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pH Levels

pH is the measurement of acidity of water - measured on a scale of 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. A pH below 7.0 means the water is very acidic, as the pH approaches 8.0, the water becomes very basic (alkaline).

Not only do proper pH levels allow the other chemicals to do their work, but it is important to note that low and high levels can cause damage to a vinyl liner. Under the right circumstances with pH below 7.0, the liner can actually grow and develop unsightly wrinkles. High pH greatly accelerates the aging process and shortens the life of the liner and can cause scale to form on the liner.

Chlorine is much less effective at higher pH levels. At a pH of 8.0, chlorine is only 22% effective.

Total Alkalinity

Alkalinity is a measuring of the alkaline materials dissolved in water. With the alkalinity in the range of 100 to 150 PPM it helps pH to resist fluctuations. If the alkalinity is low the result is "pH bounce" in and out of range.  A low total alkalinity can cause wrinkles to form in the liner. Low pH and low total alkalinity usually go together.

Calcium Hardness

Calcium Hardness refers to the amount of dissolved minerals in water. A low hardness can lead to corrosion of pool surface, filter, heater, ladder, ect. A calcium hardness level that is too high causes cloudy water and scaling (white chalky appearance and a sand paper feel on vinyl liner or fiberglass.).

Out of Balance Water

  • Eye and skin irritation
  • Staining
  • Unsightly wrinkles in vinyl liners
  • Interferes with the efficiency of sanitizes
  • Corrosion of metals (pump seals, heaters, lights, ect.)
  • Cloudy water
  • Scale build up (white chalky appearance) on pool surface as well as inside filter and heater
  • Pitting and corrosion of gunite/concrete pools
  • Cloudy Water
  • The murky, dull appearance of cloudy water can leave the pool looking uninviting. Cloudy water may also harbor contaminants and stain-makers.

    Causes of Cloudy Water

    Contaminants buildup: When swimmer wastes and other contaminants build up, the result is "combined chlorine". Shock the pool!!!

    Chemical residue: Using a calcium hypochlorite shock such as (*Bio Guard Burn out Extreme, Smart Shock) can result in a residue build up and cloudy water. If the water looks like chalk or milk, it is usually the result of using a lot of calcium hypochlorite shock. To use this type of shock, especially in vinyl liner pools to prevent bleaching of the liner, you must:

    • Fill a bucket about 1/2 full of water in a 5 gallon plastic bucket
    • Whenever adding chemicals to the pool always wear eye protection.
    • Add Shock - do not stir with a wood or plastic paddle - let sit for a few minutes - pour only the liquid into the pool
    • Discard the residue
    • You can mix the residual up to 2 more  times.
    • Do not discard the residual into the trash. 
  • Water Out of Balance: A high pH, high Total Alkaline or High Calcium Hardness will cause cloudy water. Test the water!!
  • Algae: Algae is a possible cause of cloudy water.

    Poor Filtration: Is the filter system running a significant number of hours every day? During the swim season, the filter needs to run a minimum of 12 to 14 hours daily.

    Pools with cloudy water or algae.

  • Metals: The presence of metals in the water such as iron (reddish-brown), copper (blue-green) or manganese (brown-red) can cause cloudy water. To remove the metals:
    • Add Keetrol Plus(Stain & Scale Preventer) to remove any stains 1 quart for 25,000 for levels 2 ppm or below. above 2 ppm contact our pool Guru
    • Use Keetrol Plus weekly to prevent reoccurrence
  • Adding Water Balance Adjustment Chemicals
  • Follow the recommendation for adding balancing chemicals from the chart below. Then pour in front of a return with the pump running.\



    pH increaser

    Add directly to pool (1)

    pH decreaser (dry form)

    Add directly to pool

    Alkalinity Increaser

    Add directly to pool (2)

    Calcium Increaser

    Add directly to pool (3)


    Add to skimmer SLOWLY (4)


    Add directly to pool (5)

    Muriatic Acid

    Add Directly to pool (6)





    (1) If The pH level is below 7.0 then never add more than 1 pound of pH rise per 10,000 gallons of pool water at least 30 minutes       apart

    (2)Never add more than 1 pound per 1,000 gallons of pool water at least 30 minutes apart.

    (3)Never add more add more 1 pound per 1,000 gallons of pool water at least 30 minutes apart.  In concrete plaster pools premix calcium before add to pool water and add to deep end by return jet. If you have a salt generator always turn the unit off for 24 hours after adding salt.  This means you turn the production of chlorine off not the filter system.

    (4)Make sure the strainer basket on the pump is clean. Remove the skimmer basket in the automatic surface skimmer  on the side of the pool.  Use the skimmer closest to the filter equipment. Pour the stabilizer into the skimmer SLOWLY, make it look like a light snow flurry in the skimmer. This could take a bit of time so let the family member who has the most patients do this job. THE CONSEQUENCES: Stabilizer is a very hard chemical to dissolve if you were to pour it directly into the pool it would take over 30 days to dissolve.  By pouring the stabilizer into the skimmer the stabilizer will end up in the filter where the water will run over it at a high speed and erode it quickly but not instantly it will still take at least 2 days to dissolve. So make sure you don't clean or backwash your filter for at least 2 days. If you do clean or backwash your filter before the 2 day period is complete you will clean or backwash the stabilizer out of the filter before it has time to dissolve into the pool water and you will have lost it and have to add more. This would be a very expensive lesson. The other consequence involves the speed at which you pour the stabilizer into the skimmer.  If you pour it to quickly it will clogg the pipe. When the stabilizer sets up it will set up like concrete and be almost impossible to dislodge and it will take 1-3 years to dissolve. If you only have one skimmer this can be a real big problem SO BE VERY CAREFUL HOW YOU ADD THE STABILIZER.  An alternative method t o adding stabilizer is to make sure the pool is clean then spread the stabilizer widely across the bottom of the pool then vacuum it up.   The down side is if you vacuum the pool to quickly it will clog the line so don't let the stabilizer clump in large piles.

    (5)Add salt directly to the pool in the shallow end only.  If any salt sits on the bottom of the pool brush it up until it is dissolved. Only purchase industrial grade salt. Do not use food grade salt or water soften salt. Always turn the salt generator off for 24 hours when you add salt to the pool. This means you turn the production of chlorine off not the filter system.

    (6) When you add muriatic acid to the pool it is either to lower the pH level or to lower the Total Alkalinity.  How you add this product will effect your results.  If you are just trying to lower the pH lever keep the pump circulating and spread the acid around the pool as much as possible. Be careful how you handle this hazerdous product DO NOT SPLASH IT ON YOU IT WILL BURN YOU and wear old clothes while apply this product. If you are trying to lower the Total Alkalinity turn the pump off and wait 1 hour then pour no more than one gallon of acid into a single spot at least 10 feet apart. How much acid depends on how high your Total Alkalinity is, we recomend you take a water sample to a pool professional like a Bio Guard Dealer to determine how much acid to use.  Then leave the pump off for at least 30 minutes and then turn the pump on again. 


    Chlorine Stabilizer (100% Cyanuric Acid)

    Stabilizer acts as a sun shield to extend the life of chlorine up to 3 1/2 times. It actually holds the useful form of chlorine in the pool water until needed giving longer protection against bacteria and algae. It leaves no residue - 100% soluble.  You will only loose stabilizer through dilution so "Stabilized" chlorine products (sticks - tablets - chlorine powder) contain some cyanuric acid which helps to maintain the proper level throughout the season.

    Adding stabilizer IMPORTANT INFORMATION

    With clean pool - backwash filter. Make sure your strainer basket on the main pump is free of debris remove the skimmer basket from the skimmer closest to the pool filter system. Pour stabilizer very slowly through the skimmer with the pump running continuously for at least 48 hours. When you pour the stabilizer into the skimmer shake it in slowly from the container directly into the skimmer making it look like a light snow flurry as the flakes go down to the suction hole in the bottom of the skimmer.   Do not backwash for 3 or 4 days after adding stabilizer.  The reason you have to add the stabilizer to the skimmer is it is very difficult to dissolve stabilizer.  If you were to toss the stabilizer into the pool it would take over 30 days to dissolve.  By putting the stabilizer into the skimmer it ends up in the filter were the water runs over it at a high velocity. Even when you do this it will take at least 2 days or longer (depending on water temperature) to dissolve. The other issue is the possibility of plugging the skimmer line. When you pour stabilizer into the skimmer to quickly it could plug the skimmer line.  When stabilizer gets in a pipe and clogs the pipe it will set up like concrete and block the pipe not allowing water to flow through the pipe.  If this should occur it will take over 1 year for the stabilizer to dissolve.  There is no know chemical that will dissolve stabilizer other than water. In most swimming pools the builders use true 90 elbows rather than a sweep 90 Elbow that plumbers use so you cannot get a roto type rooter down the pipe to clear the blockage.  This said if you follow the directions you should be trouble free.

    Pool Maintenance

    Testing The Water

    • Follow test kit instructions (test strips are easier to use than kits)
    • Use fresh reagents - shelf life for liquid reagents is only one year.
    • Rinse out test cell with pool water before using.
    • Retrieve water sample at elbow depth from deep end of the pool
    • if using a liquid test kit drop the proper number of drops into cell and put the caps on the cell (DO NOT USE YOUR FINGER TO PLUG THE HOLES) then invert the cell so that the reagents mix with the water. 
    • Hold the cell up to a white surface with your light source behind you then read the colors to determine if you levels are correct.
    • Have a question about how to test your pool water ask our swimming pool Guru
  • Most Important Pool Side Tests: Free Chlorine - pH - Total alkalinity --- Free chlorine is the unused, effective chlorine that you want in your pool. --- pH a number of influences can bring out rapid shifts in the pool's pH These include:
    • Rain
    • Swimmer wastes
    • Refill water
    • pH of various pool chemicals including chlorine.


    Mustard Algae - Common algae in pools appears yellow-brown or "mustard" colored. It brushes off the walls of the pools easily, but quickly returns. It often rows in shady areas with poor circulation. It is resistant to low levels of chlorine and requires a  shock treatment and special algaecide.

    Solution - Use Bio Guard Banish along with chlorine shock. Follow label directions. The day after adding Bio Guard Banish place all vacuum equipment - hose, head, pole, brushes, bathing suites, toys games, test kits any thing you can think of that was in the pool while the mustard algae was in the pool back in the pool for at least 20 minutes. Take a bucket of pool water and clean any patio furniture by the pool and clean the pool deck. Maintain a 3-5 ppm chlorine reading for 4 to 5 days after treatment.

    Green Algae - Green algae is one of the most common problems for pools. It usually appears in corners or other areas where circulation is poor. Once established, green algae can grow explosively.

    Solution - Use Bio Gurad Algae All 60, Back Up, or Bio Guard Banish along shock and Polysheen Blue. Follow label directions. Brush the walls and manually vacuum the pool. Shock the pool with 1 pound shock per 10,000 gallons of pool water if you have visable algae on the floors and walls, use 2 pounds shock per 10,000 gallons of pool water if the pool has a green cloudy appearance, use 3 pounds of shock per 10,000 gallons of pool water if the pool is green and you cannot see the bottom of the pool. Run the filter for at least 24 hours straight or until the pool is clear.

    Black Algae - A very resistant form of algae that clings to the pool's walls, floor, and cracks. The longer black algae is present, the more difficult it will be to to get rid of it. Black algae can actually pit the marcite finish in a gunite pool. Treat black algae as soon as it is detected. Black algae is usually found in gunite/concrete pools but can also occur in vinyl liner and fiberglass pools.

    Solution - Brush algae spots vigorously with a stiff algae brush or in a concrete pool with a masonary finish you may use a stainless steel bristle brush (do not use a stainless steel bristle brush if you have a painted surface) and pour Algae All 60 along the sides where spots are visible. Run filter continuously for one hour, then add shock at the rate of 2 pounds per 10,000 gallons of pool water. Brush algae spots every day until you have lost sight of them then continue to brush the spots for another 3-4 days.  Algae is a microscopic organisim the individual spores cannot be seen with the eye and if you stop brushing the black algae when you loose sight it will grow back in a few days.


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