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!

The Ultimate Pool Opening and Closing Checklist

Opening and closing a swimming pool can be a challenge — even for a veteran pool owner. It’s easy to forget tasks, so we recommend having a checklist of all your pool opening and closing must-dos to avoid finding yourself scrambling to get everything done.

To save time, use our pool care checklist:

How To Open Your Pool:

●             Remove the pool cover. First, clear off any debris that has accumulated on the cover using a broom or leaf blower. To keep it clean year-round, plan to use your hose, a pool brush, and some dish soap to scrub the cover every three to six months to increase the lifespan of your cover and ensure that it continues to protect your pool from debris.

●             Vacuum and clean your pool. If you have a very dirty pool, the best option is to use a manual pool vacuum, or there are adapters available for ShopVacs. For pools that are in good, clean condition, automatic pool cleaners are a great option. There are a few different types of automatic pool cleaners, suction side cleaners, pressure side vacuums, and robotic cleaners, each picking up different size debris. After it’s vacuumed, scrub the water line to remove any calcium build-up and stains.

●             Refresh and fill your water. There is a lot of debate about if — and how often — you should replace the water in your pool. We recommend checking your water level and chemical balance when you open the pool. If you properly manage your chemical levels and follow regular maintenance rules, you shouldn’t have to completely replace the water, just simply add water when levels get low. When you open your pool, check your pH and total alkalinity before and after you bring the pool back to its full water level. The chemical densities will change along with the water level so it’s important to make sure that you are monitoring levels in real time. An automated smart water monitoring system like pHin by Hayward makes it incredibly easy to get accurate measurements so you can tweak your chemicals while you refill your pool for the season.

●             Test and adjust chemical levels. Whether you use chlorine, bromine, or saltwater, you must test the pH and alkaline levels before swimming. You could take samples and test manually — but if you want to make it easy, a smart water monitor will do the work for you. A smart water monitor like pHin tests your chemical levels over 1,000 times per week and sends an alert to your phone when you need to make an adjustment. You’ll always know when you need to add chemicals, balance or shock your pool so it’s ready to enjoy the minute you are.

How To Close Your Pool

●             Lower the water level. Reduce the amount of water in your pool during the off-season to avoid problems with groundwater and freezing temperatures. The amount of water you drain will depend on winter temperatures where you live and the type of pool you have. If you live in a colder climate, you should drain the water 4 to 6 inches below the tile line in order to avoid the risk of damage from frozen water. If you’re in a milder climate, you just need to make sure the pool water temperature is below 65 degrees to avoid algae growth, but you probably don’t need to drain any water.

●             Test and adjust chemical levels. Before you close your pool for the winter, check and adjust all of your chemicals so you don’t end up with a complicated science experiment when you’re ready to start using your pool in the spring. Check your pH, water hardness and alkalinity and make sure they’re in the correct range.

●                   pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6

●                   Water hardness should be between 175 and 225

●                   Alkalinity should be between 80 and 125 ppm.

●             Check and clean filters. Making sure that your filters are clean and functional helps ensure that your pool is clean and safe. Filters help remove debris, dirt, calcium, and oils that can make your pool water cloudy and dirty, but they need to be cleaned regularly to function properly. Clean filters in the spring and the fall for safe water, and this will also help preserve the lifespan of your pool equipment, pumps, and filtration systems. There are different types of filters and the method for cleaning each is a little different but having clean filters will help ensure that your pool is clean and also helps the chemicals maintain proper balance.

Learning how to open and close a pool is a challenge for many pool owners, but smart pool owners use tools that make it easier. We hope that this checklist and the pHin Smart Monitor make opening and closing easier so you can enjoy your pool!

pHin Doubles Scannable Chemical Database

Pools, hot tubs, and swim spas are meant to be enjoyed, but it also  can take a lot of work to keep their water clean and safe. Water chemistry can be confusing but the pHin Smart Monitor provides an easy way to make pool and hot tub care more fun, with less work.

pHin has helped thousands of families by taking the guesswork out of water care so they can just have fun enjoy their pools and hot tubs. pHin floats in the water, measuring temperature, pH, and sanitizer levels over 1,000 times per week. With pHin’s monitoring subscription, alerts and our three-color notification system makes pool and hot tub care easy to understand. A blue disc indicates balanced water, orange advises that the water is safe for swimming but needs attention, and red cautions that the water is not safe and needs chemicals.

When the water needs to be balanced, the pHin gives specific dosing recommendations. Users get detailed instructions on the chemicals they need to add to their water, whether it’s bromine, saltwater, or chlorine. The system also works with hundreds of chemical brands so families can choose what’s right for their pool or hot tub.

The pHin team is always working hard to improve the experience, and we’ve just doubled the number of scannable chemicals in our database! pHin users can check out the new chemical brands added including Poolife, hth, and Leisure Time directly from their app. It’s easy to select which chemicals to use by simply scanning the chemical’s barcode or from a drop-down list. See the full list of supported chemicals here.

pHin is the proven path to easier water care.

Rookie Pool Owner Solves the Water Care Equation with pHin

With pHin, a Texas family went from having green to crystal-clear pool water with less than half the work.

Experienced pool and hot tub owners know that it’s easy for water to get off balance. Whether from a heavy rainfall or a missed dose of shock, keeping a pool safe for swimming is an important chore. But new, inexperienced pool owners can mistakenly end up with green water if they’re relying only on complicated test strips and charts.

Aaron Richardson quickly learned the challenges of pool water care when he rented a Texas home with a 13,000 gallon pool. The owner provided basic pool care instructions: Throw two tablets in the skimmer and check the water quality weekly with color test strips. After following the original instructions to the letter, Aaron’s pool water quickly turned green. “I can read tables and do math, but the traditional pool care process is overcomplicated,” said Aaron.

Texas summers are hot. Not only was Aaron’s family unable to cool down with a swim, but he also had to scrub the pool each day in 103 degree heat. “We looked at getting a pool service, but it was expensive at about $1,200,” said Aaron. His family also needed a less  time-consuming alternative that would help them keep the water safe for swimming. Seeking a cost-effective solution, Aaron found the pHin Smart Monitor while searching online. The $350 device is Wi-Fi connected and designed to float in the pool — taking over 1,000 measurements a week. Paired with the subscription service, pHin measures sanitizer, temperature, and pH levels in the pool water, sending results and dosage instructions to the user on the pHin smartphone app.

“When we started with pHin, it told us everything we needed to do, including shocking,” commented Aaron. Instead of relying on traditional test strips and complicated charts, Aaron used the exact chemical doses from pHin. Once starting with the instructions, he was able to quickly balance the pool water. “After the first few dosing instructions, I went from scrubbing the pool every day to between ten days to two weeks.”

pHin helped make the difference whether it was pool chores or pool parties. At the end of the summer, Aaron’s family planned a Labor Day pool party for their family and friends. To prepare, a simple check on the pHin app showed that the water quality was “in the blue” — perfect for swimming. The pHin Smart Monitor also made it easy for Aaron to check the water balance after the party, simply adding the prescribed chemicals as needed. Instead of spending time with test strips and complicated charts, pHin makes dosage easy and manageable in Aaron’s day-to-day life, “I can even toss shock in while I’m walking out to my car,” he said.

 

Since using pHin for pool care, Aaron can relax and enjoy a swim after work instead of scrubbing the pool. “I’m a new pool user, and it couldn’t be easier to use pHin,” he said. “After pHin, I had a crystal clear pool with much less effort.”

To learn about the pHin Smart Monitor, visit phin.co.

How Brushing Your Pool or Hot Tub Interior Surfaces Weekly Saves You Time and Money

It can be a long and difficult process to maintain and clean a pool. While most people remember to perform such necessary tasks as removing debris, emptying skimmer baskets, or cleaning tiles, brushing the pool is a job that often gets forgotten if you don’t use a pool cleaning service. Sweeping may seem like an unimportant task, but it needs to be done on a regular basis for both aesthetic and sanitary purposes. If you do not regularly and consistently brush the interior surface of your pool or spa, it may lead to issues down the road. Read on to see how brushing your pool or hot tub interior surfaces weekly saves you time and money.

Why Is Brushing So Important?

Brushing your pool is one of the most important aspects of pool maintenance, yet a surprising number of pool owners don’t do it. Much like brushing your teeth, brushing your pool is meant to prevent, not solve issues. By consistently brushing your swimming pool’s interior surface, you prevent algae buildup, remove dirt particles, and smooth the surface to ensure a long lasting finish. Also, brushing your pool is a major contributor to proper circulation, as it breaks up debris, biofilms such as pink slime, white water mold, and other microorganisms, introducing them into the water and your filtration system.

How Often Should I Brush?

You should brush the walls, ladders, steps, and corners of your pool at least once a week. To prevent any lurking algae formations, make sure to get into every nook and cranny your brush can reach. It is also important to make sure that your brush’s bristles are in good shape. Over time, the sunlight causes them to deteriorate, sending errant bristles into your filtration system or causing you to miss spots. Not brushing your pool or hot tub at least weekly allows algae and other bio-films to build up along its interior surface. If you already have an algae buildup in your pool, you need to treat the problem; brushing will not solve it.

How to Brush Effectively

Brushing a pool is truly a simple process. Even if you hire a professional cleaning service, if they come only once a week, you still need to brush weekly yourself.

Start with a nylon pool brush, or one made of stainless steel and nylon, providing the pool’s interior surface is of a cementitious finish. Do not leave the brush out in the sun, as this reduces its lifespan significantly. Properly storing your pool care tools protects them from the elements and ensures they enjoy a long life.

Attach the brush to your telepole and run it along the surfaces of your pool’s walls, steps, and benches. You don’t need to apply a great deal of force, but you do need to use firm pressure. Begin at the top of the tile line and push straight down. Work your way completely around the pool in this manner, always moving toward the drain.

If you use an automatic pool cleaning system, you do not need to brush the floor every time you brush the walls, although it never hurts. However, you should brush the entire surface at least every six to eight weeks, even if you have an automatic cleaner.

Saving Time and Money

Regularly brushing your pool and hot tub prevents algae and mineral buildup that may cause damage in the long run. Taking care of widespread algae growth costs far more time and money than a weekly brushing, and severe growth may require completely draining the pool to take care of the issue. With effective brushing and properly balancing the chemicals, you save yourself the time, effort, and money required by more intensive cleaning methods.

Keep it Clean

Brushing the interior surfaces of your swimming pool keeps it clean, healthy, and smooth. Dirt and mineral buildup doesn’t just keep it from being clean; it can also cause surfaces to become rougher. Make the time to give your pool a thorough brushing every week, particularly if you do not employ a cleaning service. Establishing a weekly routine helps keep your pool and hot tub in tip-top shape, saving you valuable time and resources.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone when you need to take action to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you need someone to service your equipment, try Pool Service on Demand.

Do Pools Need More Chlorine When It’s Hot?

Do Pools Need More Chlorine When It’s Hot? Chlorine is a necessity for keeping your pool clean, free of bacteria, algae and viruses. Without it, your pool water can become murky, green, and even unsafe. However, too much also leads to trouble. To keep pool water safe and clean, chlorine should be maintained within a specific range. Too much chlorine can irritate the skin, eyes, and even lungs, while too little leaves you with a potentially unhealthy pool. What’s more, chemical needs change depending on the time of year, since heat and UV rays affect chlorine. To maintain the proper balance, consider the following factors.

What Is Chlorine Demand?

Pool service technicians measure two types of chlorine: combined chlorine and free chlorine.

  • Combined chlorine is the fraction of the chlorine that has reacted with organic matter, such as ammonia and nitrogen compounds and is, essentially, tied (“combined”) up. When your pool smells like chlorine, generally it is not because there is too much chlorine in the water but rather due to chloramines, the chemical compounds that result when chlorine meets organic material.
  • Free chlorine is the fraction of the chlorine that hasn’t yet reacted with organic matter; it is still able to disinfect the water.

High levels of combined chlorine indicate that there are too many foreign particulates in your pool water and free chlorine is the chlorine that needs to be replenished. It is important to remember that things like heat, increased bather load, and rain or wash-ins increase your chlorine demand.

How Do Heat and Light Affect Chlorine?

Free chlorine isn’t just lost when it interacts with organic matter; it is lost when it interacts with sunlight as well. Chlorine forms hypochlorite ions in water, which break apart when hit by ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine gas into the atmosphere. The light from the sun can reduce pool chlorination by 90 percent in just a few hours. This is why many pool service technicians add a stabilized chlorine and use a chlorine stabilizer when necessary to maintain the conditioner levels.

Temperature also has an effect on chlorine, as some bacteria and organisms grow better in warmer environments. When temperatures increase, it uses up free chlorine more quickly, potentially turning your pool into a swamp.

Rule of Thumb: For every 10-degree Fahrenheit (6 degree Celsius) rise in temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), you should add as much as 50% more chlorine to your pool water to maintain appropriate levels of free chlorine. This is especially true for those hot tubs that are not always covered, as they tend to run warmer.

Adjusting to Meet Chlorine Demand

It can take more than a week for your pool to recover from an algae outbreak or sudden water cloudiness. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help avoid any loss in the use of your pool:

  • Test Water Frequently: When conditions that require more chlorine arise, you will be able to see your sanitizer disappearing when you test the water. You don’t have to be a certified technician or water chemist to be able to test and know the condition of your pool water. Purchase some dip-strips to easily test your water and take care of any algae or cloudiness before it begins.
  • Inform Service Providers of Pool Parties: While an increase in bathers definitely has an impact on your water’s chemicals, you can minimize that impact. Informing your service technician of any plans you may have involving your pool allows your tech to take preventative steps and keep your pool clean and safe. Don’t wait until the last minute to let your service tech know about your upcoming pool party. They need to find time in their schedules to help you get your pool ready in addition to their regular commitments.
  • Monitor the Pool after a Storm: Even light rainfall can dilute your water and offset the chemical balance of the pool. In addition, be on the lookout for anything that might have gotten washed into the pool, such as fertilizer or other lawn / plant chemicals, as well as leaves and debris blown in by the storm. Some of these may actually render your sanitizer or other chemicals ineffective, so be on the lookout.
  • Prevention is Always Easier: It is easier to simply maintain well-balanced pool water than to clean cloudy or green water. Consistent testing and monitoring ensures that your water stays clean and safe to use, whereas ignoring it can leave you without a pool until you or your technician figure out exactly what is going on.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year-round, a pHin smart monitor constantly analyzes the water and automatically sends exactly what you need to keep your pool and hot tub healthy. Do you need someone to service your equipment? Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

How Unhealthy Pool Water Can Spell Disaster for Your Wallet

How Unhealthy Pool Water Can Spell Disaster for Your Wallet

Proper maintenance of your pool or hot tub is fundamental to ensuring the health and safety of those who use it. Avoiding murky water, algae bloom build-up, and pH imbalance is a difficult, and often confusing process. The basic chemical components involved in keeping your water healthy are a sanitizer, pH adjusters, shock and a mineral purifier that prevents algae growth. Additionally, knowing when, where, and how to apply these chemicals to your pool can be a real challenge, especially when there might be eager swimmers waiting to dive in.

Preventative maintenance is particularly important in keeping your pool or hot tub in a healthy state. Neglecting the chemical balance of a pool can be detrimental to its health. Inaction can exacerbate existing water safety issues and lead to extremely high costs associated with remedying the condition of the pool water later on. Abnormally high or low temperatures can further complicate this already arduous process, as compensation for unusual temperature conditions requires additional chemical adjustment. Ultimately, maintaining your pool properly can be a laborious process.

Out-of-Balance Water, Out-of-Pocket Expense

Common pool care mistakes can substantially reduce the lifespan of your pool. According to an CNBC article, they may cut it by as much as 50%! Not to mention the cost to replace the damaged equipment or fix the pool itself. For example, a heater attacked by corrosive, acidic water can cost over $2,000 to replace. Resurfacing your pool can cost $4,000 and more to replace. A pool or hot tub with a high pH can create a scale-forming water condition, which can cause rough surfaces from the mineral deposits coming out of solution and scale deposits building up in the plumbing and equipment. Again, this can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to remedy.

A Well-Maintained Pool Gives You Peace of Mind…And Your Wallet A Break

Typically, pool or hot tub care is a demanding and equally exhausting experience. If not maintained properly, a pool can end up harming swimmers as well as the pool owner’s wallet. Preventative care is necessary to escape the hardship of an unhealthy and imbalanced pool. Luckily, pHin is here to help. pHin monitors your water chemistry and temperature 24/7 so you don’t have to. It notifies your smartphone when action is needed and even tells you how to keep your water perfectly balanced all year long.

pHin chemical subscription members can enjoy the added convenience of single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door so you can only add what you need. Your Starter box comes with the smart monitor, free mobile app, wireless bridge and even a mineral purifier* to reduce the amount of chemicals needed to balance your water. Just the mineral purifier alone retails for over $60. Our pool experts estimate that using the pHin smart water care solution with its unique chemical delivery membership can can help you save 1/3 of your annual cost.**

ORDER YOUR pHin NOW!

*Pool subscription members only.

**Estimate is based on annual pHin monitoring, recommendations and door-to-door chemical delivery for chlorine pools. Your estimated savings will depend on which pHin solution you choose.    

5 Common Swimming Pool Myths

Some swimming pool myths have been around forever. Others are recent additions to the swimming pool mythology oeuvre. Read on to discover five popular swimming pool myths and learn the true story.

  1. Dyes that Reveal Urine

This myth may have come about as a potent form of “wishful thinking.” On the other hand, someone might have noticed a little green cloud following a swimmer, forgetting that elementary school art class taught us that yellow and blue make green. Whatever the reason, this is a persistent myth with no basis in reality. The number of things you can add to your pool that show the presence of urine? Zero. Sorry.

If you hope to discourage peeing in the pool with more than a cute sign, simply schedule frequent bathroom breaks for little ones (and those that are just too lazy). Maintaining proper chemical balance of your pool protects swimmers from the effects of “accidents.”

  1. The Smell of Chlorine Means the Pool Is Clean

Chlorine is the most well known cleaning agent for pools, so the idea that chlorine=clean feels like a solid bet. Unfortunately, chlorine can’t handle some bacteria. These include recreational water illnesses that cause gastrointestinal problems, such as Cryptosporidium. What’s more, the smell of chlorine arises when chlorine contacts the very contaminants it’s used to fight.

Chloramines occur when chlorine meets contaminants introduced by swimmers, such as body oils and sunscreen. The odor of chloramines is potent, meaning that if you smell a strong chlorine scent, your pool probably has too many contaminants. Obviously, this is the opposite of being clean! A faint chlorine smell is fine, but it may be time to call a pool tech if a strong odor persists.

  1. Chlorine Turns Hair Green

Some people notice a green tint to their hair after swimming and blame it on chlorinated water. Your hair may turn green after swimming, but not because of chlorine. No, copper sulfates, such as those found in algaecides, bind to hair proteins, turning them green. It’s more common in lighter hair colors, whether natural or artfully acquired, but can also occur with darker hair.

You can avoid green hair with a few precautions. The easiest is a rinse before getting in the pool, which also protects the pool. Getting hair wet ahead of time seems to help, at least for shorter swims. For extra protection, apply a leave-in conditioner before getting in the water. When swim time ends, rinse your hair thoroughly before lounging in the sun. You can also break out the big guns and apply an acidic product such as vinegar immediately after swimming. If you’re a frequent swimmer and green hair presents a problem, buy a shampoo formulated specifically for swimmers.

  1. Too Much Chlorine Causes Red Eye

Although too much chlorine exposure causes some irritation, such as dry skin and hair, it doesn’t cause red eye, rashes, or swimmer’s ear. The culprit is the same for all of these: bacteria. Do you remember that strong chlorine smell discussed earlier? That’s likely why chlorine gets the blame for redeye. Too many contaminants create those stinky chloramines, releasing that strong chlorine odor. Those same contaminants cause a host of issues for swimmers, including redeye.

The best protection is maintaining proper chemical balance. You may need to shock the pool to get things in order. A day or two before hosting a pool party, and the day after, check your water’s chemicals to make sure they’re still in optimum range. Just in case, rinse off before and after swimming to prevent rashes. Eardrops after swimming prevent swimmer’s ear. Redeye should clear up on its own, thanks to your body’s own pH-balanced salty tears.

  1. Wait an Hour after Eating

My own father swore up and down he almost drowned when he suffered massive body cramps after jumping in right after eating. There are a few reasons for holding off on jumping in the pool after eating. 

Eastern medicine talks about the importance of digestion for optimal health. Digestion diverts blood away from muscles and to the gut. In order to help your body digest and assimilate the foods you take in, it’s in your best interest to avoid swimming shortly after eating. Another possible reason is the fact that a full stomach presses against your diaphragm, which may leave you feeling breathless. It is important to note that we do not advise swimming on a full stomach, even if just for the simple fact that it can be uncomfortable.

However, we’re not aware of any documented cases of drowning due to swimming on a full stomach. If you do experience cramping or other discomfort while in the pool, simply leave the water until you feel better. Seems simple, no?

Maintain with pHin

Wow your guests at your next pool party with these myth-busting facts. To make sure you’re always ready to entertain, a pHin subscription keeps water perfectly balanced year-round. pHin monitors water quality 24/7, and notifies your smartphone when it’s time to add chemicals. Then, we ship you exactly what you need to enjoy carefree swimming, all year.

How to Fix Air Bubbles in Your Pool

The post How to Fix Air Bubbles in Your Pool first appeared on Swim University.

Do you see air bubbles shooting out of the return jets in your swimming pool? It’s a very common problem (especially when you open your pool in the spring), and one that can be easily solved with a few troubleshooting tips.

Air Bubbles in Pool? Why This Happens

Commonly, the air is coming from the suction side of your swimming pool— this means anything before the water enters the filter. There are three places you can check to see if air is getting into your system.

1. The Skimmer(s)

Check the water level. If your pool doesn’t have enough water, your skimmer(s) might be pulling in air. Be sure that the water level is in the middle of your skimmer’s opening. Here’s an illustration depicting where your water level should be:

Check the skimmer basket. Make sure your skimmer baskets are not damaged and seated properly to ensure good water suction.

Check the weir. The weir (or skimmer flap) is the door that “flaps” in front of your skimmer — it’s there to trap large debris from escaping back into your pool and to regulate water flow into your skimmer. Sometimes it can get jammed, so make sure it’s freely moving back and forth. If you don’t have a skimmer weir, I would recommended getting one, although it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one.

2. The Pump

Check the pump lid. First off, if the lid is cracked, that’s the problem right there, however, the most common issue has to do with the lid’s o-ring.

Check the lid o-ring. Turn the pump off, remove the lid, and check the o-ring for cracks. Just bend the o-ring between your fingers — around the whole o-ring — to check for any signs of cracking. If it looks like your o-ring is splitting or dry-rotted, you need to replace the o-ring. If there are no signs of cracking, that’s a good thing. However, I would recommend using a Teflon-based o-ring lube to create a better seal.

Check the pump basket. Sometimes if your basket is cracked it won’t be seated correctly in the housing. Replace a cracked filter basket and make sure it’s cleaned (frequently) and properly seated so that the lid can be sealed correctly.

Check the drain plugs. On the pump housing you should have a drain plug (maybe two). Make sure the drain plugs are not leaking or loose. You can apply some Teflon tape (plumbers tape) to the drain plug threads for a tighter seal.

3. The Union(s)

If you have an unground pool, you might have some unions in your plumbing. Unions are threaded connectors between piping that will allow you to easily replace your filter equipment without having to cut any pipe.

Inside the union, you should have yet another o-ring to check for damage. If it’s damaged, replace it. If it’s not, make sure the o-ring is properly seated inside the groove it belongs in. If the o-ring is not in its groove, it will not create a proper seal and allow air to get into your system.

You’re All Set!

Hopefully these troubleshooting tips solve your air bubble problem. If not, you can share your story in the comments below and I will respond with some additional help. To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays perfectly balanced, consider purchasing a pHin smart monitor today!

Happy Swimming!

10 Ways to Maintain An Eco-Friendly Pool

The post 10 Ways to Maintain An Eco-Friendly Pool first appeared on Swim University.

No, we don’t mean turning your water green with algae. We all want a pristine blue swimming pool, but we can be eco-conscious about it. Check out the top ten ways to be an environmentally friendly pool owner.

1. Switch To A Greener Cleaner

Chlorine is the most commonly used chemical to clean pools, mainly because it works so well. But, did you know that chlorine is considered a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency? It can be harsh on hair, skin, and eyes, and misuse can result in illness, injury, or worse. If not handled properly, chlorine can be very dangerous. It can also wreak havoc on the plants and animals in your backyard.

However, there are several chlorine alternatives that are better for you and the environment. These include bromine, PHMB (polyhexamethylene biguanide,) Ozonator systems, and natural mineral sanitizers. With any of these systems, you may occasionally have to add chlorine or algaecide, but they’re still more eco-friendly in the long run.

f you want to go completely chemical-free, consider a natural swimming pool that uses plants to clean the water. These types of pools need a bit more time and effort to maintain, but once a balance is struck, they can be a safe place for your family, friends, and pets to swim.

2. Switch To A Solar Heater

It’s always a toss-up as to whether having a pool heater can even be considered green at all. On the one hand, the less energy you use, the greener you are. On the other, a heater allows you to use your pool for more months out of (or even the whole) year.

The principles of green living involve conserving water and getting the most out of what you do have. Not having to drain your pool every fall and making the best use of your backyard feature are definitely good things.

When you want to conserve energy, but you also want to use your pool to it’s fullest potential, what’s the best way to go? The answer is definitely a solar heating system. Solar-powered pool heaters use a series of tubes that absorb heat from the sun to warm the water after it passes through the filtration system.

Harnessing the sun’s power won’t only save energy; it will save you money on your energy bills each month. While switching to a solar heater involves an initial investment, the returns will be worth it in the end. Heat from the sun is renewable, and it will always be free.

3. Install A Heat Pump

Solar heaters are a great, green option, but they may not be necessary in all climates. If you live in an area with warmer air, or in an area where the water only needs to be heated a little, a heat pump is the greenest way to go. Heat pumps use minimal energy because they don’t actually generate any heat: they draw thermal energy from the air and transfer it into the water.

While heat pumps are electric for the most part, they consume much less energy than their counterparts. To make sure you get the most from your heat pump, be sure to maintain it properly by cleaning debris from the intake and keeping it in an area with good air flow.

4. Use A Robotic Pool Cleaner

Robotic pool cleaners are one of the simplest, quickest, and most inexpensive ways to green your pool. You can make your pool instantly greener today if you want. Most are ready to use out of the box, and only require that they be plugged in or charged before use. There are also solar cleaners on the market, if you want to conserve even more energy.

Robotic pool cleaners are green for a number of reasons: first, they reduce the amount of chemical cleaners your pool needs. Second, they reduce the amount of times you’ll have to clean and change your pool filter. Third, they are over 90% more efficient than a traditional pool filtration system, and cost less than five cents an hour to run.

5. Clean Your Filters

Another way to ensure that your pool utilizes less energy is to keep your filters clean. A dirty filter doesn’t work as well as a pristine one, causing your pump to work harder more often and your cleaning agents to be less effective.

Cleaning your filters is generally very easy, so there isn’t much reason not to keep up on this task. Backwashing a sand filter is a minimally involved process, so is backwashing a DE filter (DE stands for dichotomous earth.)

You should backwash both of these types of filters once a month, or when the pressure is 8-10 above average PSI (pounds per square inch.) You should also remove and clean the entire filter once a year, and occasionally replace the materials.

Cleaning a cartridge filter is a more tedious process, but you won’t have to do it as often, and replacing the cartridges is much easier than replacing sand or DE. No matter what type of filter you use, keeping it in tip-top shape will ensure that the rest of your equipment runs smoothly.

6. Add A Timer To Your Pumps

Most circulation pumps are running more often than they need to, which consumes unneeded energy and costs you more money than it’s worth.Energy.gov recommends you only run your pump for six hours a day, which should be sufficient so long as your pump is sized properly to your pool’s volume.

However, turning it on and off daily can be a hassle. This either leads to your pump running unnecessarily, or your pool’s circulation suffering. Adding an automatic time clock to your pump system is the best way to make sure your water gets filtered regularly without consuming unneeded energy.

7. Cover Your Pool

Eco-conscious pool owners know that the simplest and cheapest way to conserve water and energy is to cover their pool when they’re not using it. Pool covers keep heat in and debris out, and also discourage water from evaporating out.

Sealing heat in means you’ll use less energy heating your pool. Keeping debris out means you’ll use less energy filtering your pool. More water staying in your pool means using less water to refill it.

Your best bet is a solar pool cover, which will do all those jobs plus it will seal heat in and trap warmth from the sun to be absorbed by your pool, which means even less energy consumption and cost.

8. Add A Windbreak

A pool cover can cut down on debris and evaporation, but that’s not the only thing that can help. A windbreak can be installed around some or all of the pool. Windbreaks come in many different forms. Anything from a fence to a custom-ordered windbreak to fit your pool dimensions will do the trick. If you want to be extra-green, you can even plant your own windbreak using trees, shrubs, or local foliage.

Windbreaks not only provide privacy; they also make your pool eco-friendly by lessening the amount of water evaporation and helping to keep out debris that need energy to filter out. Not to mention that they provide relief from harsh winds, and whatever dirt and dust they may be blowing around.

9. Install A Pool Enclosure

If you’re after the ultimate in comfort, privacy, and eco-friendliness, a pool enclosure is the way to go. Having your pool partially or fully enclosed will provide shade and seclusion, and keep the ground around the pool from getting too hot. On top of all of the comfort benefits, there are green ones too.

A pool enclosure will help keep your pool cleaner and warmer, and lessen evaporation of precious water into the air. You’ll be able to clean, heat, and fill your pool less often. A pool enclosure will also extend the amount of time you can swim, or even turn your pool into an oasis that’s swimmable year-round.

10. Party Green

Don’t forget to keep things green when you party! There are lots of ways to throw an eco-friendly pool party: from the grub to the decor, you can be an environmentally conscious host. There’s no need for wasteful paper invitations and plates. You can invite friends through email or Facebook, and invest in reusable plastic plates and servingware that won’t shatter if dropped poolside.

You don’t have to buy disposable decor to make the place look festive, just get creative with the home decor you already have. Try to find locally sourced and humanely treated food to serve your guests, and use LED string lights if your party will roll on into the night.

How Do You “Green” Your Pool?

These are just the top ten ways to be a green pool owner. What are some of your best tips for maintaining your pool while keeping the environment on your mind?

How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water

The post How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water first appeared on Swim University.

When you have a cloudy pool, it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process to get it clear. Sometimes, your swimming pool will turn cloudy overnight!

That’s why we created pHin to eliminate the guesswork that comes with trying to determine the source of the problem.

Before we talk about how to fix you cloudy pool water, let’s first understand what causes it.

Why Do I Have Cloudy Pool Water?

There are so many causes of cloudy pool water, but I have broken it down into three main causes.

1. The Environment

Everything around your pool can cause your water to be cloudy, that includes: weather, birds, construction, trees, gardens, the sun, people, and pool algae.

2. The Pool Filter

If you filter system is not working properly, or you’re not running your filter at least 8 to 10 hours per day, then you are at high risk for cloudy pool water.

Your filter system constantly cleans the water in your pool. Without it, you’re left with stagnant water that could become cloudy.

3. Pool Chemicals

An excessive amount of pool chemicals can cause your water to be cloudy. That includes: high pH, high alkalinity, high chlorine or other sanitizers, and high calcium hardness.

One of the only ways to immediately know what chemicals you’ve overused in your pool is through the pHin mobile app.

You also want to make sure you shock your swimming pool every week with the proper amount of shock for your size of pool.

Sometimes you’ll get cloudy pool water after shocking. This is common and should dissipate over time. Just keep your filter running and it should clear up.

Also, look into a new brand of shock (make sure you buy shock that has a main active ingredient of calcium hypochlorite). Cheaper shocks that you get from the big box retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, are not the best choices.

How To Clear A Cloudy Pool

Once you have fixed all the possible problems that can cause your water to be cloudy, now we can work on a cloudy pool water fix. Here are 3 ways to clear your cloudy swimming pool:

1. Use A Pool Clarifier

It’s always a good idea to use some sort of pool water clarifier weekly. Pool clarifiers work to gather the tiny particles that are making your pool water cloudy and bring them together to create bigger particles so that your filter will have a better chance of picking it up. This is called a coagulant which is a term used when describing blood clots.

The particles alone will have a hard time being picked up by your pool filter, so this chemical “clots” them together and your filter now will be able to trap them.

Most swimming pool chemical retailers will carry more than one form of swimming pool clarifier. Just ask if the chemical is a coagulant and you will be well on your way to a crystal clear swimming pool.

2. Use Pool Floc (Flocculant)

A chemical called Floc or Flocculant is a great idea if you’re in a rush, or would like to see your swimming pool cleared up quickly.

Lets say you have a pool party tomorrow and your swimming pool is cloudy. By using Pool Floc, you can clear your cloudy swimming pool overnight (with a little extra work on your part). Floccing your swimming pool is a great method, but it’s very time-consuming and difficult.

Pool Flocculants work by gathering all the particles, that are making your water cloudy, and sending them to the bottom of your pool, creating a huge cloud on the floor of your pool. Unlike a water clarifier, this chemical WILL NOT help your filter to pick up the particles, because all of the cloudy pool particles are now at the bottom.

At this point, you will need to manually vacuum up that cloud using your pool pump, not an automatic pool cleaner. When vacuuming, you want your filter setting to be on the “waste” or “backwash” option (if you are using a DE filter or Cartridge Filter make sure that the drain plug is removed.

[Here’s a video on how to manually vacuum your swimming pool.]

The idea here is to vacuum up the cloudy water right OUT of your pool, because putting that much dirty water through your filter WILL NOT work and will send that dirty water right back into your pool.

By vacuuming out to “waste,” it will never run through your filter system. You are going to lose a lot of water in your pool, so make sure to keep a fresh hose of running water in your pool during vacuuming.

Also, you must use a manual vacuum for the process. Automatic pool cleaners will not work and will just end up blowing the cloudy you created at the bottom of your pool, right back up. Again, it is difficult and a lot of water is wasted, but it will clear your pool in 24 hours if done properly.

3. Use Your Filter System and Bottom Drain(s)

Your pool’s main skimmer is located at the top of your pool and helps to clear the top, which does not help to collect the cloudy particles that are at the bottom of the pool. Knowing this, we need to help the filter get to those particles.

You can achieve this two ways:

  1. Constantly stir up the water, by swimming or with a pool brush, so that it pushes the particles closer to the top of the pool.
  2. Turn on the bottom drains.

Every inground pool should be equipped with 1 or 2 bottom drains, so it’s easy for you to utilize them. This will allow the filter to start pulling water off the bottom of the pool, where the cloudy particles are, and circulate the clean water back to the top.

This works great, but what if you have an above ground pool that doesn’t have bottom drains? We have come up with a little trick to mimic the effect of a bottom drain in an above ground pool.

Simply hook up your manual vacuum cleaner, as if you were about to vacuum your pool, but instead, leave the vacuum at the bottom (in the middle of your pool) and turn it upside down. Now your pool filter will be pulling water from the bottom of your swimming pool using your manual vacuum and releasing the clean filtered water up top.

4. Use Pool Service on Demand

In addition to giving you a clear picture of what chemicals you need to add to balance your pool and the overall health of your water, pHin also provides you with direct access to pool techs that you can hire to treat your pool water.

Well, there you have it: 4 different methods of how to clear a cloudy pool by using swimming pool chemicals and your pool’s equipment.

If you have any questions about your cloudy pool, be sure to ask in the comments below and I’ll answer ASAP.

Pool Care 101: How to Take Care of My Pool

Anyone who’s spent five minutes researching pool care can easily become overwhelmed at the wealth of information available. Pool filters, pH levels, total alkalinity tests strips, shocks and algaecide – the list of mandatory knowledge can seem endless.

The good news is that pool care doesn’t have to be complicated, or require a Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Management. The vast majority of pool care can be divided into four categories: Basic equipment, cleaning, fixing problems that may arise, and closing the pool. We’ve laid out the basics of pool care in those categories and we’ve supplied links to our more specific resources.

Basic Pool Care Equipment

Circulation System: The circulation system is comprised of a pump and filters that are the cornerstone of pool maintenance. Circulation of the water in your pool allows you to filter out particles and disperse the chemicals. There are a wide variety of different brands on the market with various methods of filtering water, each with its own pros and cons.

Hi-rate sand, cartridge, and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) are the most common types of filters. Once you’ve determined which filter type and the size of your pool, you can learn the proper way to maintain it.

For example, sand filters are cleaned by backwashing water through the system, and are most effective when slightly dirty. Cartridge and DE filters, on the other hand, are cleaned by removing the filter cartridge and soaking it in a cleaning solution.

Underwater vacuum: This cleans grit and debris from the bottom of your pool. This is typically purchased along with the pump to ensure that both are compatible with each other. Both automated and manual vacuums are available.

Skimmer: Basically a large, fine-mesh butterfly net, this device will allow you to skim leaves, sticks, and other debris that have fallen into the pool. It also makes a handy retrieval device for pool toys and other objects.

Leaf net: Essential in the fall season if you have large, deciduous trees around your pool. You will be shocked at the thousands of leaves that will blow into your pool without protection and how heavy they are to remove with the skimmer basket. Save yourself the trouble and tie a leaf net over the pool as soon as leaves start dropping.

Brushes: Even with a functioning filter, pool vacuum, and proper chemical usage, the sides of your pool will still need to be scrubbed. Large, wide brushes from pool stores will make the job faster.

Our additional resources include:

3 Steps Often Overlooked in Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance

What Pool and Hot Tub Owners Must Know About Water Clarifiers

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced no matter what time of year it is, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool or hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.