This is a very important process not only for sanitation but for longevity of equipment and plaster life. Here is a simple run-down of where to keep your chemicals at for proper pool chemistry:
Free Chlorine: Ideal level is between 2.0-3.0. If Crystal Pools built your swimming pool would probably have a Rainbow 3″ tablet chlroinator chlorine pool or a Aquarite Salt system. With a chlorine pool you should add 3″ chlorine tablets into the Rainbow chlroinator weekly, an average of about 2-3 tablets per week and to quickly shock your pool add granular chlorine to your skimmer while the pump is running. For a salt water system you should maintain a salt level ideally from 3200-3400. You should test your water for free chlorine weekly and make sure it is above 2.0. If it isn’t and your salt level is above 3000 then turn your dial from the current percentage to a higher percentage (for instance if your % is set at 60 turn it up to 70 and recheck in a week). Chlorine is what sanitizes your water so it is critical to keep your level correct or you can start to see algae. Also in our New Orleans area in the summer time you should keep stabilizer around because the sun’s UV’s will lower your free chlorine level, stabilizer helps prevent chlorine loss in summer time conditions.
PH: Ideal level is between 7.2-7.6. PH is a critical part of pool water chemistry. This one element affects other chemicals in water. It is measured on a scale of 0 (strong acid) to 14 (strong base) with 7 being neutral. Keeping your ph around 7.4 will make the water most comfortable on your eyes and provides best use of the free chlorine in the pool water while maintaining water that is not corrosive. If your ph is too low, free chlorine will disipate quickly, irriate your eyes, and will have a rapid loss of alkalinity. If your ph is too high, free chlroine is slowed down and becomes a lot more inefficient, scale formation and discoloration of your plaster, water becomes cloudy and it irriates your eyes. Most people think burning eyes have to do with chlroine but it is ph, think of baby shampoo being ph balanced therefore won’t burn a baby’s eyes. To raise ph add soda ash (do not add more than 2 lbs. per 10,000 gallons of water per treatment). To lower ph add muratic acid (you should pour acid into the pool directly with the pool pump running and walk around while pouring it in, don’t pour it all in one spot because acid is heavier than water and will sink and can etch your floor in that one spot). Salt water pools will naturally keep raising your ph levels on a daily basis, so it is critical to keep the ph in check on a weekly basis or it can affect how long of a plaster life you will get.
Total Alkalinity: Ideal level being 125 ppm (parts per million). Total alkalinity is a measure of water’s resistance to change in ph. If it is too low, ph changes quickly and possibly drops too low and starts to etch your swimming pool plaster. If it is too high, the ph becomes hard to adjust. Raise total alkalinity by adding sodium bicarbonate or baking soda to your skimmer while the pump is running. To lower total alkality add muratic acid.
Calcium Hardness: Ideal level should be kept between 250-275 ppm (parts per million). If the calcium level is too low then the water will take out calcium from your plaster to balance itself and will cause pitting. To raise your calcium hardness level add calcium chloride to the swimming pool. Calcium when applied to water gets very hot so I recommend if you need to add a bit to the pool get a 5 gallon bucket and slowly disolve the calcium chloride with water in the bucket then add it to the skimmer with the pump running. Generally the calcium level will be too low in our market and if you add too much calcium and the level’s are approching or over the 300 ppm range drain down some pool water and add fresh water to the pool (never drain the pool down below your the bottom of your tile).
Here is a photo of test strips. They use to have test kits you would have to put dye in but now it is very easy/convenient to just dip a strip into your pool water for a couple of seconds and just match the colors for your pool chemistry!