Keeping Your Pool Clean With Proper Chemistry
Many customers have asked about pool chemistry and keeping the pool clean. Fortunately, our iPool and Fitmax Therapy Pools are far easier to maintain than conventional swimming pools and lap pools. This is because of the unique size and dimension of our home therapy pools. Pool chemistry and maintenance is very important, you don’t want your pool water to be slimy, cloudy, or give off unpleasant odors. Instead just some simply weekly maintenance and you will have clean, sparkling water that you and your whole family can enjoy.
Chlorine or Sanitizer Level
The first and most important thing to check weekly the level of chlorine residual in the water. In fact, many of our customers do this on the weekend with a pH test strip, all you need to do is dip the test strip in the water and see if the color matches the recommended range on the canister. For our saltwater system users, the testing process is also the same.
Chlorine or whatever sanitizer equivalent you are using is the most important factor in keeping a healthy clean pool because it immediately goes to work and kills off any foreign bacteria or algae that can grow in the water and become a health hazard. When chlorine goes to work in killing foreign organisms in the water it gets used up or spent, and the remaining chlorine left in the water to protect it is known as the free chlorine residual or free available chlorine (FAC). For proper protection the free available chlorine should be kept around 2.0 parts per million 2 ppm. Your pH test strip or chemistry kit will simply have a color code of what is okay so there is no need to really memorize the number.
The second most important factor to check weekly is the pH balance of your pool. This can also be read by the same pH test strip you use to check the chlorine weekly. If your pH is too high it can cause your chlorine to lose effectiveness and give you gross cloudy water. If your pH is too low it can irritate your eyes, ears, and nose as well as bleach the color off your liner and damage your filter pump and heater. Generally speaking a pH higher than 8 is no good and can cause skin rashes in some people, while a pH lower than 7 can start to sting and burn. The ideal range for pH is commonly 7.2-7.6, or 7.4-7.6. Like before, your weekly pH test strip or chemistry kit will have a color code for what is a good range and what is not.
If you find that your pH level is higher than what is recommended, you can use a pH decreaser which is available in powder form like detergent. If you find your pH is lower than the recommended amount you can use a pH increaser offered by pool supply stores. Although some customers have tried using bleach and baking soda to take the place of pool supply store products it is not recommended because they tend to destabilize your pool’s pH and in all honesty our pools are so small (in the 1500-2200 gallon range) that you don’t need much chemicals to begin with.
The third factor we will discuss is alkalinity. Alkalinity is basically your pool’s ability to be resistant to pH changes. Technically it is a measure of your pool’s ability to neutralize acids. Think of it as a buffer that keeps your pool pH from changing all over the place. If your pool alkalinity is too low your pH will bounce up and down, even after you have just added increaser or decreaser agents. For the pH increasers and decreasers to work, you need to make sure your pool alkalinity is at the right level.
It is recommended for the total alkalinity of your water to be between 80 and 100 ppm but generally the minimum is about 60 ppm and the maximum should not go over 180 ppm. Your local pool supply store will have products available to increase or decrease alkalinity such as soda ash to increase your total alkalinity and muriatic acid to lower it. Your pH test strip will also have a reading and color recommendation for Total Alkalinity as well so as long as you test and treat the water weekly you won’t have any issues.
The last reading on most pH test strips is cyanuric acid. Cyanuric acid is a fantastic compound that allowed pool owners to only need to treat their pools once a week instead of everyday. It is a stabilizer or “conditioner” that prevents chlorine from decomposing in the sun. Cyanuric acid keeps the chlorine in the pool stable eight times longer than not having it. Without cyanuric acid your pool will essentially have no chlorine in about four to five hours after you added it.
If your cyanuric acid levels are too low your chlorine will easily dissolve and it won’t be able to do its job sanitizing your pool. If your cyanuric acid levels are too high, your chlorine will also be rendered inert and not do its job. This is because while cyanuric acid protects chlorine from UV degradation it also inhibits its effectiveness. In particular cyanuric acid build up can be a problem, because while chlorine dissolves or is used up cyanuric acid stays in the water and is often already present in many of the chlorine sanitizers that you add into the pool.
Generally speaking 40 – 100 ppm for cyanuric acid is considered acceptable. To increase your cyanuric acid level your local pool supply store has some available that you can add directly to the water, or you can add a sanitizer chlorine cocktail that has cyanuric acid included. To reduce your cyanuric acid level if it is too high you can reduce the water level by draining the pool or letting evaporation occur and adding in fresh water. Generally speaking if you maintain the water chemistry well you should not expect to drain the pool more than once a year.
Enzymes help break down organic materials in your pool like body oils, insects, dead skin, pollen, hair, and other waste. Since algae may feed on this material this helps prevent algae from growing in your water. If you are using an enzyme solution we recommend making sure the chlorine or sanitizer level is below 5ppm so it doesn’t inhibit the enzymes from doing their job. You can add an enzyme solution once a week in our small space pools as a preventative measure.
If you are able to maintain and monitor your chlorine and pH levels weekly you won’t have much to worry about algae. The biggest benefit of our therapy pools is they do not require much chemicals in fact an ounce of chlorine on average per week would be enough for most cases. You may occasionally want to add more chlorine or increase the sanitizer amount after a bit of rainfall or if the range was thrown off a bit. Pooi chemistry and maintenance does not need to be hard and you can enjoy the benefits of swimming and aquatic therapy year round.