Keeping a pool clean, clear and, most importantly, safe to swim in isn’t the most fun part of owning a pool, but it’s a necessity. Using a variety of pool chemicals is an integral part of keeping your pool in tip-top shape. At Island Pool and Spa of Tenafly, NJ, our pool experts are knowledgeable about pool chemicals and specifics of pool maintenance. Read on for a few basics to give you a general understanding of pool chemicals and maintenance.
Before we jump into the types of pool chemicals and how they work, let’s break down the basic steps involved in maintaining your pool. These are as follows:
- Balancing: Making sure your pool has the proper pH, total alkalinity, and calcium levels
- Chlorinating: Getting rid of unwanted bacteria and sanitizing your pool
- Shocking: Eliminating contaminants, preventing future issues and reducing the need for other chemicals
- Adding algaecide: Getting rid of the unwanted algae
- Cleaning: Keeping your pool debris-free
At a minimum, the following kinds of pool chemicals should always be kept on hand:
- Chlorine tablets and pool shock
- Pool pH Up and/or pH Down
- Test strips or test kit
Although it may seem like there is an endless assortment of pool chemicals, the types of pool chemicals usually fall under one of the following categories:
- Water balancers
- Specialty chemicals
Types of Pool Chemicals
As the name suggests, these pool chemicals are used to keep the pool completely sanitized, disinfected and contaminate-free. There should always be a consistent level of chlorine in your pool, without a lot of ups and downs. There are a few different types of pool sanitizers.
TriChlor (tabs or sticks): These are added to chlorine floater or chlorinator.
DiChlor (granular): This pool chemical contains cyanuric acid and acts quickly to clean pools and spas.
Cyanuric Acid (liquid or dry): This is a chlorine stabilizer that protects your pool’s chlorine from UV ray damage.
Bromine: This works better for spas than pools.
Oxidizers: Oxidizers are pool chemicals that should frequently be used to kill your pool’s algae and bacteria. As a general rule, they should be used every few weeks. Shocks come in Chlorine or Non-Chlorine powdered forms and are extremely easy to use. You can just open the bag and pour these pool chemicals into the pool.
Calcium Hypochlorite: This type of pool chemical is a pool shock that is used to rapidly sanitize pool water, increase chlorine levels and eradicate algae. These pool shocks work best with a low pH level, usually around 7.2.
Chlorine-Free Shock: This type of pool shock contains granular potassium mono persulfate. The oxygen-based sanitizer leaves no residue–Thus, one advantage is that you don’t have to wait to swim in your pool.
Lithium Shock: Perfect for use in pools with liners, this type of pool chemical doesn’t bleach the liners. Like chlorine-free shocks, you can swim after using.
An important part of pool maintenance is regularly testing. A good rule to follow is to test your total alkalinity every two weeks. Calcium hardness and cyanuric acid levels can be tested less frequently, like once a month.
pH Reducer: granular sodium bisulfate or dry acid to bring your pH levels down when they become above 7.6 ppm. These pool chemicals can also be used to lower total alkalinity.
pH Increaser: Use granular soda ash to increase your pool’s pH. Use when levels fall below 7.2 ppm.
Alkalinity Increaser: Granular sodium bicarbonate is used to raise total alkalinity. Use when levels fall below 80 ppm.
Calcium Hardness Increaser: Granular calcium chloride is used to increase your pool’s calcium hardness if the levels get below 150 ppm.
Chlorine Neutralizer: If the chlorine concentration in your pool reaches levels that are too high, use the chlorine neutralizer granular sodium thiosulfate to bring them back down.
Filter Cleaners: These pool chemicals are cleaners that remove minerals, metals, oils and other contaminants that can clog your pool filter.
Algaecides: You can use algaecide in tandem with pool shock to kill existing algae and prevent new algae.
Enzymes: Oils and other forms of organic contaminants (non-living) can be addressed by using enzymes.
Phosphate Removers: Because phosphates are the primary food source for algae, it’s important to eradicate them by using pool chemicals that are specially formulated to remove the phosphates.
Tile & Vinyl Cleaner: These cleaners do not affect pool chemistry. Not just for the pool, they also work well to remove gunk and oil on skimmers, slides, and furniture.
Stain Removers: Stain removers are pool chemicals that not only remove surface stains but prevent future stains. Most stains are due to minerals and metals in the water.
Pool Chemical Safety
- Keep all pool chemicals and products far out of reach from children and animals.
- Wear rubber gloves and goggles; wash hands and clothes immediately after handling pool chemicals.
- If your skin comes in contact with any chemicals, flush immediately with cold water for 15 minutes and call a physician
- Make sure to store pool chemicals according to the specific manufacturer’s instructions
- Follow the dosage directions and safety precautions specified on the pool chemical manufacturer’s package
- Use clean, dry measuring equipment for chemicals and be sure to rinse all measuring equipment after using
- Never allow dry chlorine to become damp or wet
- Keep all pool chemicals far away from fire
- As you close your pool, always discard any unused chemicals
- Check and follow your local hazardous material disposal
- Buy all new pool chemicals for when you reopen your pool
At Island Pool and Spa, we not only provide you with the pool chemicals you need, we also arm you with valuable knowledge about pool chemistry, chemicals and maintenance. Stop on in our store today.