Water chemistry can be a mystery to some – and that’s why we have a FAQs page.
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This refers to pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels. Proper balance makes the water clear, bright, gentle and comfortable to your skin. It 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 a free computer analysis.
Balanced water is comfortable to our skin and eyes. It 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.
When 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 recommend to test the TA weekly. To raise TA, use sodium bicarbonate. This can be a slow and time-consuming process. Lowering the total alkalinity is also a slow process. When lowering TA, 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 prior to this on your own.
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 acidic 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.
If your pool has a plaster surface, the water will begin to dissolve the surface creating a roughness called etching. Unfortunately, this will support 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, your eyes and nose burn, swimwear will degrade and fade, and your skin will get dry and itchy.
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 then 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 diminishes. At a pH of 8.0, the pool can only use 20% of the chlorine and therefore 80% is wasted. In alkaline water, the swimmers 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.
How 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 type of system that is best for you.
Chlorine Tablets Ideally suited for outdoor pools due to its ease of use, forgiving nature, and enhanced stability in direct sunlight. This sanitizer is used with either a chlorine or non-chlorine oxidizer. Chlorine is 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. This is generally used with a non-chlorine oxidizer. Hot tubs cab 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. We highly recommend 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. The 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. Pristine Blue is generally used with a non-chlorine oxidizer and 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 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 benefit is that the water has a soft feel. Salt is less expensive and makes caring for your pool easier.