If you own or plan to own your own swimming pool, it is important to understand the three basic parts of swimming pool water chemistry. A good understanding of each part will help you properly monitor your water and keep it safe for swimming.
The first part is the pH and Alkalinity levels. The pH level in pool water is a measure of the acidity present. A pH level between 7.2 and 7.6 is a good range for home pools. The alkalinity of the water acts as a helper for the pH levels staying in check. If kept in the range of 80-120 ppm, the alkalinity will prevent the pH level from getting too high, causing irritation to swimmers. A basic water test kit will allow you to measure each of these and keep them regularly in balance.
The next thing that you will need to know is how to correctly monitor chlorine and chlorine stabilizer levels. Chlorine is the chemical most pool owners use to keep the water clean and sanitized. It can easily evaporate and disappear, however, without the help of a stabilizer. Cyanuric Acid is the chemical used as chlorine stabilizer. This acid works as a blanket that partially covers the chlorine molecules, hiding them from the hot sun and keeping them from evaporating.
The proper level for chlorine stabilizer is between 30 and 50 ppm. If the level drops below this level, the stabilizer can’t do it’s job in covering the chlorine, and it will begin to evaporate. On the other hand, if too much stabilizer is present, it will completely cover the chlorine and prevent it from doing it’s cleaning and sanitizing work.
Generally stabilizer levels will stay balanced if set properly at the beginning of the season. If they do get off however, you will need to get them in balance as quickly as possible. Low levels can fairly easily be fixed by adding small amounts of stabilizer, while high levels require more work. You will most likely have to partially drain the pool, add fresh water, allow it to circulate, and then retest. Repeat this process until the right level is reached.
Calcium hardness is the third part of swimming pool water chemistry that is important to understand. The level of calcium hardness is a measure of how much calcium is present in the water. Depending on where you live and where your water comes from, the water you fill your pool with will come with it’s own level of calcium, before you treat it at all. The trick is to be sure the level is right for your pool. Vinyl liner pools should maintain calcium levels in a range of 80-150 ppm. Plaster or concrete finished pools should keep it between 150 and 200 ppm. When calcium hardness levels get too high or low, damage to the pool and pool equipment can occur.
Keep all of these things in mind, and you can safely and effectively manage your pool water chemistry and maintain a healthy pool every season.