For many, swimming pools are a summertime staple, whether for gathering, relaxing, partying, or exercising.
Keeping the pool well-balanced and maintained will prolong the life of every part of the pool, as well as keep people safe after being exposed to the pool’s water. Cleaning often will prolong the filter’s life and prevent algae from forming, and balancing the water will help the equipment last longer. Proper maintenance can help eliminate the need for repairs.
There are three essential steps to follow when it comes to keeping the pool clean, clear, and safe:
- Prevent algae growth
Sanitation is what has to be done to keep the pool water clean. Adding the proper chemicals to the water will kill bacteria and other contaminants so that the water is safe for swimming.
With respect to sanitation in swimming pools, there are three Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved methods.
Chlorine is the most common and least expensive way to sanitize a pool. It is highly efficient because it is aggressive on bacteria and other contaminates, yet slightly less aggressive on surfaces of the pool and on people’s skin and eyes. It is available in tablets or powder, and also can be found in a liquid form which is more for shocking (oxidizing).
It is recommended to test the water weekly to keep the chlorine levels in the ideal range of between 2 to 4 ppm. In this range, it won’t cause rashes, dry skin, or burning eyes. Chlorine levels should be tested regularly since outdoor elements like sun and rain may affect levels. It is the most common option since it is inexpensive, practical, easily accessible, and easy to maintain.
Bromine is a chemical compound used for swimming pools but primarily for hot tubs. It is very similar to chlorine in many ways because it’s also a halogen-based sanitizer. An important consideration is that it breaks down in UV light, so levels will drop with exposure to direct sunlight. Also, it is a bit pricier compared to chlorine.
Biguanide: This third option is a less common because of its expense and common difficulties when using it.
Shocking the pool is the process of oxidizing the water for both maintenance reasons and treatment purposes. The maintenance part is a treatment as well, but it is also preventative. Swimming pools need to be oxidized routinely, typically once a week, in order to:
- kill bacteria
- break up chloramines
- To eliminate foreign contaminants
Some chemicals used to oxide the water are:
Hydrogen peroxide is an aggressive oxidizer for cleaning, yet it’s not rough on the skin in appropriate concentrations. The usual dose for peroxide shock is 1 gallon used for every 10,000 gallons of pool water. The waiting time to go swimming after applying hydrogen peroxide to the pool is 15 minutes.
The non-chlorine oxidizer potassium monopersulfate can be used along with all types of sanitizers, but it’s most commonly used with bromine and chlorine pools. Also known as potassium peroxymonopersulfate, it breaks down organic waste, such as sweat, urine, sunscreen, oils, and other impurities in the water.
Activated carbon can be used to remove organic compounds, chlorine by-products, and certain chemicals that can affect water quality. Activated carbon is typically used in the form of granules or powder. It can be added to the swimming pool’s filtration system or placed in a separate filter vessel. As the pool water passes through the activated carbon, the carbon adsorbs and traps impurities, helping to improve the clarity and quality of the water.
Dichlor and trichlor
Dichloro-s-triazinetrione and trichlor-s-triazinetrione are oxidizers that are versatile and easy to use. Dichlor is more common than trichlor. They both dissolve quickly with no settling on the pool floor. They are stabilized with cyanuric acid, the chemical used to prevent the UV rays from dissipating chlorine levels from the water.
Commonly known as cal hypo, this is a type of chlorine derivate used for all types of pools since it is less expensive than most. It usually comes in a granular form, sold in buckets or 1-pound bags. This product won’t raise the level of chlorine stabilizer in the pool.
Liquid chlorine is known as bleach, and although it contains the same main ingredient as household bleach, it’s not quite the same. Liquid chlorine that is used for pools will have a much higher percentage of sodium hypochlorite in it than household bleach and contains no additional additives. This type of oxidizer is easy to use and inexpensive.
Prevent algae growth
Algae is not only unsightly, but it can also make bathers sick. It’s possible to get inner ear infections, bacterial eye infections, rashes on the skin, and even symptoms of nausea, fever, and upset stomach. An algae bloom is typically a sign of low sanitation, and that can cause its own illnesses; it is crucial to use the right algae product for maintenance and treatment purposes.
Types of algae products
There are a lot of algae control products, and all of them are in liquid form for easy application.
The standard kinds of algae products are:
• Copper-based algaecides: These are very effective algaecides and have some bacteria-killing qualities. They can be used either weekly or can be added to the pool every three months. They have no foaming side effects.
• Quatalgistats: This type of product is quaternary ammonium-based algistats. It is metal-free. Furthermore, there won’t be any issues with staining or green hair. It comes with some foaming side effects. This product is not recommended for a pool that has any type of water agitation features.
• Polyquat algaecides: These are commonly referred to as poly or polyquat algaecides. They are entirely metal-free and have no foaming side effects. They can be used as a preventative and for treatment, and are safe for all types of pools.
When it comes to pool maintenance and treatment, balancing the pool’s chemical levels, sanitizing, oxidizing, and preventing algae from happening is a priority. The pool’s water balance is measured for its alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness, temperature, total dissolved solids, levels of cyanuric acid, and the chemicals utilized for its treatment. All those pieces work together to maintain a healthy and safe pool for everyone to use.