Balancing your pool water
One of the most important steps in pool maintenance is balancing the chemicals in your water.
This makes it:
• Look good.
• Assists in keeping it clean and clear.
• Ensures that it is safe to swim in.
• It is comfortable for the users, so stinging eyes or dry itchy skin.
• Help keep the pool economical to operate.
To start with, the is a national standard for pool water quality, AS3633-1989. This defines what should be used for pool water treatment and what levels everything should be kept at. When the pool water is “in balance”, this means that the levels are within the right ranges and this makes the pool work properly.
The important parts of pool water that need to be correct are:
- Alkalinity. This is the measure of all the Alkaline chemicals dissolved in the pool water, this mainly consists of bicarbonate and carbonate salts. Alkalinity acts as a buffer, stopping small additions of acids (adding chemicals, people swimming, fresh water) from altering the pH. Alkalinity needs to be 60 -200mg/L and is the first thing to check as it affects how everything else works. This is increased by adding Sodium Bicarbonate (pool buffer).
- pH. pH is a relative measure of the amount of acid and alkaline chemicals in the water. This is measured on a scale of 0 -14, 7 is neutral. Anything below 7, is considered acidic and above 7 is call basic or alkaline. Having the correct pH is important for how comfortable it is to swim (the human body is pH 7) and also makes Chlorine work properly to keep the water safe. The water in a pool should be between 7.0 and 7.8, and the optimum is 7.2 to 7.6. This should be easy to adjust if the Alkalinity is correct. The pH is lowered by adding acid (hydrochloric liquid, dry acid) and raised by adding soda ash.
- Chlorine. This by far the most commonly used sanitiser in swimming pools. It doesn’t matter if you are using liquid or powdered chlorine or a chlorinator the level still has to be maintained to make the pool water safe. You measure this in mg/L (or parts per million) and we try to maintain 1-3 mg/L of “free” chlorine. If the alkalinity and pH are correct, then this should be very easy to maintain and the pool won’t use too much chemicals. With a salt water chlorinator, it is simply ensuring that the level is right and when it starts to rise then turn down the chlorinator.
- Stabiliser. Otherwise known as Isocyanuric acid, this chemical is added to pool water as a protector or “sunscreen” for the chlorine. Chlorine is broken down by sunlight, so to minimise this stabiliser is added to keep the chlorine in the water doing its job properly. This should be checked at the start of the season and shouldn’t change too much. If you add a large amount of water or change the water, then you need to add a new amount of stabiliser.
- Salt. If the pool uses a salt water chlorinator for making chlorine, then your salt levels need to be checked. Any salt is better than none but a level of 3 -6 g/L is about right.
Some chlorinators won’t work with lower amounts and so if you need to add more to get the machine working, then do so. If you have added too much salt, then the only solution is to add more fresh water to dilute the salt.
To get your pool levels right, you don’t really need to buy a flash test kit. Simply take a decent sample of water (1L) down to your local pool specialist and they can test it for you.
At Southern’s we have a full computerised testing facility to provide you with a report that explains what needs to be done to get your pool water right and how much you need to add. We will also explain the process to you and if you happen to need some chemicals, then we have a full range of Environex (Klen) pool chemicals on the shelf.
Drop in to the shop at 6 Teede St, Bunbury or give us call on 9721 3577 for more info.