Menu
How to Balance Pool Water Essential Chemicals Part: 1 Chemical Ranges Essential Chemicals Part: 2 Other Types of Chemicals

How to Balance Pool Water

To balance the chemicals in pool water, you will need to use a test-kit to measure the pH, Calcium Hardness, Total Alkalinity, Sanitizer, and Metals, then adjust accordingly.

Ready to learn the key components of balanced pool water? POOLCORP Chemical Specialist Melissa Bushy explains it all in this 15 video showcase. Browse through the different topics to find lessons on each chemical as well as common problems and their solutions. Read on for our complete guide.

Here are the essential chemicals for keeping your pool clean and beautiful:

pH

This is the measure of acid and base in the pool water, and it’s important to maintain just the right balance: If the pH of your swimming pool water drifts too far toward the acid side of the scale, corrosion of pool surfaces and equipment can occur. If your pH is too far toward the base side, your pool can be at risk for scaling, deposits, and cloudy water. Ideally, you want to maintain a pH of around 7.5. You can use a chemical increaser or decreaser to adjust your pool’s levels as needed. Be sure to follow the label directions for the proper amount of the products to add based on test results and pool size.

Calcium Hardness

This is the amount of dissolved calcium in the pool water. Low calcium hardness levels can cause plaster finish etching and shorten the life of vinyl liners. High calcium levels can result in calcium deposits on the pool surfaces as well as equipment. The proper range for calcium hardness in pool water is 200- 250 parts per million (ppm) for concrete pools and 175-225 ppm for vinyl pools. Your pool professional can advise you on the best method for treating your pool if you encounter high calcium hardness.

Pool Water Chemistry

Total Alkalinity

To ensure that your swimming pool’s pH remains stable, you should maintain a total alkalinity of 120-150 ppm. Low total alkalinity can not only result in pH bounce and fluctuations but it can also encourage corrosion and staining. High total alkalinity can also cause the pH to fluctuate and may contribute to cloudy water and scaling. To lower total alkalinity, follow the directions from your pool professional. To raise total alkalinity, an alkalinity booster is recommended.

Metals

The most common types of metals that appear in pool water are copper, iron, and manganese. The presence of these metals can stain your pool’s surfaces and discolor your swimming pool water. If metals are present in your pool, use a stain and scale remover on a regular basis. You should also try to determine the source of the metals –your pool professional can probably help you identify some likely culprits.

Test Range
pH 7.2 - 7.6
Total Alkalinity 120 - 150ppm
Calcium Hardness 200 - 250ppm (Concrete Pools)
Calcium Hardness 175 - 225ppm (Vinyl Pools)
Free Chlorine 1 - 3ppm
Free Bromine 3 - 5ppm
Metals: Copper 0ppm
Metals: Iron 0ppm

Being new to swimming pool water chemistry doesn’t make you a dummy – but if you’re looking for a beginner’s guide to chemicals, start here.

Chlorine

A true workhorse of pool maintenance, this pool cleaner chemical breaks down bacteria and sanitizes your pool water. Stabilized chlorine products are protected from sunlight degradation and are an ideal means to keep your pool clear and clean. Most stabilized chlorine products are available in a variety of forms, including chlorinating tablets, skimmer sticks, and granules. Your pool professional can determine the best form and type of sanitization program for your particular needs. A free chlorine level of 1-3 ppm should be maintained in the pool at all times.

Chlorine

Bromine

Bromine, which packs the same bacteria-killing punch as chlorine, performs better in hot water. If you’ve got a pool or a spa, or if your pool water gets exceptionally hot, consider this chlorine alternative to keep your pool clear and clean. To utilize bromine effectively, consider installing an automatic brominator.

Shock Treatments

Learning how to shock your pool on a regular basis is an important part of keeping the pool water clear and clean. Swimmers and the environment add waste and debris to the pool that must be eliminated in order to prevent problems such as algae and cloudy water.

Algaecide

Preventing algae is the key to an enjoyable pool. Algaecides act as a backup to your normal sanitization program and prevent algae from starting and growing in the pool. Algaecide should be added after every shock treatment.

Stabilizer

Available in liquid or powdered form, pool stabilizer helps preserve the chlorine levels in your pool protect them from the breakdown effects of sunlight. When your stabilizer level is low, you'll use a lot more chlorine. When it's high, you may need to dilute your pool water to bring it back into the ideal 40 to 100 PPM range.

Pool water stabilizer is also known as conditioner, CYA, or cyanuric acid.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

This term is a catch-all that includes everything from naturally occurring minerals to debris and dust to organ buildup that occurs from everyday use. As your swimming pool water evaporates, leaving behind concentrated, hard-to-remove TDS deposits – which, in turn, can make pool chemicals less effective and create stains. If you have 3000 PPM or more of TDS, you may need to drain some water and add fresh water.

Other Types of Chemicals:

What is Free Chlorine?

Free chlorine is tested to determine the proper chlorine levels in pool water. It is the amount of chlorine that is still available to sanitize your water. Free chlorine is the chlorinated water that has not interacted with any contaminants.

What is Combined Chlorine?

Combined chlorine is a by-product that occurs when free chlorine oxidizes contaminants such as nitrogen and ammonia. Available chlorine is used up as it combines with contaminants, resulting in combined chlorine.

What is Total Chlorine?

Total Chlorine, also known as TC, is the sum of free chlorine and combined chlorine in your pool water. Chlorine tests often test for total chlorine because it’s easier to test for than free chlorine or combined chlorine.

What is Muriatic Acid?

Muriatic acid is a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid. You can buy it at most home improvement stores and pool stores. You can use muriatic acid to lower your pool pH, clean cartridge filters, and take rust stains off your pool surfaces. Learn more about Muriatic Acid.

What is Cyanuric Acid?

Cyanuric Acid is another name for chlorine stabilizer which is a chemical that protects chlorine in the pool from the sun’s UV rays. This results in longer lasting chlorine.