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This is a guest post by Scott H, and The Staff of Crystal Clear Pools & Spas in Austin, Texas who are renowned area experts in pool cleaning, maintenance, repair and renovations.
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Before you can enjoy the cool refreshing water of your swimming pool, you must first understand the simple, yet very important nature of pool chemicals. In order to ensure a clean and hygienic pool, and to make sure your water is safe for day long poolside adventures, certain chemical precautions have to be made to the pool you swim in!
Pool chemicals are needed in pools because they keep the water safe and free from harmful bacteria. The art of adding chemicals to a pool is a delicate task however, due to the fact that if you add too much of one chemical, you can cause problems, and vice versa for adding too little chemicals. Some combinations might even turn your pool into the neighborhood science experiment, so it is very important to know the pool chemical basics.
Sanitizer: Good old chlorineChlorine is used to kill germs and bacteria in the water. Chlorine is also the key component in making swimming pool water safe. Be safe - never mix up different type of chlorine, or any other chemicals, and always add chemicals to water, not water to chemicals. There are other types of sanitizer such as bromine, ozone or biguanide, but chlorine is by far the most popular and some of the sanitizers are not compatible with some pool types.
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Algae Control: Algaecide and AlgaestatAn algaecide is a pool chemical that kills all algae that is in the pool. An algaestat on the other hand is used to make the conditions unfavorable for the growth of algae. This prevents green and murky pools.
pH Control: Can I borrow your baking soda?Pool pH levels should stay between 7.2 and 7.8. If the pH is too low, you can use soda ash or baking soda to quickly raise it up. (Note from Swimator Blog: You could sometimes see the pool maintenance man or lifeguard dumping bags or boxes of a white powder into the water. Now you know that it is probably baking soda.) If it is too high, muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate can lower it to safe levels. The pH level is important in keeping your pool fresh and safe.
Particle Remover: Clarifiers and FlocculantsWater clarifiers and flocculants help particles floating in the water attract to one another and get filtered out or sink to the bottom of the pool. This makes it easy to vacuum the particles out of the water and keep your pool sparkling clean.
Calcium Hardness: Keep your pool equipment safeCalcium can have major affects on pool equipment when kept too low or too high. In order to best maintain your pool and its equipment (such as pool steps, drains, gutter, lane lines etc.) calcium hardness levels should be kept between 250 and 400 ppm.
Crystal Clear Pools & Spas: They have been installing pools for decades, and pride themselves in creating and installing high quality pool environments in your backyard that not only look amazing, but cool you down in the hot summer months.
From Swimator Blog: Don't be scared though. All the talk of chemicals in the pool can be a bit overwhelming and frightening, however, it is normally perfectly safe to swim in a pool. You can rest assured that your local swimming pool is probably doing a pretty fine and regular job of adding the appropriate chemicals into the pool and if you haven't heard of any stories where people's hair fell out after a swim then it's just fine:). (Note: wearing a swimming cap does not prevent your hair from getting wet) In most western countries, there are random health inspector checks performed throughout the year, so pools need to adhere to certain standards. If you are unsure about swimming in some pools, try asking the lifeguard about their chemical procedures or just quit being paranoid and jump in :). When you get out and your skin starts turning red, only then it is the time to go see the doctor.
If you have your own pool and would like to learn more or become an expert in pool chemicals and pool maintenance, there are usually courses available to get certified in keeping a pool chemically safe. You can for example become the Certified Pool Operator. If you think you had enough of the chemical talk for now, why not forget about the pool and go play the new Michael Phelps game on Xbox 360.