There are two basic elements to pool chemistry: water balance and sanitization.
Balancing your pool’s water chemistry is the #1 most important factor to maximizing the life and appearance of your swimming pool. Whether you realize it or not, your pool’s water is delicate and needs to be balanced. Out of balance water chemistry, whether it’s pH, calcium hardness or total alkalinity can not only make swimming in the pool uncomfortable it can also permanently damage the walls of your pool, your pool deck, pool equipment as well as other surfaces around your swimming pool.
While there are many different levels to measure within your pool, the three most important levels to keeping your swimming pool chemistry balanced are, total alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness. The table below illustrates the optimal ranges for basic water chemistry.
Factors that Affect Your Pools Water Balance
There are many factors that affect the water chemistry of your pool, some are more easily controllable than others are, and some affect the chemistry of the pool water more significantly than others do. Regardless of the type of pool you own, whether it’s an in-ground pool or an above ground pool the factors that affect your pools water balance are ultimately the same. While things such as frequent and heavy pool usage, organic matter, rainwater/flooding and water temperature can all alter the water chemistry within your swimming pool, they typically are the least significant factors affecting the water balance. It’s the levels and chemicals you are constantly adjusting (i.e. pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness) that have the most significant impact on you swimming pools water balance.
The Importance of Balancing Your Pool Water
Pool water balancing is simply the relationship between different chemicals in your swimming pool; balanced water is, neither corrosive nor scaling. Your pool water is constantly changing, seeking its own level by dissolving and “holding” minerals until it becomes saturated, and cannot hold any more. Pool water that doesn’t have enough minerals dissolved is typically more acidic and aggressive, and will attempt to saturate itself by dissolving everything it comes in contact with, in order to build up its mineral content. As a result, the pool water will begin to corrode and etch away pool walls, surfaces, and anything metal, including ladders, screws, underwater light fixtures, etc.
Once pool water becomes fully saturated, it will attempt to lose any excess minerals, particles/material in the form of scale, which is then deposited on things the water comes in contact with. Pools that are oversaturated often look cloudy and murky because of the excess particles floating freely in the water, and are at the greatest risk of scaling. If not corrected, scale and carbonates can build up on pool filters, in pipes, pumps, etc, decreasing water circulation and ultimately damaging pool components.
Simply stated, water balance is a term used to describe the ideal condition of pool water. “Balanced” water has just the right level of pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and dissolved solids in relationship to its temperature. To calculate if your swimming pool water is balanced check out our Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) calculator.
Sanitizing Your Swimming Pool
Keeping your pool water balanced not only protects your pool surfaces and equipment from corrosion and scaling, it allows your pools sanitizers to work more effectively.
One of the biggest factors that influence your pool sanitizer’s (let us use chlorine in this instance) ability to effectively clean the water is your swimming pools pH level. In a pool where the pH level is below 7.2 chlorine dissipates much more quickly, which translates into a larger chemical expense and more time spent adding sanitizers to your pool. On the other hand, if a pools pH level is higher than 7.8, chlorine loses its ability to sanitize the water, forcing you to use more chlorine to achieve the same chlorine concentration as a pool with a balanced pH level. For example, at a pH of 8.2, chlorine concentration can only reach 15%. This means that if you only had to add one dose of chlorine at a pH of 7.2, at a pH of 8.2 you would need to add 5x that amount to achieve the same chlorine concentration.
Constantly balancing and sanitizing your swimming pool can seem like a lot of work, especially if you don’t use it consistently. However, simply keeping your pool’s water chemistry balanced and the sanitizer level in check can help your pool last even longer and save you the hassle and expense of having to replace broken pool equipment or resurface your pool deck or pool walls down the road.
If you want to make water chemistry even easier, check out FROG Fresh Water Mineral Systems that sanitize and help maintain pH balance for cleaner, clearer and softer water with up to 50% less chlorine.