Understanding Swimming Pool Water Chemistry

pool water chemistryOne of the most confusing aspects of owning a swimming pool is maintaining proper pool water chemistry. This is also one of the most important aspects of pool ownership. Utilizing a pool maintenance company is one of the most important things that any pool owner can do to maintain the health, longevity and enjoyability of a pool. While these tasks can be managed by a pool owner, bringing in a professional is one of the best ways to assure proper chemical balance, saving the pool owner both time and money.

There are many minerals present in swimming pool water, and calcium is one of them. Calcium readings between the 150 and 330 PPM are ideal. Too much calcium leads to cloudy water, chrome surfaces that appear worn and build-up on pool equipment. Too little calcium leads to the corrosion of metal surfaces.  Weekly pool service helps to ensure appropriate calcium levels, and keeps the pool looking beautiful.

Chlorine is also a vital  pool chemical, and it is perhaps one of the most well known. Chlorine acts as a sanitizing agent in the pool, and it effectively breaks down ammonia and other contaminants swimmers often introduce. A pool maintenance company considers proper chlorine levels to be between 1.5 and 3.0 PPM. Too much chlorine in the water is harmful to the eyes and skin, and too little means an unsanitary environment that breeds bacteria.

Maintaining the proper pH level in the water is important for the longevity of the pool and the health of swimmers.  Total Alkalinity (TA) is used by a pool service company to measure these levels. If the pH is too low, vinyl siding and metal components inside the pool will decay over time. A pool owner who uses stabilized chlorine should expect to see TA levels at approximately 110 PPM. When granulated chlorine is used, levels should be about 80 PPM. Acidity and alkalinity are also considered when measuring pH levels. Pool water with a reading below 7.0 is considered acidic, and a pool with a reading above 7.8 is alkaline. Proper balance is found between these two numbers.

Cyanuric acid is a useful tool when water chemistry needs to be stabilized. It increases the longevity of chlorine, and is especially beneficial when less stable granulized chlorine is used. A pool maintenance company typically adds cyanuric acid to the water once a year, in the Spring, and they seek a cyanuric acid reading between 40 and 80 PPM.

Unbalanced chemistry levels within the pool lead to a host of problems including the growth of green algae, the deterioration of metal components inside the pool and water color that appears brown, yellow or purple. A pool repair service can help to rectify the situation, adding to the life of the pool and making it safe to continue swimming.

When algae is present in the water, a chlorine shock treatment is often the answer. A pool maintenance company achieves this by adding high levels of granulated chlorine to the water for 5 consecutive days. This treatment kills the algae and restores a healthy environment to the pool.

After the pool has been shocked, discoloration of the water can sometimes occur (brown, yellow, green or purple colors are common). To counteract this problem, a mineral sequester is added to the pool. Once the water returns to a healthy blue color, it is typically safe to swim in again.

Proper pH balance is sometimes difficult to maintain in a pool due to the presence of rain water and tap water, and the acidic nature of these water sources. A weekly pool service will add “soda, ash and base” to the water until the proper pH level is restored. This is the fastest way to correct the problem, and it is usually quite effective.

There is a lot to remember when it comes to proper pool chemistry. However, with the use of a pool maintenance company, chemistry is not something that the home owner has to think about on a regular basis. Avoiding endless hours of testing, experimenting and failed options is easy for a professional, and this makes using such a service a cost effective option for any novice. The life of the pool and enjoyment of the pool owner are both enhanced with a little professional assistance.

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One thought on “Understanding Swimming Pool Water Chemistry

  1. Great information on swimming pool water chemistry. It is important to stay on top of the pool maintenance to insure it will be as healthy as possible and to do what’s necessary to keep it running as long as possible. It’s no fun having a pool if you can’t use it and feel good about being in it. Thanks for the information.

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