A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Pool Water Chemistry

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man cleaning the pool

A pool’s filter system does the heavy work as it keeps the pool water clean, but it’s the chemicals that deal with the details to make the water safe for every swimmer.

You might have the equipment, tools, and the pool itself. But having these resources isn’t enough to make a good pool. To have safe pool water, it’s important to maintain the recommended levels of pH. The role of pH is important, especially in preserving pipes, equipment, tiles, and even the health of others. Chlorine is often used to neutralize bacteria and prevent algae growth in swimming pools. But how well chlorine can do its job depends on the pH level of the water.

Here’s are some things every pool owner should know to keep their pool water safe and enjoyable for everyone:

What Is pH?

The meaning of pH is the potential of hydrogen. Simply put, it’s the measure of how acidic or basic water is. The levels of pH range from zero to 14, with seven being neutral. pH is a significant indicator of water that is changing chemically because it is altered by chemicals in the water. The pH scale is measured in “logarithmic units.” Each value signifies a 10-fold difference in the water’s acidity or basicness. For example, pool water with a pH of four is considered teen timeless more acidic than a pH level of five.

How Does pH Indicate Pool Water Quality?

The chlorine concentration in pools is very important for killing off germs, especially those that are transferred to the water. Urine, fecal matter, sweat, and dirt are brought to the pool by swimmers’ bodies.

The CDC recommends pH levels to be in the 7.2-7.8 range, which is best for killing germs, prevents illness, increases the lifespans of pipes, and being comfortable for swimmers. If the pH levels are below this range, it can lead to eye and skin irritation, and metal equipment to corrode. On the other hand, if pH levels are above this range, the chlorine will become ineffective in killing germs and can also cause skin and eye irritation. It causes harm to your pool too like scaling on tile walls and plumbing equipment, and cloud the water.

There are methods to regulate pH levels and one of which is adding muriatic acid to the pool water. Although that sounds a bit extreme and abrasive, it’s a practice many do to keep their pH levels to an equilibrium. However, if not administered properly or even after being diluted, it can still burn and irritate the skin. No pool owner can do without chemicals to manage a pool, so caution is advised. However, there is more than one muriatic acid alternative for pools in the market that are less abrasive and are safer to use.

To test for the pH level of your pool, use a DPD test kit, electronic pH meters, or the good ol’ test strips at least twice a day.

How Can Poor Pool Water Quality Affect a Person’s Health?

As pH levels contribute to the effectiveness of chlorine, it’s important to keep tabs on it as often as possible. Otherwise, health concerns may arise. In the past years, the CDC has reported pool-related outbreaks, with 58% caused by cryptosporidium which is a microscopic parasite. This parasite causes diarrhea that can last up to 3 weeks. Crypto is hard to eradicate once it’s in the water, even with chlorine present.

Other commons symptoms that indicate irritation or illness from bad pool water are ear pain, trouble breathing, cough, or congestion.

On the other side of this spectrum, the water can affect the hair too. Heard of swimmer’s hair before? Pool chemicals can cause hair’s cuticle exposed, which can cause other chemicals to react with your hair. This can give hair a green tint. Pigment molecules are affected by both pool chemicals and the sun, which can cause hair to lighten. But even UV radiation alone causes roughness and split ends to the hair.

A well-maintained pool shouldn’t smell like chlorine at all. If it does, what you’re smelling is known as “chloramines.” these are formed when urine, fecal matter, sweat, dirt, and more are mixed with chlorinated water. This doesn’t sound very appealing now, does it? That’s why some rules are strictly implemented especially in public pools. Some of these are showering before getting in the pool or take bathroom breaks when needed.

All this information is crucial in keeping a proper-maintained pool. Ultimately, the goal is to create a safe and fun place for everybody. This starts with efficient and effective pool equipment, prevent risks of illness

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