Maintaining pool water chemistry – Things you must know

If you have a swimming pool, it is important that you know the maintenance basics. And the most important point to consider here is water chemistry. That’s right. It is necessary to keep your swimming pool both safe and squeaky clean for its users. Apart from that, maintaining a swimming pool’s chemical ratio adequately enough can save the swimming pool owners both valuable time and monetary resources.

By following these few basic steps, the pool owner can ensure that his swimming pool is well maintained and gives the same satisfaction as the pools maintained by top professionals. Here is what you have to do to ensure that your pool is not just safe, but also healthy for young and old.

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Choosing the right Chlorine

Chlorination is important for any swimming pool as it kills the germs, bacteria, and algae that have the potential of making just about any swimmer ill. A pool that has not been chlorinated can become a breeding pool for microorganisms i.e. a grave health hazard, for the unwary swimmer.

As a general rule chlorine is available in different types that include:

  • Three-inch tablets
  • One inch tablets
  • Bottles
  • Elongated sticks
  • Granular form

However, a close inspection of the labels will showcase that the active ingredients in each formulation are the same regardless of the price difference. The main active ingredient in tablets and sticks is called “Trichlor” while the critical active ingredient in the granular form of chlorine is “Dichlor.”

The most common and (therefore, by extension) the least expensive form of this chemical is in liquid form, followed by 3-inch tablets. Unlike the former (that disperses on contact with the water) the latter is slow to dissolve but lasts longer. Their 1-inch counterparts dissolve a lot faster, which is why they are more suitable for various ‘above ground’ swimming pools and spas.

Choosing cyanuric acid

Cyanuric acid or CYA is also referred to as ‘isocyanuric acid’ and is found in the Dichlor and Trichlor tablets, mentioned above.

Why cyanuric acid?

CYA is basically a stabilizing ingredient that is added to chlorine so that the latter is not destroyed by constant exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. However, it is able to maintain the efficacy of the germicidal properties of the chlorine at a cost – a substantial reduction in the overall effectiveness (i.e. ‘oxidation-reduction potential’) of the chemical.

If you live in an area where there is sunlight, then you would need to use CYA to ensure that your pool’s water is always safe for swimming. However, it is important that you should test the overall CYA level, in the water. If the concentration of cyanuric acid is too high, then the odds are that the chlorine present in the water will lose its ability to sanitize the water.

Calcium hypochlorite (solid) or sodium hypochlorite (liquid)

If you don’t wish to use cyanuric acid, consider calcium hypochlorite (solid form) or sodium hypochlorite (liquid form).

Both of the above are alternatives to CYA. But if you decide to use them, then it is important that you should test the water’s pH levels too. This is because both chemicals contain strong bases which can increase the pH levels if used in an excessive quantity. However, the best way to avoid all of this is to use liquid chlorine, since it will help you sanitize the swimming pool without the hassle of adding Cyanuric Acid.

Here, it is prudent to note that it is not a good idea to just dump the chlorine into the pool. Rather, you should use floating chlorine feeders or best of all, an automatic chemical feeder. They are a great help in the proper maintenance of your swimming pool because they meter out exact quantities of chlorine into the swimming pool water, automatically. This way you would have very precise control of the total chlorine supply in the pool.

Pool ‘Shock Treatment’

Chlorine has a tendency of binding to other chemicals such as ammonia and nitrogen, even as it cleans your swimming pool. In the long run, what this means is that it becomes inactive. And worse than that, it can also combine with other chemicals to create a skin irritant that might cause different skin conditions such as jock itch (for example).

To eliminate or at least reduce the binding properties of chlorine, it is deemed advisable to occasional apply a dose of high power ‘shock treatment’.

Using an algaecide

You follow up within a few hours (the next morning) with a potent dose of a powerful algaecide. This is a surfactant chemical. I.e. a chemical that works on pool surfaces to prevent various types algae from growing and forming unseemly green colonies on your pool’s surface.

Maintaining the pH levels in your swimming pool

If swimmers are having problems and are suffering from red and itching eyes, then there is a very strong probability that it is not the excess amount of chlorine that is to blame for this issue. The odds are that the burning sensation in the swimmers’ eyes is because of either too high or too low pH levels in the pool.

This is precisely why the maintenance of proper pH levels in the pool is as important (if not even more so) as adequate chlorination. In a nutshell, the chlorine found in the pool should be just about the same level as the pH level found in our tears. This would be around about 7.2 approx. But this number is not etched in stone and the pH levels in your pool can range from 7.2 all the way to 7.6 or so to be justified as being optimal.

As a matter of fact, chlorine is widely considered being all about 10 times more efficient at sanitizing the water in the pool when the overall pH level is hovering around the 7.2 mark.

Lowering pH levels of the water in the pool

It is far more common to find high pH levels in the pool than low ones. In the case of the former, one of the most effective ways of lowering pH would be the simple expedient of slowly pouring a chemical known as “muriatic acid” directly into the deepest portion of the pool. This has to be done while the swimming pool’s pump is working and the water in the pool is circulating freely. Another notable alternative to muriatic is ‘granular acid’ (also referred to as a pH decreaser). Many experts believe that it is considerably safer to use, then the commonly available muriatic acid.

Conclusion

Weekly swimming pool maintenance can be summarized in the following way:

You should chlorinate the water in the pool to make it germfree, by pouring in your own preferred form of chlorine and then use cyanuric acid to stabilize the chlorine so that it maintains its efficacy, in the long run. Get a water treatment system installed at home to purify pool and drinking water. Then you can use pool ‘shock treatment’ to ensure that the chlorine does not bind with other chemicals and loses its efficacy and becomes a skin irritant, to boot. Next morning, pour an algaecide into the pool so that its surface does not become a breeding ground for algae colonies. Finally, test the pool’s pH level and adjust it.

Once you have done all the above, your pool is ready to receive its first swimmers of the day.

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