Tips on understanding pool chemistry
We’ve all heard about balancing your pool water, and we understand why you might be running from that responsibility as fast as you can.
The fact is pool water chemistry sounds more complex than it really is.
Pool chemicals don’t just keep your pool water clean; they’re critical for keeping your pool safe and comfortable. You need them to prevent bacteria and algae growth in your pool.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to keep the chemical levels in your water at the right amount -but this doesn’t mean you have to agonise over it.
Pool chemistry is really quite simple – it’s basically a balancing act of regular treatment.
You are effectively trying to keep your water chemistry stable at all times, either in regular calculated doses or by monitoring a level and balancing it.
To show you just how simple it is, we’ve broken down the basics of water chemistry and have outlined the three main types of pool chemistry you’ll want to keep track of: pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and chlorine.
Why do I need to chemically balance my pool?
Every pool needs the right mix of chemicals to keep its enticing crystal clear look.
Without the right blend, you could end up with a multitude of problems, including:
- Lot of tiny particles
- High calcium hardness
- Early algae growth
- High total alkalinity
- Low or high pH levels
- Low chlorine levels
Over time, dirt and muck will get into your water.
And organic matter will inevitably break down to make your water cloudy if you don’t clean it regularly – that includes adding the right chemical concoctions to keep your pool water chemicals balanced.
But how do you know which chemicals are missing or in abundance?
Simple: You need to test the water.
Pay attention to pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and chlorine levels: if anything is out of the ordinary, run the pool filter for 12-24 hours before attempting to balance it again.
If a chemical imbalance persists after you’ve run your filter system, you should restore the appropriate chemical levels or speak with an expert for advice.
A pH reading measures the acidity and alkalinity of a solution – in this instance your pool water!
You’ll vaguely remember learning this back in your high school chemistry class and finally, this knowledge comes in handy!
So, how do you know if the pH of your water is on target?
pH is measured on a scale of 0 – 14. A pH level above 7.0 is considered basic or alkaline while below 7 it’s acidic.
For your pool to be safe you need to aim for a specific range to keep it balanced – ideally between 7.2 and 7.8.
If pool water is too acidic, or too alkaline, it can destroy your pool equipment (and your skin!).
For example, the coil of your pool heater (which is usually copper-based) can corrode and eventually need replacing if the water is too acidic.
This is why it’s important to make sure the levels are correct; it will ensure the longevity of your pool and minimise future costs.
Understanding alkalinity of water
Along with your pH readings, you also don’t want your water to fall below the recommended alkaline range.
The alkaline level of your water (which should be between 80 and 120 ppm) will help to balance your pH and keep the numbers from fluctuating rapidly.
Understanding calcium hardness
A third measurement you’ll want to keep in check is the hardness of your water.
Hard water is water that has too much calcium and magnesium.
As water tends to take from its environment minerals and chemicals it lacks, it’s important to keep track of this reading.
So if your calcium levels are too low, the water will draw calcium from wherever it can find it.
Unfortunately, this can mean directly from your pool’s surface.
If your water’s calcium levels are too high, you’ll probably find calcium deposits around your pool.
This is because the water tries to rid itself of excess calcium.
The water in your pool can also draw calcium from your concrete lining and the grouting between tiles.
This can wear down and weaken the pool itself.
Thankfully fibreglass pools don’t contain calcium, minimising damage if your pool lacks the mineral.
It’s still important, no matter what type of pool you have, to check your levels often and make adjustments to minimise damage any potential damage.
Ideally, try to keep your calcium levels between 200 and 400 parts per million (ppm).
Chlorine is also one of the most important chemicals for your pool since it will prevent that awful green slime spoiling your crystal-clear water.
It acts as a sanitiser, destroying viruses, fungi and bacteria within your pool.
Your water test kit will advise you what you need to adjust and by how much.
Once you have your pool’s water balanced, there are a variety of protective chemicals.
What you need will depend on your surrounding pool environment.
For an open pool there are algaecides to help remove algae that ruins the appearance (and smell) of a pool once it takes hold.
Oxidizer and clarifier chemicals are there to help back up the algaecide.
They often contain clever chemicals like UV blocks to protect present pool chemicals against the harsh sun.
Your pool’s lining can be protected with a variety of chemicals including rust and iron stain removers, scale stoppers, phosphate and metal removers.
If your filter is struggling to clear the water, there are filter cleaner chemicals too.
Some chemicals even have a combination of purposes and make it easy to maintain your pool.
Today, water test kits are available from outdoor living stores and pool shops.
Simply give us a call on 1300 679 885 and one of our pool experts will be ready to clear up any confusion.
If you have any further questions, our Mobile Pool Shop team (SA Only) are here to help you out.
They can also advise you on how to adjust these levels properly so that your pool (and its equipment) can be enjoyed by your family for years to come.
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