A key element in taking care of your pool is maintaining the right balance in your water chemistry. This is essential to keeping your pool as safe and clean as possible for swimmers and learning how to do it yourself can save your family lots of money compared to professional upkeep costs.
Determine What Type of Chlorine to Use
Chlorine kills bacteria, algae, and microorganisms and is available in a wide variety of types which are well-suited to different applications. The only real difference between them is the concentration of the active ingredient, the ingredients themselves are the same in all of them. The most common and thus least expensive form is 3” tablets but chlorine is also available in 1” tablets, bottles, sticks, and a granular form. The active ingredients in tablets and sticks is known as “Trichlor” (Trichloro-S-Triazinetrione) and in granular form as “Dichlor” (Sodium Dichloro-S-Triazinetrione).
3” tablets are slow-dissolving and require less maintenance than 1” tablets, bottles, or granular forms of chlorine. Sticks are larger and dissolve even more slowly but are less popular and therefor harder to find and more expensive. 1” tablets dissolve more quickly and are intended for smaller spaces such as above-ground pools, small in-ground pools, and spas. When buying these types of chlorine, look for a concentration of 90% Trichloro-S-Triazinetrione.
Granular chlorine works just as well but requires additional testing and almost daily treatments. Some types must be pre-dissolved in a bucket of water before being added to the pool. If you opt for granular chlorine, look for one with a concentration of 56% to 62% Sodium Dichloro-S-Triazinetrione.
Avoid cyanuric acid if possible. Found in tablets, this acid is used as a stabilizing agent to prevent chlorine being destroyed by the sun. Unfortunately it does this at the expense of some of the effectiveness of the chlorine. If cyanuric acid levels become too high, your chlorine will not work at all. If you do use it, be sure to test the levels often or your chlorine treatments will lose their sanitizing ability. Cyanuric acid should be maintained at a level no higher than 40 ppm.
Instead of cyanuric acid, consider using calcium hypochlorite (solid) or sodium hypochlorite (liquid). These substitutes are effective but may raise the pH levels in your pool if they reach sufficient levels so be sure to make an extra effort to test pH regularly.
Steps for Proper Pool Maintenance
- Test water chemistry: Pool water chemistry should be tested 1-2 times per week in order to ensure a proper balance is maintained. If you are planning for a pool party or to have company over, be sure to test the levels a couple of days before the big day so you can make corrections if the water chemistry if off-balance.
- Add chlorine: Floating chlorine feeders or automatic chemical feeders are the best way to add chlorine to your pool. An automatic feeder can slowly meter out precise amount of chlorine automatically, offering you great control over chemical balance.
- Maintain proper pH: The optimal range for pH in a pool is 7.2-7.6 ppm. If the pH is high, add a small amount of Muriatic Acid. Retest the water after about 6 hours of continuous filtration.
- Weekly shock treatments: Because chlorine binds with other chemicals, it can eventually lose effectiveness and leave irritants in the water which can cause skin problems and irritations. To avoid this, use a shock treatment once a week in order to eliminate irritants.
- Algaecide: Follow-up your shock treatments with an algaecide the next morning in order to remove algae buildup from pool surfaces.
For optimal water chemistry levels, consult the following diagram: