Like interconnected gears, Water Balance is the relationship between different chemical measurements of your pool water. It’s an extremely important aspect of pool care. A good combination of chemical water balance as well as proper circulation and filtration, is required to keep your water clean and clear.
Not balancing your pool water properly? There are several drawbacks to ignoring water balance, such as the many Recreational Water Illnesses that can affect a person’s health. The likelihood of breaking out in skin rashes or eye irritations is high in a poorly balanced, filtered and sanitized pool.
Improper balancing of chemicals can also affect the health of your liner as well as your other pool equipment. You can develop scaling and even stains on the liner. Balancing chemicals are not usually ones that will stain the liner, but improper water balance makes it easier for stains to form on a vinyl liner.
Vinyl Liner Problems from Poor Water Chemistry
Some of the major problems are caused from not enough, or too much, sanitizer in the swimming pool. Not balancing the pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness can also damage your swimming pool as well as the equipment like the filter and pump.
Alkalinity: Recommendations for Alkalinity in a Vinyl Lined Pool
The Total Alkalinity reading for your swimming pool should be between 80-120 ppm (parts per million). If your alkalinity is too high, you can have signs of scaling and the water will probably be very cloudy. In this case, the pH will probably be very high also. By adding pH down, or pH decreaser, you will be lowering the pH as well as the Alkalinity.
If your alkalinity is too low, you may also have a low pH condition, which is very corrosive to pool liners, and rubber seals and o-rings. As mentioned above, it is really important to balance the alkalinity first and then then adjust your pH level. Without the proper level of alkalinity, your pH will seek it’s own level, and resist adjustments that you make – or “bounce” right back to where it was before adding your pH up or pH down chemical. Add alkalinity increaser if your levels are below 80 ppm.
pH : Recommendations for pH in a Vinyl Liner Pool
pH should be between the range of 7.2 – 7.6. If pH is too high, you can see scaling and calcium deposits on your pool, and perhaps algae problems. The water may also have cloudiness issues. If the pH is too low, you will have eye and skin irritations. Low pH – below 7.0, begins to become acidic, and acidic water will cause a vinyl liner to weaken. Use pH Increaser to raise pH level. It is important to remember that the Alkalinity level affects the pH level. If the pH is out of line, always check and balance the alkalinity first, then balance the pH.
Calcium hardness is also very important to the chemical balancing of your vinyl liner swimming pool. Calcium for a liner pool can be a bit lower than a plaster pool, in the range of 150-250 ppm. If a vinyl liner’s calcium level is too low, this soft water situation could lead to foaming and other water problems, and can harm the vinyl.
If the calcium hardness level is very high (over 400 ppm), you could begin to see signs of scaling, a white flaky crust, on the pool and equipment surfaces. Your skin could begin to feel itchy. The water, itself, will not feel silky smooth (because it is very “hard”). For calcium levels that are below 150 ppm, you will need to add some calcium increaser. If the calcium is very high, it is best to empty some of the water and refill with softer water.
If continual, high levels of pool chlorine can dry out a liner, as it sucks out the material that makes vinyl soft and pliable. High chlorine levels also fade the colors of a pool liner, giving you what’s known as a “bleached” pool liner. My recommendation for chlorine, is to use less of it – by investing in a Nature2 or Frog mineral system. These units use silver and copper ions to help purify your water, and can reduce your chlorine usage by half. The money you save in chlorine will be spent on the mineral cartridges, so no immediate savings, but in the long run, your liner should last much longer.
Shocking the pool can also be hard on a vinyl liner. If you are going to use granular or powdered pool shock, make sure to mix the shock in a bucket of water before adding it to the pool. You do not want to have undissolved granules landing on the liner, it can instantly bleach out the color, or damage the vinyl. Another option is to use a non-chlorine shock, instead of chlorine shock.
Cyanuric acid, sold as a “chlorine stabilizer” is sometimes considered a component of water balance, and it is sold on our Water Balancers page. But it’s not really part of water balance. Adding stabilizer to the pool, to the level of 30-50 ppm, will protect the chlorine molecules from the sun, “stabilizing” them from the effects of the sun.
Water Balance then, is not such a complicated exercise. Test your water at least weekly, with a fresh test kit or test strips – and make any adjustments, to maintain the proper levels. This will protect your pool liner, from corrosive or scaling water conditions, and prevent the need for a replacement inground pool liner – too soon.
Each type of pool (concrete, vinyl, fiberglass, tile) has slightly unique differences when it comes to water balance and the process of maintaining the water chemistry of the pool. Here’s a look at water balance for a vinyl liner pool.
WATER BALANCE IN A VINYL POOL
A lot of people call and ask what does water balance actually mean. Water balance is very important to maintaining your pool as well as keeping the water safe for your swimmers. Balancing your pool means to make sure your pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness are at the levels they are supposed to be.
If the water is not balanced, you can slowly ruin a vinyl pool liner. The liner can bleach, pucker, wrinkle; stains and discoloration can start appearing on the liner and calcium deposits can form on the pool liner. Swimmer’s skin can become irritated, as well as their eyes.
Some of things affect your water balance are the weather, swimmer load, suntan oils, dirt and leaves. Every time the wind blows, your water changes, constantly. This is why it is so important to check your water at least twice a week. You will need to test and balance the pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness.
Do not use a cheap-o pool test kit to try to balance your water. Use 7-way test strips or a 5-way test kit that checks for everything. Or, we have this 4-way test kit that can also do the job.
Finally, only add one adjustment chemical at a time unless instructions tell you otherwise. Allow the first chemical to circulate and dissolve for a few minutes before adding another chemical.
PH, TOTAL ALKALINITY & CALCIUM HARDNESS
To balance a vinyl pool, start with the Alkalinity first. The alkalinity should be between 80-120 ppm for a vinyl liner pool. Next, I would adjust the pH. The pH should be between 7.4-7.6. Last you would want to test your Calcium Hardness. The calcium hardness is best at a minimum of200 ppm.
Alkalinity is the buffering capacity of your pool water, and helps to keep your pH stable. do not allow your alkalinity to drop below 80 ppm. If the alkalinity is to low for long periods of time, the liner will begin to wrinkle and pucker, and you will have problems controlling the pH, creating a possibly acidic environment – not good for vinyl.
When calcium hardness is low in a swimming pool, it will try to extract calcium from the pool walls. This is more evident in a concrete/gunite pool, as it pulls calcium from the plaster. In a vinyl liner pool where there is not enough calcium, it cannot pull calcium from the liner, but it saps the flexibility of the vinyl. If the calcium hardness level is too low for a long period of time the liner will become very brittle, and you may begin to see tiny holes in the liner.
MINERALS IN A VINYL POOL
When you have a vinyl liner pool, you want to test for minerals in the water. If you have minerals in your water, especially well water, they can stain a vinyl liner pool. it is easier to try to prevent the minerals from staining the pool liner or the pool steps, than it is to remove them.
We have products like Metal Free which will lock up these metals, keeping the liner stain free. If you already have stains on your liner, we have many stain chemicals that will remove stains, and there is also a pool stain test kit that can identify the stain and tell you how to treat it.
SANITIZERS IN A VINYL POOL
Most chemicals need to be dissolved or they could stain a pool liner. Reading the package instructions is extremely important, and please never mix chemicals.
Chlorine tablets should never be put into a skimmer or a floater on a vinyl pool, as they could harm the vinyl. Use a Chlorinator mounted by the equipment. Salt Chlorinators are very nice used with vinyl pools, and most users find the softer water to be better for their liner.
When shocking or super-chlorinating the pool, always pre-dissolve the powder in a bucket of water, to prevent any of the undissolved granules from falling to the pool liner. Be sure to pour the powder into a bucket filled with water, not the other way around.
It’s recommended with vinyl liners to shock only as needed, and to only the level needed. Needlessly high levels of chlorine are corrosive and slowly bleach or weaken the vinyl. For this reason, my final recommendation is to use a non-chlorine shock with vinyl pools for regular shocking, and save the chlorine shock for pool opening, or when fighting algae blooms.
SPP Pool Expert
The alkalinity should be between 80-120 ppm for a vinyl liner pool. Next, I would adjust the pH. The pH should be between 7.4-7.6. Last you would want to test your Calcium Hardness.
A properly balanced pool has a pH level is in the range of 7.2 to 7.8 on a pH test kit's numeric scale. The scale has levels from 0 to 14. 0 to 7 reflects a low or acidic pH, and 8 to 14 means the pool has a base pH level.
For vinyl pools, calcium should be between 150-250 ppm. A low level can result in foaming, which is unpleasant but shouldn't harm the liner. If calcium hardness goes above 400 ppm, you will likely see a white, flaky crust on the liner and pool equipment.
- pH (between 7.2 and 7.6)
- Total Alkalinity (between 80 and 125 ppm)
- Calcium Hardness (between 175 and 250 ppm minimum)
- Free Chlorine Residual (between 1.0 and 1.5 ppm)
- Cyanuric Acid (between 40 and 75 ppm)
- Never mix chemicals together.
Chlorine tablets such as dichlor and trichlor can damage vinyl liner pools if they come in contact with the liner. Chlorine tablets are often highly concentrated. As a result, they increase chlorine concentration which can bleach and weaken the liner's vinyl material, greatly reducing its life.
We always recommend adjusting alkalinity first as it's so important to the pH. Alkalinity is, after all, a measure of how much acid the water can neutralize. Properly balanced alkalinity leads to a properly balanced pool.
Generally speaking you adjust PH first, chlorine second, and worry about everything else more gradually. However, there are many situations where you can adjust two or more numbers at the same time if the correct combination presents it's self.
Low Pool Water Hardness
If your pool water is below 150 ppm, you need to add more calcium. At this point, your water will appear clear and sparkling. But its appearance is deceptive. In this state, the water isn't at a safe level.
No, baking soda works with the pH balancing of spa pool water and does not increase calcium hardness. However, adding baking soda within several hours of adding calcium carbonate to water will cause water to turn cloudy and is not recommended.
Calcium isn't really required in a vinyl pool. We set the recommended minimum level at 50 for vinyl pools because we don't have enough experience at levels below 50 to be sure that it is completely trouble free.
(Sodium dichloro-s -triazinetrione) or Di-chlor for short, is the chlorine you MUST USE for all vinyl pools! Di-Chlor is fast dissolving – It will not sit on the vinyl and eat away at it.
If your pool's liner is made of vinyl, you'll need to be careful about using too much shock. To avoid vinyl damage, you can mix shock with water in a bucket and make sure it's completely dissolved before adding it to your pool. This will help the granules mix into the water better.
Nonetheless, even if the color stays intact, continuous high chlorine level is corrosive, and affects the plasticity of the vinyl, by slowly pulling the resins from the material.
A typical vinyl liner lasts between 10 and 15 years, though there are many factors that can affect its lifespan. Living in an area susceptible to ground water problems can reduce your liner's life, as can not keeping the water in your pool balanced.
For a vinyl pool, we have two types of oxidizer that can be used safely and without having to pre-dissolve in a bucket before adding to the pool. Non-Chlorine Shock: This oxidizer is 100 percent potassium peroxymonosulfate, a mixture of salts that is completely safe to handle and store.
The cause of fading and discoloration on your vinyl pool liner are usually often the result of the chemicals and the sun exposure. Harsh sun and chemical exposure can cause your liner to fade prematurely, though slight fading is common and occurs gradually over time.
The only reliable way to remove calcium silicate deposits is with a pumice stone — and a lot of hard work. These stains are notoriously difficult to scrub free. If you have a vinyl or fiberglass pool, you won't be able to use a pumice stone. It would scratch the pool.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate is naturally alkaline, with a pH of 8. When you add baking soda to your pool water, you will raise both the pH and the alkalinity, improving stability and clarity. Many commercial pool products for raising alkalinity utilize baking soda as their main active ingredient.
Baking soda improves clarity and softness of pool water.
The pH should fall between 7.2 and 7.8, and the alkalinity level should be between 80 and 120 ppm (parts per million). If the readings for both pH and alkalinity are low, then add baking soda to your pool.
In the case where too much baking soda is added to hard water, it can cause a build-up of calcium around your pool. Too much calcium can cause cloudiness around a pool, while also building up scales on the surface of the pool.
ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda is safe and natural so it can be used on just about anything—including your kids' toys. Here are some more handy uses for around the pool. Clean thoroughly with a solution of ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda and water.
Borax acts as an effective pH buffer and helps prevent algae growth in swimming pools. Plus, it will leave your water looking sparkly and feeling soft.
How to add calcium to your swimming pool - YouTube
It could get into the plaster or damage your pool liner. Plus pool stabilizer granules don't feel good on your feet.
To raise your pool pH levels, try adding in sodium carbonate (AKA soda ash). Make sure that you don't add any more than two pounds of soda ash per 10,000 gallons of water per treatment. When adding in the soda ash, start adding from the deep end of your pool and work your way up to the shallow end.
Liquid chlorine is generally less costly than granular shock and comes in refillable containers, where granular shock does not. Liquid chlorine does not need to dissolve in your water as it is already in liquid form. In addition, liquid chlorine is non-scaling and leaves no residue.
Powdered chlorine is the most typical form of chlorine used in a domestic pool environment. It is typically only slightly more expensive than liquid chlorine but it is much easier to use and has a lower pH, therefore has less impact on your pool's balance when used.
Liquid chlorine is a much better choice than tablets for shocking. It is going to go to work right away and get your chlorine levels high in a short time. Saying that, it is an expensive way to do it. Calcium Hypochlorite (cal-hypo) is a much more cost effective way.
Steps for Preventing Algae
If your pool is used frequently, shock it at least once a week. Clean or backwash your filter regularly. Run your pool pump for at least 10 hours per day to completely circulate the water. Keep your phosphate levels below 100 ppb (parts per billion).
Buttons, zippers, metal clasps, and miscellaneous objects found in your pockets can damage the vinyl liner if you accidentally rub up against it. Avoid any clothing with metal that could damage the liner, as noted above. Remove your shoes before entering the pool or use water shoes if you want your feet covered.
Power washers can damage an older or brittle liner and could cause tears where opening were cut for skimmers and returns.
Ask the Pool Guy - How to Brush and Shock Your Vinyl Pool - YouTube
How Much Does It Cost to Repair or Replace a Vinyl Pool Liner? It can cost as little as $30 to patch a small rip or tear yourself, and as much as $4,000 to completely replace a vinyl liner. An in-ground pool liner typically costs between $700 and $1,500 for materials, plus installation costs of $1,000 to $2,500.
Your pool liner is no different. A light pool liner is going to give a light, airy feel — kind of like a beach or tropical vibe. Dark-colored liners, on the other hand, can give your pool a rich, bold look and make your pool seem deeper.
Underneath the liner is a sand or cementitious floor, troweled into place. The floor sidewalls come up to meet the walls, which are commonly 42” x 8 ft panels made of galvanized steel or thermoplastic. These walls are supported from behind so that they won't bow out against the weight of the water.
Both liquid and powder shocks contain the same active chemical used for pool sanitation, but their usage and strength are different. Other than coming in a different form, liquid chlorine is also more budget-friendly and unstabilized. On the other hand, powder shock is easy to stabilize, and its solid form dissolves.
Shocking your pool regularly will help to keep the water clean and free of contaminants. You should aim to shock your pool about once a week, with the additional shock after heavy use. Some tell-tale signs that your pool needs to be shocked are cloudy, foamy, green, or odourous water.
The use of a chlorine based sanitizing system is going to bleach your liner, there is no way around that. The higher the active chlorine level, the quicker the fading will occur. Be especially careful when shocking, closing or opening the pool.
Pools with vinyl liners will last more than 20 years, as long as you replace your liner every 6-12 years. Concrete pools have exceptional longevity, but you need to resurface the concrete every 10 years or so. Fiberglass pools have the longest lifespans of any in-ground pool, often easily surpassing 30 years.
When it comes to choosing a liner, the 20 mil thickness is typically the least expensive and on average normally lasts about 10- 12 years.
If you have a vinyl liner, you'll be happy to know you can use a salt chlorinator system in your pool without taking any extra precautions. The liner will be exposed to lower levels of chlorine, so it may even extend your liner's lifespan. However, many inground pools have galvanized walls behind the liner.
The most immediate effect is felt by swimmers as the water will sting their eyes, nasal passages and will dry out skin and hair, causing itching. Acidic, low pH water corrodes metal surfaces and pool accessories such as ladders, railings, light fixtures, and any metals in your pumps, filters or heaters.
A rule of thumb is 1.5 lbs. of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water will raise alkalinity by about 10 ppm. If your pool's pH tested below 7.2, add 3-4 pounds of baking soda. If you're new to adding pool chemicals, start by adding only one-half or three-fourths of the recommended amount.
You may also have issues with high alkalinity levels when you shock your pool. While it's important to shock your pool on a regular basis, chlorine-based pool shocks are highly alkaline and will raise pH and therefore alkalinity. So you may notice higher pH and total alkalinity after shocking your water.
Alkalinity Balance, pH up, pH down, Calcium Balance, Water Stabilizer, and clarifier are all swim-safe chemicals. Wait about 20 minutes, and you are free to swim.
Total Alkalinity (TA) is the first thing you should balance in your pool water. TA refers to the amount of alkaline material in the water. And since alkaline is a pH stabilizer, the number of alkaline substances in water will affect the pH balance. The ideal Total Alkalinity range for pool water is 80 – 120 ppm.
It will slightly raise your pH, so make sure you adjust pH while using it. As the name implies, it will also raise your calcium hardness levels in your pool slightly. It is sold in granular or in pucks/tablets.
If the pH gets higher than 7.8, the water is becoming too alkaline. When water is too alkaline, it reduces the effectiveness of the chlorine — the pool chemical that kills pathogens. Water with a pH that's too high also can cause skin rashes, cloudy water and scaling on pool equipment.
It's also not uncommon for pool owners to go a bit overboard when shocking their pool, and since chlorine-based pool shock is a high-alkaline substance, it will also naturally raise your pool alkalinity.
Using liquid chlorine raises the pH of the water.
Liquid chlorine does not raise pH. When added to water, liquid chlorine (which has a pH of 13) makes HOCl (hypochlorous acid – the killing form of chlorine) and NaOH (sodium hydroxide), which raises pH.
If you add chemicals to balance the water after testing, wait a full day – or even longer – before retesting. It takes about 24 hours for the chemicals to properly circulate in order to get an effective reading from the retest. The water test will assess the pH, chlorine, total alkalinity and calcium hardness.
In simple terms, pH is the concentration of acid protons [H+]. On the other hand, the alkalinity of a solution is its ability to neutralize acids. Alkalinity consists of ions that incorporate acid protons into their molecules so that they are not available as a free acid that can lower the pH.
How Does Baking Soda Work With Chlorine To Clean A Pool? Due to the versatile nature of chlorine, it can also be used to clean an acidic pool with a low PH level. But, to get the best out of chlorine in cleaning your pool, your pool water needs to be slightly alkaline.
The two most popular chemicals available to help you lower the total alkalinity in your swimming pool are muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate (also known as dry acid).
If the stabilizer level is too high in a pool, it will lock the chlorine molecules, rendering them ineffective as a sanitizer. This usually happens as a result of using chlorine tablets that contain cyanuric acid.
Add Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid)
Stabilizer is cyanuric acid. It's important that you get this right BEFORE adjusting the chlorine levels.
Baking soda is used to raise the total alkalinity of the pool. It isn't a stabilizer.