Maintaining pool chemistry balance

Ned Kampmann

Keeping chemistry at proper levels and balancing pool water is not as complicated as many pool owners think. Chemistry level of your pools water is constantly changing, during any season. What affects your pool water balance is everything that comes in contact with it, from your cosmetics to ordinary dirt and tree leaves.

Some pool owners ignore changing water in pools at all. But filtration and disinfection only helps to remove contaminants but does nothing to balance your water. Balanced water means that pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness are at the appropriate levels.

pool water chemistry guide

Pool chemicals types


Ph balance is regulating chlorine level in your water. The ideal level for pH is between 7.4 and 7.6 ppm. If test shows the value below 7.2 that means acid prevails. If test shows that pH level is above 7.8, which mean your water is more on alkalinity side. I recommend monitoring pH level on a daily basis via test strips (check image below).

Also read about algae in pool and how to get rid of it DIY

pool water chemistry for dummies


Chlorine, or in other words, sanitizer – protects your water from algae, pathogens or bacterial growth. An ideal reading for chlorine test is between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm. There is a substitution for chlorine called bromine, but there are major differences between them. I recommend comparing their pros and cons, before making a choice.  In case, when your sanitizer is bromine, the ideal test value is between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm. You can also check chlorine level by using test strips.

Water balance for swimming pools, pool water chemistry


Or Total Alkalinity level is the amount of alkaline materials dissolved in your pool water. The ideal level is between 100 and 130 ppm. Total alkalinity level is closely related to current pH level. Interesting fact, chlorine shock usually contains alkaline in it but chlorine tablets also contain cyanuric acid which lowers alkaline level.

how to lower total alkalinity in swimming pool

 Cyanuric Acid

100% cyanuric acid plays a role of chlorine stabilizer. It works as a sun shield for chlorine, slowing evaporation rate and thusly greatly extending the life of it (roughly up to 4 times). It is fully soluble which is great. However it is still acid and that means by using stabilized chlorine products, you will lower alkalinity and pH levels. Beware and check them again.

low alkalinity in swimming pool

Saltwater pool chemistry maintenance

pool chemistry levels

If you own a saltwater pool, there is almost nothing you should do manually to maintain pool chemistry. Low maintenance is the major advantage of saltwater pools. Such pools clean themselves! Chorine generator converts salt into chlorine automatically, so you don’t have to check water balance on a daily basis. Saltwater doesn’t need chemical chlorine, so stabilizer isn’t required. This means that algae will not grow due to low stabilizer level. But there are certain cons in using saltwater pools, I’ll tell you about them in my next article.

pool chemistry alkalinity

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