Understanding Pool Chemicals


Understanding the role pool chemicals play in keeping your pool healthy is incredibly important in your ability to maintain and adjust the water quality of your pool.

There is, unfortunately, no magic pill you can buy to chuck into your pool expecting it to magically clear your pool of any and all purity problems and everyone you ask for help or speak to is an expert, unfortunately what may work in 1 pool as a rule of thumb might not work for you as every pool is different.

So a basic understanding of what chemicals are used for with regards to pool water quality and what they do when added to your pool will give you an understanding of how to fix simple purity problems or at least what your pool experts are attempting to tell you to do to clear up your pool and get it healthy again.

But if all else fails, the simplest way to know exactly what chemicals your pool needs is to ask a professional to test your pool water.

Most pool shops and businesses that sell pool chemicals to the public will test your water sample for free.

Narrabri Pool & Spa Service is no different, and there is absolutely NO WAY that someone can look at your pool and tell you EXACTLY what chemicals it requires without testing it no matter how many years they have been in the business.

At Narrabri Pool & Spa Service we give you a written report of your pool chemistry when we attend to conduct any regular service or service call and if your pool requires an adjustment we will ALWAYS use YOUR chemicals before we sell you additional products.

Thats just good old fashioned customer service and in addition to the exceptional friendly service we offer, the accompanying smile is always free.

Chlorine is a sanitiser.

It comes in powder or granules, liquid and gas (however gas is not commonly used due to the cost).

Chlorine in a pool is used to kill germs and organic material.

A tell-tale sign your pool is low on chlorine is algae climbing the walls of your pool (the edges of your pool are turning green).

Over chlorinating your pool can make your family and friends get red eye (or pink eye) and itchy skin so you need to maintain a healthy balance.

Chlorine levels will reduce in your pool quickly from UV radiation from the sun and by the use of your family.

By using a stabilizer product (explained on the “Stabiliser” page), you will potentially double the life of the chlorine in your pool.

Correct levels of chlorine should be between 3.0ppm and 4.0ppm in your home test kits, dosage levels depend on the size of your pool.

As for the question: -


Best time of day to add chlorine to your pool is sundown (or dusk).

What time of day should I add chlorine?

If you add at this time you will be able to see what you are doing and the chlorine will have all night to work its magic on your pool before being hit by the UV radiation of the sun or use by your family and friends.

If you add chemicals and then backwash your filter you are literally flushing money and chemicals down the drain.

If you add chemicals before you increase your water level you’re also going to have to retest and possibly add more chemicals as you have just diluted the chemicals you just added.

So when it comes to adjusting your chemicals follow these general steps: -

  • Clean your pool.
  • Empty your skimmer and pump basket.
  • Backwash your filter or clean your cartridge (whichever is applicable).
  • Re-adjust your pool water level.
  • Test your water.
  • Add your pool chemicals acid or alkaline products first, wait 20 minutes then sanitiser products.

Many people will tell you how and where to add chlorine and it depends heavily on which type of chlorine you are using. Granular or powder chlorine is often Calcium Hypochloride.

Calcium will leave a very fine white powdery film on the bottom of your pool over time or send your pool cloudy when it is stirred up while cleaning OR swimming in your pool.

If you’re using granular Chlorine we recommend it is spread around in liquid form.

To do this dissolve your granular chlorine in a watering can and pour the liquid contents around the pool using the fine sprinkling nozzel until you get down to the last part, the white mud like slime in the bottom of the watering can.

This is mostly calcium. If your worried about wasting chlorine in this slim, just fill up your bucket again and give it a good stir. Any residual Chlorine will dissolve but the calcium won't. Empty the watering can again into the pool and chuck the white slime into a plastic bag and put it in the red bin. Remember to hose out the can as the calcium will dry and block up the holes in the nozzel.

If you’re using liquid chlorine the best way to add it to your pool is to pour it into the pool in the shallow end.

Chlorine is heavier than water and will sink then flow downhill to the deep end dissolving as it goes. But an added bonus is that it will drag with it most of the dirt and leaves to the deep end allowing you a quick and easy place to use your scoop rather than walking all around the pool fishing for individual leaves.

Ok, first things first.

The following is going to sound like we are recommending everyone uses Bromine.

This is actually not the case at all. What you read here is not personal preference but facts and nothing more. Choline and Bromine are both sanitizers and work pretty much the same way.

They both attack organic matter and bacteria to make your pool safe to swim in for you, your family and your friends. Having said that, bromine is more commonly used in Spa's and Hot Tubs as it takes less of the product to work effectively. While bromine will not burn off as quickly when it combines with bacteria as chlorine, like chlorine it will be burnt off by UV from direct sunlight.

For this reason and because chlorine is a far cheaper product to produce, chlorine is far more common in swimming pools due to the expense of the high volume of the chemical needed.

Bromine is however an option for those people who have sensitive skin however while bromine is less pungent than chlorine, it is harder to remove the chemical odour by bathing after your swim.

Correct levels of bromine should be between 3.0ppm and 5.0ppm in your home test kits, dosage levels depend on the size of your pool.

As for the question: -


Best time of day to add Bromine to your pool is sundown (or dusk).

What time of day should I add Bromine?

This way you will be able to see what you are doing and the Bromine will have all night to work its magic on your pool before being hit by the UV radiation of the sun or use by your family and friends.

If you add chemicals and then backwash your filter you are literally flushing money and chemicals down the drain.

If you add chemicals before you increase your water level you’re also going to have to retest and possibly add more chemicals as you have just diluted the chemicals you just added.

So when it comes to adjusting your chemicals follow these general steps: -

  • Clean your pool.
  • Empty your skimmer and pump basket.
  • Backwash your filter or clean your cartridge (whichever is applicable).
  • Re-adjust your pool water level.
  • Test your water.
  • Add your pool chemicals acid products first, wait 20 minutes then alkaline products.

So why and when do we use Salt in pools?

Well firstly you need to have a Salt Chlorinator installed or salt in your pool will just make you feel like you’re at the beach without the sand and you'll still need to use Chlorine or your pool will be as green as an emerald in no time at all no matter how much salt you put in.

How a Salt Chlorinator works is by a process called electrolysis whereby an electrical current is safetly passed through the water using and anode and a cathode (the salt cell) to break the chemical bonds of the water and the salt.

This creates the chlorine to sanitise your pool, calcium, sodium carbonate, hydrogen and oxygen.

The 2 main biproducts that will cause you a problem will be the sodium carbonate and the calcium.

The calcium is the white stuff that clings to your salt cell and needs to be cleaned. To do this simply mix a mild 10% solution of standard Hydrochloric Acid and pool water in a suitable container and emerse the metal electrode in it.

This will fizz like soft drink in a glass and eat the calcium right off the cell.

When it is cleaned put the cell back in the housing and let your pool pump wash it clean as the water flows past.

The other biproduct, sodium carbonate, is essentially baking soda and is an alkaline which will cause your pH to climb.

To counter this you test the pool water pH and use Hydrochloric Acid to bring it back into balance.  

A build up of calcium on the cell or low salt levels will result in low chlorine production levels which will cause your pool to go green due to lack of sanitiser.

Salt will not however evaporate or be burnt off by UV radiation from the sun. The only reason Salt will be reduced in your pool is by dilution either when you have filled your pool up after use, evaporation or backwash by the garden tap or if it rains.

Correct levels of salt will depend heavily on the brand of chlorinator you have install however as a guide between 4500ppm and 6000ppm and again dosage levels depend on the size of your pool.

As for the question: -


What time of day should I add salt?

It really doesn't matter what time of day you add salt but be aware if you leave salt in the bag stored around the house it will begin to clump in the bag.

Most chlorinators these days will not be damaged by adding salt to your pool however if you are in doubt simply turn your salt cell off or as low as it will go while you add the salt.

Spread it around using your brush and telepole or simply vacuum it up using the hose and telepole or chuck the pool cleaner in and let your filter spread it around for you.

Unlike most pool chemicals you are 100% safe to swim immediately after adding salt and this will infact stir the salt through the water just as well.

However, if you add chemicals and then backwash your filter you are literally flushing money and chemicals down the drain.

If you add chemicals before you increase your water level you’re also going to have to retest and possibly add more chemicals as you have just diluted the chemicals you just added.

So when it comes to adjusting your chemicals follow these general steps: -

  • Clean your pool.
  • Empty your skimmer and pump basket.
  • Backwash your filter or clean your cartridge.
  • Re-adjust your pool water level.
  • Test your water.
  • Add your pool chemicals acid products first, wait 20 minutes then alkaline products.

Many people will tell you how and where to add salt but the easiest way is to just cut a bag on the side of the pool open and let it empty into the pool.

 

The pH test measures the acidity content of swimming pool water.

The pH scale is from 0 to 14, where a pH of 7 is neutral. If the pH is above 7, the water is basic or the Total Alkalinity reading is high. If it is below 7 the water is acidic or the Total Alkalinity reading is low.

The optimum pH for a swimming pool water is between 7.4ppm, since this is the same as the pH in human eyes and mucous membranes. A pH of 7.4 also gives good chlorine disinfection of bacteria in your pool water.

So we aim to achieve a reading for pH between 7.2ppm and 7.6ppm. A low pH level will damages the mechanical components of the pool such as pool plant, irritate the eyes and mucous membranes and in above ground or vinyl lined pools, damage to the pool liner.

A high pH level will cause poor chlorine disinfection of the swimming pool, skin irritation and rashes and cloudiness or smoky water. To lower the pH, use Hydrochloric Acid to raise it use sodium carbonate.

A pH increaser therefore is an Alkaline based product most commonly Baking Soda (or Sodium Carbonate NaHCO3) in dry powder form.

A pH decreaser therefore is an Acid based product most commonly Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) and it comes in both dry powder or liquid form.

As for the question: -


What time of day should I adjust my pH?

Best time of day to adjust your pools pH is sundown (or dusk).

This way you will be able to see what you are doing and the chemicals will have all night to work their magic on your pool before it is hit by the UV radiation of the sun or use by your family and friends.

Remember, if you add chemicals and then backwash your filter you are literally flushing money and chemicals down the drain.

If you add chemicals before you increase your water level you’re also going to have to retest and possibly add more chemicals as you have just diluted the chemicals you just added.

So when it comes to adjusting your chemicals follow these general steps: -

  • Clean your pool.
  • Empty your skimmer and pump basket.
  • Backwash your filter or clean your cartridge.
  • Re-adjust your pool water level.
  • Test your water.
  • Add your pool chemicals acid or alkaline products first, wait 20 minutes then other products.

The best way to add acid  and alkaline to your pool is to simply spread it around slowly as you walk around your pool and let it disolve.

If it is in liquid form you can spread it around by adding it infront of a return line with the pump running.

NEVER put it directly into the skimmer box as it may clog your pipes and damage the plastic in both your pump and filter.

Cyanuric Acid, Stabiliser or Sunscreen are just a few names used by Pool Chemical Companies to describe this product but for the purposes here let’s call it stabiliser.

Stabiliser basically protects your pool chlorine from the UV radiation of the sun. The right level will protect, too little and the sun's UV rays will eat your pool chlorine, too much and you will cause chlorine block.

If your pool is Chlorine Blocked it’s bad for 2 reasons.

First because it’s not sanitizing your pool so you can pretty much guarantee its turning green no matter how much chlorine or other chemicals you add, it’s just not going to change.

Secondly because you are going to have to drain part of your pool water out and refill it to dilute the pool water enough to get rid of the excess stabiliser.

Hence the tried and tested practice of "Always test your pool water BEFORE adding ANY chemical" and "Read the packet first" for example some chlorine products are stabilised meaning they contain stabiliser in some form most commonly it will have a "CYANURATE" as an active ingredient.

This is the most common way a pool will end up with excess stabiliser.

Correct levels of stabiliser should be between 30ppm to 50ppm in your home test kits, dosage levels should be as directed by the manufacturer of your product and will depend on what your current levels are.

As for the question: -


What time of day should I add stabiliser?

Best time of day to add stabiliser to your pool is sundown (or dusk).

This way you will be able to see what you are doing and the stabiliser will have all night to disolve and bond with your chlorine before being hit by the UV radiation of the sun or use by your family and friends.

Remember, if you add chemicals and then backwash your filter you are literally flushing money and chemicals down the drain.

If you add chemicals before you increase your water level you’re also going to have to retest and possibly add more chemicals as you have just diluted the chemicals you just added.

So when it comes to adjusting your chemicals follow these general steps: -

  • Clean your pool.
  • Empty your skimmer and pump basket.
  • Backwash your filter or clean your cartridge.
  • Re-adjust your pool water level.
  • Test your water.
  • Add your pool chemicals acid products first, wait 20 minutes then alkaline products.

Many people will tell you how and where to add Stabiliser.

Some of the different ways I have heard "EXPERTS" say is the "ONLY WAY" to add stabiliser to a pool.

"Put it on the steps" - Problem here is that young children can scoop it out and eat it. "Put it in the deep end" - Problem here is stabilizer takes a long time to dissolve and there isn't much water movement in the deep end so it sits for a long time.

"Dilute it in a bucket then spread it around your pool” - Probably the fasted way to get the stabiliser to have an impact in your pool but it still takes a long time to dissolve in the bucket.

"Spread the packet around the pool and let it dissolve" - Probably the most effective way to ensure even distribution in a way that will ensure children can’t grab a handful and eat it.

"Empty the packet into the skimmer while the pump is running” - Okay this can be one of the BEST ways to add Stabiliser and one of the WORST.

Let’s deal with BAD first.

BAD –

If you just dump the packet into your skimmer in a blob like most people will, the outside of the blob will get wet while the inside will stay dry. Believe it or not this "CAN" cause a pipe blockage that is like a concrete block inside your pipes.

GOOD –

If you slowly empty the packet into the skimmer box the stabilier will flow through the basket and catch in the filter to dissolve safety and then ultimately return to the pool.

Clarifiers and Floculantsare are used to make cloudy water crystal clear.

Both are coagulants and the way they work is basically like a glue for particles floating in your pool water.

The pump pushes the water through your filter and the filter medium catches the dirt and grit as it is pushed through.

But like your household vacuum cleaner some smaller particles don't get caught in the filter and get blown back into the pool. So by using a clarifier, those small particles are glued together in a process called coagulation and they are now able to be caught by your filter and walla, your pool water comes up crystal clear.

A Floculant binds with the particles and makes them heavy so after you have circulated the Floc around the pool you shut it down for 24 to 48 hours and let all the particles sink to the floor of the pool.

Best way to get rid of the mess that is left is to vacuum to waste.

As for the question: -


What time of day should I add chlorine?

During daylight so you can see what you are doing.

Clarifiers require the filter to run to work, floculants require the filter to run to circulate them through the water and the n time to settle with all pumps and water flow ceased. So as you will be vacuuming to waste to get rid of the floc'd particles, it is a good idea to fill your pool at the time you put the floc in and over fill the pool.

After you have vacuumed to waste your going to want to do a really good backwash and rinse to make sure all the much is out before turning your filter back on.

If you add chemicals and then backwash your filter you are literally flushing money and chemicals down the drain.

If you add chemicals before you increase your water level you’re also going to have to retest and possibly add more chemicals as you have just diluted the chemicals you just added.

So when it comes to adjusting your chemicals follow these general steps: -

  • Clean your pool.
  • Empty your skimmer and pump basket.
  • Backwash your filter or clean your cartridge.
  • Re-adjust your pool water level.
  • Test your water.
  • Add your pool chemicals acid products first, wait 20 minutes then alkaline products.

The best way to add a clarifier or floculant to your pool is slowly to avoid splashing and spread it equally around the pool for maximum and rapid dilution.

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