The desert can be a hot and unfriendly place to live, but you obviously know the secret to staying cool – air conditioning, insulation and of course, a sparkling blue pool in your backyard. Nothing lowers your core body temperature better than a dip in the pool just before going to bed, but if your pool is green and nasty, are you really going to want to get in it? With all that is wonderful about having your own pool or spa comes much responsibility; you’ve spent a lot of money on your pool, now it’s time to work on keeping it clean and healthy so you can enjoy it for years to come! Here’s a list of the 5 things professionals are checking for when they test your water to keep your pool running smooth and staying clean.
The proper alkalinity level for your new pool must be around 80-100 ppm (parts per million) for an optimal pool environment. When testing for alkalinity you will find this also provides you with a baseline for your pool’s pH balance(See item 2 on this list). If you need to raise your alkalinity level, you can add sodium bicarbonate (yes, we are talking about baking soda!), but this will also raise your pH levels. We discuss the chemicals you can use to ONLY raise your pH balance in item number 2 as well.
Testing for pH levels is testing the acid levels in your water. Acid is measured on a scale of 7.2 to 8.2 with the perfect level being between 7.4 and 7.6. (We’re betting you didn’t know you were going to have to remember your high school chemistry to maintain your pool, did you? Believe it or not, it’s relatively simple once you get the hang of it!) If the numbers are below 7.0, your pool is too acidic; if the numbers are above 7.8, it is too alkaline. On the rare occasion that you need to raise your pH levels, a small amount of soda ash will do the job. To lower pH, use muriatic acid. Maintaining correct pH levels is extremely important…if your water is too acidic or too alkaline it can damage your pool equipment or even the surface of the pool.
Also known as stabilizer, cyanuric acid, in combination with chlorine, helps keep your pool water safe from damaging UV rays. Keeping the stabilizer level between 30 and 50 ppm will help maximize the effects of the chlorine you add to your pool.
Battling against harmful bacteria you can find in your pool is made easy with the important addition of chlorine. Chlorine sanitizes away all the bad germs, but is sensitive to high water temperatures, UV rays, and can even be diluted when it rains…it is extremely important to be vigilant and continually add additional chlorine to keep the levels between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm.
Hard water is a big problem in the desert – our water contains calcium and other minerals which leads to the white chalky residue left behind after evaporation and does not lead to optimal pool water condition. Mineral levels should stay between 200 ppm and 400 ppm. If your water isn’t hard enough, add calcium chloride carefully…too hard of water can be damaging as well.
In the end, the best way to determine the needs of your pool is through regular testing with at-home kits you can find at any pool supply store. One thing about the water here in the desert: it is recommended you drain your pool every other winter. Never drain a pool in temps higher than 75 degrees – it is bad for the surface of your pool. We know it sounds difficult and even a little scary, but we promise it won’t take long before you are able to keep your water crystal clear and sparkling clean with the least amount of effort. Keeping the chemicals at the right levels will also lengthen the life of your pool and spa equipment. Happy swimming!