Keeping your swimming pool clean and clear can be tricky, especially if you don’t know much about the essential chemicals. To help you with maintaining your pool, H&H Custom Pools explains the basics about the five crucial pool chemicals needed to keep your water beautiful and sparkling.
1. FC: Free Chlorine
Free chlorine (FC) is a sanitizer that keeps your pool water clean and germ-free. Maintaining the appropriate FC level for your pool is the most important part of keeping your water in balance. If your FC is too low, you risk getting algae in your pool. If your FC level reaches zero or algae is present, your pool is unsafe to swim in. Each day, you should test your FC and add chlorine as needed. If you have an automatic feeder or saltwater generator (SWG) you can test it every few days.
FC is consumed by daylight and by breaking down organic material in your pool. The level of FC needed to maintain your pool depends on your cyanuric acid (CYA) level and how frequently you use your pool. Here’s a helpful chart that lists the appropriate level of FC based on your CYA level.
2. CYA: Cyanuric Acid
CYA, also called conditioner or stabilizer, protects the chlorine in your water from sunlight and determines the correct FC level. If your pool doesn’t have an SWG, aim to have your CYA level between 30 and 50ppm. With an SWG, the CYA is typically kept between 70 and 80ppm.
To increase CYA, you simply add cyanuric acid, which is sold in a solid and liquid form. The liquid is more expensive and generally not worth the extra expense. Solid stabilizer takes up to a week to register on a CYA test, so be sure to wait a week after you have added it before retesting. The best way to lower CYA is to replace the water, but it can also be lowered through a reverse osmosis water treatment.
3. pH: Acidity and Basicity
The pH indicates how acidic or basic your pool’s water is. The pH needs to be kept in balance in order to prevent irritation and protect the pool equipment. At first, the pH should be checked daily, but as you gain experience with your pool, it can be checked less frequently. A pH level of 7.7 and 7.8 is ideal, but anything between 7.2 and 7.8 is acceptable.
pH levels below 7.2 can make swimmers’ eyes burn and a pH below 6.8 can damage metal parts (i.e. pool heaters with copper heat exchange coils). A high pH level may lead to calcium scaling, which is a buildup of inorganic materials, typically calcium. To lower the pH you can use muriatic acid and to raise pH you can use borax or soda ash.
4. TA: Total Alkalinity
The total alkalinity (TA) determines the water’s ability to buffer pH changes. Buffering means your water requires a larger quantity of a chemical to change the pH. Appropriate levels of TA help keep the pH in balance, while high levels can cause pH to rise.
You can raise TA by using baking soda, but it’s best to make large TA adjustments in parts, testing the water after each addition of baking soda. To learn more about lowering TA, check this out.
5. CH: Calcium Hardness
Calcium hardness (CH) indicates the amount of calcium in your pool’s water. If the water has low calcium levels, it will gradually dissolve calcium out of plaster, tile, stone, pebble, and to some extent fiberglass surfaces. This is preventable by keeping the water saturated with calcium. However, high levels of potassium can cause calcium scaling.
In vinyl liner pools, there is no need for calcium, but high levels can still cause issues. For plaster pools without an SWG, the CH levels should be between 250 and 350. With an SWG, CH should be kept between 350 to 450. You can increase CH with calcium chloride and you can lower CH by using a reverse osmosis water treatment or replacing the water.
Expert Pool Services in Palm Beach County and Martin County
Hopefully, we didn’t overwhelm you with too many abbreviations, numbers, and chemical names! Maintaining your Florida pool can be challenging at times, but with help from H&H Custom Pools, your pool can be ready for swimming in no time. If you have any questions or your pool needs any repairs or resurfacing, contact H&H Custom Pools today.
Palm Beach County: (561) 744-2656
Martin County: (772) 545-3066