Chemicals Demystified: Balance Pool and Hot Tub Water Chemistry in 7 Steps

Besides good filtration equipment and a general cleaning routine, chemicals are the most important factors to maintain a safe and healthy swimming pool or hot tub.

Your Pool or Hot Tub is Similar to a Mini Water Treatment Plant in Your Backyard

Just like how the municipal water you use at home for drinking, bathing and cleaning needs to be treated with chemicals at a water treatment facility in your area, the same way the water in your pool or hot tub needs to be treated. 

Unlike our lakes and rivers, which take care of themselves both ecologically and naturally, our pools and hot tubs are “self-contained” vessels and do not constantly exchange the water. Bacteria and aggressive water can deteriorate the surface of the pool or hot tub, damage the plumbing and equipment, and cause harm to bathers.

Chemicals Help Protect Your Investment and Keep Your Pool Sanitized

Almost every chemical used in a pool or hot tub is to protect the vessel and support system. Only the sanitizer and control of pH are tied primarily to bather health and safety. 

Minerals, pH buffers and shocks are required at times to adjust the water chemistry so that you, your family and friends can be safe from waterborne pathogens, algae infestation, perpetuated cloudy water and deterioration of the pool and its support systems.


7 Steps to Maintain Balanced Water Chemistry

Let’s start with the basics: Every pool needs chemicals. Yes, even salt water pools. The role of the salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) is to produce the sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) in the vessel. The SWCG does not maintain the pool or hot tub water balance and does not eliminate the need to add chemicals to maintain a worry-free pool or hot tub.

1. Go for products with high active ingredients

  • Make sure you get the most for your money: read the labels. Get the most concentrated active ingredients and low inert ingredients. It is typical to have some “inert” ingredients, however, the higher the inert ingredients, the lower the concentration of the active products. Whenever in doubt, ask a pool professional for a brand recommendation.

2. Know the parameters of your pool or hot tub

  • Be sure to know the water volume as accurately as possible. It will help you calculate the proper amount of chemicals to add without over- or under-dosing. Just like how you wouldn’t want to give an infant an adult-sized medication or vice versa, you wouldn’t want to over-or under-chemicalize your pool.

3. Add the right amount, evenly distributed

  • Always measure how much your are adding and follow the “directions for use” located on the product labels.
  • Unless stated otherwise, apply the required chemicals in the deepest part of the vessel and with the pump system operating to get a thorough mixture throughout the entire body of water. Rinse empty containers with the pool water and dispose or recycle as required.
  • Some interior surfaces and certain chemicals require pre-dissolving prior to adding them. Again, refer to the “directions for use”. Brushing behind newly added chemicals will help any undissolved product get into the solution and avoid staining or harming the pool or hot tub surface.

4. Follow the proper sequence

  • Since many chemicals interact with each other, make sure you add the chemicals in the proper sequence and avoid unnecessarily wasting the product. 
  • For instance, if the pH, total alkalinity and chlorine all require an adjustment, the proper sequencing to adjust those factors would go in this order: total alkalinity, then pH and lastly chlorine as each of those particular factors are dependent on each other.
  • Additionally, when the “directions for use” instructions call for a time delay, it generally implies a minimum period of time and not sooner than. 

5. Think safety first when handling chemicals

  • Always add chemical downwind and away from you to avoid coming in direct contact with the product.
  • Unless directed, do not add any pool chemicals into the surface skimmer to avoid damage or harm to you and the pool.
  • If there is a spill near the pool, rinse the spilled chemical into the pool water. If an acid is spilled away from the pool, neutralize the acid with some baking soda or copious amounts of water rinsing it to a fully diluted neutralized state. Avoid any spilled chemicals from coming into contact with your skin, eyes or clothing. Use gloves if needed.

6. Remove the cover

  • If you use a cover, always remove it when you add chemicals, and replace it when directed by a professional or the product label.

 7. Store chemicals responsibly

  • You know the drill: always keep pool and hot tub chemicals in a cool and dry area and away from children and animals. A plastic shed or storage bin works great as some chemicals may react with metal and cause staining or corrosion. Clearly label the products in their storage containers and do not mix products together as some can cause chemical reactions and health hazards.

Maintaining the right water chemistry can be intimidating and time consuming.

It often becomes a guessing game, and if not done correctly, constant chemical imbalance can be detrimental to the health and safety of your pool. 

Thankfully, the guessing game is about to change. With pHin, you can have a perfectly balanced pool 24/7 without all the hassle. It’s fast and easy. 

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