Are you concerned about pool chemicals?

There's nothing quite like the refreshing look of crystal-clear swimming pool water on a hot summer's day. However, if you are new to pool ownership, you will be wondering about what it takes to keep your pool looking that way. Perhaps you're concerned about pool chemicals.

In this article, we'll examine the basics of swimming pool chemistry and what chemicals you'll need to keep your backyard oasis clean and ready for fun.

Why do you need pool chemicals?

Your swimming pool is exposed to rainwater, leaves, debris, as well as sunscreen and body oils from swimmers. Adding chemicals to the water has the following primary benefits:

  • They balance the water's pH level, making sure it is not too acidic or too alkaline.

  • They kill germs that can be harmful to swimmers.

  • They prevent unsightly, unhealthy algae growth that can corrode or clog pool equipment.

What chemicals do you need to keep your pool clean?

Here are the essential chemicals needed for pool maintenance.

Chlorine. This well-known pool chemical breaks down bacteria and sanitizes the water. Stabilized chlorine products, which are protected from sunlight degradation, come in a variety of forms, including tablets, skimmer sticks, and granules.

Bromine. While chlorine is your go-to chemical for cool pool water, bromine performs well in hot water. If you have a whirlpool or spa, you'll need this chlorine alternative to keep the water clear and germ-free.

Shock treatments. Sometimes you need to add a high level of chlorine to treat your pool water quickly. You may need to "shock" your pool if you have the following:

  • heavy rains or windstorm

  • more swimmers in your pool than usual

  • extreme temperatures

  • foul-smelling or murky looking water

  • algae growth

  • swimmers with burning, red eyes

Algaecide. This chemical works as a backup to your cleaning program to prevent algae from growing in the pool.

Stabilizer. Pool stabilizer, which comes in liquid or powdered form, helps maintain the chlorine levels in your pool and protect them from damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Pool stabilizer is also known as CYA, conditioner, or cyanuric acid.

Muriatic Acid. A diluted solution of hydrochloric acid, muriatic acid can help lower your pool pH, clean filters, and remove rust stains from pool surfaces.

Maintaining a balanced water chemistry

A clean and safe swimming pool has the right pH balance and the right amount of calcium hardness. It's important to test your pool on a weekly basis. Test strips or test kits are available to make this job easy and convenient.

The pH balance. The pH level of your pool measures the acid and base in the water. If the pH is too far on the acid side of the scale, you could experience corrosion of pool surfaces and equipment. If your pH is too far on the base side, you could see scaling, deposits, or cloudy water. You can use a chemical to adjust your pool's levels as needed to maintain an alkalinity level of 120-150 ppm.

Calcium hardness. This level indicates the amount of dissolved calcium in the water. Low calcium hardness levels can damage a pool's plaster finish and shorten a vinyl pool liner's life. High calcium hardness levels can cause calcium deposits on the pool surfaces and equipment. The ideal range for calcium hardness is 175-225 ppm for vinyl pools and 200- 250 ppm for concrete pools.

Metals. The presence of copper, iron, or manganese can stain your pool's surfaces and discolor your water. You can use a stain and scale remover, and you should also try to determine the source of the metals.

How to keep children and pets safe around pool chemicals

We've seen the benefits of using pool chemicals, but how can you keep your family and guests safe around these potentially harmful agents?

According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control, pool chemical injuries led to an estimated 13,508 emergency room visits between 2015 and 2017. More than one-third of these injuries were to children, and most of the injuries happened at a home swimming pool.

Poisoning is the most common injury, and it usually occurs when someone breathes in fumes, vapors, or gases while opening pool chemical containers. Other injuries can include eye pain or redness and skin redness, pain, or burns.

The good news is that pool chemical injuries are preventable. The National Swimming Pool Foundation says the majority of injuries occur when pool chemicals are not stored out of children's reach and when swimmers enter the water too soon after chemicals have been added.

Here are some safety tips for pool chemical use.

  • Carefully follow the directions on the product label.

  • Wear safety gear such as gloves and eye protection as directed.

  • Use the chemicals in an open, well-ventilated area.

  • Keep children and pets out of the area when using chemicals.

  • Label and store chemicals away from the reach of children and pets.

  • Do not mix pool chemicals together.

  • Add each chemical to the water as directed – do not add water to a chemical.

  • Avoid direct contact with eyes or skin.

If you spill or splash a pool chemical on yourself, immediately rinse your eyes or skin with warm water for at least 15 minutes. Call the poison control center if redness or pain persists.

If you experience coughing or burning after inhaling chemical fumes or shortness of breath, try to get some fresh air. Another step is to take a warm shower and breathe in the mist. If your symptoms continue, get medical attention.

Should you add the chemicals yourself or hire a pro?

After hearing about the potential hazards of maintaining your pool with chemicals, you may be wondering if you can handle the job yourself.

Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to swimming pool maintenance. However, many pool owners find that after they establish a regular schedule for their pool maintenance, they get the hang of it, and the process becomes more manageable.

Whether you clean and maintain your pool yourself or hire someone to do it for you is a matter of personal preference. Your main deciding factors are your time and your budget.

If you have any questions about swimming pool maintenance, give us a call at Tops Pools. Pools are our business, and we will be glad to help.