Water Balance FAQ

Pool Test
Here are some common problems that continuously come up regarding water chemistry. If you have issues not addressed here, please forward your question to brad.nelson@planetcoastal.com. We will answer all questions promptly in a direct email; if your problem is a fairly common one, we will add it to the FAQ page. If you need help with chemical dosing, click on the Pool Chemical Calculator in the right sidebar.


 

Fluctuating pH; pH Bounce; Erratic pH
Cloudy, Dull Water
Pitted Pool Surfaces
Strong Chlorine Odor


Fluctuating pH; pH Bounce; Erratic pH

pH fluctuation, or ‘bounce’, is a common problem related to an important balance parameter: Total Alkalinity. By definition, Total Alkalinity is a measurement of your water’s ability to resist changes in pH. The ideal range for TA is 80-150 ppm. Lower than 80 ppm and you can start to have erratic pH readings. The lower alkalinity gets, the more pH fluctuation you will likely have. This can cause eye and skin irritation as well as damaging pool surfaces. If your pH is unstable, you will likely notice that your sanitizer use is also erratic. This is because at higher pH levels, sanitizer becomes less effective, requiring more sanitizer to maintain adequate results. In short, you will use more sanitizer if pH is not properly maintained. It should be apparent by now that maintaining Total Alkalinity is the surest way to limit balance problems. If your pool is automated, maintaining proper alkalinity is even more important. Automation equipment can operate erratically at low alkalinity levels. It is a good practice to view alkalinity as the foundation upon which all other balance parameters rest. If you maintain it, you will reduce your “chronic” balance problems and lower your frustration level.

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Cloudy, Dull Water

There are so many causes of cloudy and dull water that it is safe to assume that any balance parameter that is out of normal range can cause it. Even so, there are a few common causes that we can look at first. Again, the importance of Total Alkalinity cannot be over-emphasized. Improperly maintained alkalinity can cause many issues, among them cloudy or dull water, either directly or through other balance parameters that are affected by poor alkalinity levels. Calcium Hardness is a possible candidate for cloudy water. The ideal range is 200-400 ppm; higher can cause clouding, as well as scaling of pool surfaces, pipes, and filters; lower and your water will start trying to get it’s own calcium through leaching of pool surfaces and, you guessed it, this can cause the water to cloud. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is a measurement of everything that’s dissolved in your water over time and is commonly used as an indicator of how “old” your water is. TDS above 1,500 ppm can lead to cloudy water, staining of pool surfaces, and scaling. Unfortunately, if this is your issue, the only remedy is draining and refilling, at least partially, with fresh water. You can also check for filtration issues, sanitizer levels, and stabilizer levels.

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Pitted Pool Surfaces

Pitting of pool surfaces is a sure sign that at some point the water was extremely aggressive. The first thing to check when you discover this issue is Calcium Hardness. The ideal range is 200-400 ppm and should be checked about once a month. If your calcium is low (and it can be ‘zero’), then your water has been trying to get it’s own calcium from the pool walls, hence the pitting. You can increase Calcium Hardness by adding Calcium Chloride and, although this will satisfy your water, it will do nothing to repair the pitting. At some point, repairs will likely have to be made.

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Strong Chlorine Odor

Contrary to what most people think, chlorine odor is not due to excessive chlorine, but too little free chlorine (and too much combined chlorine). Free chlorine actually has no unpleasant odor. The foul-smelling odor you’re struggling with occurs when free chlorine combines with impurities in the water. The odor is caused mainly by chlorine combining with ammonia-based impurities (sweat and, unfortunately, urine). The way to rid yourself of this is the addition of more free chlorine. Long story short, it’s time to shock your pool. An introduction of fresh (free) chlorine will scour the water of impurities, including combined chlorine. To help lessen the severity and frequency of this problem, especially on indoor pools, maintain a regular shock schedule. Also, ensure that your bathers shower before entering the pool and that little ones are properly diapered.

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