Water Balancing and Basic Pool Water Chemistry

The Five Star Chemical System

Pool water chemistry can be broken down into these five categories:


2)Oxidation (Shock Treatments)

3)Water Balance

4)Algae Prevention

5)Support Chemicals

Sanitizers and Oxidizers

Sanitizers, such as chlorine, are used to kill bacteria and combat algae. When kept at the proper residual, they help to keep the water a clean and safe environment for swimmers. Common sanitizers used in above ground swimming pools include: Chlorine, Bromine, Biguanide, and Copper Ionization.

Oxidizers, often called "shock treatments", are added to pool water to break down unwanted compounds that accumulate over time. These "compounds" form as the sanitizer kills bacteria and reacts with contaminants brought in from swimmers, weather, and the environment. The build up of these compounds slows the sanitizer's ability to do its job, therefore need to be removed through a combination of filtration and oxidation.

Sanitizers and oxidizers are paired together according to their chemical composition. For example, if chlorine is the sanitizer used in the pool, the shock treatment (oxidizer) used must be compatible with it. Since chlorine is also an oxidizer, the addition of a strong dose of chlorine is sufficient to overwhelm and break down most unwanted contaminants. This process is called "Superchlorination", or "shocking".

Water Balance

A major part of your pool water chemistry rests in the area of water balance. Balancing pool water means to maintain several properties of the water within a specific set of parameters. In swimming pools that use chlorine, we try to maintain following attributes within the given range:

-pH 7.2-7.6

-Total Alkalinity 80-120ppm

-Total Hardness 200-400ppm

The general goal is to keep the water from being either too corrosive or too scaling. When the above values are under range, the water is considered corrosive and can irritate swimmers and even damage surfaces that it comes in contact with. If the values are over range, the water is considered to be scaling and can cause staining, mineral deposits, and appear dull or cloudy.

If you test the pool water using a test strip, for example, the results of the test will show you where these levels are in your pool. When one or all of these attributes are not in the proper range, it is important to adjust them. Refer to our sections on Water Balancing and Water Testing for more detailed information.

Algae Prevention

The use of a good algaecide regularly will help to reduce the onset of algae in your swimming pool. Sanitizers generally protect the water from algae, but algae is stubborn and certain factors make it possible for it to grow even in normal sanitizer levels. By using an algicide, you increase your chances of preventing algae growth, which is a key factor in keeping your swimming pool easy to maintain. To learn more about algaecides, click here.

Support Chemicals

Support chemicals are used to fulfill a specific need for your pool. These include metal removers, clarifiers, stain and scale inhibitors, enzymes to break down oils, and stabilizer to help maintain chlorine levels in direct sunlight.

Before selecting any support chemicals for your program, we recommend bringing a sample of your pool water to your dealer or local pool professional to have it tested.