What Chemicals you Need to Keep Pool Water Crystal Clear – Maintenance Tips

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When talking about pool maintenance, other than the serious cleaning, treating the water is an aspect that keeps a high place, and for good measure. No one wants to swim in slimy, cloudy water that has who knows how many types of bacteria floating in it. And while most glaze over by saying “Buy this kit and you’re done!”, we’re here to give you all the information you need, from the normal range for tests down to the actual chemical name.

All you need to get started

To cover everything that might affect your water’s integrity, we’ve divided the most important aspects into 10 subtitles for an easier read.

Alkalinity & pH

Two of the most important points, pH refers to the acid and base in the water and alkalinity is what causes the pH to fluctuate. When the acid overrides, corrosion of metals starts happening, and when the base overrides, deposits start to form and your water will turn cloudy and unsightly. Both can also cause skin problems. To keep pH and alkalinity balanced, you’ll need one of 2 chemicals:

  • An increaser: Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
  • A decreaser: Sodium Bisulfate (Dry Acid) or Muriatic Acid (helps with filter cleaning and rust stains)

Chlorine

This chemical is probably the most commonly known one when it comes to sanitizing pools, and its smell is something anyone might remember from pool days during childhood. But, what some might not know, a strong smell might mean you’ve used too much chlorine. Its purpose is to rid the water of all bacteria, but if you’re overdoing it, it can become an irritant. To use less chlorine, run the robotic pool cleaner multiple times per week as instructed by Roboto ID to circulate and filter the water more often. Since it’s cleaned more often it won’t develop as much bacteria, and chlorine won’t be needed in as large of a quantity anymore. You can use both a stabilized or an unstabilized version, and the terms used when testing are:

  • FC [Free] – Meaning the water that has chlorine in it but hasn’t dealt with contaminants yet (it can still sanitize).
  • CC [Combined] – Meaning what happens when FC oxidizes with nitrogen, ammonia, or other similar contaminants.
  • Breakpoint oxidation – This refers to the moment when the reading is higher than the CC reading by 10 ppm.
  • TC [Total] – FC + CC = TC. This is the type that is typically analyzed by any test.

The chemicals used are:

  • Increasers (when in water, they activate the sanitizing agent Hypochlorous Acid – HOCl): Chlorine Gas (Liquid Bleach) – Sodium Hypochlorite
    Granules or Tablets – Calcium Hypochlorite, Chlorinated Isocyanurates
    Salt – Lithium Hypochlorite
  • Neutralizer: Granular Sodium Thiosulfate

Stabilizer

This stabilizer is the extra ingredient added to chlorine that protects it from the harmful effects of UV rays. Some refer to it as a conditioner, and it can be found both in a liquid or a solid-state.

The chemical itself is called Cyanuric Acid, and in case you add too much, you can drain or dilute the water, or you can also find reducers.

Bromine & Oxidizer

These two are an alternative to chlorine, and the preferred method, if you have a spa or your pool tends to be on the hotter side. Its purpose is to sanitize, and it is considered the safer way. What you can use is either chemicals that release Hypobromous Acid or Sodium Bromine activated by Potassium Monopersulfate (the oxidizer).

Enzymes

Enzymes are probably less common, as not many people talk about them, but they do a lot of good for your pool water, namely breaking down oils, smells, and other non-living contaminators.

Calcium Hardness

This means the amount of calcium that is dissolved in the water. When calcium is on the low end, what happens is that the linings or finishes of the pool start to deteriorate, and when it is high, deposits start to form. The accepted range differs depending on the pool materials, and the chemical used to increase it is Calcium Chloride. Decreasing is something that the alkalinity level takes care of.

Metals

These typically come in the form of iron, copper, or manganese, and usually appear in the water after chlorine or shock treatments. Copper can be caused by algaecides too, as many are copper-based. Their effects are stains and water discoloration.
The treatments to rid your water of metals are:

    For metal traces: Metal Magnets or Stain&Scale Remover – these gather the metal traces into a solution and bind them so that they can be filtered out easily
  • For copper stains: Citric Acid
  • For iron stains: Ascorbic Acid

Clarifier & Floc

Both of these gather the tiny particles, those that cause your water to cloud up, into bigger sizes that can be filtered out. Clarifier, or Ammonium Chloride, makes them filter clearable, while Flocculant makes them sink to the bottom where a vacuum will be needed.

Algaecide

This is an optional step, in case algae have formed in the pool or even just to prevent that from happening (this way, you add it after shocking the water). If you want to avoid copper-based algaecides (Copper Sulfate) to prevent staining, use the chelated version instead (Copper Chelates).

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

These are every mineral, dust particle, and whatnots that grow after each swim, and that can cause deposits that stain or disrupt the sanitization process. When these exceed 3000 ppm, they can only be dealt with by dilution or completely draining and cleaning the pool.

Normal Ranges for Pool Water Balance

To avoid any uncertainties, here’s what the normal ranges for pool water readings should look like:

  • For pH, it should be somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6
  • For Alkalinity between 120 and 150 ppm
  • For Free Chlorine, aim between 1 (min. for pools) and 3 ppm (min. for hot tubs)
  • For Combined Chlorine, there should be a maximum of 0.2 ppm
  • For Free Bromine between 3 and 5 ppm
  • For Calcium Hardness, it’s between 175 and 225 ppm for a Vinyl pool and between 200 and 250 ppm for a Concrete pool
  • For Metals (Copper, Iron, etc.) it should always be 0 ppm

Maintenance Tips & Other Mentionable Cleaning Agents

All these chemicals should be tested regularly to maintain proper hygiene and sanitization and a part that’s just as important, and can make or break the whole treatment process is scrubbing your pool down. To help every component to reach its peak performance first skim your pool of any visible debris, scrub every nook and cranny, and vacuum thoroughly. Otherwise, the sanitization risks being lacking in efficiency and your pool might not be safe.

Phosphate Remover

Although some might think of this as being equal to algaecide, it’s not. The similarity between them is that this remover kills algae food (phosphates), thus killing algae, but the difference is that it won’t also clear the slime and any other damage that is algae-related.

Filter Cleaner

This solution is used to rid the filters of oils and any deposits that hinder their filtering capabilities by clogging the passageways.

Tile & Vinyl Cleaner

And, lastly, this cleaner helps when you’re scrubbing the tiles or vinyl surfaces of oils and other kinds of dirt, but it also works with skimming tools, accessories, and poolside furniture. Luckily, it won’t interfere with chemical treatments in any way.

Enjoy the benefits of your hard work

Now that you know everything there is to know about keeping your pool as clear and clean as possible, nothing can stop you from spending your free time frolicking around in the water with your friends, so we hope you can enjoy your time.

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