Guide written by:
Patrick, Handyman, Bath
At the start of the season or during regular pool maintenance, choosing the right product for your needs can be tricky. What can we find out from water analysis? Do I need to add a pH regulator? Chlorine? Bromine? Clarifier?... We'll 'clarify' it all for you!
- Disinfectant level
How do I successfully maintain my pool water?
Through water analysis of course!To make sure you use pool treatment products in the most prudent and effective way, you need to carry out analysis on your pool water; this is the only way to gauge its quality. Start by cracking out a ladle and you won't go far wrong!
Water analysis consists of measuring four parameters:
- Level of disinfectant;
- pH value;
- Stabilizer level;
These parameters are interdependent and problems arise because of an imbalance between them.
How to analyze your pool water?
Analysis is carried out using water analysis kits, in the form of coloured strips or small dosing bottles. There's also a digital option - electronic probes can also be used to test the various parameters.
Dosing bottles are supplied with a tube for collecting a few drops of pool water. Generally, this type of kit only measures the pH and the disinfectant level, which may prove insufficient especially for larger pools.
Paper test strips are therefore preferable for testing all four parameters. Easy to use, these strips consist of a swatch corresponding to each parameter. After a brief soak in the pool, the swatches take on a tint indicating the relevant parameter value. Their slightly higher cost is made up for by greater reliability resulting in a reduction inshock treatments.
You can also opt for automatic water treatment equipment . These devices continuously analyze the water and dispense the right amount of maintenance product. Although relatively expensive and requiring a specific installation, these devices may prove to be indispensable when watermonitoringcan not beregular as in the case of a secondary residence.
Automatic water treatment equipment
Why disinfect your pool water?
The aim of disinfectants is to preserve a healthy quality of water free of harmful microorganisms, while ensuring comfort for bathers and especially avoiding skin irritation and allergic reactions. They must therefore be used with caution and carefully dosed. The method of disinfection is often decided at the point of pool installation, but you can switch to a different method as long as precautions are taken for the transition between products.
There are several different methods of disinfection. The most widespread is chlorine-based, the chlorine being introduced directly into the pool or reconstituted from salt.
Bromine and PMHB can also be used as disinfectants. These products are less common because despite certain advantages, bromine and PHMB have drawbacks which restrict them to specific uses.
Why use chlorine in your pool?
We probably don't need to tell you that chlorine is the most common type of disinfectant product.Disinfection with chlorine is the most widespread because it doesn'trequire additional preparation - unlike salt, which requires an electrolyzer, for example.Chlorine is also the least expensive compared to bromine or PMHB. Chlorine intended for regular maintenance is in the form of pellets (so-called slow chlorine).The pellets are designed to diffuse slowly into the pool water, specifically at the point of filtration. They are positioned in skimmers or, for smaller above-ground pools, in containers that float on the surface.The price range of chlorine pellets is vast. If you're using the cheaper kind, watch out for their stabilizer level. For reasons of ease of manufacture, cheaper pellets contain large quantities. Stabilizer prolongs the lifetime of the chlorine, which has a tendency to disperse under the influence of UV. But, paradoxically, an excess of stabilizer decreases the effect of the chlorine. Unlike the chlorine, the stabilizer doesn't break down naturally. If your stabilizer level is too high, there are two solutions:
- Replace some of the water in the pool with fresh;
- Use chlorine pellets without stabilizer - significantly more expensive.
Note that you can also get slow chlorine pellets known as "multi-action", which include flocculant, clarifying and anti-algae agents. They can be used periodically in place of standard slow chlorine pellets. There are also more concentrated pellets available which last longer - useful if you're going away for a long period of time, for example.
Disinfection with salt: an explanation
Another method of disinfection is based on the introduction of salt through an electrolyser device located in the filtration circuit that generateschlorine from the salt.This system requires initial investment but makes it possible to maintain your pool water without the disadvantages of chlorine, particularly useful in case of sensitivity to the substance.In addition, water quality is kept more stable, fluctuating less through the season.Having said all this, don't expect all the buoyancy of the ocean as the dosage of salt is much lower!
What are the characteristics of other pool disinfectants?
Bromine is also used for disinfection and is more costly than chlorine. It's is also more dangerous and its handling and storage require greater precautions.Its performance is highly dependent on a stabilized pH level.It can be advisable for indoor pools due to its lack of smell.Even less common is PHMB treatment which, despite its stability and durability, has the disadvantage of requiring an additional algicide.
What treatment to use against green water and waterline stains?
There are several types of products available for cleaning your pool water and pool liner:
- Anti-algae treatments or algicides should be used when water becomes cloudy, or green or reddish stains appear on the pool liner. Generally, the liner becomes slippery and the water unpleasant to the touch. This problem may be related to a lack of disinfectant and is often due to an unbalanced pH value. Algicides come in liquid form, to be poured into the pool basin during filtration. These products should be handled with care and swimming should be prohibited during a period of filtration recommended by the suppliers. Algaecide is also poured into the swimming pool before wintering;
- Hydrogen peroxide or active oxygen are incredibly effective, particularly during pool refilling or when coming out of winter. Active oxigen is a powerful algaecide which can rapidly recover crystal-clear water. It also removes stains on the liner without damaging it. It is poured directly into the pool during filtration.
Shock chlorine treatment should be used if you detect an insufficient level of chlorine. Shock chlorine comes in the form of pellets, liquid or powder. For rapid results or very low-chlorine water (e.g. at the end of winter), choose liquid or powder to be poured directly into the basin. The pellets, deployed in skimmers, are recommended when water has begun to deteriorate or stains are forming on your pool lining. This lets you increase the chlorine level substantially over a short time, before resuming standard treatment! It's sometimes necessary to repeatthe process until the level of chlorine reaches the correct level. Shock treatment is also advised before a prolonged absence. Since you won't be able to maintain your pool while you're away, it limits the risk of water degradation. Before you begin: don't forget to check the pH and correct it if necessary with a pH regulator!
How to treat cloudy water in your swimming pool?
A cloudy appearance is produced by particles suspended in the pool water. When you've carried out a shock treatment, the resulting dead algae must be removed. Particles can also come from the surrounding environment; however, the function of the filter is to catch these - hence the importance of maintaining it regularly by rinsing.
Nevertheless, you may end up with particles too fine for the filter to catch. In this case, flocculants are very useful since they act to agglomerate particles in suspension. Flocculants, also called clarifiers, are used with sand filters. They improve filtering efficiency and come in the form of bags, pellets or liquid. The first two are administered in skimmers or floating dosers and produce a long-lasting effect.Liquid flocculants are recommended for immediate action, e.g. after wintering or a maintenance-free period. Flocculants in the form of pellets or bags can be used regularly if your environment tends to pollute your water.
Why use a pH regulator?
By now you've probably got that pH is an important parameter in the well-being of your pool water and therefore your own well-being.pH is either neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline.A poorly regulated pH value can cause skin irritation and deterioration of the liner, heralded by the appearance of more or less persistent stains and marks.
pH can become rapidly imbalanced during peaks in pool use, changes in outside temperature, during refilling, etc. To combat this, there are two types of correctors:
- pH -
- pH +
Of course these correctors are to be used according to the direction of the imbalance. They exist in liquid form and granules, to be poured directly into the swimming pool during a prolonged filtration.
What other pool maintenance products are available?
Following our overview of essential pool maintenance products, there are also some optional products that you may find useful:
- Anti-limescale agents for use in hard water areas;
- Anti-ferrous agents for if your water is rich in iron;
- Alkalinity correctors to be used in case of a concentration of carbonate and bicarbonate ions.
These products may be necessary where your water source displays particular characteristics - as is the case with well water, for instance! Once again, analysis of your water will tell you how to act!
Learn more about swimming pool maintenance...
To find out more about swimming pool maintenance, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
How to choose your pool?How to choose your pool cover?How to choose your swimming pool liner?How to choose cleaning products for your pool?How to choose your pool robot?How to choose your pool cover? How to choose your pool filtration system?How to choose your pool heat pump?How to choose your pool pump?How to choose your pool heat exchanger?How to choose an electric heater for your swimming pool? How to choose your pool alarm?How to clean your pool?How to filter your pool?How to cover your pool? How to heat your pool? How to secure your pool?
Guide written by:
Patrick, Handyman, Bath, 12 guides
Professional maintenance and electronics training. I don’t ask to use my tools on the weekend. The car, the boat, the house with its electric appliances, the garden and its swimming pool, they all remind me that they need my attention. In the absence of an unlimited budget, I try to expand my areas of expertise. There’s nothing I like quite as much as being in the weekend workshop with my buddies. Everyone benefits from his experience which ends up being more-or-less successful, it must be said. But that’s part of the charm of DIY, helping each other and realizing a project in a pleasant way. So, if I can help you, it would be a pleasure.