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Home > School Of Pool > Swimming Pool Chemicals Guide

Swimming Pool Chemicals Guide

New to owning a pool? If so, you're probably well aware that there's a delicate chemical balance to your pool, but you may not be familiar with what those chemicals are or what they actually do. Fortunately, we're here to help.

There are a few elements of pool chemistry that you'll want to be familiar with if you're responsible for maintaining a pool. Those elements are pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, stain producing metals and disinfection.

  1. You may remember playing with litmus paper as a youngster in science class dipping it into household liquids to determine if a liquid was an acid or a base. This is the same principle, as the pH is the measure of the same levels in your pool water. A healthy range for a swimming pool water is usually between 7.2 and 7.8. Ideally, you should test this daily as problems will occur if your levels fall outside of this range. Levels over 7.8 can lead to staining, cloudy water and even filtration problems. If your level falls below 7.2 you can irritate swimmers skin and eyes and also corrode metal pipes.

    To keep things in balance, you'll want to use pH pool balancers.

  2. Keeping your pH in balance can be tricky if your pool falls outside a healthy range for total alkalinity. If your pool water's total alkalinity falls between 75 and 120 parts per million your water will be more resistant to change and make your life much easier.

    Using a stabilizing agent can help keep your range stable for a longer period of time.

  3. Have hard water? If so, you're probably familiar with the effects, and you can deduce that it's not ideal for your swimming pool either. Calcium hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium in your water, and if your range is outside of 100-500 parts per million you'll run into issues. If you're on the high side of this scale add a rust and scale remover and if you're on the low side you can add a water hardness increaser.

  4. If you've seen a pool with a heavily stained interior it's probably due to iron, cobalt, copper or manganese. Most areas will have issues with at least one of these metals in the water supply, so to avoid unsightly staining we recommend using a metal control agent.

  5. Last but not least - chlorine. This is the one we all know. Chlorine, of course, is responsible for disinfecting your pool. Keeping the aforementioned items within their appropriate ranges will allow you to use a lot less chlorine. A proper chlorine level will have enough free chlorine to manage algae, organic matter and microorganisms. A healthy level of free available chlorine should be between 1-2 parts per million.

Sometimes you may need to add shock to your pool - for example when you smell chlorine. When your pool is really low on free available chlorine pool contaminates are burnt off and come off as a gas (thus the smell).

Other useful items for your pool include a preventative algaecide, which when used weekly can help avoid any future issues with algae growth. Also, perhaps the most important item not already discussed is a good testing kit. If you don't have a quality testing kit, each of these items becomes nearly impossible to manage.