Simple Steps to Sparkling, Clear Water
A pool is a thing of beauty. And keeping it that way is simple. Following the professional advice in these pages will help you prevent problems before they start and solve problems as they occur. Choose a topic from the pull-down menu below and we’ll help you maintain your pool at its ideal condition.
Calculating Pool Volume
Before you can determine the correct dosage of any chemical you’re going to add, it’s important to know how much water your pool holds. Make all your measurements in feet. Example: use 12.5 instead of 12′ 6″.
1. Figure out the average depth of your pool.
- (deep end depth) feet + (shallow end depth) feet = _______ feet / 2 = (average depth) feet
2. Calculate your pool’s capacity using one of the formulas below.
- Rectangular or square: (length) feet x (width) feet x (average depth) feet x 7.5 = (pool capacity) gallons
- Oval: (maximum length) feet x (maximum depth) feet x (average depth) feet x 5.9 = (pool capacity) gallons
- Circular: (diameter) feet x (diameter) feet x (average depth) feet x 5.9 = (pool capacity) gallons
NOTE: This guide is designed to explain the necessary steps to maintain your pool. It is not a substitute for reading and following product labels. If, after reading this guide, you have any pool care questions, please consult your Authorized poolife® dealer.
Start Up / Pool Opening
NOTE: If the pool is new, always follow the manufacturer or builder’s directions for start-up. Thereafter you can follow ours.
When it’s time for you to open your pool, you have one goal in mind – getting the water “just right” so you and your family can enjoy the swimming season. You can contact your authorized poolife®® Dealer for a professional pool opening service, however if you are a seasoned pool owner or a do-it-yourselfer, follow these simple steps:
Preparing the Equipment
- Remove any water and debris that have accumulated on your pool cover during the winter.
- Take off the pool cover. Before storing, clean the cover with a cover cleaner to prevent mildew and premature deterioration.
- Hook up the pool pump and filter. Reconnect any hoses and electrical connections that may have detached. Be sure to follow the pool manufacturer’s instructions.
- Make sure your skimmer, filter, pumps, drains and other equipment are clean and free of winter debris.
- Use a leaf skimmer to scoop up all surface and submerged debris.
- Clean dirty pool walls immediately with a wall brush.
- Bring the pool water up to the proper level (about halfway up the skimmer).
- Make sure all your hoses and electrical hookups are in order.
- Turn on your filter pump. (Chemically clean the filter if it was not chemically cleaned last fall.)
- Check the skimmers, drains and filters to make sure they’re functioning properly.
- Vacuum any remaining debris.
- If your filtration system operates off an automatic timer, set the timer to operate at least 8 to 10 hours during a 24-hour period during summer (12-hours is better).
- Allow the water to circulate for at least 4 to 6 hours before preparing the pool water.
Preparing the Pool Water
- Test & Adjust Pool Water Readings. After the pump/filter has run for 4 – 6 hours, take a pool water sample to your Authorized poolife® Dealer for a full analysis. Balance the water per the dealer’s recommendations. If metals are detected, add poolife® Intensive Stain Prevention™ product per label directions. (Your dealer will test for and advise you how to adjust the following pool water readings: pH, Total Alkalinity, Chlorine, Calcium Hardness and Cyanuric Acid – if you use ENDURE® product they will also test the borate reading).
- Shock Treat. Shock treat pool water with poolife® TurboShock® shock treatment or poolife® Rapid Shock® shock treatment.
- Add Algaecide. Add an initial dose of your preferred poolife® Algaecide.
- Stabilize. Add stabilizer if needed.
- Add Primary Sanitizer. Once the pool water is clean and clear and the water balance readings are within the recommended ranges, it is time to add your preferred poolife® Sanitizer (Always read the label directions for dosage instructions). For a simple and hassle free pool care routine, we recommend you choose one of our poolife® Pool Care System that suit your lifestyle and follow the poolife® 3-Step Pool Care Program.
Keeping your pool properly balanced is one of your most important assignments as a pool owner.
Many things can throw the water out of balance. How often you use the pool, rain, sun, wind algae, dust debris, circulation, even which sanitizers you use. The source of fresh water (well, municipal, etc) will also affect water balance in a number of ways. Six factors need to be monitored for their effect on water balance:
- Total Alkalinity
- Calcium Hardness
- Total Dissolved Solids
- Cyanuric Acid
When all these factors are within acceptable ranges, it is unlikely that your water will cause corrosion or scale deposits. Well balanced water also provides maximum bather comfort. Use your poolife® Test Strips daily. Take a water sample to your Authorized poolife® Dealer monthly for a complete laboratory analysis.
Understanding pH is one of the most important aspects of pool care. Low pH can lead to skin irritation and corrosion of equipment. High pH can result in cloudy water and contribute to scale formation. More importantly, the incorrect pH will reduce the effectiveness of the chlorine in your swimming pool. Remember to check the pH at least twice a week. The ideal range is between 7.2 and 7.
Total alkalinity (TA) refers to the quantity of alkaline materials dissolved in water, which act as a buffer in controlling pH change. TA is an important factor that should be taken into account in optimizing water conditions.
The ideal range for TA for pools using poolife® calcium hypochlorite based primary sanitizers, such as Active Cleaning® Granules, Caplets or Tablets is 60ppm – 100 ppm and for pools using trichlor based primary sanitizers such as 1″ Cleaning Tablets, 3″ Cleaning Tablets and the MPT Extra™ chlorinating tablets, the recommended range is between 80 and 120 ppm.
If the TA is below 60ppm the pH will not stay in the proper range and the pool water may promote corrosion and cause damage to pool fixtures and equipment. TA that is above 120 can cause cloudy water or scale.
NOTE: Cyanuric acid (stabilizer) will interfere with the test for total alkalinity, therefore it is necessary to compensate for this interference. For pools with properly maintained pH and a cyanuric acid level above 50 ppm, the correction formula is Tested Total Alkalinity Result – 1/3 Cyanuric Acid Reading = TRUE TOTAL ALKALINITY. In other words, subtract one-third of the cyanuric acid reading from the tested total alkalinity reading to compensate for the interference.
All water contains some natural hardness, which will vary by geographic region and by source within a region. Calcium hardness (CH) refers to the calcium and magnesium content of the pool water. It is wise to test the CH levels regularly to prevent problems on the pool shell or in the circulation system. The recommended range for calcium hardness is 200 – 500 ppm (up to 1000 ppm is acceptable).
Pool water with a calcium level above 1,000 ppm may become cloudy and if left long enough will form scale on pool surfaces and fittings. CH below 200 ppm can corrode pool equipment. In plaster pools it may result in pitting or etching problems.
Testing for hardness should be done by your Authorized poolife® Dealer, preferably at spring opening (or new pool opening) and once a month during the swimming season. You could also use the poolife® Test Strips.
Total Dissolved Solids
The total dissolved solids (TDS) are the total amount of material dissolved in your pool water. Solids that are dissolved and can’t be filtered out. So the TDS level naturally goes up over time as more water is evaporated and more chemicals are added.
Although the TDS concentration has little effect on water balance, above a certain level (2000 ppm) problems may occur with water clarity and taste. Testing for TDS should be done by your Authorized poolife® Dealer, preferably at the spring opening (or new pool opening).
For the most part water temperature also has little effect on water balance. But when water temperatures stay over 90F, scale formation can develop rapidly. Prevention is the easiest solution – so test the water more frequently when it’s consistently that hot.
The problem with a high metal level is the staining it causes on pool surfaces. Unwanted metals can be the result of unbalanced water.
- Source water can be a primary cause of unwanted metals
- Corrosive water can attract metals from exposed metallic surfaces such as ladders.
- Copper-based algaecides can also be a source of metals.
Ideally, no detectable metals should be present in your pool at any time. Ask your authorized poolife® Dealer to test monthly. If metals are present, use poolife® Intensive Stain Prevention™ product, which helps prevent and even remove some stains
The Bottom line on Water Balancing
You’ll be a lot more comfortable in the water, and your pool and equipment will be much better protected, if you maintain well-balanced pool water. This means keeping the pH, total alkalinity (remember the effect of cyanuric acid on the true TA reading), calcium hardness, and total dissolved solids within their acceptable ranges (see table below).
Summary of recommended ranges for water balance factors
- pH: 7.2 – 7.6
- Total Alkalinity: 60ppm – 120 ppm [depending on your sanitizer]
- Calcium Hardness: 200 – 500 (up to 1000 is acceptable)
- Total Dissolved Solids: up to 2000 ppm
- Copper: 0 ppm
- Iron: 0 ppm
Nothing creates a better impression than having a pool with water that is crystal clear and with a sparkle on the surface. If algae get into the pool or if there are tiny suspended particles in the water, it can spoil the appearance and in extreme cases even stop you from using the pool. The best way to prevent this happening is to use one of the poolife® Pool Care Systems and follow the 3-Step poolife® Program.
Q. What are algae?
A. Algae are microscopic-plants that grow in water. They are usually green, but you can find blue-green, black, yellow or mustard. They can grow on the pool surface or float in the water. Algae can turn pool water green, and if you are unlucky this can literally happen overnight.
Q. Won’t chlorine kill algae?
A. Yes usually. But there are occasions when chlorine levels are allowed to drop too low or the chlorine is not acting effectively because the water is out of balance, or the pool water has very high levels of stabilizer (cyanuric acid).
Q. What can I do to prevent algae?
A. Always ensure there is adequate chlorine in the pool at all times. Follow the poolife® 3-Step Pool Care Program and add a preventive dose of algaecide once a week.
Q. What can I do once the algae have taken hold?
A. If this happens, you should shock treat and then add a poolife® algaecide. To treat common algae like green and yellow, use poolife® AlgaeBomb® 30 or poolife® Super AlgaeBomb 60. poolife® Mustard Algae Treatment, when used in conjunction with a poolife® shock product, cleans up both green and yellow algae. Mustard and black algae are more difficult to remove, so we recommend using poolife® AlgaeBan II orpoolife® AlgaeKill II. Always follow product label directions carefully.
If you have persistent algae problems, consult your poolife® Dealer for specialized advice.
Understanding Free Available Chlorine (FAC)
Healthy pool water is achieved by using a chlorinator to kill bacteria, control algae and destroy organic contaminants.
Q: What is free available chlorine (FAC)?
A: Free available chlorine is the amount of active chlorinator in the water.
Q: What is the correct amount of FAC?
A: The FAC in your pool should be 1.0 – 4.0 p.p.m.
Q: Why should the FAC be at that level?
A: Below 1.0 p.p.m. can cause algae problems, cloudy water, swimmer rashes and bacteria problems.
Q: What should you do if your FAC is less than 1.0 p.p.m.?
A: Just add poolife® chlorinator or shock treatments until you reach the desired FAC level.
Q: How often should I test for FAC?
A: Test at least twice a week during the summer season (daily is better).
Shock. Shock treat. Shock treatment. All these terms mean the addition of chlorine to pool water in larger than normal amounts. Shock treating your pool is of the utmost importance because it protects you and your family from bacteria and organic contaminants.
A shock treatment adds 5.0 – 10.0 p.p.m. FAC. This concentrated blast helps prevent and correct most common pool water problems. You should shock your pool water while the pump and filter are in operation. After a shock treatment, check to make sure the FAC is 1.0 – 4.0 p.p.m. before entering the pool.
Choose the “Right” Shock Product
To give your pool the ultimate cleaning and to help ensure your family’s safety and enjoyment, be sure to use a poolife® calcium hypochlorite based shock treatment product. Using a superior calcium hypochlorite product such as poolife® TurboShock® shock treatment or Rapid Shock® shock treatment is the best way to be sure you’re killing harmful bacteria.
When using these products they won’t increase the water’s stabilizer (cyanuric acid) level and won’t corrode the equipment. Do not use a shock product that is stabilized (i.e. contains cyanuric acid – read the label). It will increase the stabilizer level and can interfere with the effectiveness of the chlorine.
Always use a shock treatment product that controls algae and kills bacteria (read the label). Some products are promoted as shock treatment, but they’re not sanitizers. This means that a sanitizer must still be added to the pool to kill bacteria and to control algae.
When Should You Shock Treat?
You need to shock your pool water when opening and closing your pool.
You should also shock treat weekly during the pool season to kill bacteria, algae and other unsightly contaminants. We recommend shocking at the same time and on the same day each week. The optimum time to shock your pool is sundown. At this time of the day, the chlorine can work without fighting the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Shocking after sundown also gives chlorine more time to restore the water clarity.
An additional shock treatment should be given when any of the following situations occur:
- After heavy swimmer loads
- After strong rains and wind
- During periods of extreme sun
- When swimmers complain of burning eyes
- When unpleasant odors occur
- When signs of algae growth appear
- When water appears, dull, hazy or cloudy
Routine Care & Maintenance
Owning a pool can make every day seem like a holiday. But like all good things, a pool needs care and attention if you are to get the best out of it. Clear, sparkling, pure water doesn’t just happen by itself. This guide will help you achieve that brilliant water quality.
Why is it necessary to treat water at all? The answer is that swimming pool water is re-circulated and constantly reused. Bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms are carried into this water by bathers. Some of these organisms may be harmful to health and must be destroyed before they can pass from one bather to another. Dirt and impurities can also be introduced by bathers, wind and rain and need to be removed to achieve good water quality.
Water treatment must also be carried out to prevent the growth of algae – tiny aquatic plants which can rapidly turn your pool water or pool surfaces green. Finally, water must be treated to ensure the pool, equipment and fittings come to no harm through corrosion or scale formation.
The poolife® Routine Maintenance Program
4 Easy Steps to the Most Brilliant Clean Ever Seen.
- Test the pool water and adjust the pH. Then select your preferred poolife® Pool Care System.
- Chlorinate and clarify to keep bacteria at bay 24 hours a day. Use your preferred poolife® Primary Sanitizer.
- Shock once a week to clear up cloudy water, kill algae, and destroy organic contaminants and much more. For best results use calcium hypochlorite based poolife® TurboShock® shock treatment orpoolife® Rapid Shock® shock treatment.
- Prevent algae, especially in the hot summer months by adding your preferred poolife® Algaecide once a week.
Your pool water should be tested for pH, free available chlorine (FAC), total alkalinity (TA), calcium hardness (CH) and stabilizer levels. Testing your pool water is a very simple way to ensure your pool has balanced water. Take a sample of pool water to your Authorized poolife® Dealer each month during the summer season for a detailed analysis. Or you could invest in a good quality test kit or poolife® test strips to measure for pH, free available chlorine and total alkalinity. Test strips are a quick and easy alternative to the traditional test kit.
- pH: 7.2 – 7.6
- FAC: 1 – 4 p.p.m. (parts per million)
- TA: 60 – 120 p.p.m.
- CH: 200 – 500 p.p.m. (up to 1,000 is acceptable)
- Stabilizer: 20 – 50 p.p.m.
- Wait 24 hours after a shock treatment before testing for FAC or pH.
- Rinse the collection container a few times with pool water. Do this before and after each use.
- Collect water that is 18 inches (about an arm’s length) below the surface and away from an inlet pipe.
- Test the water promptly after collecting it.
- Replace all test solutions at the beginning of the summer season.
- Always correct the TA before adjusting the pH.
For personal professional advice, visit your Authorized poolife® dealer.
Routine Pool Care Summary
- Test and adjust the pH and chlorine levels
- Run your filtration system 8 – 12 hours a day during summer (12 hours is better).
- Test the Total Alkalinity level.
- Shock treat with your preferred poolife® shock treatment product.
- Add a preventive dose of your preferred poolife® algaecide.
- Remove leaves and other debris from pool.
- Empty skimmer and pump baskets.
- Brush pool floor and walls. Check water level and top up if necessary.
- Check filter pressure and backwash only if required (follow manufacturer’s recommendations).
- Take a pool water sample to your Authorized poolife® Dealer for a full water analysis. This should include: pH, FAC, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, TDS, Cyanuric and Metals.
Winterizing & Closing Your Pool
You can contact your authorized poolife® Dealer for a professional pool closing or winterizing service. However if you are a seasoned pool owner or a do-it-yourselfer, follow these simple steps:
The method you use to close your pool (winterizing) is important and will vary depending on a cold or warm climate. Closing your pool properly will save you money, time and chemicals at the beginning of the next season.
- Take a pool water sample to an Authorized poolife® Dealer for a full analysis.
- Balance the water per the dealer’s recommendations. If metals are detected, add poolife® Intensive Stain Prevention™ product per label directions.
- Thoroughly brush and vacuum the pool.
- Shock the water with poolife® TurboShock® shock treatment or poolife® Rapid Shock® shock treatment per label directions for Winterizing.
- Add a winterizing dose of your preferred poolife® Algaecide – follow label directions.
- Run the filter for 24 – 48 hours. Thoroughly vacuum and remove any debris.
- If there is a chlorine feeder connected to the pool, make sure that there is no remaining chemical in the feeder. Clean and flush the feeder per manufacturer’s directions or run filter until all remaining chemical has been dissolved.
- Clean the filter with the appropriate poolife® Filter Cleaner per label directions.
- Follow pool manufacturer’s directions on draining the pool so that the water level is below the skimmers, and inlet lines.
- Winterize all equipment following the manufacturer’s directions.
- Cover pool with properly fitting pool cover. Cover should be resistant to water, weather and pool chemicals. Seal the edge of the cover to prevent wind from getting under it. This will save you clean-up time when you re-open your pool by keeping out unwanted debris. (If you secure the cover with water bags, fill them only halfway to allow for expansion if they freeze.
For Regions with Milder Winters
If the pool is not covered during the months that it is not in use, follow the steps below:
- Follow steps 1 – 8 above.
- Continue good pool cleaning practices.
- Reduce the filter cycle to half of its swimming season setting.
- Clean the skimmer and pump baskets weekly or as needed.
- Monitor the pH, chlorine, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels and adjust as necessary.
- Cover pool if desired. Even though you are not completely closing down your pool, you may want to cover it to keep leaves and dirt out, as well as reduce the need for chemicals and chlorination.