Pool Chemistry-What Chlorine & Water Chemical Levels Do YOU Need [2021]

An inground swimming pool can be an entertaining and recreational addition to your backyard.

From esthetic purposes to practical usage, a swimming pool can help you de-stress or plan a deck side activity whenever you please.

But ever so often, your pool will need proper maintenance and a thorough chemical check.  

Balancing out your pool chemistry is one of the most critical aspects of a healthy pool. Neglecting your pool’s chemical needs can lead to a lot of serious problems ranging from extreme pH levels to pool cloudiness.

However, maintaining the ideal pool chemistry is no easy task, and quite often it turns out to be complicated for the average pool owner. But fear not, for today we bring you a guide that is guaranteed to simplify pool maintenance for you.

Pool Chemistry

So sit back and enjoy our comprehensive guide on pool maintenance 101.

Pool Chemistry Care 101

The basics to any proper pool maintenance revolve around how well balanced the chemicals in the water are and how often it is sanitized. So let’s take a look at both the significant aspects of pool care in greater detail.    

1. Pool Chemistry 101

Maintaining the ideal pool chemistry is all about balancing out the acidic and basic chemicals in the water. A chemical imbalance in the pool can make the water unsanitary and a breeding ground for various bacteria and microbes.

Bad pH levels can put extra stress on the pool filters wearing them out and leading to stagnant water which becomes a place for algae and E. coli infestation.

Balancing pool chemicals may seem like an overwhelming task to any pool owner, but we have listed out a few pointers you can keep in mind to simplify the whole process. Here is our top guide on pool chemistry for dummies.

a) The ideal pool pH level

pH or ‘power of hydrogen’ is the measure of the amount of acidity and basicity of your pool water. A swimming pool pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, where any value below 7 is taken to be acidic and above 7 to be basic.

The ideal pool pH is 7.4, but maintaining that level is not all that easy. As pH is unstable, it’s very easily manipulated by a lot of external factors that will make it constantly change its values.

From rainwater to the sunscreen on the swimmers to urine, anything can affect the pH levels of your pool. And when the pH gets extremely low, then the water in your pool is highly acidic. Acidic pool water is quite irritating to the skin and damages the tiles of your pool walls by corroding them.

On the flip side, if the pH gets too high, then the water is too basic and loses its antiseptic qualities to act on harmful bacteria and lead to cloudy water. Hence, it is important to measure the pool’s pH regularly and have a lot of pH decreasers (like dry acid and muriatic acid), and pH increasers (like soda ash) in hand.

b) Pool chemical levels – The Ideal Alkalinity

The right swimming pool chemistry also involves the correct balance of the water’s total alkalinity. The importance of alkalinity lies in acting as a buffer in keeping your pool’s pH in check. And it is essential to maintain the water alkalinity on a much higher scale, near about 80 to 120  ppm (parts per million).

If the water alkalinity falls low, you can use increasers such as sodium bicarbonate to get it back to the proper level. But alkalinity increasers are like a double-edged sword. As they themselves are basic in nature, applying excess to your pool water can flip the pH levels to the basic side.

It is always significant to have pH decreasers like muriatic acid around every time you choose to treat your pool’s alkalinity.

c) Pool chemistry charts – Calcium Hardness

No matter which pools chemistry guide you come across online, apart from pH and alkalinity they always mention calcium hardness. So what is calcium hardness and why is it important to your pool’s health?

Well, have you ever noticed slight white stains on your shower glass door or the porcelain of the tub? These white patches are calcium deposits that can accumulate in your pool as well. On the tiled floors, ladder or even within the pumping mechanism itself.

There can be hard calcium stains infecting every part of your pool. They look far from appealing and can ruin your pool’s filtration systems overnight.

An excess amount of calcium in the water leads to these stains, but calcium deficiency, on the other hand, will leave your pool water corrosive and unusable. The calcium range you should always aim for is always between 180 and 220 ppm, which can very easily be achieved by adding calcium hardness to your pool.

A lack of calcium in your pool is always a more significant hazard than an excess of it. A swimming pool that is corrosive is harmful to the tiles and can irritate the skin when touched. So to balance out the calcium certain calcium hardness increasers like calcium chloride work wonders to keep the calcium in your pool in check.

d) Pool water chemical temperature regulation

Measuring out pool chemicals in exact quantities and adding them to the water may not be enough all the time. You might also have to take into account the external factors that influence the pool’s water balance as well.

Warm and cold weather conditions influence the pool chemistry so much so that every time you do a chemical test, you might just get different results. When the temperature is warmer, the pH falls, and the essential chemicals like chlorine and other sanitizers get soaked up by the sun leading to poor water quality.

During winter or the colder months of autumn the pH along with the sanitizer level increases. To keep up with the continually changing chemistry, you can determine your pool’s saturation levels with the aid of the Langelier Saturation Index. This can expertly help you ease out the chemical treatment process as you adjust your chemicals to achieve the perfect balance.

Pool Chemical 101

Right after the pH balance, the second most crucial treatment feature is the proper application of sanitizers and other swimming pool chemicals.  

The most common pool chemicals that are used today include Chlorine, Bromine, Biguanide, and Minerals like Silver and Copper. Let’s take an in-depth look at each.

a) Chlorine levels in pools

One of the more popular sanitizers in today’s market, chlorine is extremely useful when it comes to dealing with harmful bacteria and algae. Chlorine should be ideally maintained around 3 ppm and to regulate its level, you can effectively administer it through the help of chlorine tablets, powder, or even via salt chlorine generator.

Tablets are by far the most effective. They come in 2 sizes of 3” and 1” and can be very easily administered to your pool water with the help of a floating chlorine dispenser, a chlorinator or a skimmer basket.  

Additionally, when buying chlorine, it’s important to keep in mind that the ones you get have Trichloro or Dichloro as an active ingredient. As the UV rays of the sun eat up the chlorine from your water, these active elements help prevent that by drastically slowing down the evaporation process.

b) Bromine level in pool

Unlike saltwater pool maintenance 101 guides, the guides for freshwater pools will recommend bromine as the sanitizer of choice for the indoor swimming pools. As one of chlorine’s halogen cousins, bromine’s saturation level too should be ideally maintained around 3 ppm to 5 ppm.

But the bromine levels should be kept in check periodically as it tends to deplete faster even under cold temperature conditions.

Unlike chlorine, bromine doesn’t give off that suffocating chlorine-like smell, making it one of the best sanitizers for indoor hot tubs, pools, and jacuzzis. But bromine is not as active when it comes to dealing with certain types of algae, which chlorine handles with ease.

Moreover, bromine should not be used for outdoor pools at all. As it doesn’t come with any Trichloro or Dichloro active elements, it remains unstable throughout its cycle. And as it doesn’t slow the evaporation process in any way, it gets rapidly eaten up by the UV rays of the sun, making it unfit for outdoor use.  

c) Adding pool chemicals in order – Biguanide

The fancier sanitizer in today’s list. The biguanide genre of sanitizers is mainly for luxury pools that along with promoting pool hygiene make the water feel soft and smooth to the touch. With the ideal chemical range of 30 ppm to 50 ppm, this sanitizer acts as a chlorine alternative and departs a lot from the usual brand of pool chemicals.  

Biguanide sanitizers such as Baquacil and SoftSwim come as a complete all-inclusive chemical treatment process that shouldn’t be mixed with any other traditional pool chemicals. The Biguanide treatment solutions are like a total package that is complete in itself and adding other standard chemicals with it can completely ruin your pool’s pH.

It’s a much more expensive option but is a bit more resilient to the Sun’s UV than chlorine and bromine. Biguanide sanitizers come in liquid form. Treating your pool for harmful bacteria and algae gives the water a soft and luxurious feel, making them ideal for high-end hotels and spas.  

d) Pool chemical levels chart – Silver and Copper

A mineral pool treatment can be used as a backup for times when you run out of chlorine and other essential pool chemicals. Many pool owners use silver and copper as complete chlorine replacements, but that creates more problems than it solves.

With their ideal saturation level at 0.5 ppm, silver and copper tend to not be as effective as chlorine when it comes to dealing with bacteria and algae.

The minerals are quite easy to administer though and can be added to your pool with the help of a mineral system that closely resembles a chlorinator. But they are much slower in sanitizing your pool than chlorine and doesn’t help much in preventing the spread and growth of waterborne infections like E.coli and Shigellosis.

They keep your pool clean to a point and is not recommended for extensive use. Their lack of antibacterial qualities makes your filtration system work overtime which leads to wearing out the filters and cause stagnant water. Stagnant water breeds a lot of microbes, and the accumulation of suspended particles can lead to pool water cloudiness.   

Pool water chemical conclusion

Swimming pools are a fantastic way of utilizing your backyard space. From deck side activities to planning social gatherings they form the perfect backyard setting for any occasion.

And we hope that our guide today was able to help you out in all your pool chemistry needs so that you can benefit from your pool for a long time to come.

Till next time!.