POOL CARE GUIDE
A clean, inviting swimming pool with sparkling clear water is not difficult for even the novice pool owner to achieve. All that is required is an understanding of your pool equipment, the water in your pool and the factors that influence both.
What Should I Do and How Often?
The following chart is a good reference for equipment maintenance. Remember, your pool equipment includes everything from the filtration system to the deck around your pool - not to mention the pool itself.
Why is Pool Water Treatment so Important?
Chemical treatment of your pool water is necessary for two primary reasons:
The water must be "balanced" so that it is neither corrosive nor scaling.
The water must be "sanitized" so that it is free from harmful, infectious organisms(such as bacteria and virus), free from unsightly (though not harmful) algae growth, and free from organic wastes (from swimmers and the environment).
Water Balance is a term used to describe the interaction of pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness, and their overall effect on your pool equipment, water quality and the pool itself. We will discuss each factor separately and then as a whole.
pH is a measurement of the relative acidity and basicity (alkalinity) of water. pH is measured on a scale that runs from 0 to 14. pH values below 7 are acidic and values higher than 7 are basic (alkaline). AQUA pH Minus has a pH of 1.5 and is used to lower the pH of pool water. AQUA pH Plus has a pH of 11.5 and is used to raise the pH of pool water. Your pool water should always have a pH in the range of 7.4 to 7.8.
Ideal Range: 7.4 - 7.6
High pH can cause: eye irritation, cloudy water, scaling, and inefficient use of sanitizers.
Low pH can cause: eye burn, etched plaster, corrosion and staining.
Total Alkalinity refers to the amount of alkaline material (carbonates, bicarbonates and hydroxides) in your pool water. Pool water with low TA is sensitive to a change in pH. The pH will "bounce" from high to low and back up again very quickly. Pool water with too high a TA is very resistant to a change in pH making it difficult to adjust pH when necessary.
The proper range of TA is 120 to 150 ppm in plaster or marbalite finished pools and 125 to 175 ppm in fibreglass, vinyl-lined or painted pools.
Ideal Range: plaster:100 - 150 ppm, vinyl:125 - 175 ppm
High TA can cause: eye irritation, cloudy water, scaling, and make pH difficult to adjust
Low TA can cause: eye burn, etched plaster, corrosion and staining.
Total Hardness refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium carbonate in water. In pool water chemistry we are interested only in the calcium hardness (CH) of your pool water.
You should test for CH at opening, mid-season and just before closing your pool for the winter. If your pool is open all year, test for CH every 3 months.
Ideal Range: plaster:225 - 300 ppm, vinyl:175 - 250 ppm
High CH can cause: cloudy water, scaling
Low CH can cause: etched plaster, corrosion and staining.
Sunlight can rapidly destroy chlorine residual in outdoor pools unless the chlorine is stabilized. Stabilization refers to the ability of the sanitizing chemical to resist deactivation by sunlight. If the chlorinating chemical is stabilized, this process is slowed significantly and the chlorine remains effective longer, even in bright sunlight.
Sanitation of Pool Water
Sanitation refers to the control of infectious organisms (bacteria, virus, etc.), the removal of excess organics (perspiration, urine, body oils) and the prevention of algae growth. Proper pool water sanitation, then, must satisfy three basic requirements, individually and as a whole.
Removal of excess organics
Prevention of Algae growth
To sanitize your pool you can use either Chlorine or Bromine.
Aqua Stabilized Chlorine comes in two different forms: quick dissolving granular Dichlor and compressed Trichlor. The Trichlor is available in 15, 50, 200 and 228 gram sizes.
Granulated Dichlor can be added almost immediately to the pool (once it has been predissolved). This means if your chlorine level has dropped too low, your pool will be safe for swimming 30 minutes after adding Dichlor. Granular Dichlor should be added daily (or as required) to maintain a safe chlorine residual of 1-3 ppm.
Trichlor tablets dissolve more slowly and are fed into the pool gradually through an automatic feeder or by dissolving in the skimmer. An automatic feeder is preferred because it helps maintain a more constant chlorine residual.
Warning: When using an automatic chlorinator, do not add any chemical other than those recommended by the manufacturer. Using the wrong chemical can result in fire and/or explosion.
No matter which form of chlorine is used, you must maintain a chlorine residual of 1-3 ppm. As long as the residual does not drop below 1 ppm, the water will be sanitary.
When chlorine is added to pool water, some of it is used to satisfy an initial chlorine demand. The chlorine is consumed by destroying existing algae and bacteria, and by breaking up organic waste. Once this initial demand has been met, the chlorine that remains is your total chlorine. Total chlorine consists of "free" chlorine and "combined" chlorine. Free chlorine is the active chlorine available for sanitation. Combined chlorine is chlorine that is tied up with organic waste, and forms what we call chloramines. Chloramines are responsible for eye irritation and offensive "chlorine odour". Also, when chlorine is tied up in chloramines, it loses most of its effectiveness as a sanitizer. In a properly maintained pool, total chlorine should equal free chlorine so that combined chlorine (chloramines) are not present.
To remove chloramines see Shocking / Super Chlorination.
Bromine is available as a compressed tablet. Bromine is more effective in higher pH ranges. Also, bromine when coupled with nitrogenous waste will form bromamines. Bromamines are good disinfectants. When chlorine, on the other hand, forms chloramines they have no disinfecting properties.
Shocking / Super Chlorination
To effectively eliminate chloramines from pool water, super chlorination or "shocking" is necessary. Shocking should be performed on a weekly basis or whenever you notice a "chlorine odour" . Shock your pool using either AQUA Shock or AQUA Brite Plus.
AQUA Shock is calcium hypochlorite or what we call unstabilized chlorine. The best time to use AQUA Shock is last thing in the evening because it will raise both your pH and the chlorine residual. They will both return to normal after a few hours.
Keeping the Green Out.
Algae are microscopic forms of plant life that are introduced into your pool through rain, wind and dust storms. There are many types of algae, some of which are very resistant to regular chemical treatment. For this reason, algae can grow in pools even if the chlorine residual is in the proper range.
It is easier to prevent algae than to kill an existing growth. In algae prone areas (usually, but not limited too, hot humid climates with an abundance of plant life), the use of a good algaecide is recommended on a regular basis.
AQUA Wham-O is a highly concentrated algae preventative and algaecide recommended for use in chlorine treated pools. At low dosage levels, usually 20 - 50 mL per 10,000 litres every two weeks, AQUA Wham-O kills algae as it enters your pool, thus preventing it from gaining a foothold and becoming a serious problem. But don't worry if your pool looks like a swamp, a dose of
AQUA Wham-O (usually 90 - 150 mL per 10,000 litres) combined with a "shock" treatment can turn your pool into a sparkling blue swimming pool in no time.
Acid: A chemical which lowers pH when added to water. (AQUA pH Minus)
Algae: Microscopic aquatic plant life which can grow on pool surfaces or float free in the water. (AQUA Wham-O)
Base: A chemical which raises pH when added to water. (AQUA pH Plus)
Bacteria: One celled organisms, some of which cause disease and/or infection. Without proper sanitation, pool water and pool surfaces are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.
Calcium Hardness (CH): The quantity of calcium dissolved in the water. (AQUA Cal)
Chlorine: The sanitizer and oxidizer most commonly used in swimming pools.
Organic Waste: Nitrogen and ammonia bearing compounds such as urine, saliva, perspiration, body oils and suntan lotions that are continuously introduced into pool water by swimmers. Most organic wastes will not filter out and must be chemically removed (oxidized) with a periodic shock treatment.
pH: The measurement of water's relative acidity and basicity. The pH range is from 0 - 14; a pH of 7 is neutral. pH values below 7 are acidic and values higher than 7 are basic. The recommended pH for pool water is 7.2 to 7.8.
Residual: The amount of a compound existing in water, usually expressed as parts per million.
Sanitizer: A chemical compound, such as chlorine and bromine, which disinfects (kills bacteria), kills algae, and oxidizes organic matter.
Shock: The process of introducing significant quantities of an oxidizer to water to bring about the chemical destruction of excess organic wastes.
Total Alkalinity (TA): The amount of bicarbonate, carbonate and hydroxides present in water. TA acts as a pH buffer.