I do not know about you, but I am sick & tired of snow and being cold. It is time to think about warm sunny days and opening our pools. I AM SOOOOOO READY to trade the hat, scarves, gloves & boots for t-shirts, shorts, flip flops and sunscreen!
If the water in your pool was properly balanced when you closed the pool, balancing the water should be a snap once you take the cover off. If there are any leaves, dirt or debris at the bottom of the pool, you will want to clean that out prior to balancing the water, but you knew that didn’t you? Of course you did.
If when you take the cover off the pool, and the water is cloudy, a simple shock treatment with a good cleaning is probably the solution. If the pool opens really green, a drain, clean and refill may be needed, depending on whether the bottom of pool is visible. Once the pool is properly cleaned and the water clear, it is time to balance the water to prepare for the swim season. Keep in mind that the proper balance of the pool water is a key factor in keeping your pool clean and clear.
The pool professionals at Elite test the following upon opening a pool:
Total Alkalinity (TA)
This measures the alkaline material in the pool water. The ideal range is 80-120 ppm. Keeping the TA in this range will also assist in keeping the PH balanced.
When the TA is low, your PH will “bounce” up and down. To raise the TA, Alkalinity Increase is added to the pool water.
When the TA is to high, your PH will also test high. To lower the TA, PH Decrease is added to pool water.
Now that the TA is balanced, it is time to check the PH of the pool water. PH applies to the acidity of the pool water. The chemistry of pool water changes often with rainfall, pool bather body oils, dust & dirt. The ideal range for PH levels are 7.2-7.6.
When PH is low, it may cause corrosion of the heater, etching of plaster pools, skin & eye irritation. To raise, PH Increase is added to pool.
If the PH is to high in the pool, the water may become cloudy, scaling & staining may occur, the pool will become more prone to algae growth and skin & eye irritation may occur. To lower, add PH decrease to the pool.
Calcium Hardness (CH)
Next you will want to test your Calcium Hardness (CH), which is testing for minerals (calcium, magnesium, etc.) in the water. The ideal range is 200-400 ppm.
If the calcium is too high, it may cause cloudy water, corrosion of pool equipment, staining of the pool & scale to form. Calcium deposits in the water will cause the heater of your pool to fail very quickly. To lower high CH, the best way is to drain some of the water from the pool and refill with fresh water.
If the CH is to low, the water becomes corrosive and results in the etching of the pool’s surfaces. Metals corrode – and this includes pool equipment, pipe fittings and pump connections. As a result, the pool’s walls and floor can stain. To raise CH, add Calcium Hardness Increase to pool water.
Cyanuric Acid (CYA)
CYA cloaks the chlorine molecule, which is very important especially if your pool is exposed to a lot of sun throughout the day. The sun will evaporate the chlorine in your pool very rapidly without the use of a stabilizer. The ideal range for CYA is right around 40 ppm.
If the CYA level is below 20 ppm, add stabilizer to the pool water. If CYA level is above 50 ppm, pool water will need to be diluted by draining some of the water and refilling with fresh water.
TOTAL CHLORINE (TC)
When you open your pool, the chlorine will probably test at 0, this is normal. Adding tablets to your floater or chlorinator will correct this. When selecting a chlorine for your pool, make absolutely sure it is STABILIZED. A lot of the time, you will find cheap tablets in the big box or discount stores, however its only 30% stabilzed, which is NOT a good buy. You will end up using more in order to keep the TC at the correct levels. You will pay more for the 90 – 99% stabilized chlorine, but in the long run, you save by not using as much.
The FINAL step in balancing your pool water, is to SHOCK the pool. Your pool should be shocked prior to anyone going into the pool when it is opened for the season. The water has been dormant or “sleeping” over the winter and we need to shock it or “wake it up.” Shocking the pool, kills anything in the water that may have survived this long cold winter or that may bloom in the upcoming warm weather ahead. Usually 2 lbs per 10,000 gallons is sufficient.
Once the pool is opened, it should be shocked every 7-14 days depending on usage and weather conditions.
Now that you have balanced the water, you can brush the walls, vacuum the bottom, backwash your filter and say “TH POOL IS OPEN FOR SWIMMING.”
Maintain your pool by testing at least 1 time per week, twice if pool is being used frequently. Chlorine levels should be 3.0 ppm, TA levels 80-120 ppm, PH 7.2- 7.6, CH 200 – 400 ppm, & CYA 40 ppm. Aquacheck strips I find to be the easiest for the pool owner to use and read for the weekly testing, but if you are a science buff, the Taylor reagent test kits are pretty accurate.