Maintaining Proper Pool Chemical Balance
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Maintaining Proper Pool Chemical Balance

How to keep you pool crystal clear. Pool Chemical Levels

As much fun as a backyard pool can be, maintaining the chemical balance needed for a clean clear pool can become a nightmare. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Periodic testing and a few minutes a day tending to your pool will allow your pool or above ground pool to provide you with hours and hours of clean worry free fun.


The absolute first thing you must do for proper pool maintenance is to get yourself a testing kit. You can get small cheap kits at the local department store, but I recommend you spend a couple of extra dollars and buy a complete kit from your local pool dealer or pool supply store. The kit should contain materials to test for chlorine, Ph levels, alkalinity and calcium at minimum.


When you are ready to test your pool water, chlorine levels are extremely important. If your chlorine levels are out of whack, then its likely your other chemical levels will be off as well and can cause a mired of problems. Chlorine levels should be tested daily and maintained at 1.0 ppm (parts per million). If your chlorine levels are to low, which is normally the issue with chlorine, you can raise that level by using dicloro-s-triazinetrione (that’s a mouthful). Just tell your pool supply dealer that your chlorine levels are low and he will know what you need. This stuff come in a quick-dissolve granulated form and is broadcasted across the surface of the pool. To maintain chlorine levels, use chlorine tablets. They sit inside the basket of your skimmer and will slowly dissolve over a few days. Replace it when that last one is completely dissolved.


Testing for your pools pH level is important as well. This test needs to be done once a week. There are actually two tests for the pH levels in your pool. The ‘Acid Demand’ test will show you if the pH levels are too high. The ‘Base Demand’ test will let you know if the pH levels are too low. If it turns out that the pH levels are not right, you can use either ‘pH Up’ or ‘pH Down’, accordingly. These are also quick dissolve granules that are broadcast over the surface of the pool. pH levels can vary widely after a significant chlorine addition. Covering your pool for a few hours after such a chlorine infusion will help a great deal in keeping pH levels in check.


Alkalinity levels are an important factor in pool health. Low alkalinity can cause corrosion in pool equipment and eye irritation for swimmers. Alkalinity levels should be kept between 80 and 150 ppm. This test should be run weekly. Low alkalinity is normally the problem here. Visible cloudiness in the water is a good sign your alkaline levels are low. I good way to counter this is to ad sodium bicarbonate at a rate of 2 pounds per 20,000 gallons of water.


Calcium levels should also be checked weekly. Acceptable levels should be at least 200 ppm. Excess calcium levels can cause corrosion in your pool equipment and so should be monitored closely and corrected when levels drop. Talk to you local pool supply dealer for products that will work with your local water composition.


If your pH and alkaline levels get really out of whack, you may need to ‘Shock’ your pool water. Shock is a type of product that helps to stabilize your pool chemicals and get them back acceptable levels. If your pool gets heavy use, things like sweat, body oils and cosmetics can affect chemical levels. And lets not even talk about the neighbor kid that couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom. Shock breaks down swimmer waste and organic material so that it is filtered properly.


To help keep organic materials from messing up your chemical levels, check the skimmer daily and remove any debris that has collected in it. Skim and/or vacuum your pool when debris from trees and bugs becomes noticeable. Keeping you pool covered when not in use will help to keep chemicals stabilized and eliminate organic contamination. Change the sand in your filter system annually to keep it operating at absolute best efficiency. If the pressure of the water entering your pool seems low, use the backwash function of your filter system to loosen things up.

See my other pool articles:

Backyard Pool Troubleshooting

Guide to Winterizing an Above Ground Pool

How to remove algae from a pool

Pool landscaping, lighting and security

Understanding Above Ground Pool Pump and Filter System

Installing an Above Ground Pool

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Comments (4)

my ph level is at 8.4 & alkaline is at 240. ive put hth balannce and have chlorine tablet in there since 10 pm last night.(8 hours ago) should i go ahead and shock it and see what happens?

Your pH and alkaline levels are both higher than you want. pH levels should be 7.2 to 7.6. To resolve this use muratic acid. Use of this acid will drop both pH and alkaline levels. The acid comes in liquid form and can be used in small amounts of no more than a pint in a 24 hr period. However, in above ground pools the liquid acid can etch the bottom of the pool liner since the acid is heavier than water. For above ground pools I suggest using a product called pH minus. Follow the manufacturers directions for your sized pool and you should be good in a day or 2. Do not shock the pool at this time. Added chlorine levels may give you false alkaline readings.

Candy Marshall

I am taking over my mothers pool maintenance and went to our local pool company with a water sample. They found a horrible list of problems with the water. I ended up adding last night a ph increaser (2- 1/2 lbs) as well as alkalinity balance (25 lbs) and was instructed to bring another sample in 24 hours. I brought another sample in today and needed to add another 2 lbs of ph increaser and wait until tomorrow to retest water again. I was also told that there is metals in the water therefore need to get rid of the metals once we get the other things in check. What is the process to get rid of the metals? And now that I am taking over the pool maintenance what is a good pool maintenance schedule as far as keeping my pool healthy once it becomes the way it needs to be? I am someone who is very structured therefore a weekly/daily/monthly ritual would be great. Thanks.

Very informative blog. Pool cleaning is a major issue now a days. Due to lack of care most of the people faces many troubles like drowning and pool injuries. for cleaning the pool there are some chemicals which used in a proper balance. A bit of imbalance may lead you to pay a high cost. The PH level and  alkaline levels must be balanced .

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