“LSI Balance and Calcium Management is the first of Orenda’s Four Pillars. This is arguably the most important of the Four Pillars because it is about understanding water and how it behaves.
We need to come together and understand how calcium behaves in water. Let’s start by debunking a myth in the pool business: calcium is NOT your enemy! It is actually your best friend. Yes! Calcium does amazing things for water chemistry, and helps pool owners and operators balance their pools according to the LSI. The LSI (Langelier Saturation Index) is a measurement of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation in water. Too much (high LSI over +0.30) can lead to calcium falling out of solution as scale. Too little (low LSI below -0.30) means your water is aggressive and looking for calcium to consume. This is the cause of etching, corroded pool equipment and many other problems.
When the pool is properly balanced with calcium, other factors of water chemistry become surprisingly easy to manage. Factors like pH and total alkalinity seem to stay more consistent. Understanding how calcium behaves means we can predict and control it. Say goodbye to scale and etching!”
Salt water pools are growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. The benefits of owning a salt water pool are impressive and may have you considering the switch.
Contrary to popular belief, salt water pools are not chlorine or chemical-free, but they are safer because pool owners do not have to handle the chlorine in its physical form nor find a good place to store it. You might be surprised to hear that salt water swimming pools use chlorine to keep the water clear. A salt water pool generates chlorine through a process called electrolysis. Salt is added to the pool, the water passes through the chlorine generator, then converts the salt into chlorine using an electric discharge. Salt water pools use a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) to turn salt into chlorine. The chlorine eventually breaks down, leaving behind the salt to be reused.
Maintenance & Cost Savings
A SWCG makes it easier to maintain constant, proper chlorine levels. This allows you to avoid high chlorine levels that commonly occur in traditionally chlorinated pools, causing eyes to dry out and become irritated. Salt water pools ultimately save you time and money on costly chemicals, after the initial purchase and installation of a SWCG. Salt pools are also cleaner because the generator runs on a consistent schedule.
Skin Care & Health
A salt water pool leaves skin feeling softer and smoother upon exiting the pool, unlike non-SWCG pool water. The water is soft and won’t leave a noticeable residue in your hair or on your skin. Salt water is also known to exfoliate, rejuvenate and detoxify skin.
As far as health benefits, swimming is great exercise and a proven stress reliever. Salt water pools are even more beneficial because they make swimmers more buoyant and help to relieve inflammation in your joints and muscles. With a salt water pool, there is the added bonus of not exposing yourself or the environment to as many harmful chemicals.
Whether you’re considering an update or planning to build a pool, salt water pools are an excellent choice.
As pool owners, we all have to deal with cloudy pool water at some point. Determining the cause of the cloudiness is the first step in remedying the situation. Cloudy pool water can be caused by improper levels of chlorine, pH and alkalinity imbalance, broken or clogged filters, algae or debris. Use this guide to help you determine which is the culprit in your cloudy pool.
Why is my pool water cloudy?
1. Are your chemicals properly balanced? (Check your chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness.)
Did you shock your pool recently? Is there is too much or too little chlorine?
Is the pH and alkalinity out of balance?
Does the water have high calcium hardness levels?
Solution: Too little chlorine is a leading cause of cloudy pool water. Chlorine is used to sanitize the water and without it, your water isn’t being properly cleaned. Contaminants in the water will build up and cause cloudy water as a result.
Make sure your pH, total alkalinity (TA) and calcium are all in the acceptable range and that the combination of the three aren’t on the high end of the range. If they are, your water is likely out of balance. If the temperature of your water is also on the high side, the imbalance of these chemicals is even more likely the cause of cloudiness. High pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness can lead to cloudiness.
If any of the above are out of the acceptable range, first thoroughly scrub, skim, and brush your pool walls, then vacuum. Once that is complete, work on adjusting the chemicals to get them within the acceptable range again. Re-balance your water by adjusting the pH. Use a pH reducer or increaser to adjust pH levels or add muriatic acid to lower TA. Be aware that even shocking a clean and balanced pool can cause cloudiness temporarily. Shock your pool water to remove harmful bacteria, organic contaminants, and algae. Finally, run your filter and test your water sample. Use a chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) to protect your chlorine levels.
Chemical Industry Acceptable
pH (Potential Hydrogen) 7.2 – 7.8
TA (Total Alkalinity 80-120 ppm
Calcium 200-400 ppm
If your pool is 100% balanced and is still cloudy, you should also try a product like Omega Pool Clarifier, available in our store.
2. Is your pool filtration system operating properly?
Poor water circulation and filtration can occur when your
filter doesn’t run long enough, becomes clogged or needs cleaning. Poor circulation can also be caused by skimmer and pump baskets becoming full of debris.
Solution: Turn over your pool water by running your pool filter continuously for at least 12 hours each day. A diatomaceous earth (DE) filter may achieve your desired results after only a few hours because it has the finest level of filtration. A cartridge filter will likely take 2-5 times as long, while sand filters can take multiple days. Add DE powder to your sand filter for more effective filtration. Is your filter clean? Have you back washed or cleaned it recently? If not, we recommend doing so. Most contaminants will be removed if your pool filter and sanitizer are working together. When the leaves are falling because it’s dry, we recommend emptying your baskets daily.
3. Are environmental factors to blame?
Leaves, pollen and dust can build up in your filter and hinder the cleaning process. Other environmental factors from
animal waste to rainwater runoff can cause your pool water to become cloudy and imbalanced. Runoff water brings
nitrates, phosphates, and other chemicals into your pool throwing the balance out of whack. Algae can also pollute your pool water and can lead to cloudiness, using up your pool’s chlorine rapidly.
Are swimmers clouding up your pool water? Sunscreen, hair products, bug spray, and other contaminants can contribute to your water clarity, or lack thereof.
The sun alone can deplete your sanitizers. “Its powerful
ultraviolet rays break apart the sanitizing hypochlorite ions created when you add chlorine to your pool, causing them to evaporate into the air around your pool. This means less sanitizer and more dirt in your water.” – Swim University
Solution: See Solution #2 above. Hint: run your filter! Using an enzyme product such as Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect will also help with contaminants introduced to your water by swimmers. Maintaining proper levels of cyanuric acid, aka stabilizer or conditioner, will keep the sun from using up your chlorine.
The absolute best way to rid your pool of cloudy water is to prevent it from becoming cloudy in the first place. We recommend working with our team of professionals to create a pool maintenance schedule that you can implement or signing up for our Hassle Free Pool Care program. Contact us to learn more!
Proper pool chemical storage is imperative to avoid harmful
reactions, mixing and spills. While fireworks may be part of our summer fun, properly storing your pool chemicals will help you avoid a dangerous 4th of July-like explosion due to improper chemical storage.
Don’t let this happen to you…
How to Properly Store Pool Chemicals
Read Labels Carefully: If you do one thing to ensure pool chemical safety, this is it. All of the important hazards,
storage instructions and safety information will be on each container of chemicals. Avoid scary chemical reactions by reading the fine print thoroughly on all of your pool
Storage Temperature: Pool chemicals should never be stored in a location that exceeds 95° F. Find a cool and dry location to store your chemicals. If possible, avoid areas with high humidity and direct sunlight.
Ventilation: Store your pool chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Many people choose to store their pool chemicals in the pump room, but if that is where you will be keeping your supplies, you will need an HVAC shutoff in case of an emergency situation.
Fire Safety: Be smart about what you store with your pool chemicals. Do not store other flammable items such as gasoline or propane near your pool chemicals or machines like lawn mowers that may contain these flammables. Also, keep your storage area clear of flammable trash or debris.
Keep Chemicals Dry: Store your pool chemicals on a raised, flat surface to guarantee they do not get wet. If your chemicals do get wet, they can leach noxious gases and cause corrosion. Keep your chemicals away from doors and windows in waterproof containers and be sure the lids are always tightly secured.
Keep Like with Like: Some chemicals need to be stored apart from one another to avoid reactions. Avoid storing chemicals on top of each other and make sure chlorine and acids are not stored near each other. When in doubt, store all chemicals individually for optimal safety.
Cleaning Your Storage Area: Be smart when using household chemicals and cleaners to tidy up your chemical storage area. The last thing you want is an unexpected chemical reaction caused by accidental mixing. Use cleaning products that are safe to use around pool chemicals.
Lock Them Up: Make sure all your pool chemicals are stored in a locked location that cannot be accessed by children or pets.
Protect Yourself: Wear gloves and protective eye-wear when working with pool chemicals and make sure they don’t come into contact with your hands, mouth or eyes. Wear long sleeves and shoes when working with pool chemicals to avoid any chance of skin irritation or burns. Add the pool chemicals to your water instead of adding water to your chemicals, which could splash onto your skin.
Be Mindful of the Environment: Avoid chemical spills at all costs to prevent chemical burns and inhaling dangerous fumes and dust. Spilling chemicals on the pool deck or ground can contaminate groundwater and soil causing a host of other problems.
Follow the steps above to significantly reduce your risk of chemical illness or injury.
If you prefer to leave the pool chemicals to the professionals, learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and let our trained and experienced technicians handle it. That’ll leave you free to spend your time enjoying all that your swimming pool has to offer in fun and relaxation.
Whether you are new to pool ownership or are just looking for a refresher course, balancing your pool chemistry doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The key to a clean and clear swimming pool is to ensure your pool water is both balanced and sanitized.
Check out our quick guide, followed by a more detailed chemistry lesson on pool water balance and sanitation.
80 – 150 ppm (concrete and gunite pools)
100 – 150 ppm (painted, vinyl & fiberglass pools)
pH: 7.4 – 7.6
175 – 225 ppm
225 – 275 ppm (plaster pools)
Chlorine: 1.0 – 3.0 ppm
25 – 50 ppm
50 – 80 ppm (pools using salt water Chlorine generators)
Total Dissolved Solids: 500 – 5000 ppm
Total Alkalinity (TA)
Total alkalinity refers to the quantity of alkaline material in the water (bicarbonates, carbonates and hydroxides). Ideally your swimming pool should maintain proper total alkalinity levels between 100-150 parts per million.
“Alkalinity is a pH buffer, meaning it helps to keep the pH from drastically moving up and down the pH scale by absorbing major changes to the waters before affecting the pH.” – Swim University
Adjusting your pool’s alkalinity is the first step. Alkalinity is defined as the ability of the water to resist changes in pH. It acts as a buffer to pH and makes it more stable.
Add an alkalinity increaser if your TA is too low. Add sodium bisulfate to decrease alkalinity if your TA is too high.
The pH refers to the relative acidity of the water. Maintaining water at a pH between 7.4 and 7.6 (a little above neutral on the pH scale) is key to balancing your pool water. This pH range is most suitable for swimming because it is less irritable to the eyes and generally more comfortable for swimmers. Chlorine is also most effective in this range. If your pH is too high or too low, the chlorine isn’t able to do it’s job.
Precipitation, swimmers, and pool debris can all change your pool’s pH. Low pH means your water is acidic. High pH means your water is basic. Keep your pH balanced to avoid equipment and structural damage.
The biggest change to pH comes from products used for sanitation, like chlorine tabs. Chlorine tabs have a very low pH, often requiring you to add a pH increaser. Pools using a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) often have a higher pH level. For this reason, you will need to add more pH decreaser or muriatic acid to a SWCG pool than you would in a traditional chlorine pool.
It is wise to keep both a bottle of pH Increaser (sodium carbonate) and pH decreaser (sodium bisulfate) on hand to deal with pH fluctuations that can frequently occur.
3. Calcium Hardness
Calcium hardness may not technically be part of balancing your water, but without paying attention to dissolved calcium levels, your water will pursue other avenues to find it. The proper calcium hardness level is between 175 – 225 ppm or 225 – 275 ppm for plaster pools.
Monitor the calcium levels in your pool to avoid damage to your pool walls and equipment. Protect your pool by adding calcium hardness to your water. Measure carefully, as too much calcium can lead to scaling (calcium carbonate depositing itself on surfaces) among other problems.
Use calcium chloride to raise the calcium hardness of your pool water. If you are experiencing high calcium hardness levels, the only remedy is to drain at least some of your pool water to dilute it with fresh water.
Cyanuric Acid (CYA)
Cyanuric acid (CYA) is a water stabilizer and should be in the range of 25-50 ppm or 50–80 ppm for salt pools. Cyanuric acid is sold as either a pool stabilizer or pool conditioner and helps prevent destruction of chlorine from the sun’s UV rays. It is especially important to add cyanuric acid if you are starting with fresh water and need a stabilizer base. Chlorine tabs already contain cyanuric acid, so CYA is replenished if you’re using tabs. With a salt water chlorine generator however, CYA will need to be added separately.
Sanitation is imperative to disinfecting your pool water to prevent disease spreading organisms, as well as bacteria and algae growth. Environmental pollution from humans, animals, cosmetics, leaves, pollen, dirt and other debris are constantly affecting your pool water. When it comes to pool sanitation, chlorine is the most commonly used ingredient.
Chlorine is used as a water sanitizer. It works by disinfecting your water to rid it of any bacteria, algae, ammonia, and other contaminates. Your chlorine levels should ideally stay between 1.0 – 3.0 ppm.
Add Chlorine to yourwaterwith tablets or use a powdered or granular chlorine (we prefer tablets for ease of use). Tabs can be added to a chlorinator, floating dispenser, or skimmer basket(s) in your pool.
“When buying chlorine make sure you look for Trichloro or Dichloro as an active ingredient. These types of chlorine products are stabilized. UV rays from the sun eat up chlorine, but if it’s stabilized, it drastically slows down this process.” – SwimUniversity
Alternatives to Chlorine
Bromine, biguanide and the minerals silver and copper are sanitizer alternatives to chlorine. While they each have their pros and cons, chlorine remains the most popular and least expensive option. Using a mineral solution still requires small amounts of chlorine for complete sanitation. Contrary to popular belief, a SWCG creates chlorine. People often assume a salt water pool is better because it doesn’t use chlorine, but this is a misconception!
Super chlorination or “shocking” is also vital to maintaining a clean and healthy pool. When you shock your pool, you are essentially adding 3x the normal amount of chlorine you would regularly add. A shock treatment will burn organic materials out of the water and allow the sanitizer to work properly.
Shock your chlorine pool when any of the following occur:
Your pool is cloudy.
There is pool algae present.
The water temperature exceeds 84 degrees.
Your chlorine level is lower than 3 ppm.
When you have added all the necessary chemicals to your pool, let your pool pump run so your chemicals can circulate throughout. Balancing your pool water may seem tricky at first, but it will get easier with practice and patience.
Stop by ourRetail Storefor all of your pool chemicals needs and bring a sample of your pool water to receive a free professional water test!
The pool is open! Make safety your #1 priority this year. May is National Water Safety Month and the perfect time to make sure your pool and patio is up to par. Follow these recommendations to keep your family and friends safe and give yourself peace of mind so you can sit back, relax and just enjoy your pool this summer.
Many states require your pool to be fenced on all sides. Even if you happen to live somewhere where fencing is not a requirement, installing a fence is very important, especially when there are children around. Your fence should be at least 5 feet tall and have a self-latching or self-closing gate. This simple solution will greatly reduce the risk of children getting into the pool area unsupervised.
Gate alarms, perimeter alarms and pressure sensitive alarms will notify you when someone or something enters the pool area or pool itself. Wearable alarms are a good option for children, alerting a parent when the wearable component gets wet. Learn more about alarms from our friends atSwim University.
This one goes without saying, but pool chemicals, just like household chemicals, can make children and pets gravely ill if they are ingested, inhaled or get in their eyes. Never store your pool chemicals anywhere that would be accessible to a child or pet. For chemical storage tips, check out this article. Reducing your pool chemical use is also a favorable option to reduce any risk.
Every pool should have safety equipment readily accessible. A life ring (hard plastic ring) with a rope can easily be tossed into the pool for someone in danger to grab hold of, allowing the rescuer to pull them to safety. Life jackets should also be available in case of emergency or for new swimmers to wear while learning to swim. A shepherd’s hook is another useful safety tool. The loop attaches to the end of your telescoping pool skimmer pole and can be used in the case of an emergency to grab someone and pull them to safety.
Keep all pool floats and toys away from the pool area when not in use, as children often find their bright colors and fun shapes enticing. Also, keep any climbable objects away from your pool gate and fence.
Teach Water Safety
Children are never too young to start learning the basics of pool and water safety. Start them in swimming lessons at an early age so they gain confidence in the water and understand and respect the importance of following the rules in and around the pool.
The number one thing you can do to ensure safe pool fun is to make sure there is always an adult swimmer watching when there are any children, pets or novice swimmers around your pool. A clever way to make sure there is always an adult around is to have a safety wristband worn by the adult in charge. When that adult leaves the pool area they are then responsible for passing the wristband on to another adult supervisor.
Safety covers are a great investment for both in-ground and above ground pools in the off-season, preventing anyone or anything from falling in the often frigid and unsupervised water. Check out the following brands when purchasing your safety cover.
When your pool turns green, your first assumption may be that algae is the offender. While this is often true, you could actually be dealing with increased heavy metals. Try these simple tests to determine the real cause of your green pool.
Test your chlorine levels. If there is free chlorine in the pool and it is green, copper is the likely culprit. If there is no free chlorine, suspect algae.
If your pool turns green after adding shock, copper is the likely cause. Other minerals, such as iron and manganese can turn the water brown, pink or purple. A metal remover will bind with the minerals in your pool water, allowing your pool filter to remove them.
A way to test to see if there’s metal in the water is to take a bucket of the pool water and add a small amount of liquid or granular chlorine. If the water turns green you’ve got copper! (turns another color you have another metal. Iron-brown, Manganese-purple)
If you add chlorine and your pool clears up? Hooray! Algae was the offender. Mystery solved!
Metal vs. Algae Tip: Metal stains won’t brush off the pool. Most algae will, with black algae as the exception.
Need a product recommendation? Stop by our RetailStore and talk to our team and get your free water test.
While we generally guide pool owners toward solutions to their pool care woes, sometimes it’s best to learn from others’ mistakes to avoid making them yourself. Here are some things we DO NOT recommend.
Don’t shock your pool during the day. Sunlight will burn off your unstable chlorine (aka shock), so it is vital to shock your pool during the night to ensure it has time to do the job properly.
Don’t add shock through your skimmer. This mistake can be VERY dangerous because pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) and chlorine (DiChlor or TriChlor) will mix to create a deadly gas and can cause an explosion when mixed through your automatic chlorinator. This can not only cause bodily harm, but can also damage your pool liner, floor and walls.
Don’t add shock directly to your pool water. Dilute the shock in a bucket of warm warmer before adding it to your pool. Add shock to the water, not vice versa. The diluted solution will be safer to work with and will mix better with your pool water. It will also avoid shock settling on your pool floor and causing your lining to become frail, eventually leading to leaks.
Don’t swim right after shocking. Ensure chlorine and pH levels are in the proper range before swimming. If you want to be able to shock your pool and swim immediately, use a non-chlorine shock.
Don’t forget your pool brush. Your pool vacuum is not a substitute for your pool brush. Be sure to brush the bottom and sides of your pool at least once a week, especially the hard to reach areas. Brushing is vital to removing bacteria, germs and algae, while the vacuum is great for the larger debris.
Don’t use a robot on algae. If you have an algae problem on your hands, do not use an automatic cleaner to try to remove it. Manual cleaners are the way to go in this scenario because pressure-side automatic cleaners will push the algae up through the mesh bag, clog it and blow it around your pool.
Don’t neglect pH and alkalinity. Maintaining the proper pH and alkalinity levels is necessary even if your pool water looks clear. Low pH (highly acidic water) can cause damage to your pool equipment including: pumps, filters, solar covers, liners and heaters. Adjust your alkalinity levels to ensure your pH is always balanced.
Don’t over backwash your filter system. The larger debris in your filter actually help to trap the smaller debris. The guideline is to backwash when the system is running 5-10 psi above the starting filter pressure (pressure with a clean filter).
Don’t skip your water testing. If you can’t do a full, comprehensive water test each week, be sure to at least test your free chlorine and pH levels. Bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a free, detailed analysis. We recommend a computer generated water test at least once a month.
Avoid these common pool care blunders and you will be well on your way to a safe and clean swimming pool.
It is vital to keep measurements of your pool’s chlorine levels. Chlorine is essential to sanitizing your pool keeping you and your family safe.
Chlorine can often be a source of confusion as there are three distinct kinds: free chlorine, combined chlorine and total chlorine. For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on free and total chlorine, but will cover the basic definitions of three versions.
Our friends at Swim University classify the three types of
chlorine in the following ways:
3 Types of Chlorine
Free Chlorine – This is the chlorine that you usually test for in your pool water. Free chlorine is able to sanitize your pool. Your pool water should have between 1 and 3 parts per
Combined Chlorine – Chlorine that’s been used up by the sanitation process is called combined chlorine. While it’s still in the water, its ability to sanitize is reduced compared to free chlorine.
Total Chlorine – Total chlorine is the sum of both free chlorine and combined chlorine.
What’s the Difference? Let’s Do the Math.
As Chemical Engineers, the science behind chlorine is our specialty! Let’s begin with this simple formula for chlorine:
FC + CC = TC
“When chlorine is added to your pool, it reacts with the water to form hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. These compounds together form what we call free chlorine.
Once this chlorine begins to react with the contaminants in the water, such as nitrogen and ammonia, it becomes combined chlorine.
In this state, the chlorine isn’t as effective at sanitizing compared to free chlorine. Your goal is to make sure your pool is sanitized. You want to make sure your free chlorine levels stay in check.
For example, if your free chlorine levels and total chlorine levels are the same, then there’s no combined (or used chlorine) in your water. If your total chlorine level is higher than the free chlorine level, the difference of the two are the combined chlorine levels.” – Swim University
Your combined chlorine should be zero, meaning your free chlorine and total chlorine (what gets tested) are equal.
To maintain the highest quality water in your pool, it is important that you understand the math. By determining how much chlorine is optimal to add to your pool water, you will ultimately reach the perfect balance and in doing so, kill the harmful contaminants in the water making your pool safer for swimming.
For example, if you test your pool water and the combined chlorine levels appear to be rising, this is a good indicator that it is time to add more chlorine to your pool to assist in sanitation. Conversely, if the combined chlorine levels appear to be low after testing, you may not need to add anything to your water at that time.
We hope this gives you a better understanding of chlorine’s role in keeping your pool water safe and clean all season long, and that you have an easier time adjusting your pool’s chlorine levels for optimal sanitation. In addition to chlorine, pH and other factors need to be balanced properly for clean, safe water. A clean and healthy pool maximizes your swimming and relaxation time and who doesn’t want that?!
Choose Hassle Free Pool Care and let our expert technicians maintain your healthy pool or stop by our Retail Store for a Free Water Test or to purchase a Chlorine Test Kit if you prefer to do it yourself.
Check out the two articles below from Aqua Magazine to learn more about the importance of chlorine in your pool water.
“Have you ever asked “what’s the difference between pH and alkalinity? Many of us in aquatics confuse total alkalinity and pH. It’s understandable, given how blurred the line is between words like “alkaline” and “alkalinity.” Indeed, alkalinity and pH in water chemistry are closely related, but they are not the same. This article will distinguish between them.” – Orenda Technologies