Maintaining Your Swiming Pool
Maintaining your pools chemical balance
The two biggest elements of good pool maintenance are proper filtration, and a good chemical treatment program.
Chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, and stabilizer are all important factors in maintaining chemical balance in your pools water.
Traditional Chlorine Pool
With a traditional chemically chlorinated swimming pool you will need to have these chemicals on hand.
- stabalized chlorine
- algae preventative
- swimming pool shock
Stabalized Chlorine comes in sticks or tablets that you put in a distribution container. Chlorine is an oxidizer and a sanitizer. It burns up organic materials in the water reducing the stress on the filtration system, and kills germs. You usually need to keep 2-4 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine in the water to ensure there is enough to kill all germs and bacteria.
Periodically you will have to "shock" or superchlorinate your pool. This is necessary if the chlorine level gets way too low, a heavy rain occurs washing contaminants into the pool water, or you begin to see algae developing.
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Salt Chlorinated Pool
Salt Chlorinated Pools tend to be easier to maintain because the chlorination is done for you. Because having a constant level amount of chlorine readily available in your pool at all times to "attack" all of the bad stuff, salt chlorination has become a great alternative to chlorine tablets. During salt chlorination, regular food grade salt is converted into chlorine, then once it is used, it is converted back into salt and ready to be used again.
So, how does this work? Well, basically there is a chlorination cell that houses metal plates with opposite charges. When you add salt to the water, it becomes conductive allowing electricity to pass between these plates. As long as you have enough salt in your pool, electrolysis and the conversion from salt to chlorine can occur. Salt chlorination tends to maintain a more steady chlorine level than traditional chlorine products, therefore reducing the need to "shock" your pool.
I am a big fan of salt chlorination, so I am going to fill you in on some added benefits of investing in a salt chlorination system. Firstly, you will probably spend upwards of $30,000 on your swimming pool, so the added investment of $1,000 into a salt chlorination system should be a no brainer. Not only will it reduce the amount of time you spend on trying to equalize your chemical balance, but over the first few years it will pay for itself in savings on chemicals. Not only that, but it is easier on your skin, hair, and eyes too!
Pool Chemical Maintenance
If you have ever had a fish tank, this one will sound familiar! pH is a measure of how basic or acidic your pool water is. If your swimming pool water is "basic" it has a high pH, if it is "acidic" it has a low pH. It can also be neutral or "balanced". pH is typicall measured on a scale ranging from 6.6 to 8.4 with 7.4-7.6 being neutral (where you want your pools water to be).
Acidic water, which would be anything lower than 7.4, is sometimes called "hungry" water. It tends to etch and corrode things because it is looking for something to combine with.
Basic water, anything above 7.6, is referred to as "over saturated", and tends to leave deposits on things. These deposits are called "scale" and are left behind because the water has excess material it needs to get rid of.
Crystal Clear Pool Water
Alkalinity hinges on the pH, so you will see now why it is so important to keep a steady balanced pH. As said above, acidic water is referred to as "hungry" water, wanting to combine with something in order to balance itself. Acidic water as I also said is corrosive, so in attempts to balance itself,it can and will etch your plaster pool finish or corrode metal parts in your pump and filter. The other option (obviously a much more preferred option) is to add a buffer of alkaline materials (alkalinity increaser) to the pool.
If you allow the alkalinity to get too low, the pH can swing to its highs and lows and eventually damage your pool and its equipment. If you allow the alkalinity to get too high, the water will cloud.
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Calcium hardness is how much calcium your pool water has dissolved in it. Similar to alkalinity, if your calcium hardness level is too low, your water will begin to look for calcium elsewhere--IN YOUR PLASTER FINISH- leaving pits in its wake. If it is too high, you will have cloudy water. A balanced level of calcium hardness falls between 250-500 on a scale of 0-700.
Keep Your Water Clear
Maintaining Your Pool
Stabilizer & Regular Water Testing
Stabilizer is the chemical you add to your chlorinated pool waterto keep the chlorine from evaporating or burning off. Stabilizer is Cyanuric Acid which stabilizes Hypochlorous Acid, or chlorine.
With any pool, you will have to have the water chemically tested at least once a week. There are many pool supply stores that offer this for free. Be sure to tell the person testing your water what type of swimming pool you have ie. gunite, vinyl liner, or fiberglass, and whether or not it is salt chlorinated. You will also need to know approximately how many gallons of water your pool holds. The size of your pool will determine how much of each chemical you need to add in order to get the water balanced.