Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Water Balance
Testing swimming pool and hot tub water for proper chemical levels at least two to three times per week is an essential part of maintaining crystal clear, healthy water. There are six essential components for achieving the proper water balance; pH, Sanitizer, Calcium Hardness, Metals, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The most important components to proper water balance are Sanitation Level and pH.
Sanitizers come in many forms; Chlorine and Bromine are the most popular, the most efficient and the least expensive. There are also Peroxide and Ultraviolet sanitizers available. I did not list Salt generators as a sanitizing option because a Salt generator system simply takes the Salt molecule, NaCl and separates it into Sodium (Na) and Chlorine (Cl). Essentially, making a “Salt Pool”, a Chlorine sanitized pool. For the chosen sanitizer, the pH will need to be maintained at the optimal level of 7.2 – 7.6.
Ph is the most essential portion of water balance. A correct pH range of 7.2 – 7.6 will minimize burning of the eyes and itchy dry skin. Chlorine is not as effective as Bromine outside of the 7.2 – 7.6 pH range. That is why Bromine is the preferred sanitizer in a Hot tub, as the pH can swing wildly if the maximum number of bathers enter the Hot tub at the same time. Bromine also has a lower melting point than Chlorine, hence it is more easily dissolved in water than Chlorine. To avoid these swings in pH, keeping the Total Alkalinity at the correct level is critical.
Total Alkalinity (TA), refers to the alkaline materials dissolved in the water. The water’s ability to resist change in pH is directly related to the TA being adjusted properly. If the TA is too low, pH may swing in and out of the proper range. If TA is too high, you will have a difficult time getting the pH to adjust to where you want it.
Calcium Hardness is an important component of maintaining swimming pool and spa or hot tub equipment. If Calcium Hardness is too high, pumps and plumbing can build up Calcium deposits and ultimately cause equipment failure. If Calcium Hardness is too low, it can eat away at any concrete surface and cause premature “wear and tear” of pool or decking surfaces.
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Swimming Pool & Spa Water Testing Ranges
pH 7.2 – 7.6
Total Alkalinity 120-150 parts per million
Calcium Hardness 200-250 parts per million
Calcium Hardness 175-225 parts per million
Free Chlorine 1-3 parts per million
Free Bromine 3-5 parts per million
Metals: Copper 0 parts per million
Metals: Iron 0 parts per million