Oh, the joys of owning your own pool! Whether you are the proud owner of a brand-new pool or have had your pool for a while, there is one thing that every pool owner has in common: the dream of crystal clear, sparkling blue water. Unfortunately this is not always the case, but with a bit of hard work and the right tools, even Mission Impossible will seem like a piece of cake. Testing and balancing your pool water can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, knowledge and patience anybody can master this art.
The right tools for this job. You need a test kit (or a sample of your pool water tested at your local pool center), an alkalinity balancer, a pH balancer, water hardness balancer and a stabilizer or conditioner. Please take note that the type of pool you have will influence these chemicals. For example, salt water pools do not require harsh chemicals often needed for chlorine pools. You should also consider the materials your pool is made of (such as fiberglass, vinyl or concrete. Your local pool maintenance company will be able to assist you with this.
The first step you should take is to test the pool water. You can either have the water tested at your nearest pool center or by using your handy test kit. Just follow the instructions provided with the kit.
Before testing the water, you will need the approximate volume of your pool. There are simple formulas to determine this, based on the length, width, depth and shape of your pool. Once you have this estimated value, you can now use your test kit to test for a variety of conditions. These are the free available chlorine, pH balance, total alkalinity, cyanuric acid and calcium hardness. Keep a simple logbook in which you record these results. Later you will be able to see a pattern in your pool’s balancing requirements regarding the weather conditions, the usage of the pool, etc.
Just keep the following in mind: Balancing a pool does NOT mean that you just add a bunch of chemicals to your pool “because it seemed like a good idea”. This is a lesson I have learnt from my sister-in-law trying to balance her pool and get rid of murky water, just to end up with an emerald-green pool that cost hundreds of dollars to fix. If you are unsure even after testing the water – contact an expert, they are called experts for a reason.
Now that you have tested the water, it is time to balance it. It is important to let your pump run before and while you add the chemicals so that it doesn’t simply settle on the bottom, but circulates through your pool. Always add the chemicals to the water and not the other way around. This might sound like a silly notion, but don’t. Ever. Also, make sure that you add the right amount of chemicals. Too little and your hard work will certainly not pay off, and too much can damage your pool. You also need to add the chemicals in increments. Not everything all at once. If all else fails, read the instructions for a second or third time. You’ll get the hang of it, don’t feel discouraged.
Alkalinity is the first issue you want to remedy. Ideally, the range of Total Alkalinity in your pool should be between 80 and 120 ppm. If you find, according to your testing, that the TA (Total Alkalinity) is not balanced, you have to do one of two things. You will either add an Alkalinity increaser to increase the alkalinity or if you need to decrease the alkalinity, a Sodium Bisulfate.
Now on to the pH. The ideal pH range is between 7.4 and 7.6. To increase the pH of your water you will add the right amount of Sodium Carbonate and to achieve the opposite, you need Sodium Bisulfate to decrease it. Balancing the pH in your water is extremely important as this can cause damage to the structure of your pool as well as your pool cleaning equipment.