A Simple Guide To Balancing Your Swimming Pool Water
If youre new to swimming pool care, testing and balancing the chemicals can be a daunting process. There is a learning curve to water care, but its not steep.
Heres a simple guide to testing and then balancing your swimming pool water so you avoid problems.
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Before you test the water, make sure you have all of the supplies handy. Heres what youll need:
Stabilizer or conditioner.
Step 2: Calculate the volume
The next step involves knowing the volume of your pool water. If you dont know it already, do this simple calculation:
Multiply the length of the pool by the width by the depth by the multiplier to get the total volume in gallons.
Step 3: Test
Now, you can perform the test. Be sure the kit covers at least these components:
Free available chlorine.
Step 4: Balance
Your pump should be circulating before you add any chemicals to ensure proper integration into the pool water. Keep in mind that its not safe to add more chemicals than recommended at one time.
If your water test shows you need more than the recommended level, youll need to add the chemicals in stages. Wait at least six hours in between treatments.
Step 5: Alkalinity
Alkalinity is the total alkaline material in your pool water. You should test alkalinity first because it will buffer pH. Your reading should be in the range of 80 to 120 parts per million . If you need to increase the alkalinity, add an increaser. To lower it, youll add a sodium bisulfate.
Step 6: pH
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.
Ph Adjusting Chemicals For Pool Start Up
Your pH level is really important for keeping your pool in good working order. If this is off, then your chlorine wont be working properly which can lead to unsafe water and too much chlorine.
Your pH level should be the second thing that you address when adding chemicals. The ideal range is between 7.2 and 7.6. This is perfect for your chlorine and for keeping your water safe for use.
If your pH level is too high, you can use the same pH decreaser that you would use for adjusting alkalinity. Be sure to check that level again afterwards.
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The Correct Order To Add Pool Chemicals
Weve outlined below the very best order that you can follow to add your pool chemicals for the perfect balance. If you follow these steps and directions, you should have no problems in the end.
Getting the hang of the process and understanding what your pool needs may take a little bit of time but you will get it. Just stick to the basic order and work from there.
Here is a quick review of the order to add chemicals when opening or adjusting your pool:
Check Your Free Chlorine
Yes, your saltwater generator is creating chlorine on the spot, so its sort of free. But in this case, free chlorine actually refers to the amount of chlorine that hasnt already been used up, you know, killing tiny things. To lower your free chlorine, you can reduce the output setting on your saltwater generator. If you cant consistently maintain a high enough free chlorine, you might need to increase how long you run your pump every day. This will keep your saltwater generator generating more chlorine throughout the day, and thus increase your free chlorine. Ta da.
The recommended free chlorine levels are between 1 and 3 ppm.
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Shock Your Pool With Chlorine
If youve previously held even tangential interest in swimming, you know that Chlorine is essential for swimming pools as it helps keep the water microbially inert and acts as an algaecide while also sanitizing the water to a large extent. Using chlorine tablets and a tablet dispenser like Swim Time Chlorine Dispenser can help evenly distribute the chemical in your pool while ensuring its longevity.
Remember, Chlorine reacts due to sunlight and can disappear from water. This means the frequency with which this step will need to be repeated depends entirely on how much sunlight your region receives. If you use chlorine powder, I recommend using a stabilizing agent like Clorox Chlorine stabilizer, which helps lengthen the lifespan of dissolved chlorine powder. Chlorine powder is easier to use because it has been the industry standard and therefore has better usage guidelines.
For instance, it is common knowledge that you only need one pound of Chlorine for every 10,000 gallons of water. Given that a standard inground pool generally contains 15,000 gallons of water, one can safely assume an initial chlorine deposit requirement of 1.5 lbs.
Measure And Adjust Calcium Hardness
If you ever notice a while line or scaling around your pools water line, its probably calcium buildup. And how often you see it is directly related to your pools calcium hardness level.
Ideal Calcium Hardness level: 200 400 ppm
How to increase calcium hardness:
To increase your pool waters calcium hardness use calcium chloride. Follow the usage instructions printed on the packaging.
How to decrease calcium hardness
- Partially drain your pool and refill it with fresh water.
- Use a flocculant to collect and vacuum excess calcium.
Sanitizer is what keeps your pool free of germs and bacteria. Without it, every pool would quickly become a breeding ground for germs.
But luckily, we use sanitizers like chlorine to keep the water safe and healthy.
When it comes to measuring chlorine, there are a few numbers to keep track of:
- Free Chlorine
- Measures the amount of unused, or available chlorine in the water
To find your pools combined chlorine : subtract Total Chlorine from Free Chlorine
Ideal levels for chlorine: 3 ppm
Chlorine comes in a few forms:
- Chlorine tablets
- Salt chlorine generator
For this step, you can save time and shock your pool now. This gives you a jump start on refreshing the water and takes care of sanitizing your pool.
A few other pool sanitizers:
Healthy pool bromine levels range from 3 ppm to 5 ppm
Proper levels for biguanide: 30 to 50 ppm
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Cyanuric Acid: The Chlorine Supporter
Meet the chemical that helps your pool stay sanitized, but is too often overlooked. Cyanuric acid works together with chlorine to protect it from breaking down in the suns ultraviolet rays. Yes, even saltwater-generated chlorine needs some protection. And unless you have a pool that never gets any direct sunlight, youll need cyanuric acid to keep your chorine effective.
To increase your cyanuric acid, dilute it, add it directly to your skimmer, and run your pump for about eight hours to make sure its properly circulated. The only way to lower your cyanuric acid, unfortunately, is also the only way to lower your salt levels. Youre going to give your water a partial drain. Womp womp.
The recommended cyanuric acid levels for outdoor pools between 70 and 80 ppm, and the recommended levels for covered pools is between 20 and 40 ppm.
Refilling A Pool With Fresh Water
You have choices – fill from the hose, fill from a truck or fill from a nearby fire hydrant. Most people opt for the garden hose pool filling method, often using two hoses where possible.
If your water is from a well, or if your source water contains silty dirt, minerals and metals, or high levels of chloramines or phosphates, you can filter the water as you fill the pool. Pleatco’s pool fill pre-filter handles up to 40,000 gallons, and removes impurities and stain causing particles.
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How To Put Chemicals In Your Pool For The First Time
First time opening your pool? Congratulations! You’re about to have endless summers of fun and enjoyment. Before you can get to swimming, follow these steps to put chemicals in your pool for the very first time:
Pro Tip: Be sure to check your filter and return lines for damage, cracks, or leaks. If you have a sandfilter, add sand if needed. If you have a cartridge filter, check the cartridge and clean/replace asneeded.
Simple Steps To Keeping Your Water Chemistry Balanced
Step 1 Keep Your Water Free And Clear Of Debris
Step 2 Skim And Filter The Water Regularly
Step 3 Test Your Swimming Pool Water Regularly And ONLY Treat The Water With What It Needs, Nothing More
When you test your swimming pool water regularly to keep it in balance, its easy. Its only when water chemistry levels get far out of acceptable range that it gets challenging and costly to maintain. From small to large lap pools, the chemistry levels and maintenance are the same. However, each day of the swimming pool season can bring new challenges. Weather, changing the treatment of surrounding landscape and even different chemicals used can alter your pools water. To the challenges you and your swimming pools water face, we stand firm. As long as you are vigilant in testing and treating your pool water, its easy as 1, 2, 3.
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How To Balance Pool Chemicals For The First Time Opening Your Pool
Whether youre using your swimming pool for the very first time, or opening up for the season, youll need to take some extra precautions to ensure that youre balancing pool chemicals correctly. For example, if your pool has been closed since winter, you might encounter thick algae on reopening day, which could require treatment with double or even triple the normal amount of pool shock.
If youre opening a new or seasonal pool, we recommend consulting a pool dealer for assistance testing and balancing your water, which can be a tricky process even for experienced pool owners.
What Order Do You Balance Chemicals In
The order you balance your chemicals in is just as important as the quantities you use. For safe and accurate results, you should always test in the following order:
After taking these three steps, you can add sanitizer, test CYA levels, measure TDS levels, and shock the pool, as described above.
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Testing Your Pool Water
Test Kit Type I dont care if you use test strips or test kits , but it should be a 5-way test kit, so you can check Chlorine, pH, Alkalinity, Calcium and Stabilizer. Smaller kits wont check all five levels, and youll never achieve true water balance, unless you want to take a water sample to a local pool store, for their recommendations.
Shelf Life Test your pool water with fresh test strips or test kit. The strips usually have a date code on the bottom of the bottle, and generally last about 3 yrs from manufacturing date. Test kit reagents should be replaced if frozen during winter, exposed to sunlight, or older than two seasons.
Accuracy Test your pool water with precision, to get the most accurate reading you can. If unsure of the reading, read instructions and test again. Other ways to improve accuracy include clean testing vials, holding reagent bottles vertical while adding drops, and taking water samples from a depth of 12, to avoid testing surface water.
Test Log A small testing log, kept in a tiny note pad, can be surprisingly useful and enlightening, and prevents forgetting the adjustments made in prior days. Write down the readings, and amounts added. You can also use a pool testing app on your tablet or smartphone, for test history and treatment guides.
What Is The Best Testing/chemical Balancing Routine If I Am To Enjoy My Pool
We recommend testing your pool at least once a week. If you notice chemicals are outside their ideal ranges, you should address the issue by raising or lowering the off balance chemical and then test the water daily until the pool is balanced once again.
The ideal pool chemistry is an elusive figure. Dont worry about maintaining a constant number. Too many variables affect how chemicals react with one another. In general, you should be asking two questions.
Does my pool stay free of algae and bacteria?
Is it comfortable to swim in?
If the answer is yes for both, then youre doing a good job maintaining your pool. Of course, youll want to pay attention to seasonal maintenance like spring openings and winter closings. Your pool might require a little extra effort balancing after long periods of use or unuse.
Have questions about maintaining your pool chemicals? Talk with a Family Pool Maintenance professional today!
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Like Everything In Nature Water Will Always Strive To Be In Balance
If your pool water is correctly balanced, this means that the waters chemical demands have been met. However, if chemical levels are out of the ideal ranges, the pool water can affect other areas of your pool. For example, it could seek the missing elements it needs by attacking the pool’s surface and equipment or depositing additional elements onto the surface and equipment. This can lead to more expensive problems later if not corrected.
Also, if not properly balanced, the pools sanitising process can be impaired.
Sanitiser – Chlorine
Chlorine is the common sanitiser for your pool. Having a sanitiser in the pool water at recommended levels will eliminate most of the bacteria in the water. The recommended Chlorine level in a standard outdoor pool is between 2.5 – 3.0ppm . Read more about chlorine and sanitising below.
The main ‘variables’ that affect the sanitising process are :
Understanding Water Balance In Swimming Pools
H2Oh! – Understanding the chemical composition of a healthy pool
A “balanced” swimming pool means keeping the five basic pool water components within their proper levels. These components work together to help the sanitizer work more effectively. For a visual representation, see the Pool House.
That’s why sanitizing and balancing are equally important in having a healthy pool. This is especially important when you are opening your pool for the season after winter, when refilling or with a new pool. Remember, water balance is constantly changing – test your water weekly!
Even with normal use, many unwanted items can be introduced to your pool. These items can prevent chemical treatments from doing their job, make the water unhealthy or unappealing, or all of the above. The two most important things to remember about healthy pools are that they must be sanitized and they must be balanced. Balancing your pool water and keeping pool chemicals in their ideal ranges will help ensure that your water will not harm your swimming pool or swimmers.
Water Balance Components
Total alkalinity refers to how much alkaline is in the water, but you can’t fully know the importance of total alkalinity without referring to pH because the two influence one another. Low alkaline water leads to low pH and high alkaline water leads to high pH. A pool should have a total alkalinity level of 100 ppm.
Total Dissolved Solids
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Balance Your Pool Water
When adjusting the chemistry in your swimming pool, its important to add your chemicals in a certain order. Some aspects of water chemistry impact the balance or efficiency of others. Also, some chemicals need time to circulate before you can add other chemicals to the water. Otherwise, you may end up with an inadvertent chemical reaction thats dangerous for you and/or damaging to your pool. By sticking to a routine water balancing format, youll keep your water clean, clear, sanitary, and safe.
With the pool pump running on high and test results in hand, its time to start balancing the pool. Always follow product label instructions to ensure safe handling and to avoid overdosing the pool. With some chemicals, its recommended to wear personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles and gloves. The label often lists the amount of chemical required to achieve a desired effect. This measurement is usually based on 10,000 gallons of pool water. However, it can vary widely based on the type of product youre using.
BONUS TIP: When balancing a pool, always add chemicals to water. NEVER pour water over chemicals in an attempt to dilute them. Doing so increases the risk of bodily harm from a chemical reaction. If dissolving or diluting chemicals, start with a large five-gallon bucket that has water in it . Add the chemicals to the water, and stir with a plastic utensil or stirring stick.
Too High Too Low Easy Pool Chemical Balance
Pool chemical balance is essential to your successful operation. Below, we explore all of the common chemical values youre tasked with quantifying. Read further to find out just what happens when those values are too high or too low.
Chlorine and Bromine*
Acceptable Range: 1-5 ppm
Ideal Range: 2-4 ppm
The Basics: Chlorine and bromine are oxidizers and sanitizers needed to keep your water safe. At an appropriate level they reduce the likelihood that someone will get sick from your pool.
Too High: High levels of chlorine can cause irritation to bathers and can cause damage to hair, bathing suits and pool equipment. Chlorine is also an expensive chemical, and overuse will have a negative impact on your bottom line.
Too Low: When its doing its job, chlorine is responsible for eliminating algae, bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the pool. Not having enough chlorine puts your swimmers in an unnecessarily perilous position.
Note: For ideal and acceptable bromine ranges, simply double all of the above quantities.
Acceptable Range: 7.2-7.8
Ideal Range: 7.4-7.6
The Basics: pH is the measure of acids versus bases. Water that is close to a neutral pH creates a comfortable swimming experience while efficiently utilizing sanitizing chemicals.
Too Low: Water that is more acidic will also negatively impact bather comfort. When your pH is low, your water is more likely to be corrosive, damaging pool equipment, structures and surfaces.
Acceptable Range: 60-120 ppm
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