool manager? Inflatable backyard pools are popular this summer as many families are choosing to steer clear of public aquatic venues to avoid contracting the coronavirus. I recently purchased a small inflatable pool for my family and we are enjoying the fun and relief from the heat just steps from our back door. Naturally, we are living together through the pandemic, so there is no need to maintain a social distance in the pool, as we would have to do in the presence of other swimmers in a public venue.
One thing that is very clear is that pools dont take care of themselves. I found several online resources from which I developed the following tips for those of us who are dipping our toes into backyard pool management.
Tips for the Backyard Pool Manager
Hint: Regular chlorine bleach can be used to disinfect a kiddie pool, according to an article in hunker.com. The article estimates 2 ounces of bleach is needed for a 150-gallon pool. Always test your water to ensure a chlorine level of 1 4 part per million chlorine.
Pool test strips are a handy tool for monitoring pool chlorine levels and pH
For more tips on using and storing pool chemicals safely, please see this user-friendly Pool Chemical Safety video.
Why Use An Alternative To Chlorine
Chlorine is the number 1 product used for treating swimming pool water. And we can understand why: it is highly disinfecting, adapted to huge volumes, easy to use and most particularly, economic.
On the other hand, chlorine has its disadvantages when it is used incorrectly or when the quantity is not respected: it may cause irritation. This is due to chloramine, a substance which is formed when chlorine interacts with the swimmers, particularly with their sweat, saliva and other secretions. It is this substance which causes skin, eye and respiratory irritations.
That is why swimming pool owners who are not confident when it comes to mastering the use of chlorine, even with the quality that it offers today, prefer to choose an alternative. These alternatives seem easier to use. Lets focus on 5 of them.
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Cyanuric Acid Or Stabilizer
Most chlorine products you add to the water will be stabilized chlorine. However, if you start with fresh water, you might want to add some cyanuric acid as a stabilizer base so that the chlorine doesnt get burned off by the suns UV rays so quickly. This chemical will protect your chlorine from the sun.
Let The Filter Do The Work
Shocking your pool removes exactly zero algae. What it does is kill it, so you can then let the filter clean it out. No matter what type of filter you use, be it a cartridge, sand, or diatomaceous earth youll need to clean it out several times while it clears the water.
If you have a DE filter, you need to backwash it before you start the process, and add fresh DE.
Allow the filter to run for at least 24 hours, after the treatment. Then, you can scrub the pool when you clean the filter, and then let it run again. You are going to repeat that process until the pool is clear.
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How To Get New Pool Water In Safe Swimming Condition
A new swimming pool represents a major investment in property value and family fun. Many homeowners are eager to jump in and start using the new pool right away, but this is never recommended. Preparing the new pool for safe swimming involves a careful balance of chemicals. Allow several days to get the pool in proper working order before diving in.
Turn on the pool pump and filtration system. Allow it to run continuously until the pool is clean and the chemicals are balanced.
Test the pool water for pH, chlorine and total alkalinity. A variety of test kits are available at any pool store.
Adjust the pH until it is between 6.8 and 7.2. Bring up a low pH rating by adding baking soda or lower a high pH with muriatic acid diluted in water. These chemicals also affect the total alkalinity, which should be between 70 and 80. Ensure that both pH and total alkalinity are within the desired parameters.
Add a sequestering agent according to package directions. Sequestering agents suspend metal particles in solution and help to prevent staining or scaling.
Allow two days for the pool balance to settle. Keep the pump running and test the pool water daily.
Add chlorine until the chlorine level is between 1.0 and 2.0. Although some sources allow chlorine levels as high as 3.5, this may be irritating to skin and eyes. Allow 24 hours for the pool chemicals to stabilize.
Things You Will Need
Two Important Details About The Cloud
To help you better understand how the treatment works for cloudy pool water, lets look at the two most important characteristics of the particles responsible for creating cloudy water.
1. Theyre Small
The particles introduced into pool water range in size from 0.5 to 5.0 microns . So these particles are too small to be caught by the filter and filtered out properly.
2. They Carry a Negative Charge
These particles also have a negative electric charge that causes them to repel each other and hang in isolated suspension in the water.
So to effectively treat these tiny particles that repel each other, treatment often involves changing the particles electric charge so they will stick together and become large enough to be caught by the filtration system and properly filtered out of the water.
Clarifiers and flocculants are pool water treatment chemicals that neutralize the particles electric charge, so they bond together, get filtered out, or sink to the bottom of the pool to be vacuumed away.
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The Importance Of Balanced Pool Water
Balanced pool water is clean, safe, healthy, and comfortable to swim in. And it will prevent damage to your pools structure and equipment.
Too much chlorine will cause skin and eye irritation, and potential illness, while too little will not be effective at killing bacteria, algae, and other contaminants.
If pH levels are too high, the water will become cloudy and create scale deposits on your pool walls and equipment. And if the pH levels are too low, the pool surfaces and equipment will become etched and corroded.
Simply put, unbalanced water can lead to plenty of unwanted issues with your pool. So do yourself and your pool a favour and keep your water balanced.
Chlorine Treatments For Pools
The traditional method of sanitization is the use of pool chlorine, which not only eliminates bacteria but is also able to break down organic debris through oxidation.
Chlorine comes in liquid form, though this is not commonly used for home pools granular pool chlorine, which is dissolved before being added to pool water and tablet pool chlorine, which is placed in a floating pool chlorine feeder that slowly dissolves and then releases the chlorine into the pool. The chlorine, in reaction with the pool water, produces hypochlorous acid, or what is called free chlorine, which is actually what sanitizes the water. But, free chlorine degrades rapidly in sunlight, so cyanuric acid, which stabilizes the compound, is added with the chlorine.
After treating your pool water with chlorine, you will have to check its level regularly to see if you need to add more. Pool water test kits are readily available online or at pool-supply stores. Your free chlorine level should be 1 to 2 parts per million . The amount of chlorine you may need to add depends greatly on your pool use expect to add chlorine daily during the heavy-use summer months.
Always follow label directions to the letter, and never mix more than one type of brand. Chlorine compounds can be corrosive, to your pool and to you. As you will have to handle the chemical by hand, make sure to wear proper protection on your hands and face.
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Using Ultraviolet Light To Treat Algae In Pools
Another, easier way of treating algae is by using ultraviolet light.
This technique completely destroys algae and other bacteria in the water.
UV treatments are fitted directly into the pool management system and as the water passes over the UV light, bacteria and algae are killed.
UV systems tend to be cost-effective to run and can be retrofitted to most swimming pools.
UV treatment wont however deal with algae that is already present and growing on the walls of your hot tub or pool.
What Is Breakpoint Oxidation
To reach breakpoint oxidation, the chlorine reading must be 10 ppm over your combined chlorine reading.
Your chlorine has two readings: free chlorine and combined chlorine . Free chlorine refers to the chlorine that is free and available to kill.
NOTE: Pool shock products are made with unstabilized chlorine or no chlorine at all. They will go in, do their job, and get eaten up by the suns UV rays very fast. Thats why its important to shock your pool at night or dusk, and let it work for 8 hours throughout the night.
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The Cause Of Cloudy Pool Water
The cause of your cloudy water is easily determined by the color of your pool. If the water takes on a green or yellowish color, your problem is very likely algae. The easiest way to treat algae is to use a calcium hypochlorite treatment, or in simple terms, using a pool shock.
Take a look at our article on how to remove algae to help treat your case of pool algae.
If your water takes on a colorless or white-ish cloudiness, your problem may be chemical. Test your pool water using test strips to find which chemical is causing the issue.
What Does Baking Soda Do For A Pool
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate is naturally alkaline, with a pH of 8. When you add baking soda to your pool water, you will raise both the pH and the alkalinity, improving stability and clarity. Many commercial pool products for raising alkalinity utilize baking soda as their main active ingredient. You can maintain your pool for a fraction of the cost by going straight to the source and using pure baking soda in your pool.
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Calcium Hardness In Swimming Pool Water
- checking pH and chlorine levels daily. Preferably before the first swim of the day to make sure the water quality hasn’t altered overnight.
- checking the pH and chlorine twice daily in very hot weather.
- monitoring chlorine levels in heated pools which need more chlorine than non-heated pools.
- brushing and vacuuming your pool on a regular basis.
- regularly checking the pump, skimmer boxes and other pool equipment, and repair or replace parts as necessary.
Why Pools Get Cloudy
Cloudy pool water is simply the presence of something that in not meant to be in the water. Whether it is dirt, algae or too much of a certain chemical, its an issue that can seem to occur overnight.
Pools may get cloudy because of a poor filtration systemif your pool gets cloudy, be sure to replace the filter and ensure your pump is properly circulating water.
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Getting Ready To Treat The Pool
Do Inflatable Pools Need Chemicals
No, inflatable pools do not need chemicals to stay clean and safe to swim in. However many larger inflatable pools will use chlorine to kill harmful bacteria. Other chemicals in larger pools such as pH increasers, reducers, alkalinity increaser, and cyanuric acid are all used in addition to chlorine.
If your inflatable pool is large enough, it will probably have a pump included when you buy, or it will have three openings in the liner to add a pump to it. Check out my 12 Best Inflatable Pools By Category to see a list of different types of pools. Notice the ones that come with a pump are larger, those are the pools that will most likely need to be chlorinated.
Chlorine will keep your pool sanitized, but keeping your water balanced will help the chlorine to do its job more efficiently.
Here are the chemicals to help keep your water balanced and your chlorine working effectively. You most likely wont need to worry about cyanuric acid, but it is important so I added it to this list.
Most large inflatable pools that need chlorine to be kept clean will be fine with just some chlorine tabs. There are other chemicals in most chlorine tabs like, cyanuric acid, to help make the chlorine last longer. Make sure you purchase stabilized chlorine, or you will need to add cyanuric acid yourself to stabilize the chlorine in the water.
pH Increaser / Reducer
Heres a great video explaining these chemicals in an easy to understand way.
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Borate Keeps Your Ph Under Control
When your pH level drifts past the level that is considered normal , something has to be done to fix it. Chlorine becomes a lot less effective once this pH threshold is reached, allowing bacteria to form. Borate then steps in and counteracts this problem, stabilizing the pH and bringing the value back to a normal number. This treatment has many beneficial perks. The first is preventing algae and calcium scaling on the top of the pool surface. Also, when the pools pH level goes below the recommended level the water can start to erode your fixtures. Borate does a good job regulating the pH and preventing the water from swaying too far towards being acidic or basic.