Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

How to Test the Quality of Your Pool Water

Maintaining the quality of the water so that it looks sparkly and inviting is important, but avoiding unclean water can also save you dealing with health problems such as ear, nose and throat infections. When pool water hasn’t been cared for properly, it often starts to harbour microbes – such as algae and bacteria – so you can prevent a small ecosystem from establishing itself by maintaining a balance of chemicals and filtration. Here are some tips for keeping your pool water crystal clear and safe.

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Photo: dolphinpoolsandspas.com

Sources of Contamination

Sources of contamination are from people, pets, wildlife, and debris such as leaves, grass and dust, and so the more you try to minimise these inputs, the easier your maintenance job will be. Getting everyone to shower before entering the pool and using a pool cover to prevent pets and other animals from taking a dip will greatly reduce contamination of pool water.

The Keys to Success

After you have prevented as much contamination as possible, you will still need to maintain some key components:

1. Filtration. Pool filters are great for removing all the bits of organic particles that make their way into the water that are too fine to catch with a scoop. Not only that, but the filtration system also keeps the water circulating, which helps to avoid microorganisms and bacteria from setting up shop in your pool.

2. Chlorination. Chlorine is a very useful chemical that disinfects the water in your pool by killing small organisms such as viruses and bacteria. The amount of chlorine you need in your pool changes with factors such as the length of your filtration cycle, water temperature, water level, amount of debris and the number of swimmers in the pool. This should be measured every day in order to maintain a level between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm.

3. pH Level. The pH of your pool should also be measured daily because it impacts the effectiveness of the chlorine and determines the safety of the water for your skin. Generally you want to shoot for a pH between 7.4 and 7.6 as anything above that could cause skin rashes and anything below will sting the eyes.

4. Total Alkalinity. pH and alkalinity go hand in hand. The higher the alkalinity, the more stable your pH will be, and the lower it is, the more your pH will be subject to fluctuations. Basically, alkalinity stabilises pH, and should be between 100 and 120 ppm.

5. Calcium Hardness. The amount of mineral calcium dissolved in your water is called ‘calcium hardness’. Low calcium levels in your pool will cause the deterioration of pool surfaces, while high calcium levels will leave a scum or scale on surfaces and equipment. The range to aim for is between 200 and 400 ppm.

Testing it Yourself

You don’t have to be a chemist to test the water in your pool, as often all it takes is getting the right at-home test kit that is easy to use. Generally the test kits have everything you need to measure all of the parameters of your water, and it’s as simple as using a hand-held electronic metre or a test strip. Remember to test the water every day, preferably in the morning before the first swim.

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