What is Swimming Pool Chemistry?
Swimming pool chemistry is the balance and levels of chemicals in your pool. The right chemical balance is necessary to keep your pool clean, protect your swimming pool finish from discoloration, and prevent damage to your pool equipment.
Inspect the Site Before Testing
Before you can test your chemical balance, you need to perform a site inspection. This will help you determine if there has been any damage to the pool that may prevent proper circulation or require additional treatment. Remember to clean debris from the pool deck, patio and surrounding areas. Make sure that you skim and vacuum any debris from the swimming pool or water surface.
Have a digital camera for documentation of any cracks or discoloration in the pool finish. Sanding pads are necessary to check the smoothness of the pool finish. If the surface is rough, it needs to be determined if this is from etching or precipitation. The pool finish should be smooth to the touch.
Next, check the interior surface. Squirt just a little bit of dish soap into the pool. This will prevent ripples and calm the water’s surface so that you can see into the bottom of the pool. This is a good time to check for algae or metal stains.
If you see a major flaw or crack in your pool finish, contact a pool professional. They will be able to determine the severity of the situation and provide you with a suitable solution.
After doing a superlative site inspection, test the water for proper chemistry levels.
Test the Water
Proper pool water chemical levels have a great deal to with the source water used. It is best to do a source water test before even thinking about testing the pool.
Make sure that you have an accurate volume measurement for the pool in terms of gallons so that you know how much of each chemical must be used. Chemical imbalances in the swimming pool can eat away at the pool finish and turn it very rough to the touch. You can use our swimming pool volume calculator to determine the volume of your pool.
Test for proper pH levels, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and salt levels. This test can be done at your local pool retailer. To get your water tested at a retail store, fill a water bottle at least 18 inches below the surface of the water. This will give you a better sample of the pool’s water.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and cyanuric acid (CYA) are also large factors in pool chemistry. The Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) is a means of evaluating water quality data to determine if your pool or hot tub water has a tendency to form a chemical scale. In order to use this index, the following measurements are needed:
- total dissolved solids
- total hardness
pH has an acceptable range between 7.2 and 7.6. Total Alkalinity should be between 120-150 parts per million. The Calcium Hardness test accepting range varies for the type of pool you have. A gunite, or concrete, pool should register between 200-250 parts per million of the scale. Whereas, vinyl pools should record around 175-225 parts per million.
Test the water and check for levels of each factor to be the in the acceptable range based on your test kit. This test will analyze and explain any water problems that may arise. If a certain level is not acceptable, make the proper chemical adjustment.
pool water should be tested 2-3 times per week to ensure optimal swimming conditions. Proper pool chemistry not only keeps the pool clean and sanitized, but also prolongs the life of the pool finish.
Better Swimming Through Chemistry
Accurate pool maintenance will extend the life of your pool’s external parts and interior pool finish. Test the source water to check for any chemical imbalances, and test the pool to maintain acceptable chemical levels. A well-maintained pool is much more fun to swim in!
Tip # 1:
Are your eyes burning? This is an indication that your pH level is imbalanced. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean your pool is too acidic. Have you ever gotten shampoo in your eyes? Most soaps and shampoos are alkaline (basic).
Shock your pool at night! Shocking your pool is basically adding 3-5 times the normal amount of chlorine to drastically raise the level for a short time. The sun burns off chlorine, so shocking is must effective at night.
Dissolve your shock in a bucket of water before adding it to your pool. This will help your shock distribute evenly and effectively. DO NOT add shock through your skimmer!