Pool Health 101: Chemical Breakdown

To maintain pool water that is clean, clear, sanitized and safe, chemicals are crucial. And the delicate balance of those chemicals can make all the difference. Aquaman Pools shares the important chemicals that are necessary to keep the swimming pool healthy, how much to use and how to ensure chemical balance.

Chlorine and Bromine — These are the pool’s sanitizers. Chlorine serves to neutralize bacteria or viruses in the water by attaching to these contaminants and eliminating them. Once done, the chlorine is no longer effective, which is why it must be added on a regular basis. The ideal amount is 3ppm (parts per million, and chlorine can be distributed via a chlorine float. Bromine on the other hand, is more commonly used in spas hot tubs or heated pools as it is more efficient at higher water temperatures. Bromine ionizes bacteria and viruses but unlike chlorine it continues to work after it does so, typically longer than chlorine. It can be distributed like chlorine and its target balance is between 3ppm and 5ppm.

Algaecides — These stop the growth of algae in the water and can prevent algae from growing in the first place, so they are a very important part of the pool’s chemical romance. Algae can be tricky to get rid of, so it’s ideal to stop it before it starts or catch it early on before it has a chance to discolor the water, cause damage to equipment or even cause a bacterial skin infection. In addition to the use of algaecides, proper water circulation is key and brushing the pool’s tiles and interior surface can keep algae at bay.

pH Balancers — These help keep the water’s pH within healthy range, and its imbalance can actually make pool sanitizers and chemicals less effective at their jobs. The pool’s pH is a very delicate balance and is impacted by anything that enters the pool — leaves, dirt, debris, rain water, etc. Luckily its fairly easily to balance. Ideally, pH levels should read between 7.2 and 7.6. Outside of that zone, the alkaline can get out of whack.

Alkalinity Balancers — Speaking of alkalinity, it serves as a shield for pH levels. In many cases if the pH levels are off, adjusting the alkalinity first can naturally balance out the pH. The range for alkalinity is between 100ppm to 150ppm, with 125ppm being the recommended level.

Calcium Hardness Balancers — The amount of calcium in the water (in addition to other factors) determines the “hardness” of the water. Not enough calcium can cause corrosion in the pool’s systems, equipment and plumbing. Calcium levels that are too high can damage the plaster or tile. Ideal calcium range is between 80ppm and 150ppm for a vinyl pool and 150ppm to 200ppm for a concrete, plaster or tile pool. Once again, alkalinity comes into play. If calcium levels are off, check the alkalinity first, then the pH levels. Balanced calcium levels are crucial for the longevity of the pool.

Shock — “Shocking” the pool may need to be done when the water’s sanitizers are overworked (such as after a big rainstorm or heavy use in the summertime). Essentially, shocking the pool serves to super-chlorinate the water to sanitize it.

The health and safety of the pool water is all about chemical balance! A basic pool test kit or a more advanced system can help pool owners keep their levels in check. Of course, a professional pool service such as Aquaman Pools can also make easy work of this and other pool needs on a regular basis so homeowners can spend less time on the maintenance of the pool and more time enjoying it!


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