Pool Chemistry 101: The Basics of Acidity, Chlorine and More

by Pool Builders on 12-27-2013 in Articles

A swimming pool is a surprisingly complicated bit of chemistry. These chemicals serve a wide range of functions, from keeping bugs out to keeping pumps in good condition. If you plan on maintaining your pool yourself, it's important to understand the ins and outs of these various chemicals. That said, homeowners often opt to have this part of the maintenance handled by professionals, as it can be a little daunting.

All that said, let's take a look at the most important components of pool chemistry.

Measuring and Adjusting Pool Acidity

Your pool needs to have a very specific level of acidity. If it's too acidic, it can break down the pool's chlorine, which means more frequent chlorine replacement and possibly more bugs landing in your pool. If it's too basic (the opposite of acidic,) the water can eat away at the circulation system.

How acidic should your pool be? On a pH scale from 0 to 14, your pool should measure between 7.2 and 7.8. There are numerous home test kits you can purchase to measure your pool's acidity. Once you have a reading, you can use various chemicals to add or subtract acidity from your pool.

Which Type of Chlorine Should You Use?

By and large chlorine choice comes down to personal preference, rather than manufacturer requirements. That said, make sure to read your manual before adding chemicals to your pool.

High maintenance chlorines like lithium hypochlorite and organic chlorine require daily monitoring, but gives you a lot more control over the pool's chlorine level. Medium maintenance chlorines like calcium hypochlorite need to be turned liquid in a bucket before added to the pool.

By far the lowest maintenance, easiest and most common type of chlorine are-inch chlorine tablets. These will dissolve slowly, gradually releasing chlorine over time. You can also find larger sticks as well as 1-inch tablets. Note that the inexpensive larger sticks can sometimes dissolve even faster than the 3-inch tablets, meaning you'll have to replace them even faster. That's because manufacturers often cut corners on their binding agents, as larger sticks tend to be marketed to budget shoppers.

Any time you use a new brand of chlorine, monitor the pH levels of your pool closely for a week. High chlorine levels will naturally lower your pool's pH level, which can damage your pump. Adjust your pH accordingly, and then continue to monitor it until you get to know how your pH levels react to your new chlorine.

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