Pool water chemistry tips and common mistakes to avoid
Maintaining good quality water is crucial in order to get maximum enjoyment from your pool and keep maintenance issues to a minimum. And while every pool is different, this guide to pool water chemistry will teach you what to look for and help you avoid common mistakes which can cause problems with your water.
What is pH?
Simply speaking, pH is a measure of how acidic or how alkaline your water is. On this scale that runs from “0” to “14”, a reading of “7” indicates that your water is neutral (neither acidic nor alkaline). As the reading gets below “7”, the water becomes increasingly acidic and as it rises above “7”, it becomes increasingly alkaline. The recommended pH is slightly alkaline, or 7.4-7.6.
The pH levels in a pool can also impact your plaster. Water with low pH levels (below 7.0) may erode the protective covering from the plaster surface. Water that has high pH levels (above 8.0) may contribute to the formation of scale and stains. In addition, your chorine will be more effective in killing germs and eliminating algae when your pH is in the proper range.
Salt chlorination raises the pH of your water. If you don’t add enough muriatic acid to your pool water on weekly basis, you will develop scale. Scale will appear as white streaks and encrustations on your pool plaster. This will be especially troublesome on colored plaster pools.
Other water chemistry factors
Calcium – Maintaining good calcium levels is important for both your pool water and your plaster. Too much calcium may cause deposits and too little may cause your plaster to weaken.
Alkalinity – Your total alkalinity should be tested on a regular basis by a pool chemical store. Proper total alkalinity promotes stable pH readings and will eliminate drastic changes in pH that will consequently affect water quality.
Tips for maintaining great water in your pool:
Test water regularly – Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot determine the condition of your pool water by looking at it. Regular weekly testing of your water and monthly testing by your pool chemical store is the only reliable way to maintain good health of your pool water.
Maintain proper water levels – Failure to maintain the proper water level can cause all sorts of problems. Too little water (near the bottom of your tile line) may cause the pump to draw air and lose its prime.
Regularly clean your pump strainer basket – Keeping your strainer basket clean is a sure way to ensure your pump can adequately refresh your water supply and keep it clean. If ignored, debris can clog the impeller and the pump will not perform properly.
Clean your chlorinator cell – When the cell becomes encrusted with calcium and other minerals dissolved in your water, the chlorinator will not work.
Clean your filter elements – Like with pump strainers, dirty or clogged filter elements can shut your whole system down.
Follow these tips and you will have no problems maintaining good water chemistry and ultimately good water quality that you and your friends and family can enjoy.
Charles Elfert is the President of Pleasure Pools – a New Orleans pool company since 1994. Pleasure Pools designs and builds custom pools as well as helping pool owners maintain their pools through education and teaching.