Pool Chemistry 101

When owning a pool, it’s important to understand the chemistry of your pool water. Below we explain basics of pool chemistry and what they mean for your pool.

Free Chlorine (FC)
This is your pool water “scrubber”. Free Chlorine is the chlorine available to bond with contaminants in your pool water, keeping it clean and healthy. If FC levels drop below acceptable levels, you may get algae growth in your pool. Counter to popular thinking, when a pool smells like chlorine, it means the FC levels have dropped to an unacceptable level. The smell is caused by the chloramines. This is the Combined Chlorine that has bonded to contaminants. Total chlorine is the combination of Free Chlorine and Combined Chlorine.

Total Alkalinity (TA)
This is a measurement of the water’s ability to manage pH changes. Proper alkalinity is crucial to chlorine “doing its job”. Low levels of TA can cause damage to your pool structure, as well as burning eyes for your swimmers. It can also cause chlorine to dissipate more quickly. If TA is too high, pool water can look cloudy and chlorine loses its effectiveness as a disinfectant.

pH is the balance between acid and alkalis (also known as basic). In simple terms, vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a basic. When pH levels are too low (acidic), this can cause skin and eye irritation and damage to your pool’s surfaces. Basic (alkaline) pool water can cause cloudy water and scaling on the pools surface.

Cyanuric Acid (CA)
Cyanuric Acid is often referred to as stabilizer or conditioner. CA plays a very important role in protecting your Free Chlorine. UV light destroys Free Chlorine. CA protects Free Chlorine by acting as its sort of sunscreen. The CA molecules bond with the ions in the Free Chlorine, keeping them from breaking apart when exposed to sunlight.

Calcium Hardness CH)
Calcium Hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium in your pool water. Calcium plays an important role in the health of your pool and equipment. High CH (hard water) can damage pool surfaces, pumps and heaters. Low CH (soft water) can cause corrosion of pool walls and liners. Low CH can be managed with adding the proper amount of calcium to the water. High calcium levels must be managed through balance of Total Alkalinity and pH.

Phosphates are algae and bacteria food. Phosphates have many sources – from rotting leaves and sweat to hair care products and sunscreen. A properly maintained pool will rarely need treatment for Phosphates.

For additional help with your pool chemistry, be sure to stop by one of our 5 Customer Care Locations. 

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