In order for you and your family to enjoy all the benefits of having a pool, you must keep your swimming pool maintained throughout the year. While it can be easy to overlook your pool during the summer months, this is a time when you need to stay vigilant about proper upkeep. When it comes to proper maintenance, there is nothing more important than good swimming pool water chemistry. This Summer Pool Water Chemistry Checklist will help you keep a sparkling pool all season long!
Test Your Water
Your pool water can change very quickly and if you are not routinely checking the pH balance, the chlorination levels, or the calcium levels, you could potentially find yourself in a sticky situation later down the road. To know how to treat your water, you need to first test it to show you the levels of: chlorine, stabilizer, pH, alkalinity, and calcium.
As the most common sanitizer for pool owners, chlorine helps kill bacteria and it keeps your water clear. It is recommended that you keep your chlorine levels around the 1.0 parts per million or ppm for short. Chlorine comes in tablet form, granular form, as well as liquid form. While chlorine is a hazardous material, with some forms being more dangerous than other forms for the handler, it poses no danger to swimmers. Make sure to always use caution and read the directions printed on the label for the handling and storage of this chemical.
A stabilizer or conditioner is cyanuric acid that is used in swimming pools to help your chlorine work better and last longer. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun will break down chlorine molecules over time, and stabilizer keeps this from becoming too much of an issue. It is best to keep your stabilizer around 40 ppm. This chemical is typically used 3-4 times throughout the year.
Alkalinity is a measure of the carbonates and bicarbonates in your pool which has a significant impact on your pool’s pH. It’s very common to see alkalinity levels of pools rise periodically due to acid rain, body sweat, and lotions. One common indication that pool water is high in alkalinity is the pool water is cloudy. Water with high alkaline levels is known as “hard water” which can irritate eyes and cause scale and mineral deposits on the walls and floor of the pool. It can also cause skin dryness and itchiness which can contribute to further staining. It is a good idea to keep alkalinity levels in the range of 80-120 ppm. When kept in the safe range, this will allow you to better control your pool’s pH balance.
The pH level of your water is a measure of the baseness or acidity of your water. On a pH scale, zero indicates extreme acidity and 14 indicates extreme alkalinity and 7 indicates a neutral state. The best pH level for a pool water is in the 7.4-7.6 range. Not only will a proper pH level allow the chlorine to work better, but it will help maintain the integrity of your pool. To raise or lower pH, a pool owner would simply add acids or alkalis in the water. Sodium carbonate (soda ash) or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) will generally raise pH while adding muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate will lower the pH level.
Monitor and Adjust Calcium as Needed
While pH and alkalinity are the two most important measurements to keep your pool water balanced, a calcium test is the third most important test that will determine the hardness or softness of your water. In order to maintain balanced pool water and prevent potential damage from happening, calcium testing is essential. The acceptable range varies, but most will agree that the best range is between 180-220 ppm. Fortunately, calcium hardness does not change rapidly so only occasional testing is needed.
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