Take care of your swimming pool and it will provide you with enjoyable
swimming year after year. If you follow the basics of proper chemical treatment
and filtration, pool care will be simple and easy.This information will
guide you through the steps you should take from swimming pool start-up,
to in-season care, to winter protection.
There are three basic swimming pool filter types: sand, diatomaceous earth (DE), and cartridge. Even though each swimming pool may have its own unique plumbing design, all filter systems will perform the same job. Swimming pool water is drawn through a skimmer and/or a bottom drain and pumped through a swimming pool filter which removes dirt, algae and visible contaminants that enter the swimming pool. You must operate the filter system at least eight to twelve hours per day in order to remove wastes effectively.
Remember, by filtering properly, you will help avoid contaminant buildup and save on your swimming pool chemical costs.
You can protect your swimming pool filter system by adding the correct amount of sand or DE or cleaning your filter cartridge regularly with a filter cleaner to remove oils and other organics like lint or hair that may lodge in your filter.
SWIMMING POOL WATER BALANCE
Your swimming pool is designed to hold the same water for many years. You filter it and chemically treat it over and over again. During this period of time the pool water can drift out of balance and cause corrosion, scaling or even stains to appear.
You can easily prevent these problems by paying attention to the basics of swimming pool water balance: pH balance, Total Alkalinity (to control pH changes), and Total Hardness (calcium). Use your 3-in-1 or 6-in-1 test strips 2 to 3 times each week until you become familiar with your pool chemical balance. Then, the swimming pool water should be tested 1 to 2 times each week.
pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of swimming pool water on a scale of "0-14". Extreme acid is "0" and extreme alkali is "14". the proper pH range is 7.4--7.8 for plaster swimming pools and 7.6 for vinyl or fiberglass swimming pools. pH readings greater than 7.8 will lead to cloudy water and scaling on all swimming pool surfaces, inefficient sanitizing, and swimmer discomfort. pH readings lower than 7.2 can lead to corrosion of swimming pool equipment and surfaces.
High Total Alkalinity (greater than 150 ppm) locks in the pH, but usually at pH levels above 7.8. Vinyl, painted and fiberglass swimming pools usually require somewhat higher Total Alkalinity levels than plaster pools.
Hardness measures the level of calcium and magnesium minerals present in your swimming pool water. These minerals exist naturally in all water but the levels vary greatly from one part of the country to another. "Soft" water typically contains 50 ppm Hardness or less while "hard water" may contain 300 ppm Hardness or more. The proper range for plaster pools is 200-250 ppm Hardness and for vinyl, painted or fiberglass swimming pools the proper range is 175-225 ppm Hardness. Swimming pool water low in Hardness causes etching of plaster and corrosion of pool surfaces.
Mineral Control is an important concern for swimming pool owners who use well water or for swimming pools that contain copper plumbing such as heaters. Both conditions can yield trace levels of iron, copper or even manganese that can cause water discoloration and staining. Such discoloration can appear green, blue, brown, or even black in color. this is caused by the reaction between your chlorine sanitizer and the particular trace minerals in your swimming pool water.
Stabilizer refers to "chlorine stabilizers", the final part of swimming pool water balance. This is a chemical that prevents the ultra-violet rays (UV) of sunlight from prematurely breaking down your chlorine sanitizer level so that it can do its job sanitizing the swimming pool water.
SWIMMING POOL SANITIZERS
Now that your swimming pool water is balanced and stabilized, it's time to sanitize it with chlorine. There are many types of chlorine. The most economical and convenient choice is "Stabilized" Chlorinating Tablets or Sticks. This type of chlorine is applied weekly and is not affected by sunlight like hypochlorites (calcium and lithium) or liquid bleach. You can dispense Chlorinating Tablets or Sticks by placing them in a chlorinator or a floating feeder. Salt systems also generate chlorine on a regular basis.
You must maintain a level of 1.0 - 3.0 ppm of available chlorine at all times to continuously kill bacteria, algae and other micro-organisms.
By using slow dissolving chlorinating tablets, sticks or a salt to chlorine generator you will be able to give your swimming pool 24 hour protection. During pool start-up, you may need extra doses of chlorine in order to satisfy the initial chlorine demand of your swimming pool water. This demand could include contaminants such as organics and debris that built up before you started using chlorine. Use your test kit often to check your chlorine level and adjust your chlorinator or floater as needed to increase or decrease the flow.
A few important factors affect the amount of chlorine your swimming pool will consume. They are: temperature, usage , rainfall, and pH. The warmer the pool water, the greater the use of chlorine. Heavily used swimming pools increase the load of contaminants such as perspiration and tanning lotions which consume chlorine. The greater the rainfall, the greater the requirement of chlorine. Rain washes airborne contaminents such as pollen and algae spores into the swimming pool and tends to lower the pH of the water by contributing "acid rain", a chemical reaction between rain and air pollution. Finally, low pH causes chlorine to be "overactive" and dissipate too quickly. Proper control of Total Alkalinity will prevent low pH and save on chemical costs.
Various contaminants such as swimmer waste, lotions, and oils can resist normal chlorination and start to build up in the swimming pool water. This buildup usually occurs during hot weather and periods of heavy bathing when your filter is already working overtime. A weekly SHOCK treatment when applied according to label directions will oxidize or burn-up these contaminants for a period of 12-24 hours. It is best to apply SHOCK in the early evening so that it can work overnight and allow the chlorine levels to return to normal by the next day. Be sure to continue to run your filter during this period of time. The salt system can be set to shock your swimming pool as needed.
TIP! During the hot summer months, a regular shock program using a shock product will help reduce the overall operating costs of your pool. Remember to allow the chlorine level to drop to 3 ppm or less before re-entering the pool.
Algaecides are excellent treatments to prevent or kill algae growth when used with chlorine. As a preventative, algaecides act as an insurance policy in your pool killng algae spores as they enter the water. Algae spores are constantly entering your pool from rain, wind, water and dust storms and they multiply rapidly in sunlight and warm water. Routine chlorination cannot always cope with the rapid growth of an algae "bloom", the visible outburst of algae. These algae can appear green, brown, mustard or even pink in color. By the time algae has bloomed there are millions of algae cells in every gallon of water!
Sometimes even the most experienced pools owners run into pool problems. Here are a number of the most common problems and recommended actions.
Make sure the filter is operating properly and the correct amount of filter media has been used. Adjust the pH, if necessary, to 7.2--7.8 and SHOCK treat the water. If the condition does not improve, try adding a super clarifier or natural clarifier. Continue filtering and maintain the required level of chlorine. If your swimming pool water is "OLD" and has a high level of dissolved solids (calcium), stabilizer, chlorides and other salts, you may need to drain a portion of the water and refill with fresh water.
There are many types that can infect swimming pool water. The most common types, the floating or clinging green algae, respond quickly to a shock treatment and dose of maximum strength algaecides such as algaecide 60 or algaecide 50. Be sure to adjust the pH, if necessary, to 7.2--7.8 before shocking and brush all pool surfaces to expose algae hiding in cracks and wrinkles. Apply the algaecide the next day. Pink algae and mustard algae require extra care because they both tend to re-infect pool water very easily. Treat pink algae in the same manner as outlined above but, in addition, sanitize all pool parts that come into contact with the water, such as the vacuum hose and head, by immersing them in the pool during shock treatment. Treat mustard algae with a special algaecide designed to combat this strain. Clinging black algae that tends to appears as dots or nodules can be treated by applying a slow dissolving granular aalgaecide (for use on plaster or concrete surfaces), such as Blackout Granular 90. Apply directly to the algae and brush the algae vigorously to expose its roots. In all cases, apply Algaecide 60 or Algaecide 50 directly into the pool as close to the algae as possible.
Reddish or brownish colored water is usually caused by metals such as iron and manganese. Treat the pool water with Metal Out Plus to tie up the metals and prevent the discoloration process.
GREEN OR BLUE COLORED WATER
Usually caused by high levels of copper in the water. Treat the condition as above and consult with your authorized serviceman for more details. Be sure not to confuse green, slimy water that indicates an algae infection with the greenish cast associated with copper.
STAINS AND SCALE
Stains can develop when colored water is left unattended or when metals such as coins are accidentally left in the pool. Scale is a crusty buildup on pool floors and walls caused by excessive calcium levels and high pH. Usually, both conditions must occur for scale to form. Both stains and scale can be controlled by lowering pH, if necessary, and by using a stain and scale remover such as metal out plus according to label directions. Severe conditions, especially in plastered pools, may require an "acid wash" - a draining and cleaning procedure - performed by your dealer or serviceman.
EXCESSIVE OR INADEQUATE CHLORINE LEVELS
Inability to hold a chlorine reading usually indicates lack of STABILIZER in the water. Have your water tested for STABILIZER and add if necessary. Also be sure to check your floater or chlorinator to insure a supply of chlorine. Low readings could signal an excessive chlorine demand that is not being met. In this case, a SHOCK treatment would be appropriate. Finally, your testing chemicals (reagents) may be old and need to be replenished. Check with your authorized dealer or serviceman for accurate water testing.
A high chlorine reading that won't dissipate gradually may indicate too much chlorine is being added to the water. Check your floater or chlorinator and make the necessary adjustments.
On occasion, CHLORAMINES (chlorine reacted with swimmer waste) can develop and cause the chlorine reading to remain high depending on the type of test kit used. In this case, a SHOCK treatment corrects the condition by breaking up the chloramines.
DICTIONARY / GLOSSARY
ACID: A chemical substance containing hydrogen with the ability to dissolve metals, neutralize alkaline materials and combine with bases to form salts. Acid is used to lower (decrease) pH and total alkalinity of swimming pool and spa water. Examples are muriatic (hydrochloric) and dry acid (sodium bisulfate).
ACID DEMAND: The amount of acid required to bring high pH and total alkalinity down to their proper levels. Determined by an acid demand test.
ALGAE: Microsopic aquatic plant life that contain chlorophyll. Algae are nourished by carbon dioxide (CO2) and use sunlight to carry out photosynthesis. It is introduced by rain or wind and grows in colonies producing nuisance masses. Algae are not disease-causing, but can harbor bacteria, create a high clorine demand, and it is slippery. There are 21'000 known species of algae. The most common pool types are black, blue-green, green and mustard (yellow or brown). Pink or red-colored algae-like organisms exists but are bacteria and not algae. Maintaining proper sanitizer levels, brushing and superchlorination will help its occurence.
ALGAECIDE: Also called algicide. A natural or synthetic chemical designed to kill, destroy or control algae.
ALKALINITY: Also called total alkalinity. A measure of the pH-buffering capacity of water or water's resistance to change in pH. Composed of the hydroxides, carbonates and bicarbonates in the water. One of the basic water tests necessary to determine water balance.
AMMONIA: Introduced into the water by swimmers as waste (perpiration or urine) or by other means. Quickly forms foul-smelling, body-irritating chloramines - an undesirable, less effective form of chlorine. See chloramines or combined chlorine.
AVAILABLE CHLORINE: The amount of chlorine in the pool water that is available to sanitize or disinfect the water. Sometimes called residual chlorine.
BALANCED WATER: The correct ratio of mineral content and pH level that prevents the water from being corrosive or scale forming.
BROMAMINES: By-products formed when bromine reacts with swimmer waste (perspiration or urine), nitrogen or fertilizer. Bromamines are active disinfectants and do not smell.
BROMINATOR: A mechanical or electrical device for dispensing bromine at a controlled rate. Most often a tank, canister or floater filled with tablets of bromine.
BROMINE: A halogen element in the same group as chlorine and flouride. Also a common name for several chemical compounds containing bromine that are used as disinfectants to destroy bacteria and algae in swimming pools and spas. Most commonly available as organic bromine in a tablet ot granular, or as sodium bromide, a granular salt.
BUFFER: A substance or compound that stabilizes the pH value of a solution. It is also the water's resistance to change in pH.
CALCIUM: The calcium content of the water. Calcium hardness is sometimes confused with the terms water hardness and total hardness. Too little calcium hardness and the water is corrosive. Too much calcium hardness and the water is scale forming. One of the basic water tests necessary to determine water balance. Minimum level is 150 ppm. Ideal range is 200 to 400 ppm.
CHELATED COPPER: Copper algaecides that contain a special ingredient to prevent the copper from staining the pool walls and bottom or producing colored water.
CHLORAMINES: Undesirable, foul-smelling, body-irritating compounds formed when insufficient levels of free available chlorine react with ammonia and other nitrogen containing compounds (swimmer and bather waste, fertilizer, perspiration, urine, ect.). Chloramines are still disinfectants, but that are a much weaker, ineffective form of chlorine. Chloramines are removed by superchlorination or shock treating
CHLORINE: A term used to describe any type of chlorine compound used as a disinfectant in swimming pool and spa water to kill, destroy or control bacteria and algae. In addition, chlorine oxidizes ammonia and nitrogen compounds (swimmer and bather waste).
CHLORINE DEMAND: The amount of chlorine necessary to oxidize all organic matter (bacteria, algae, chloramines, ammonia and nitrogen compounds) in the pool or spa water.
CHLORINE RESIDUAL: The amount of chlorine left in the pool or spa water after the chlorine demand has been satisfied.
CLARIFIER: Also called coagulant or flocculant. A chemical compound used to gather (coagulate or agglomerate), or to precipitate suspended particles so they may be removed by vacuuming or filtration. There are two types; inorganic salts of aluminum (alum) or water-soluble organic polyelectrolytes.
COAGULANT: An organic polyelectrolyte usd to gather (coagulate) suspended particles in the water.
COMBINED CHLORINE: Undesirable, foul-smelling, body-irritating compounds formed when insufficient levels of free available chlorine react with ammonia and other nitrogen-containing compounds (swimmer and bather waste, fertilizer, perspiration, urine, ect.). Combined chlorine is still a disinfectant, but it is a much weaker, ineffective form of chlorine.
CONDITIONER: In this guide, conditioner is a chemical called cyanuric acid. It slows down the degradation of chlorine in the water by sunlight. The minimum effective level is 20 ppm as measured by a test kit. Very high levels of Cyanuric acid (above 300 ppm) can slow down chlorine activity or effectiveness. Conditioner does not protect bromine from sunlight.
COPPER ALGAECIDE: A chemical compound that contains the element copper. Copper sulfate was one of the original copper algaecides. Too much copper in the water can cause green-colored stains. Newer copper algaecides contain an ingredient that prevents the copper from staining but does not affect copper's ability to kill algae. These special copper algaecides are called chelated copper algaecides.
CYANURIC ACID: Also called conditioner or stabilizer, this chemical compound protects chlorine in the water from being destroyed by sunlight. The minimum level is 20 ppm. Very high levels of Cyanuric acid (above 300 ppm) can slow down chlorine activity or effectiveness. Cyanuric acid does not protect bromine from sunlight.
D.E. FILTER: Diatomaceous Earth Filter. A filter designed to use diatomaceous earth (D.E.) as the filter medium. The D.E. is added through the skimmer with the pump on, which takes the D.E. and deposits it on a grid. The D.E. then becomes the filter medium.
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH: Also called D.E. A white powder composed of fossilized skeletons of one-celled organisms called diatoms. The skeletons are porous and have microscopic spaces. The powder is added through the skimmer with the pump on and deposits itself on a grid. The powder then becomes the filter medium.
DICHLOR: The common name for sodium dichlorisocyanurate. A fast-dissolving chlorine compound containing chlorine and cyanuric acid (stabilizer or conditioner). It has a neutral pH and is quick dissolving, so it can be used for regular chlorination or superchlorination.
DRY ACID: Chemically, sodium bisulfate. A dry white crystal that produces acid when added to water. It is used for lowering pH and total alkalinity. Safer to handle than muriatic acid.
EFFLUENT: The water that flows out of a pump, filter or heater, usually on its way back to the pool or spa.
FILTER AID: A chemical compound added to the water or to the filter that allows the existing filter to become more efficient. Examples are alum, water clarifiers and D.E. (diatomaceous earth).
FLOC: The clump or aggregate formed when suspended particles combine with a flocculating agent. See floculation.
FLOCULATION: The combination, agglomeration, aggregation or coagulation of suspended particles in such a way that they form small clumps (called a floc).
FREE AVAILABLE CHLORINE: The amount of active chlorine in the pool or spa water that is available to sanitize or disinfect the water. Sometimes called residual or available chlorine.
HARDNESS: The amount of calcium and magnesium dissolved in the water. "Water" or "total" hardness refers to the total magnesium and calcium dissolved in the water. Calcium hardness refers to just the calcium. Measured by a test kit and expressed as ppm. The proper range is 200 to 400 ppm.
HYPOCHLORITE: The name given to a family of chlorine containing compounds, including calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite and lithium hypochlorite, that are used as disinfectants and sanitizers in pool and spa water.
LITHIUM HYPOCHLORITE: A dry, granular chlorinating compound with an available chlorine content of 35%. It is rapid-dissolving and can be used to superchlorinate vinyl-liner pools, painted pools or fiberglass pools as well as spas and hot tubs.
MINERAL: A substance that is neither animal nor plant. It is a chemical compound, usually inorganic in nature (no carbon atoms), which occurs naturally. Examples are quartz, feldspar or compounds of crystaline structure. It sometimes includes soluble "rocks" such as limestone. Ground water can dissolve all or a portion of these rocks and the minerals contained these rocks, thus causing these minerals to be present in tap water. Certain geographic locations contains a high level of minerals which can cause staining and scale problems in pool and spa water.
NON-CHLORINE SHOCK: A term given to a class of chemical compounds that are used to oxidize or shock the water (destroy ammonia, nitrogen and swimmer waste). They contain no chlorine or bromine and do not kill living organisms. Swimmers may re-enter the water in only 15 minutes after adding a non-chlorine shock.
ORGANIC: Refers to volatile, biodegradable and sometimes combustible chemical compounds containing carbon atoms bonded together with other elements. The principal groups of organic substance found in water are proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils. See organic waste.
ORGANIC WASTE: Also called swimmer or bather waste. All of the soap, deodorant, suntan lotion, lipstick, makeup, cologne, body oils, sweat, spit, urine, ect., brought into the water. They also form chloramines, which are foul-smelling and body irritants. Requires large amounts of chlorine or non-chlorine shock to destroy.
OXIDATION: To rid the water of ammonia, nitrogen compounds and swimmer waste (organic compounds). These organic compounds disable chlorine, are body irritants and have a foul smell. Removal is accomplished by superchlorination or by shock treating with a non-chlorine oxidizer.
OXIDIZER: A shocking or sanitizing compound that removes or destroys built-up contaminents and chloramines in pool water. Most chlorination, brominating, and oxygenating compounds are considered oxidizers. Usually the fast dissolving oxidizers which contain chlorine, such as the hypochlorites, are typically used to "superchlorinate" the water.
RESIDUAL BROMINE: The amount of measurable bromine remaining after treating the water with bromine. The amount of bromine left in the pool or spa water after the bromine demand has been satisfied.
RESIDUAL CHLORINE: The amount of measurable chlorine remaining after treating the water with chlorine. The amount of chlorine left in the pool or spa water after the chlorine demand has been satisfied.
SCALE: The precipitate that forms on surfaces in contact with water when the calcium hardness, pH or total alkalinity levels are too high. Results from chemically unbalanced pool and spa water. Scale may appear as gray, white or dark streaks on the plaster, fiberglass or vinyl. It may also appear as a hard crust around the tile.
SHOCK TREAT: The practice of adding significant amounts of fast-desolving oxidizing chemical - (usually the hypochlorites) - to the water to destroy ammonia and nitrogen compounds or swimmer waste.
STABILIZED CHLORINE: A family of chlorine pool sanitizers that contain conditioner (cyanuric acid or isocyanuric acid) to protect the chlorine from the degrading UV rays in sunlight. Most common types are sodium dichlor and trichlor. The granular form is dichlor, which is fast-dissolving and can be used for regular chlorination or superchlorination by broadcasting into the pool or spa. Tablet or stick form is trichlor (which is usually used in a chlorine feeder - either the floating type or in-line erosion type) used for regular chlorination only.
STAIN: A discoloration or a colored deposit on the walls or bottom of a swimming pool or spa. Most often, stains are metals such as iron, copper or manganese. They may appear as green, gray, brown or black. They may even discolor the water. Sometimes a sequestering agent or chelating agent will remove them. If not, usually an acid wash is necessary to remove them from the walls and bottom. The metals get in the water because the pH was too low or someone has added a low pH chemical directly into the circulation system. The low pH chemical dissolves a small amount of metal from the equipment. The metals come out of solution and deposit or sain the surfaces of the walls and bottom of the pool. Stains are sometimes confused with scale.
SUPERCHLORINATION: The practice of adding an extra large dose (5 to 10 ppm) of chlorine to the water to destroy ammonia, nitrogen and swimmer waste, which can build up in the water. This level of chlorine is required to destroy all of the combined chlorine in the water which is called breakpoint chlorination.
TOTAL ALKALINITY: The total amount of alkaline materials present in the water. Also called the buffering capacity of the water. It is the water's resistance to change in pH. Low total alkalinity causes metal corrosion, plaster etching and eye irritation. High total alkalinity causes scale formation, poor chlorine efficiency and eye irritation.
TOTAL CHLORINE: The total amount of chlorine in the water. It includes both free available and combined chlorine.
TDS: Total Dissolved Solids is a measure of the total amount of dissolved material in the water. It is comprised of the spent or carrier chemicals in the water every time chemicals chemicals are added, as well as the hardness, alkalinity, chlorides, sodium, magnesium, calcium, ect. The maximm amount in pools is 2500 ppm. Maximum in spas is 1500 ppm over starting TDS. The only way to effectively lower TDS is to drain part or all of the water and replace it with low TDS water.
TRICHLOR: A slow-dissolving tablet or granular, stabilized organic chlorine compound providing 90% available chlorine. Used for regular chlorination but must be dispensed using a floating feeder or an in-line feeder (chlorinator). Trichlor contains an ingredient (cyanuric acid or stabilizer) that prevents the chlorine from being destroyed by the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Trichlor haas a pH of 2.8, and regular trichlor tabs should not be placed in the skimmer as the low pH will corrode the metal components in the equipment.
TURBIDITY: The cloudy condition of the water due to the presence of extremely fine particles in suspension that cannot be trapped by the filter because they are too small. Adding a clarifier will coagulate the particles and make the filter more efficient.
WATER CLARIFIER: Also called coagulate or flocculant. A chemical compound used to gather (coagulate or agglomerate) or to precipitate suspended particles so they may be removed by vacuuming or filtration. There are two types; inorganic salts of aluminum (alum) and other metals or water-soluble organic polyelectrolytes.
pH: A term used to indicate the level of acidity or alkalinity of pool water. Too low a pH causes etched plaster, metal corrosion and eye irritation. Too high a pH causes scale formation, poor chlorine efficiency and eye irritation. The ideal range for pH in swimming pools is 7.4 to 7.6.
ppm: An abbreviation for parts per million. It is a weight-to-weight expression. It means 1 part in 1 million parts, such as 1 lb. of chlorine in 1 million lbs. of water. Many of the common pool water tests, as well as acceptable ranges, are stated as ppm. For example, free available chlorine should be kept between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm; total alkalinity should be between 80 and 120 ppm; and water hardness should be between 200 and 400 ppm.
POOL OPENING TIPS
CALCULATE POOL CAPACITY:
SHAPE OF POOL GAL. OF WATER (Dimensions in ft.)
Rectangular Avg. depth x avg. length x avg. width x 7.5
Circular Diameter x diameter x avg. depth x 5.9
Oval with straight sides Full width x full length x avg. depth x 5.9
Irregular Consult pool builder
CHEMICAL SAFETY TIPS
KEEP ALL CHEMICALS OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN!
Always store chemicals in a clean, cool, dry and well-ventilated area.
Keep containers tightly closed when not in use.
Keep liquid and dry chemicals separate.
Do not reuse empty chemical containers.
Follow container and product disposal directions on product labels.
Read carefully and follow directions for use on all labels before using.
Do not prepare chemicals in closed area.
Do not smoke while handling chemicals.
Do not use quanities in excess of label instructions.
Wear protective gloves and safety goggles when handling chemicals.
Wash hands and exposed skin after handling any chemicals.
Use a clean, dry utensil for granular chemicals.
Never mix different types of chlorine.
Never mix chemicals, always add chemicals to the pool seperately.
NEVER ADD WATER TO CHEMICALS! - ALWAYS ADD CHEMICALS TO LARGE QUANITIES OF WATER!
|All Maintenance||Pool Opening||Winterize Pool||Back to previous page|