Testing Pool Water

The Truth About Alkalinity-The Soother

Recently our Customer Experience Team has been getting several inquiries regarding pH drift. Of course, our first question is “what is your alkalinity reading”? As we have discussed in previous editions of Rick’s Remedies alkalinity “sooths” pH to keep it from going all over the place! When we ask this question, the answer is typically, “well, it is right in range between 80-120””… perfect right? No, not always!  What we measure is Total Alkalinity with our test kits. Total alkalinity is the sum of Cyanurate Alkalinity and Carbonate Alkalinity. High stabilizer levels (The Protector) can affect our Carbonate Alkalinity which we can refer to as “Adjusted Alkalinity”.   

Ricks rule of Thumb: for every 100ppm of stabilizer deduct 30ppm of alkalinity from your alkalinity reading on your test strip.

Here’s a quick example:

Measured alkalinity 120 ppm

Measured Stabilizer 200 ppm

Adjusted alkalinity = 120-60

As you can see in this example Adjusted Alkalinity is 60 ppm, this puts us out of the recommended alkalinity range of 80 ppm-120 ppm, which can make our pH difficult to control.

Here are a few other things to consider:

  • High stabilizer levels are caused by stabilized sanitizers such as Trichlor (3 inch tabs) or Dichlor (granular shock from big box stores) to reduce the amounts of stabilizer introduced to your pool consider liquid shock or calhypo shock.
  • Read your test strip instructions to make sure you are letting them process the correct amount of time before doing your visual reading.
  • Make sure your test strips are stored in a cool place
  • Check the expiration date on your strips to make sure they are fresh

Enjoy your pool!

Rick’s Remedies – Oxidizer: The Helper

In our last discussion we discussed Chlorine, “The Cleanser”.  Sanitizers, such as chlorine and bromine are necessary for all pool water, but the job we ask them to do is heavy.  While they are busy killing viruses, bacteria and organics, some tasks may slip through the cracks. This is where oxidizers come into play and fulfill their role as “The Helper”.  Although sanitizers may be considered oxidizers, there are other products that specialize in oxidation. To put is simply (which is what Ricks Remedies is all about) oxidizers remove the bodies or debris left after chlorine has inactivated it. A good example is algae. Once its dead, it is no longer green, however the leftover particulate remains in the water.  This particulate must be broken down into its base materials to be filtered or evaporated from your pool. An appropriate dose of an oxidizer will rid the water of that cloudy flat look, and make it sparkle like a diamond!   Another advantage of the most common oxidizer, potassium monopersulfate, also known as nonchlorine shock, is that it can remove chloramines without reaching breakpoint (see “Chlorine-The Cleanser”). So, I recommend adding a weekly dose of an oxidizer to your regime to keep your water smelling good, looking good, and feeling good!


Ricks Rule of Thumb. Did you know that EZ-POOL, PEPPER and EZ SPA all contain oxidizers?

Rick’s Remedies Chlorine – “The Cleanser”

Thus far in this season of Ricks’ Remedies, we have covered pH-The Ruler, Alkalinity-The Soother, Calcium-The Guardian, and Stabilizer- The Protector. Now comes the biggie… wait for it….Chlorine- The Cleanser!

There are several misconceptions about chlorine. The most common being, the smell of chlorine coming from your pool means you have too much.  The reality is you don’t have enough!   What you are actually smelling is something called CHLORAMINES. Chloramines occur when chlorine bonds with contaminates such as sweat, urine or body oils. (ewwww, gross!)

Chloramines, also referred to as Combined Chlorine (CC), have been known to cause issues such as smelly, cloudy water, burning eyes, etc. Because test strips don’t measure combined chlorine, it must be calculated.  To calculate CC, we measure Total Chlorine (TC) and Free Chlorine (FC). TC is a measurement of all types of chlorine present in the water and FC is chlorine that has not bonded with contaminates and is available to do the work of sanitizing your pool and keeping it clear and smelling good! To calculate CC, use the formula TC-FC=CC. All measurements are in PPM (parts per million).  The recommended level of FC is 1ppm to 3ppm.


Test Strip Reads

  • TC=4 ppm
  • FC=1 ppm
  • 4-1=CC of 3 ppm

So now you’re asking yourself, “what do I do??” You have 3ppm of CC in your pool and the water is smelly and your eyes are burning! The answer is, shock the pool!   To do it properly, you must reach BREAK POINT CHLORINATION, which means a chlorine level of ten times the calculated amount of CC is required to rid your pool of those nasty chloramines! In the example above, the industry standard and recommended number is  30ppm. When we achieve this, the pool will sparkle and smell good again!

Pool gallon calculations are not always accurate. With that being said, it is better to error on the high end when adding chlorine to be sure to reach break point.  When using calcium hypochlorite shock (CalHypo) 73%, you must use a minimum of 3lbs to raise the chlorine level to 30ppm.  Put it all in at once, this is no time to be shy!  If enough isn’t used, break point will not be reached, and the problem will be compounded.

Expected results 24hrs after shocking 

  • TC=4 ppm
  • FC=3.5 ppm
  • CC=.5 ppm

Other sources of chlorine can be used as well.  For recommendations, and dosage instructions, consult your pool store.  Join us here again for the next installment of Rick’s Remedies and learn about the various types of chlorine and why we use them.  Until then, stay safe and Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Ricks Rule of Thumb:

1lb of calcium hypochlorite raises 10,000 gallons 10ppm

Next up: Chlorine types and why we use them!

Rick’s Remedies Stabilizer-“The Protector”

Thus far in this season of Ricks’ Remedies, we have covered pH-The Ruler, Alkalinity-The Soother, and Calcium-The Guardian.  In this installment we will introduce, Stabilizer-The Protector.  Ready?  Let’s go!

Stabilizer (also known as conditioner) is the last necessary component of our pool balance team.  Think of it as sunscreen for your chlorine.  Stabilizer protects chlorine from sunlight.  Without it chlorine dissipates very quickly into the atmosphere.

Both trichlor and dichlor may contain stabilizer as high as 40% by weight.  And although stabilizer is necessary, it can also be a deterrent to chlorine’s overall effectiveness causing what is commonly known as a “chlorine lock”.  Should you need to reduce the amount of stabilizer in your pool, you would do that by adding more water.  With that in mind, it is best to keep stabilizer above 30ppm (parts per million) but no greater that 55ppm.  With your pH (The Ruler) at 7.2-7.6, alkalinity (The Soother) at 80-120ppm, calcium (The Guardian) at 250-400ppm and your Stabilizer (The Protector) at 30-55ppm, your pool is in good shape! Stay tuned for our next episode of Rick’s Remedies when we introduce you to Chlorine- “The Cleanser”.  Until then, stay safe and enjoy your pool!

Rick’s Rule of thumb: 10oz of stabilizer raises 10,000 gallons of water 10ppm.

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