Maintaining Swimming Pools

What To Know About Maintaining Swimming Pools

Keeping your swimming pool looking its best involves keeping the water at the right chemical balance. Even if you don't know the first thing about pools chemistry, it's not that difficult a task. Armed with a test kit and a little knowledge about the five most important things to consider for correct water balance, you'll have clear, sanitized water that will inhibit algae growth.

The most important tool is a pool water test kit. There are two types of kits. The standard type involves filling a small vial with pool water then adding a reactive solution that indicates the water's chemical levels. Test strips are the other method. These paper strips change colour when dipped in the pool water. Based on the results, specific chemicals are added to maintain water balance. The test will indicate levels of chlorine, cyanuric acid, total alkalinity, and calcium, and pH.

Chlorine disinfects and kills bacteria and organisms that contaminate the pool. This also keeps water clear and inhibits algae growth. The most common form of chlorine for pools is liquid, however it also comes in granular form and tablets. Tablets are helpful for maintaining a consistent level, especially during hot weather.

Cyanuric acid is a companion to chlorine because it protects it from being destroyed by sunlight (UV rays). If you find you're using more and more chlorine in your pool to maintain the correct levels, cyanuric acid is likely the issue. To balance this level you'll be adding pool conditioner or stabilizer.

Total alkalinity (TA) is a test of the amount of alkaline material in the pool. TA is the counterpart to the acidity in water and when it is too high, water will get cloudy and chlorine is less effective as well. If TA is too low the pool can turn green and plaster pool walls can become stained. Over the long term low TA can corrode the metal in the pool. Sodium Bisulfate decreases, and Sodium Bicarbonate increases alkalinity.

Calcium is a measure of water hardness. When too hard (high calcium levels), scales can form on surfaces and clog pipes and equipment. When calcium is low, it becomes corrosive and make swimming uncomfortable (stinging eyes, itchy skin) and can stain and etch the pool's surface. Metals such as pipe fittings and other equipment can corrode. Raising calcium is done by adding calcium chloride. Lowering calcium is difficult and requires replacing some of the pool water.

pH indicates water acidity. Low pH (too acidic) makes the water corrosive which can pit the plaster, making it rough and more prone to algae growth. Low pH also makes chlorine less effective. When pH is high (low acidity) the water becomes murky and loses its clarity. It can also cause scaling on the tile at the water level and damage pumps and equipment. Generally pools tend to lose acid (high pH) and so it is necessary to add liquid muriatic acid or dry acid (sodium bisulphate).

So while skimming out leaves and sweeping and vacuuming up dirt is important to keep pools looking good, keeping the chemicals balanced is equally important. Test pool water every time you service the pool and add the appropriate chemicals before a level gets too far off. This will keep your equipment safe and water crystal clear.