Five important chemical tests.

It seems everyone is out to sell you an entire suite of chemicals to maintain the water in your pool. I am here to tell you that many of those may be unnecessary and even cause problems.
The first critical thing to check is your free chlorine. It should be between 1 –  3 usually.
Second up is pH. This reading should be held between 7.2 – 7.6. Before adjusting pH up you should check the alkalinity. Sodium bicarbonate will raise both alkalinity and pH. When adjusting the pH down we use Muriatic acid. By pouring the acid in a column we can adjust the alkalinity down and by splashing it over the surface we lower the pH. You should always be very careful with Muriatic acid. It is extremely dangerous.
Third, we have alkalinity. Alkalinity acts as a buffer for our pH. If the alkalinity is maintained between about 80 – 120, our pH will remain stable. Let the alkalinity get too low and the pH will drift wildly.
Fourth on the list is calcium hardness. This is most important to gunite pools. The plaster or pebble surface will degrade quickly with a lack of calcium. Hardness levels between 200 – 400 are recommended.
Last we have cyanuric acid, also referred to as stabilizer or conditioner. This chemical is built into some chlorine shocks (dichlor and trichlor) and all chlorine tablets. You can also add it by itself. For the unsuspecting consumer, it is easy to get this level too high, into the hundreds. It should be kept around 30 – 40 (60 – 80 in a salt pool). The only way to reduce the level is by draining water.
Other tests can be important on a case by case basis, but if you have these five right, you are on the path to a clear, clean pool.

An Atlanta area native, Shawn began servicing pools in 1998 and has not stopped. Years of experience have provided Shawn with a wealth of knowledge and opinions about all types and brands of pool equipment.

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  1. […] chlorine. There are several elements to a properly maintained pool, most of which I cover in this article about pool chemistry. The free chlorine should still be checked weekly along with the pH. I would check the total […]

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