The Ultimate Pool Care Routine for A Stress-Free Summer

School is wrapping up and the days are getting longer and warmer – which means summer is finally here!

If you’ve opened your pool (hot tub, or swim spa) for the season, it’s time to set a routine to keep it safe for swimming all summer long.

The pHin team put together these steps to stress-free pool care:

1.       Set a schedule

Your pool water needs regular care to stay balanced and safe throughout the summer. To stay on track, set up a schedule to use water test strips, adjust chemicals, and add shock (Learn more about shocking here.).

Plan a day to brush the pool weekly, it’s an important step towards preventing algae buildup, removing dirt particles, and smoothing the surface to ensure a long-lasting finish. And, remember to use the skimmer daily to remove leaves and debris that may collect overnight.

2.       Stock up on chemicals

You may already have chosen your favorite chemical brand, or are going with the recommendation from your pool builder or hot tub manufacturer. Stock up on a good supply of chemicals, shock, and test strips, so you don’t run out unexpectedly. You can even keep a chart nearby to note when items are getting low. Store them safely, secured and away from children and pets.

Your local pool technician can help keep you stocked too. Many are taking online orders and offering curbside pickup, so getting the supplies you need is even easier. You can even find a pool store near you and place an order if you’re a pHin user, right through the pHin app!

3.       Get Ready for Testing

Water testing can be challenging, even for experienced pool owners! Most pool owners check their temperature daily and test the water with strips weekly. A helper like the pHin Smart Water Monitor can boost the number of tests for accurate measurements available anytime through the app. It floats in the pool, measuring the pH, sanitizer, and temperature over 1,000 times per week.

The measurements are put through an algorithm that will give a clear status of whether the water is balanced, or needs action. If the water isn’t safe, the pHin user will get a push notification, with actionable instructions and exact chemical dosing.

4.       Plan for fun!

Once you know your pool is safe for swimming, accessorize and plan for fun! Schedule wine nights by the pool, plan your Fourth of July barbeque, and stock up on pool floaties, water games, and lots of sunblock.

Want to keep your pool in top swimming shape? Try out pHin! Learn more here.

When Should I Open My Pool for the Season?

When the temperatures start to rise, we begin longing for days spent poolside in the sunshine. A ripple effect of pool openings starts across the country as we approach the first day of summer with some pool owners wondering, “When should I open my pool for the season?”

Many factors can play into the decision for opening day. The pHin experts share tips for picking the ideal date:

 When Is It Too Early To Open Your Pool?

Each pool owner’s opening date varies depending on where they live. When temperatures are consistently over or around 70 degrees it’s usually the perfect time to start a pool opening. While it might be a little chilly for swimming for those who don’t have heated pools, it’ll leave you time to get ready for warmer days to come. Keep an eye on the weather – consistency is important because you don’t want to experience freezing temperatures a few days after the big opening.

 Along with outdoor temperatures, there are a few other factors to consider:

1.    Algae

With warmer temperatures, your pool can become a breeding ground for algae. To prevent algae buildup that can turn your pool green, opening your pool sooner can get you up and running. This gives you extra time to start cleaning to prevent the algae from growing.

2. Expense and Equipment

Pool openings can add extra expenses. Before you open your pool, consider the costs of additional chemicals, parts, or labor that will be needed. Also, do a check of what you’ll need for the season, including test strips, chemicals, cleaner, etc.

3.     Aesthetic

Pulling the cover off your pool adds beauty to your backyard. It might also be time to have the surrounding deck or patio power-washed, uncover your pool-side lounge chairs, and see if there’s anything you want to add this year, like rock speakers, lighting, new toys, or even a water slide.

4.     Entertainment         

Pools offer endless fun for families to enjoy all season long. After you’ve planned your pool opening date, start planning the first day for fun and games with your family, or a workout right in the backyard!

These pool opening tips should help you keep your pool in top shape all summer long.  The water needs to be balanced and safe for swimming, and technology like pHin can help guide you through the process. Enjoy the pool season!

Celebrating 5 Years! The History of pHin

Spring is a time to celebrate: flowers begin blooming, temperatures rise, and pools across the country are opening for the season. The pHin team has extra reason to celebrate – May is also pHin’s birthday! 

This year, we celebrate five years since pHin launched, and we took a look back through pHin’s milestones:

2014 – The Concept of pHin

Our co-founder Justin Miller cared for his pool, and wanted to make sure the water was safe for his family. He wanted to just have fun with his pool, but chemicals and testing were a stressor and a burden. He started building pHin to take the guesswork out of pool water care, so he could spend more time enjoying his pool, knowing the water is safe.

He incorporated Pool Tech Systems Inc and started building pHin.

May 2015pHin’s First Pre-Order

The first pHin model was available for pre-order in May 2015.

Its groundbreaking technology was instantly recognized with an IMPACT Award, IoT Evolution Award, PSP Expo Award, IDTechEx Award, and more. 

June 2015 – pHin Press Launch

pHin was announced to the world in June 2015, with press coverage in TechCrunch, This Oblong Device Will Tell You If Your Pool Is Ready for Swimming, who said: “All you have to do is plop pHin into the water and add a few water-soluble packets that come with the device, according to your pools needs.”

Spring 2017 – pHin Available in Stores

pHin started shipping and was made commercially available.

April 2018 – pHin Acquired by Hayward Industries

The popularity of pHin caught the eye of Hayward Industries, and the company acquired Connected Yard, the makers of pHin. Joining forces with the leading global manufacturer and marketer of residential and commercial pool equipment.

May 2019 – pHin Available on Amazon

Demand for pHin grew as pool, swim spa, and hot tub owners around the country sought the device to simplify their water care routine. pHin was made available for online ordering on Amazon.

April 2020 – pHin Next-Generation Upgrade

New features and enhancements were released to improve the pHin experience, including a refreshed app and an expanded list of supported chemicals.

How long have you been using pHin? We’d love to hear from our users, whether you’re new or have been with us from the beginning. Enjoy the swim season ahead!

As Pool Season Kicks Off, Next Generation pHin Monitor Makes Water Care Easy

With a refreshed app experience, pHin uses smart technology to make pool and hot tub water care a breeze with robust analytics and enhanced pool chemical compatibility.

pHinTM, by Hayward Industries introduces the next generation pHin smart water monitor. Featuring software upgrades that enhance built-in analytics and augment pHin’s proprietary algorithm for water care as well as an updated user interface and monitoring subscription free for the first year, the smart monitor now works with an expanded list of compatible chemical brands for the 2020 season.

The pHin Smart Monitor removes the guesswork from pool and hot tub water care for chlorine, bromine, or saltwater systems. The next generation model now offers an enhanced and streamlined experience. Missteps in water care can present cloudy water, sub-optimal conditions, or health risks like recreational water illnesses that detract from the joy and benefits of pool and spa ownership.

Engineered to float in the water 24/7 throughout the pool season, whether in the summer or year-round, pHin measures pH, sanitizer, and temperature levels over 1,000 times per week. Robust on-board analytics and a proprietary algorithm acclimate pHin to its water environment and leverage data continuously taken in the water to improve chemical dosing instructions over time. With the monitoring subscription, users can view historical charts of their water conditions and share data with their pool technician or retail store.

The pHin app user interface has been refreshed, and provides easy-to-read, color-coded guides regarding water status. Through the app, pHin users receive alerts directly on their smartphone about their water quality and temperature, with actionable chemical dosing instructions. The next generation pHin model features a growing list of compatible chemicals for chlorine, saltwater, or bromine pools and hot tubs. Users can scan or select the chemical brand of their choice from the supported chemical database of over 60 brands, including poolife®, Applied Biochemists®, BioGuard, E-Z CLOR®, Pool Breeze®, SHOCK-IT®, and more; the full list is available here.

“The height of the swim season is here, and families need to know that their water is safe for everything from a morning swim, to relaxation, and fun and games,” said pHin Co-Founder Justin Miller. “We designed pHin to take the guesswork out of maintenance, and we’ve continued to evolve the pHin experience to reduce the time spent on pool and hot tub care. With increased reliability and more compatible chemicals, pHin’s algorithm and intelligence is the easiest way to maintain safe swimming water this year.”

Enhancements to pHin also include connection to local retailers, where users can select their local pool store of choice and add chemicals to their shopping cart right from the app for easy pickup.

pHin is $349 U.S. MSRP, and available for order on Amazon and phin.co, as well as at local retailers.

To learn more about pHin visit phin.co.

Kill Power: A Smarter Way to Measure Pool & Hot Tub Water Chemistry

Most pool and hot tub owners set a weekly schedule to measure and balance their water, requiring test strips, tables, interpretation, and calculation before chemical dosage. But the pHin team developed a smarter way to measure, they call it “Kill Power.”

Rather than measuring the specific levels or parts per million (PPM) of the sanitizer that is in the water, a Kill Power rating is an analysis that focuses on ORP (oxidation-reduction potential) that shows how effectively the sanitizer is doing its job, for chlorine, bromine and saltwater sanitizers.

Proper ORP levels are important for understanding the effectiveness of your chemicals. OPR sensors within the pool and hot tub water will have a voltage created between them from the electrons in the water, measuring the ORP reading. If the chemicals aren’t bonding properly, sanitizers become less effective. When ORP is low, the chlorine has a hard time keeping up with the bather load and additional adjustments are needed to get the pool balanced.

When ORP is high, the water’s cyanuric acid levels are also high which is the number one factor that can prevent sanitizer from working effectively. Factoring ORP levels in overall pool and hot tub water readings allows for a detailed analysis of the cleanliness of the water and its ability to break down contaminants.

How pHin measures “Kill Power”

pHin constantly measures the pH, sanitizer, and temperature of pool, hot tub, and swim spa water. Kill Power is measured electronically through the pHin monitor’s sensors, and is used as a factor when calculating chemical dosage recommendations that users see in the app.

When taking measurements, pHin analyzes the ORP level of the water to make sure the sanitizer is doing its job to keep your pool safe. pHin has built-in algorithms that analyze the water samples over time. With this data, pHin simplifies the chemical dosing process for pool and hot tub owners by providing easy to understand chemical instructions for balancing the water.

pHin factors your pool or hot tub’s Kill Power/ORP level into all measurements and makes it easy to read with a color-coded system, so you can always know whether your pool or hot tub is safe. 

For accurate pool and hot tub water readings, check out pHin on Amazon.

Why and How Do We Shock Our Pools?

Seasoned pool owners know shocking is important to water care. When new pool owners research maintenance tips, they quickly find the advice: “Shock your pool. Shock your pool. Shock your pool.”

But, why do we shock?  

Regular pool shocks are critical to keeping the water safe, and to maintaining balanced water.

The main reason you need to shock is to get rid of the chloramines in the pool, which can be responsible for eye irritation and an ammonia smell. Shocking is an extra boost to burn off of bacteria so that the free chlorine can do its job.

Chlorine or bromine sanitizers can get overworked and need to be removed from the pool. This could be after a heavy rainstorm, lots of kids in the pool, or a pool party. Using a non-chlorine shock is the first step to eliminating bacteria, and doesn’t disrupt your chlorine or bromine levels, so your water can remain balanced.

How do you shock?

  • Check the label: If you have shock for a chlorine pool, carefully read the instructions to know how long the manufacturer recommends waiting before you can swim.
  • Set a schedule: Shocking your pool should be done each week – and it can be as simple as tossing a pod in the water. There are many brands that offer shock, so find what works best for your pool, or consult a local pool retailer or service technician.
  • Pick a time: Shock your pool when it’s not going to be occupied. These chemicals aren’t stabilized, so you may have to stay out of the water for at least a few hours to let the shock spread and start working, depending on the type of shock you’re using. Evenings or late afternoons work, or if you’re not a morning swimmer, maybe your shock can be in the morning.

In addition to pool shocking, make sure you check your pool water balance regularly. The right water balance keeps your pool safe to jump in anytime, and it can be simple. Pool experts created the pHin Smart Monitor, a system that measures your pool water chemistry, sends you alerts, and helps with chemical dosing. 

Need more pool know-how? Check out our Pool Chemicals 101 guide.

4 Reasons to Love Smart Water Care with pHin

The pHin Smart Monitor makes pool, hot tub, and swim spa water care easy.

pHin puts the power of technology, internet connectivity, and built-in analysis into the palm of your hands with the smartphone app and real-time alerts. Our pHin pool and hot tub owners have shared their success stories; here’s why they love pHin:

1.       Peace of Mind

Pools, swim spas, and hot tubs are a place for fun and relaxation. But the dangers of green water, hot tub rash, and bacteria build-up can make water care stressful. pHin takes the guesswork out of water care by simplifying the routine for bromine, chlorine, or saltwater hot tubs and pools with instant alerts and dosing instructions. With pHin floating, families can have peace of mind knowing whether their water is safe for swimming anytime.

2.       Instant alerts

pHin sends real-time information and notifications about your water balance through the app. When you’re heading home from work and want to jump in the hot tub, you can quickly check whether you need any chemicals, and what the temperature is.

3.       A chemist at your fingertips

New pool owner Aaron Richardson tried pHin when his pool needed daily scrubbing to keep from turning green. “I can read tables and do math, but the traditional pool care process is overcomplicated.” He bought pHin for help with chemical dosing, and right away the monitor changed his pool care routine: “When we started with pHin, it told us everything we needed to do, including shocking.” pHin calculates how much of each chemical to add to balance the water with no guesswork. Read more about Aaron’s experience with pHin here.

4.       Water data and “Kill Power”

pHin tests water chemistry differently. Instead of telling you how much chlorine is in the water, for example, it gives a “Kill Power” rating — an analysis of how the chemicals are working against bacteria. With the pHin Monitoring Subscription, you can also track your pool or hot tub over time, with water history charts and shareable data for in-person help from experts.

Have your own water care success story with pHin? Share with us on Twitter or Facebook.

What is Total Alkalinity and Total Hardness?

Maintaining balanced pool and hot tub water requires a lot of attention and education about the different chemicals and their importance in keeping water safe for swimming. pool or hot tub owners (or future owners) will hear a lot about “total alkalinity” and “total hardness”, two key factors that affect water chemistry

But why are they important? The pHin experts break it down:

What is Total Alkalinity?

Total Alkalinity is the total concentration of dissolved carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides and cyanurates present in the water.

Alkalinity acts as a pH buffer in pools and hot tubs, adding a layer of armor that absorbs fluctuations and keeps your pool chemistry stable. Water with a high alkalinity level can decrease the water’s acidity causing cloudiness, lime precipitation, calcium deposits, and make adjusting pH more difficult.

How to Manage Total Alkalinity

Test the total alkalinity of your pool once per week. If the alkalinity is high, read the instructions on your chemical of choice (sodium bisulphate or muriatic acid) and carefully and measure it out. If alkalinity is low, there are two ways to increase the level: sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or any type of alkalinity increaser product — be sure to purchase a product made from sodium bicarbonate. When distributing chemicals, add the increaser or decreaser in either the deep end of your pool or where the water return distributes.

These chemicals can cause irritation, so don’t touch the water for at least six hours. Then, retest the pool’s total alkalinity; if it’s still too high or low, re-treat the water again as needed and continue that process every six hours.

What is Total Hardness?

Total hardness refers to how much calcium is dissolved in the water. The level of hardness should be maintained between 200 and 400 ppm.

Water hardness varies based on region, so, if your water is regularly hard then you’ll have to drain your pool once or twice a year. Fresh water can then be added to get the water back in balance. A hardness reducer can also be used to soften water levels.

How to Manage Total Hardness

If your calcium hardness is above 400 ppm, you’ll need to drain a portion of your pool or hot tub and add fresh water. This helps to lower levels because calcium-rich water is pumped out and replaced with tap water during the refill. If your calcium hardness is too low, it can be increased by adding calcium chloride from your local pool retailer. If you want to take the hassle out of pool and hot tub care, consider pHin. It floats in the water and keeps an eye on pH, sanitizer, and temperature (more than 1000x/week!) as well as total hardness, total alkalinity, and cyanuric acid. With the app, it sends alerts whenever your water needs balancing so you’re always ready for safe swimming.

3 Steps to Stress-free Pool Care with pHin

 There are many perks to having a pool– relaxation and pool parties, or a nice après-ski soak. New pool owners might not realize the challenges of ongoing maintenance required to keep the water clean, healthy, and ready for a good time, so we’ve rounded up some essential pieces of pool maintenance advice to help you manage your water.

Pool-care professionals recommend measuring your water chemistry at least once a week. If neglected, getting your pool or hot tub water balanced again can be a frustrating task that costs both time and money.

 A smart water care system like pHin helps take care of this task while taking the stress out of managing your pool or hot tub, with three easy steps:

1. Constant Water Monitoring

Most people check their water levels once a week or just before they hop in the pool but water chemistry is easily affected by how much you use your pool or hot tub, how many people are using it, the weather (especially rain and heat), water temperature, sunlight, and several other factors. The lag between water checkups can create an unhealthy water situation. Since weather and water temperature are always changing, it’s best to test your pool water as often as possible to make sure you have an accurate picture of its overall water quality. Between raising a family, working, and other tasks, it’s difficult for most people to consistently test their pool water more than once per week, which is why a smart water monitor like pHin is the best alternative.

Once you drop pHin in the water, it automatically starts measuring pH, sanitizer, and temperature levels — over 1,000 times every week! The daily measurements are collected and analyzed with the monitor’s built-in intelligence to show you the status of your water health at any time, along with an easy-to-understand guide that will notify you whether your water is safe for swimming, needs chemicals to be balanced, or is unsafe.

2. Automatic Alerts

With smart technology in the pool, you’ll always know the status of your pool water. The pHin app gives you information about the water balance and temperature while sending you app alerts letting you know when you need to adjust your chemicals. Knowing the status of your water at any time can help you ensure that your pool or hot tub is always jump-in ready. It also helps you with easy steps to set unbalanced water right – continue to step three to read how!

3. Chemical Instructions

pHin is your personal pool and hot tub water expert. Instead of having to learn the charts, tables, and measurements for proper water chemistry yourself, pHin analyzes your water quality and provides easy instructions to get balanced water. It works with most major retail chemicals and uses its built-in analytics to give you precise dosing instructions for balanced water based on the chemical brand you use, your pool system, and your pool size.  All you have to do is follow the instructions and check in to see your water status on the app. Whether you’re a new pool owner or you’re looking to manage your existing hot tub or pool water, you can get the full benefits with smart monitoring from pHin.

What’s Humidity Control? How to Manage an Indoor Pool or Hot Tub

Routine maintenance is a necessity for pool enjoyment. Aside from keeping your pool jump-in-ready, maintenance also extends its longevity and can help reduce maintenance costs. Indoor pools or natatoriums pose an extra challenge for maintenance, requiring special attention to the environment the humidity produces.

Indoor pools produce water vapor that is dense with chlorine, which is an aggressive substance. When chlorine is added to the water of an indoor pool, it not only targets bacteria and other minerals, but also attacks building materials through condensation, causing corrosion to metal and other structural damages within the building and pool. If you don’t monitor or manage the humidity of your indoor pool or spa, you can end up with an uncomfortable, dirty and unhealthy body of water.

So, let’s figure out what humidity control is and how you can manage it effectively.

Why Humidity Control Is Important for Indoor Pools

1.      Humidity control ensures the stability of the pool and building

Too much humidity can create pools of water on the floor, or condensation on walls and ceilings that could cause expensive repairs such as wood rot, mold or mildew outbreaks, or rust structural elements. Water vapor can also seep into electrical equipment and cause malfunctions to occur.

2.      Humidity control preserves the life of your natatorium

Because humidity creates so many risks to the physical elements of your natatorium, it can shorten the lifespan of your indoor pool or spa and lead to ongoing and expensive repairs. Managing humidity is a preventive maintenance exercise that can extend your natatorium’s lifespan and potentially reduce costs.

 3.      Humidity control creates a healthy environment

Optimizing your humidity levels also ensures the health and comfort of the air in your natatorium. If mold or mildew outbreaks occur, they can create unpleasant odors and even cause respiratory health issues for people, especially those with allergies or asthma.

4.      Humidity control reduces the overall costs of your indoor pool

Natatoriums pull in outside air to help stabilize the environment, at the cost of ongoing energy usage and costs. A dehumidifier controls the room humidity and air temperature, stabilizing the environment around the indoor pool and retaining as much of the perfectly balanced air as possible. This results in the decreased use of outside air and the energy used to heat or cool the air.

How to Monitor and Manage Humidity

1.      Check for Moisture

The first signs that the humidity level is too high are moisture pooling on the floors or windows and condensation on ceilings and walls. You can also look for signs of rust or wood damage. Any overflow in your drain pan indicates that you may have a blockage in your drain system, which can create higher levels of moisture in the air.

2.      Install a Good Dehumidifier

To get the most from modern dehumidifiers, maintain a two-degree difference between air (higher) and water (lower) temperatures and maintain a 50- to 60 percent relative humidity (RH). For example, a common indoor pool setup is 84°F  in air temperature, 82°F water temperature with 60 percent RH. If the air temperature is decreased by even two degrees, overall humidity increases by roughly 35 percent, which could exceed the dehumidifier capacity.

Most modern dehumidifiers run similarly to full HVAC machines, capable of heating and cooling the air and using compressor heat recovery to heat the water. Dehumidifier compressors run at least 10 minutes at a time, while the air blowers within dehumidifiers generally run 24/7 to offset pool evaporation. You’ll need to have monthly or bi-monthly air-filter replacements and regular maintenance from an HVAC pro to keep your dehumidifier up and running. If you notice any unusual sounds or issues coming from your dehumidifier, notify your service contractor immediately.

 3.      Create an Effective Ventilation System

Hopefully your natatorium was designed with proper windows, ducting, and vents to pull the moist air out of the room and keep the conditioned air in the area. Ventilation systems should push out 10% more air than they pull in to reduce the risk of creating a seal in the room which holds in the moisture and starts to create damage and discomfort. You can quickly check your air pressure by opening the door to the room. If you feel air coming in, you’re in good shape. If the air is sucked out the door, you need to make some adjustments.

Humidity Control Is Critical For Indoor Pools

Humidity control in swimming pool areas can save you time and money, and increase your enjoyment. Controlling moisture around indoor pools can help protect the pool environment from potential health hazards. Humidity can impact the pH levels of your indoor pool or hot tub so it’s important to check the pH levels consistently.

To keep an extra eye on your pool’s water quality, a smart water monitor like pHin makes it easy. Floating in the water, it constantly monitors your water and sends notifications to  your smartphone letting you know what to do to keep the water in your pool or hot tub balanced.

Healthier and Happier: 3 Ways A Pool Can Help You Reach New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the time of year to start thinking about resolutions for the New Year. Many are taking the wellness track this year, or making resolutions inspired by what you believe will make you healthier and happier.

Usually, our resolutions are ambitious, ranging from losing a few pounds with diet and exercise to writing a novel, learning to play the guitar, or backpacking through Thailand. Often, our best efforts last a few weeks and taper off. But pool owners are lucky – there are four simple ways to achieve wellness in the New Year:

1. Exercise

If you have weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle goals, your pool can help you reach them. Set a schedule for swimming laps a few days a week: Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that improves muscle tone, cardiovascular health, and overall energy. The quiet rhythm of your strokes also provides peace of mind that can be meditative and rejuvenating. If swimming isn’t your thing, water aerobics offers many of the same benefits. It can even become a group activity for the family!

2. Enjoy

Make the resolution to enjoy your pool, spa, or hot tub more regularly. All too often, people get bogged down by life and perceived maintenance hassles and end up not soaking up all the fun and relaxation they work hard to get from their pool. Here are a few ways to take advantage:

●                   Take a dip with friends and family

●                   Relax on a lounge chair by the pool and read a book

●                   Host a pool wine night

●                   Invite friends over for hot tub games

●                   Plan a neighborhood pool party

●                   Enjoy a sunrise yoga session, poolside

3. Entertain

Most pool owners want to share the fun with their friends and family. Before you get busy opening your pool this spring, break out your calendar and plan a few weekends for small pool parties or mark down milestones like graduations, birthdays, Father’s Day, and other events for poolside fun with friends. Planning ahead will ensure things go smoothly, and you’ll have time to prepare all the fixings for a great time. Impromptu pool parties can be the most fun, so it’s a good idea to make sure your pool is always prepped and ready for a good time.

Enjoying your pool more shouldn’t come with more work. There are ways to make pool care more efficient, like a smart water monitor like pHin, which automatically measure your pool’s pH, sanitizer, and temperature over 1,000 times every week and guide you through making adjustments with the chemicals you choose. Devices like these make pool care more efficient, with less time spent reading charts and more time enjoying the water.

No matter what your New Year’s resolutions are, spending more time in your pool will certainly make the coming year healthier and happier.

Pool Chemicals 101: What You Need To Know

When you first decide to get a pool, you’re thinking about the fun you’ll have: pool parties, kids frolicking, swimming laps in the morning. Unfortunately, once you fill your pool up with water you can’t just “set it and forget it.”

Pools tend to grow algae and get dirty from the chemicals and skin cells from all those swimmers, plus debris and other natural contaminants can also cloud the water and create an unswimmable, bacteria-infested environment. The last thing you want is to go for a pleasant dip and find that the water is too dirty and might even make you and your friends or family ill.

Sometimes it seems like you need a degree in chemistry to make sure your pool chemicals are perfectly balanced. Not true. It doesn’t have to be hard to make sure your pool is always clean, safe and ready for a good time. Once you understand the basics of pool chemicals and maintenance, it becomes easier and less time-consuming to make sure your pool is balanced and swimmable, especially if you have a smart water monitoring system to help.

It’s important to check your chemicals often and to perform regular maintenance. Why? One: You won’t have the long-term issues like algae blooms or bacterial infections that might create health issues for you and your swimmers. Two: You’ll avoid issues that might require draining and refilling your pool, or even more serious repairs that are expensive and will have your pool out of commission for a long time. Three: Your pool will always be ready and waiting for you to dive in and enjoy.

This overview of pool chemical basics will help any new pool owner as well as those with years of experience owning and maintaining their pools. The basic chemicals you need to monitor and adjust are:

●       Pool Sanitizers: Chlorine and Bromine

●       Algaecides

●       pH Balancers

●       Alkalinity Balancers

●       Hardness Balancers

●       Pool Shock

Don’t worry! It may seem like a lot to manage but we make keeping track of your pool’s chemical balance simple and easy.

What are pool sanitizers and why do you need them?

What do pool sanitizers do?

Pool sanitizers combine with bacteria, viruses, algae and other natural contaminants in your pool to neutralize (destroy) them. The two most popular pool sanitizers are chlorine and bromine. Sanitizers are the most important pool chemical, but it’s important to know that they work best when all of the other levels in your pool — alkaline, pH and calcium hardness — are balanced as well.

What is the difference between chlorine and bromine?

Chlorine neutralizes bacteria and viruses by attaching to them and changing their chemical profile. Once this happens, the chlorine is no longer effective, but the contaminants are gone.

Chlorine comes in a granule form which you can drop right in the pool. Granular chlorine has to be added to your pool  and tested  almost daily so it’s a little more time-intensive to manage.

Chlorine also comes in 1-inch or 3-inch tablets which can be administered using a floating chlorine dispenser, through the pool skimmer, or through an automatic chlorinator. These methods guarantee a more consistent distribution of the pool sanitizer and are also less labor intensive, especially if you have a smart pool monitor that will send you alerts about your current chemical levels if and when they get out of balance.

Chlorine 101:

●       The ideal target balance for chlorine is 3ppm (parts per million). If you are under 3ppm, your pool is probably starting to become a petri dish. Anything more than 3ppm, and you probably need to dilute the chemicals in your water.

●       Most brands of chlorine are pretty similar. If you’re looking for a reason to buy one over another, check the “active ingredients” list which is what actually works to destroy the bacteria. 

●       Weekly pool shocks are required with chlorine to clear the pool.

Bromine is similar to chlorine, but it tends to work better in pools, spas and hot tubs that run at warmer temperatures. Bromine is a great option for people whose skin is sensitive to chlorine, although it is actually chlorine-based, in case you have anyone who is allergic to chlorine.

Bromine can be more expensive than chlorine; however, bromine actually ionizes the bacteria and viruses and then continues to work, unlike chlorine, so it does last longer. Bromine comes in tablets and must be administered using a chemical dispenser.

Bromine 101:

●       The ideal target balance for bromine is between 3ppm (parts per million) and 5ppm.

●       Weekly pool shocks are required with bromine to clear the pool.

●       Bromine does not add cyanuric acid or chlorine to the water.

●       Bromine is less stable than chlorine when exposed to the sun, so you need to make sure you are constantly checking your pool chemical levels.

What are algaecides and why do you need them?

What do algaecides do?

If, or when, you see your pool looking a little cloudy and green (green pool water is a warning sign, but it can also be  yellow, blue, or black) it’s time to worry about algae. Sometimes you can spot an algae outbreak before it shows in the pool water by checking the water line, the corners of the pool and stairs for discoloration. It’s important to keep an eye out for algae in your pool as it can cause bacterial skin infections or even injuries due to slips and scrapes from a slimy surface. You want to jump into a crystal clear pool, right?!

There are several types of algae that can infest your pool; green algae is the most common and black algae is the hardest to remove. Algaecides stop algae from growing in your pool and prevent outbreaks from happening. It’s much easier and more efficient  to use the right pool chemicals during regular maintenance to prevent an outbreak rather than to try to use algaecides to cure an algae outbreak in your pool. Most algaecides are based on copper sulfates or copper chelates which stop the algae from growing. Copper-based algae treatments may stain your pool — so make sure to check before you purchase.

Algaecides 101:

●       Monitor your pool’s chemical levels constantly. A smart pool water management system, like pHin, can help you make sure that your chemical levels are balanced to help avoid an algae outbreak.

●       Make sure that your pool circulation is functioning correctly: Stagnant water is a breeding ground for algae.

●       Brush the waterline of your pool regularly to make sure that algae isn’t breeding at the surface of your pool.

●       Shock your pool. Shock your pool. Shock your pool. This should be a weekly ritual if you want to ensure healthy, swimmable water for you, your family and friends.

●       Mustard and black algae are not impacted by chlorine so you will need an algaecide to treat those conditions.

What are pH balancers and why do you need them?

What do pH balancers do?

pH balancers maintain a healthy pH range in your pool, critical to its overall health and functionality. If your pH gets too high or too low, swimmers will experience eye irritation or other skin discomforts. It can also corrode your pool tiles and damage your pumps and other expensive pool systems. Plus, if your pH is not within the correct range, your pool sanitizer and other chemical levels will be less effective.

A pool’s pH level is extremely sensitive. Anything that comes in contact with your pool — leaves, bugs,  popsicles, sunscreen, beer, kids — will affect it. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to maintain your pH levels with consistent monitoring. Keep a pH increaser and a pH decreaser in your stockpile of pool chemical management tools.

pH balancers 101:

●       To keep your pool at the best, most effective pH level, readings  should be between 7.2 to 7.6. Use a smart pool monitoring device that checks these levels constantly every day and sends an alert to your mobile device letting you know if you need to make any adjustments.

●                   Alkalinity and pH are yin and yang. You need to make sure they’re both in the right zone in order to maintain your overall pool chemistry.

●                   7 is a neutral zone for your pool’s pH. Anything below 7 will be acidic. Anything over 7 indicates that it is too alkaline. If your pool is over or under, you’ll need to add acid or alkaline to get back in balance.

What are alkalinity balancers and why do you need them?

What do alkalinity balancers do?

Alkalinity balancers are used to maintain a safe total alkalinity range for a comfortable swimming experience. Alkalinity acts as a buffer or a shield for pH levels so if your levels are off, you need to adjust for the alkalinity first and sometimes the pH will correct itself.

Alkalinity 101:

●       The recommended level for alkalinity is 125 ppm, but anywhere in the 100 – 150ppm range should be acceptable.

●       Make sure you have an alkalinity increaser in your chemical kit just in case. There is no such thing as a chemical decreaser but a pH decreaser will lower both pH and alkalinity.

What are calcium hardness balancers and why do you need them?

What do calcium hardness balancers do?

You’ve heard of hard and soft water, right? The “hardness” of your water is based on how much calcium is in the water. This is totally dependent on where you live and what source you use to fill your pool. If your calcium level is too low, it can corrode your pool systems, equipment and plumbing. If the calcium level is too high and you have a plaster or tile/mason pool, it will damage the interior of the pool. Either way, nobody wants to replace expensive pool infrastructure because they didn’t monitor the calcium hardness level of their pool so it’s an important chemical level to check regularly.

Calcium Hardness 101:

●       The ideal targets for calcium are 80-150ppm in a vinyl pool and 150-200ppm in a concrete, plaster or tile pool.

●       If your calcium levels are off, check your alkalinity first, then address your pH levels. If those adjustments don’t fix the issue, there are some more advanced tools and chemicals you can use to correct the calcium hardness.

●       Check your calcium levels regularly. This is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked, steps to extending the longevity of your pool.

What is a pool shock and why is it so important?

What does a pool shock do?

Pool shocks clean your pool when its sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) is overworked and needs to have the remnants removed from the pool, which is why regular pool shocks are so critical. You may want to shock or superchlorinate your pool after specific events as well like a heavy rain storm, a big pool party, or a few small children who may or may not have accidents! Shocking your pool on a weekly basis with non-chlorine shock eliminates bacteria without shifting your chlorine levels and goes a long way towards keeping it balanced.

 Pool Shock 101:

●       Shock your pool every week. EVERY WEEK. A smart water monitoring system will remind you to shock your pool so it’s always ready and waiting for you to have fun.

●       Pool shock chemicals aren’t stabilized, so it’s best to shock your pool in the late afternoon or evening. Make sure to run the pump for several hours to make sure the chemicals are spread evenly and working.

●       If you use a chlorine-based pool shock, make sure you know how long the manufacturer recommends to wait before allowing swimmers into the pool.

Pool chemical testing and why is it so important?

So, you’re not a chemist — although you might be starting to feel like one! But you are a pool owner. Now that you know the basics of pool chemicals, balance and the importance of keeping your pool at the right chemical levels, you know that measuring chemical levels is the first and most important step. If you don’t know the status of your pool’s chemical levels, you won’t know how to correct and get back in balance.

You can use test strips at home, or take a water sample to your local pool store to determine what you need to adjust at any given time but that can be time-consuming, annoying and frustrating. There are now digital pool test kits like pHin that will automatically check your pool water 24/7 and send you alerts if anything needs to be adjusted so all you have to do is fix what’s broken… and enjoy your pool!