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How to make sure pool water chemistry is right

If owning an eco-friendly swimming pool is part of your pool ownership plan you need to know how to make sure pool water chemistry is right. The swimming pool contractors from the Best Pro Pool Service in Atwater, California have tips and inspiration for you.

If the strong smell of chlorine in the pool has you wondering if you have too much chlorine in the water or has you wondering what exactly is the right amount of chlorine you have a couple options.

  1. Hire a swimming pool maintenance professional

  2. Learn to DIY the pool maintenance yourself

You never want to question whether the pool water is “clean enough” to swim in. Clean enough doesn’t count it when you’re immersing your entire body into a body of water — this is especially true if you have any cuts or compromised immune system or have children in the water. You need to make sure the water is as safe and healthy as it possibly can be — that is the reason so many pool owners hire a pool service contractor to do the pool chemical testing and treatments.

A couple of notes:

  1. Chlorine is available in liquid, gas, solid tablet or granular forms.

  2. Salt systems or in-line chlorine generators are a method that produces its own chlorine.

  3. It is important to maintain sufficient levels of chlorine in your pool to kill microorganisms that cause disease, some of which can be deadly.

  4. The effectiveness of chlorine can be affected by temperature, pH levels, and different forms of contamination.

  5. We recommend maintaining the proper pH level at 7.2 to 7.8 per my previous blog in order for the sanitizer to be the most effective.

There are three terms regarding chlorine every pool owner should be familiar with.

  1. Free chlorine. Free chlorine is the chlorine that is available at any given time to disinfect the water. The free chlorine level should be maintained at between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm (parts per million). The minimum should not drop below 1.0 ppm and the maximum should not exceed 5.0 ppm.

  2. Combined chlorine

  3. Total chlorine.

How to make sure pool water chemistry is right

If you smell a strong chlorine odor that doesn’t necessarily mean the pool has too much chlorine, it may mean you have too little and that the free chlorine levels are too low. The scent of chlorine is caused by a reaction of free chlorine with ammonia or organic compounds from sweat, urine or other sources from nature. This is called combined chlorine or chloramines.

How does a swimming pool professional address that?

To get rid of that strong smell is to achieve what is called Breakpoint Chlorination. This is done by shocking or super-chlorinating the water — adding free chlorine at ten times the amount of combined chlorine. If the chloramines are of the organic type, they cannot be removed by breakpoint chlorination.  Other methods must be used such as clarifiers added to the water, ozone treatment, or replacing the pool water with fresh water. The ideal amount of combined chlorine is zero. The max reading should be no more than .2 to .5 ppm.

Total chlorine is the amount of free chlorine and combined chlorine added together.

Another concern is chlorine, by its nature, is unstable and can be especially affected by sunlight. (That’s why we recommend adding chemicals after the sun has gone down) A chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) needs to be added to act as a sun block to maintain chlorine levels. The ideal amount of cyanuric acid should be 30-50 ppm.

Swimming pool water chemistry is a delicate balancing act and many inexperienced pool owners find they add too much of one chemical, not enough of another and then spend more time and money and less time swimming than if they hired a pool pro. Give us a call today!


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