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Rick’s Remedies: Calcium- “The Guardian”

In our previous installment of Rick’s Remedies, we discussed the moody nature of pH (The Ruler) and how alkalinity (The Soother) helps to keep it in check.  The third member of your pools water balance team is Calcium- The Guardian.

Water and calcium go together like peas and carrots.  In nature, calcium is plentiful and can be found in limestone as well as many other underground sources.  However, as with any element taken from nature, there are certain sustaining components of that element that are lacking due to its new environment.  This is the case with your pools water and calcium.  If the calcium in your pool falls below the 250-400ppm industry standard range, the water in your pool will begin to aggressively seek what it is lacking.  This puts your concrete finish, liner, pipes, and even your filter at risk.  The calcium can also act as a buffer for pH, along with the alkalinity, so when your calcium is low the pH may fluctuate more often.  If the pH is low, as the water seeks calcium it will attack the concrete in your pool leaving you with a pitted finish.  If the pH is high, a scale will form which produces a white, chalky waterline or barnacle like formations on your pool walls.

This is why we refer to calcium as “The Guardian”.  It works alongside pH (The Ruler) and alkalinity (The Soother) guarding your pools equipment and finish.  It also gives the water a sparkle due to its reflective property.  This is an important aspect of maintaining a well-balanced pool and cannot be overlooked in a weekly pool maintenance regimen.  So, remember, keep your pH between 7.2-7.6, your alkalinity between 80-120ppm and your calcium at 250-400ppm.  Stay tuned for our next installment of Rick’s Remedies where we will discuss Stabilizer- “The Protector”.  Until then, stay safe and enjoy your pool!

Ricks Rule of Thumb:

1lb of calcium chloride (CaCl2) raises 10,000 gallons of water 10ppm.

Rick’s Remedies: Alkalinity-The Soother

The last time we met, we discussed pH (THE RULER). You learned that this component of water chemistry is important because it has a direct effect on swimmer comfort and chlorine activity. The pH of your water is crucial in providing a pleasant pool experience, however, from time to time it tends to be a bit moody. Changes to the environment, such as an increase in swimmers, rain, organics, other chemicals, or anything else that may enter the pool can trigger the pH to fluctuate.

This is where Alkalinity (THE SOOTHER) comes into play. Alkalinity is like a shock absorber for pH’s mood swings. It keeps pH more stable and helps to prevent radical changes. Alkalinity says, “Hey, pH there is no need to go to 8 or 6, why don’t you just hang out here with me in the 7 range and relax”. By keeping your alkalinity in the 80-120 ppm (parts per million) you can keep the pH from drifting. In doing so you create a better and safer swimming environment. Enjoy your pool!

Ricks Rule of Thumb:

1.5 pounds of alkalinity raises alkalinity 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons.

Stay tuned for Calcium-The Guardian in our next installation of Rick’s Remedies

Rick’s Remedies: pH – The Ruler

Did you know that pH (potential of Hydrogen) is the most significant component of your pool’s balance? That is why we should think of it as “THE RULER”. pH ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline. Most people are aware that acid is very caustic but don’t think of alkaline to be equally offensive. The ideal pH for pool water is generally between 7.2-7.8 to maintain a comfortable swimming environment!

In pool water the activity of chlorine (ratio of free chlorine to the hypochlorite ion) is directly linked to pH. If pH is too high chlorine will be underactive and not able to do its job, and pool surfaces tend to form a rough scale. On the other hand, if pH is too low the chlorine becomes overactive and burns itself out making it difficult to maintain a chlorine reading. Also, low pH water is corrosive and may cause your heater, pump, etc. to rust. So, keep ‘THE RULER” in the proper range so your pool looks good, smells good and feels good.

Stay tuned for Alkalinity “THE SOOTHER”

What’s That Smell?

“Ewwww, what’s that smell?!”  Have you ever found yourself asking this question poolside?  If so, rest assured you are not alone.  Just like any other body of water, a pool is susceptible to various problems. Typically, it’s nothing too serious and can be fixed with some chemical adjustment.   It is important to note, anytime you feel your water chemistry may be off, take a sample into your pool supply store and let them give you a true water analysis.

So, what is that smell?  Most likely it is chloramines.  What are chloramines?  Chloramines are created when the chlorine in your pool meets contaminants that contain ammonia and/or nitrogen.  Both can be found in things like urine and sweat, even saliva or rain.  The biggest misconception about the “smell of chlorine” is that it is indicative of a well sanitized pool, when actually, the opposite is true.

Buckle your seat belt, we are about to have a crash course in basic water chemistry!  Chloramines form by replacing the hydrogen or ammonia atoms with chlorine atoms in certain compounds (urine, sweat, rain, saliva, etc).  As the free chlorine is captured in other compounds, it is no longer available to serve its principle function as a disinfectant.  The end result?  A pool high in chloramines with less sanitary water.

How can you tell if you pool is high in chloramines?  Outside of smell, you may find that your bathers complain of irritated skin and eyes and even difficulty breathing.  The water may also appear cloudy.  The best way to solve this problem is to do a super shock on your water.  This will initiate something called breakpoint chlorination, which is necessary to eliminate the chloramines. During this process, chlorine is burning up the chloramines through oxidation and removing them from the water.

To be sure this problem isn’t a recurring one, it is important to keep your water balanced.  In addition to maintaining your chlorine levels, be sure your pH and alkalinity are within the recommended parameters as well.  Finding a reputable and knowledgeable dealer can be the difference between an enjoyable pool season and a miserable one.  If you need help finding someone in your area, visit us online www.apiwater.com and let us send you to one of our many authorized retail locations.  Until we meet again, stay safe and enjoy your pool!

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