If you own a pool, it’s vital to keep your pool water chemicals balanced to provide a safe and healthy swimming environment. However, balancing pool water chemicals is not as simple as simply ensuring that you have enough chlorine. It requires following a particular set of steps to ensure that all chemical levels are in the ideal range to prevent bacteria growth.
Fortunately, balancing your pool chemicals is more simple than it sounds and doesn’t require a chemistry background to complete. Below, we will provide you with a complete how-to guide to help you balance your pool water chemicals, including the numerous chemicals you must use and how to use them to keep your pool clean and protected at all times.
How to Balance Your Pool Chemicals
A balanced swimming pool maintains optimum levels of the five essential pool water components: total alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness, stabilizer, and total dissolved solids.
Most of the difficulty involved with balancing a swimming pool comes with determining which chemicals to use and how much of them to use. As a result, it is critical to understand what chemicals you are putting into your pool, how they work, and how they interact with each other.
Balanced pool water not only ensures that the swimming environment is clean, safe, and healthy to swim in, but it also protects the structure and equipment of your swimming pool. For example, too much chlorine can cause skin and eye irritation, but too little will not eliminate bacteria, algae, and other contaminants.
Additionally, when the pH levels are too high, the water becomes hazy, and scale deposits form on the pool walls and equipment, but if the pH levels are too low, the pool surfaces and equipment will get etched and corroded.
Whether it’s your first time balancing a pool or you’ve done it several times, a reference guide on correctly balancing pool water is always helpful. Let’s take an in-depth look at what it takes to keep your pool water balanced.
Prepare the Water for Testing and Balancing
Before starting, be sure to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety goggles and gloves. Because you are working with various chemicals, personal safety is of the utmost importance throughout the entire duration of balancing your pool water.
Now that you are ready to begin, you must first ensure that your pool water is ready for balancing. First, ensure that the water level is halfway up the skimmer’s mouth and add more if necessary. Next, make sure the pool filter is clean, turn on the pool pump, and ensure it is operational, as attempting to balance a pool that isn’t circulating correctly may harm pool surfaces. Debris should also be removed from the skimmer and pump baskets.
Calculate Your Pool’s Volume
To correctly balance your pool water, you must first determine how many gallons of water it holds. If you haven’t already, determine the cubic footage of your pool and multiply that figure by 7.5 to get the volume of your pool in gallons. If you have a round pool, multiply the cubic footage of your pool by 5.9 to get the volume of your pool in gallons.
Test the Total Alkalinity
Total Alkalinity (TA) refers to how much alkaline is in the pool water. Low alkaline water results in low pH, while high alkaline water results in high pH. The total alkalinity should be between 80 to 120 parts-per-million (ppm), preferably around 100 ppm.
Test pH Levels
Keeping your pH levels within the optimal range is critical for swimmer safety and the longevity of your equipment and pool’s structure. A pH of 0 to 7 indicates a low or acidic pH, indicating that your chlorine will dissolve quickly, while a pH of 8 to 14 indicates a base ph, meaning that the chlorine will be inactive.
A well-balanced pool has a pH level between 7.2 to 7.8. To increase the pH, use a pH increaser such as sodium carbonate. To decrease the pH, use a pH decreaser such as sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid.
Measure Calcium Hardness
It’s critical to have the correct amount of calcium in your pool water. If you use too little, the surface of your pool will begin to chalk and deteriorate, while using too much can result in your pool water becoming cloudy and cause scale formations or staining to occur.
The optimal calcium hardness level is between 200 to 300 ppm. If you need to increase the calcium hardness of your pool, add calcium chloride and follow the directions on the product label. If calcium hardness levels are too high, partially drain it and refill it with new water.
Measure Cyanuric Acid Levels
Cyanuric acid (CYA) is a stabilizer that keeps ultraviolet (UV) rays from destroying chlorine in pool water, allowing for more efficient sanitization. Low stabilizer will lead to you using far more chlorine than usual, while too much stabilizer will require you to dilute your pool water to return it to adequate levels. While CYA is commonly present in pool sanitizer, you may need to add more to guarantee your pool’s chlorine is adequately protected.
Cyanuric acid levels in pool water should be between 30 and 50 ppm, preferably around 60 to 80 ppm.
Measure the Amount of Total Dissolved Solids
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) refers to the number of solids dissolved in your pool water, including chemicals, algaecides, shock, salts, dirt, and other contaminants. While there is an acceptable level of TDS in pools (up to roughly 1,000), there comes a time when the level becomes too high, as the minerals make it hard for chemicals to complete their functions, allowing stains to grow.
TDS levels should be below 2,000 ppm, preferably between 1,200 to 1,500 ppm. If the TDS level in your pool rises above 2,000, you’ll need to drain small amounts of pool water and refill with fresh water until the TDS levels fall below the threshold.
Sanitizer is used to ensure a bacteria-free pool that is safe to swim in. Chlorine is the most effective technique to sanitize your pool and is most commonly found in liquid form, tablet form, and granular form.
The pool’s chlorine levels are determined by two separate measurements: Free Available Chlorine (FAC) and Total Available Chlorine (TAC). The amount of chlorine readily available to destroy germs and algae, keeping the pool water disinfected and sanitary, is called FAC, while TAC refers to the total amount of chlorine in the water. Ultimately, you want chlorine levels between 2.0 to 4.0 ppm, preferably around 3.0 ppm.
Test the Water
Lastly, test the pool water once more to ensure that all chemical levels are within the permissible range and make any required modifications as needed.
Download the PoolStar Command App for Assistance!
Maintaining your pool’s water chemistry balance should be every pool owner’s number one priority. It not only reduces deterioration and prolongs equipment life but also reduces unexpected equipment failures and keeps water quality safe.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to remember that pool water balance is continuously changing. Even with routine use, various contaminants can interfere with the effectiveness of chemical treatments or render the pool water unhealthy.
While balancing your pool water is a relatively simple DIY task, the PoolStar Command app can help! Download the app today to gain access to loads of pool-related resources, tips, tricks, and guides and compare the value of your home to other homes with pools. PoolStar Command is a valuable resource that all pool owners should have at their disposal.