Basic Pool Chemistry

There are two different types of basic pool chemistry. The first is called “water balance” and the second is called “sanitation”. Let’s discuss each type in detail.

Water Balance

When we discuss balancing your water, we are referring pH chartto the levels of pH. The ideal level should be somewhere in the range of 7.2 to 7.8 on your pH scale. There are three things that we need to keep balanced: the pH levels, the alkaline levels, and the calcium levels or “hardness of the water”.

PH levels need to be checked regularly because anything that enters into the swimming pool will affect its rating. This can include people, rainwater, birds, dirt, and debris. If your pH level is too high or too low, the pool can become corrosive or scaling and the sanitizer your using (like chlorine) becomes far less effective which could lead to a green pool. In order to regulate these levels, simply use a pH Increaser or pH Up if the pH is low and pH Decreaser or pH Down if the pH is high.

Total Alkalinity needs to be properly balanced because it helps keep the pH from going up and down very quickly. The level of alkalinity should be between 80 to 120 ppm (parts per million). If it should run high, pH Down will help correct that.

The final factor, the level of calcium in the water, should ideally be between 150 to 400 ppm for above-ground pools. Most pools filled from an outside hose or well don’t need to worry about hardness levels being off.  If you were to fill your water with soft water from in the house, your hardness may be too low and you would need to add calcium to the pool to protect your equipment.

Sanitation

The second type of basic pool chemistry that pool owners need to manage is sanitation. This is the product that kills bacteria in the water and must be added on a regular basis. Chlorine is certainly one option but there are alternatives like mineral sanitizers.

If using chlorine, you will need to maintain a range between 1.0 to 3.0 ppm. Chlorine kills bacteria but it also works on preventing algae in and around your pool. The most popular way to add chlorine into your swimming pool water is by using chlorine tablets. These can often be placed in a type of floating dispenser or the skimmer basket (if your pool has one). Other pool owners prefer to use a granular chlorine that is sprinkled into the pool or a “salt chlorine generator” which essentially allows you to take regular table salt and turn it into chlorine.

Minerals like silver are considered alternative sanitizers which work well at destroying bacteria while reducing chlorine use to 0.5 to 1.0 ppm. At that level, the water feels softer and looks crystal clear while still maintaining proper sanitation of the water.  See Flip Plop as an example of this pool care method.

Pool Shock

No matter how hard you try, eventually at some point the water in your pool will become over loaded. Once chlorine begins to kill algae and bacteria in your pool, it creates something called “chloramines” which need to be taken out of the pool water by using a product called “Pool Shock”. Pool owners generally will “shock” their pool water at least once per week to keep basic pool chemistry in balance.

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