April 17, 2014


What is Water Balancing?

This refers to pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels. Proper balance makes the water clear, bright, gentle and comfortable to your skin, allows the sanitizer to operate at maximum efficiency, and reduces potential damage to the pool equipment. There is a simple home test or you can bring a sample into the store for computer analysis.

Why is “Balancing” the Water Important?

Balanced water is comfortable to our skin and eyes, enhances the effectiveness of the sanitizer, and protects the pool and hot tub equipment from premature failure. Always adjust Total Alkalinity first, then pH, then Calcium Hardness.

Total Alkalinity (TA) In both swimming pools and hot tubs, the goal is to maintain a TA of 80 to 120 ppm. With the TA in this range, it helps to stabilize the pH level. If TA is too low, plaster walls will etch, metals will corrode, stains will appear, water can turn green, eyes will burn, and pH readings will be unstable. If the TA is too high, pH is difficult to adjust, water becomes cloudy, the pool constantly needs acid, and the chlorine loses its efficiency. We recommended you test the TA weekly. To raise TA, we use sodium bicarbonate. This can be a slow and time-consuming process. Lowering the total alkalinity is also a slow process. To lower TA, we use either liquid or dry acid. Acid is added to still water in the deepest part of the pool or hot tub with the filter off. We recommend you consult with a Pool Doctor water quality expert for professional advice and instruction.

pH (potential of Hydrogen) The pH is one of the most important factors in pool and hot tub water balance and it should be tested and corrected every week. pH is the measure of how acid or alkaline the water is. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, below 7.0 is acidic, above 7.0 is alkaline. The pH of our eyes is 7.2. That’s why the ideal pH for your pool or hot tub should be kept in the 7.0-7.6 range.

What Happens When pH is Too Low? (acidic)

If your pool is plaster, the water will begin to dissolve the surface creating a roughness called etching which supports algae growth. A similar result occurs in the grouting of tiled pools. Metals, pipe fittings and equipment corrode. O-rings and pump seals deteriorate. Vinyl liners become brittle. As corrosion occurs, sulphates are formed and released from the water onto the surfaces of the pool causing brown and black stains. Chlorine is lost into the atmosphere more quickly reducing sanitization. In addition, our eyes and nose will burn, swimwear is degraded and fades, and our skin gets dry and itchy.

What Happens When pH is Too High? (alkaline)

Calcium in the water combines with carbonates and forms scale, just like a tea-pot. This calcification is seen most at the waterline, where it traps dust and dirt turning black over time. The water becomes cloudy and it loses its sparkle. The calcium carbonate tends to reduce the filtering efficiency of the sand in the pool filter eventually turning it hard. As the pH rises, the power of the chlorine is diminished. At a pH of 8.0, the pool can only use 20% of the chlorine thus 80% is wasted. In alkaline water, the swimmers can suffer too. Our eyes and nose may burn and our skin becomes dry and itchy.

Calcium Hardness The allowable range for calcium hardness is 200 to 500 ppm. This refers to the total mineral content of the water including; calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and other elements. If the calcium hardness is too low, the water becomes corrosive and causes damage to the pool, pool equipment, and contributes to swimmer discomfort. Low calcium hardness can easily be increased using calcium chloride. If the calcium hardness is too high, the result will be widespread scale formation on the pool surfaces. The filter, heater, and pipes can become clogged reducing water flow and efficiency. The water becomes cloudy and swimmers will complain of eye irritation. Reducing calcium hardness is very difficult. Usually the water must be partially or fully drained and replaced. If your calcium hardness is high, consult with a Pool Doctor water quality expert for professional advice and instruction.

Which Sanitizer System Works Best? 

The way you use your pool or hot tub, your preferred maintenance frequency, the simplicity of maintenance, and your typical bather load are all factors in choosing the system that’s best for you. Talk with your Pool Doctor advisor for detailed information and recommendations.

  • Chlorine Tablets Ideally suited for outdoor pools due to its ease of use, forgiving nature, and enhanced stability in direct sunlight. Used with either chlorine or non-chlorine oxidizer. Also suitable for hot tub in either tablet and granular form…
  • Bromine Tablets Ideally suited for hot tub and indoor pools. Unlike chlorine, it is stable in hot water but not in direct sunlight. Generally used with a non-chlorine oxidizer. Hot tub use both tablet and granular form…
  • Nature2® (Mineral Sanitizer) Minerals make the water softer and using 2/3 less chlorine means virtually no eye irritation and dry skin. ®Pool uses silver and copper with low-level chlorine to destroy bacteria and other organics. Nature2®Spa combines silver and other trace elements to effectively sanitize even at the high water temperatures. The Pool Doctor recommends the use of supplemental mineral systems.
  • FROG® (Mineral Sanitizer) Mineral systems help control bacteria, prevent algae, and keep the pH neutral so you can reduce your chlorine use up to 50%. FROG® pool and hot tub systems are designed for each individual application. A primary sanitizing ingredient is silver.
  • Pristine Blue (Non-Chlorine system) This is our favorite alternative to chlorine and bromine. It utilizes copper, known for centuries to be an effective sanitizer. Generally used with a non-chlorine oxidizer, it provides excellent results when alkalinity is kept in the 80 to 90 range.
  • Biguanide (aka BAQUACIL®, SoftSwim™) A non-chlorine alternative sanitizing system. Hydrogen Peroxide is the associated Shock product. We at The Pool Doctor do not recommend this system. It is comparatively expensive, unforgiving, and requires an above average level of care and maintenance.
  • Salt Chlorine Generator Salt is added to the water and a device called a salt generator converts the salt to Chlorine. There are additives to help the system remain operating efficiently. Otherwise, all other water balancing and maintenance remains the same as with Chlorine tablets. The real user benefit is the simplicity of use and not having to handle the chlorine tablets. Another plus is the water has a soft feel. Salt is less expensive and makes caring for your pool easier.

UV Systems

UV systems use safe clean ultra violet light to totally eradicate dangerous micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, yeast, and mold. Adding UV to your system allows you to dramatically reduce chemical use saving you time and money. Best yet, it’s a truly “Green Technology” that returns your investment in a short period of time.

UV systems are surprisingly easy to install and fully automatic. UV is compatible with all pools types, with or without autocovers, and suitable for all sanitizer systems even salt.

The effectiveness of Type C ultraviolet rays as a means of sanitization has been known for more than a century. It has been used in various applications such as for drinking water purification, aquaculture, fish farming, and in hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry. After filtration, water circulates through the Delta UV Sanitizer for complete disinfection without hideous by-products such as corrosive gas found in Ozone systems.

This process results in the cleanest, purest, safest water possible for your pool, and drastically reduces your need for chemical products.

As it is not possible to build a pool where 100% of the water passes through a filter, you will still need to maintain a small residual of chemicals in your pool in order to destroy any micro-organisms that do not find their way into the UV sanitizer. Note: Upsizing can be utilized for maximum sanitation.

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Why is “Shocking” the Water Important?

It’s a common misconception that shocking is optional, or used only as a reactive service correction.

Shock (aka Oxidizer) Shocking is a routine and pro-active maintenance activity. Depending on the type of sanitizer, different shock products may be required, and the shock schedule may vary anywhere from upon each use to once each week or two. Additional shocking may also be required after times of heavy bather loads. Shocking helps rid the water of organic wastes such as sweat and other contaminants that cause unpleasant smells. Shocking also restores your sanitizer to maximum efficiency. NOTE: Shocks are NOT equal. Inferior products can affect pH or cause haze to appear. Some allow swimmers to re-enter the water as quickly as 30 minutes while others require 12 hours. We recommend you consult with a Pool Doctor water quality expert for professional advice and instruction.

Is pool maintenance time-consuming?

Not really. Cleaning and water quality takes about 15-30 minutes a week. Automatic cleaners and feeders are available to save time and make pool care even easier.

When should I run the Swimming Pool Filter?

On average, you should run the pump during the daylight hours (8-10 hours a day) depending on the systems you employ and the level of swimmer use.

We recommend you consult with a Pool Doctor Water Quality Expert for professional advice and instruction. The Pool Doctor, LLC provides complimentary computerized water analysis for our customers FREE of charge!