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Swimming Pool Water Chemistry

General Info

On a hot summer day, who wouldn't want to jump into a cool and refreshing pool? And then, as the sun sets, what better way to relax than to slip into your own backyard spa -- summer or winter?

But enjoying all that requires some regular attention. Remember, the water in your pool and spa is an ever-changing environment that calls for constant and careful monitoring. For some, this means hiring a professional service technician to come by once or twice a week. You can, however, take care of your pool and spa yourself.

The need to treat water has been widely accepted for a long time. Sanitation, especially, is recognized as a means of controlling communicable diseases. The pool operator is expected to provide safe, clean water for bathers.

More recently, however, the importance of mineral saturation, or 'water balance" as it is more popularly known, is recognized by those responsible for maintaining the pool and equipment. Water can become aggressive and destroy pools with corrosion, or it can become scaling and damage the pool with mineral deposits.

The pool operator must learn about the use of chemical agents for sanitation and for control of pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness. The operator is expected to protect both the swimmers and the pool itself. This is written to present the necessary chemical treatments and sufficient background information to know when and how to use them.

Here's a basic guide to pool and spa water chemistry. It will give you a general outline of the issues that shape routine care.

  • Water Sanitizing Components
    • Chlorination
      • Sanitation
      • Oxidation
      • Superchlorination
      • Combined Chlorine
      • Breakpoint Chlorination
      • Inorganic and Organic Chlorine
      • Effect of pH on Chlorine
      • Chlorine Gas
      • Sodium Hypochlorite
      • Calcium Hypochlorite
      • Lithium Hypochlorite
      • Chlorinated Isocyanurates
      • Chlorination Summary
    • Alternative Sanitizers
      • Bromine
      • Iodine
      • Ozone
    • Electrolytic Cells
      • Brine Method
      • In-Line Method
      • Automation
    • Silver
    • Non-Chlorine Oxidizers
    • Other Pool Chemicals
      • Flocculants
      • Algaecides
      • Chelating or Squestering Agents
      • Degreasers
      • Defoamers
      • Cyanuric Acid
  • Balanced Water
    • Chlorine
    • Bromine
    • pH
    • Total Alkalinity
    • Total Hardness
    • Total Dissolved Solids
    • Stabilizer
  • Pool and Spa Water Testing and Testing Routines
    • Chlorine
    • Bromine
    • pH
    • Total Alkalinity
    • Total Hardness
    • Total Dissolved Solids
    • Superchlorination or Shocking
  • Adding Chemicals to Water
  • Glossary of  Terms - Water Chemistry
  • Troubleshooting Guide
    • Pool
    • Spa
  • Advanced Pool and Spa Water Chemistry
    • Chloramines
      • OTO
      • DPD