Behind trying to keep your pool clean and free of debris, one of the most difficult aspects of pool ownership is balancing the chemicals properly. While most people are aware pools require chlorine in order to keep swimmers safe and healthy, this isn’t the only chemical pool owners need to be concerned with. Unfortunately, as many have learned in high school chemistry class, mixing chemicals together can have dangerous results if not handled properly. The following tips will help you safely balance your pool chemicals, so everyone can stay safe and healthy as they use the pool this summer.

Understand pH Balance

Have you ever seen the litmus strips used to detect the pH of liquids? These are an important element for balancing your pool chemicals. The pH levels range from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral and acid and base numbers extending to either side. Ideally, your pool should fall somewhere around the middle, typically between 7.2 and 7.6. If you allow your pool to get too acidic, it can lead to corrosion and can lead to skin irritation for swimmers. Too far to the other side and you’ll experience cloudy water.

Use Chemicals Carefully

If you need to lower the pH level of your pool, you’ll need to add some other chemicals, but you must do so carefully. Dry acid, muriatic acid and soda ash can all be used to lower your pH to the appropriate number. However, always remember these can be dangerous chemicals and should be kept out of reach of children and stored out of direct sunlight. If you can, it’s best to allow a pool professional to handle these chemicals to balance your pH levels. Once they are balanced, they’re easier to maintain.

Invest in Testing Strips

First, you’ll need a pool testing kit to ensure you have the proper balance of all chemicals. These kits typically test for pH levels, total alkalinity, chlorine and calcium hardness. This can help you add the right chemicals to achieve the ideal balance. Always test water obtained from about 18 inches below the surface to avoid dissipation that can happen near the surface. Follow all instructions carefully. You may also want to buy litmus strips so you can test the pH levels randomly throughout the pool season as well. This will help you keep levels under control at all times.

Keep Certain Chemicals On Hand

You may not need every chemical at all times, but there are certain swimming pool chemicals you should always have on hand so you can make adjustments as needed. Chlorine tablets are an important staple because the sun can dissipate chlorine if you don’t cover your pool when not in use. You may also need pH reducers and increasers based on the results of your regular pH level testing. This testing should be done on a weekly basis, so you can rest assured swimmers are safe in your pool and won’t experience any negative side effects of taking a swim.

How Often Should You Test the Chemicals

In addition to the weekly pH testing, you should also test the chemicals on a regular basis to ensure the water is safe for swimmers. Pool experts recommend completing this chemical testing two to three times a week, depending on how often you use the pool. However, it’s important to consider the precise times you test the pool carefully. You should do so when conditions are as close to the same as possible to ensure the right results. Some factors that can play a role in how your water tests include temperature of both the water and the surrounding air, rainfall and debris currently floating in your pool. You may want to clean out your pool prior to testing, removing as much debris as possible to avoid affecting the results.

Other Chemicals You Need

In addition to the above mentioned chemicals, there are a few others you may need at some point in time. For instance, if your pool needs to be shocked in order to achieve balance, you may need an oxidizer. There are several kinds depending on your pool and why you’re using it. Calcium hypochlorite sanitizes pool water, kills algae and boosts chlorine, but you may have to wait to swim afterward. Chlorine Free Shock can be used in most pools, while Lithium Shock should be used in pools with no liners. Both allow for swimming immediately after treatment. Water balancers like alkalinity increasers, calcium hardness increasers and chlorine neutralizers may be required when these readings are out of balance. Finally, you may require water clarity chemicals for a variety of issues that may arise, such as algae, enzymes and phosphates. All these can negatively affect the pool experience and could potentially be dangerous to swimmers.