Water balance is important for the following reasons: (1) to prevent disease (2) protect equipment (3) and provide the expected environment. Balancing your pool water is crucial for keeping your water clear and inviting. When pool water is “balanced,” it means that the total water chemistry is right where it should be. Balanced pool water makes swimming more comfortable by preventing eye and skin irritation. It also helps the chemicals work better to keep water clear. Lastly, balanced water prevents corrosion to metal parts as well as scaling on pool surfaces.
Let’s look at four factors and how to adjust them to stay balanced.
- pH: pH is a measure of how acidic (low pH) or how basic (high pH) your water is. Based on a scale of 0 to 14, the acceptable pH range is between 7.2 and 7.6 (Ideal 7.4 – 7.6). pH is the most important factor in balancing your water. If pH is too low, apply ProGuard® pH Increaser (sodium carbonate).
- Total Alkalinity: Total Alkalinity refers to the total concentration of several chemicals in your pool water. It is not the same as pH, but proper total alkalinity does help stabilize pH. If your total alkalinity is too low, the pH level will be very sensitive and may suffer drastic swings. High alkalinity, in addition to contributing to cloudy water and scaling, can keep your pH level higher than normal making it more difficult to adjust.
Adjusting Total Alkalinity
The ideal range for total alkalinity in swimming pools is125 – 150 ppm or 80 – 150 ppm for pools equipped with a chlorine generator. If total alkalinity is too low, apply ProGuard® Total Alkalinity Increaser.
- Testing Water: When testing water, check the free chlorine or total bromine residuals and pH levels. When the pool water test indicates a free chlorine reading of 1 – 4 ppm and a pH of 7.2 – 7.6, the pool is ready for swimming! The ideal range for pH is 7.4 -7.6. Pools sanitized with brominating products should maintain a bromine level of 1 – 3 ppm in residential pools or 3 – 5 ppm in commercial pools. Maintain the total alkalinity between 125 -150 ppm.
- Calcium Hardness: How “hard” water is has to do with the amounts of dissolved calcium in it. Pool water needs a proper calcium hardness level to prevent damage or scaling to surfaces and equipment.
Adjusting Calcium Hardness
The calcium hardness range for vinyl, painted or fiberglass pools is 175 – 225 ppm. The ideal range for plaster pools is 200 – 275 ppm. The water’s appetite for calcium changes with temperature. When the water is cold, the water gets “hungry” and works more aggressively to pull calcium from the surfaces and equipment. If the calcium hardness level is too low, apply ProGuard® Calcium Chloride. If calcium hardness is above the ideal range, apply ProGuard® Stain and Scale Inhibitor to ensure the calcium does not fall out of solution and scale pool surfaces.