What Levels of Chemicals Should I Keep In My Swimming Pool / How Do I Keep My Chemicals In Line in My Swimming Pool

Proper Water Chemistry


Proper Water Chemistry is just a small part of maintaining a crystal clear, algae free pool. The following represent the major parts required to keep pools looking great


1.) Proper filtration and circulation (Read on these topics and follow them) (Click HERE & HERE)

2.) Draining(COMPLETELY) and refilling every year(Cartridge filters) to every 2 years max (Sand or D.E.) (Click HERE)

3.) Free Available Chlorine reading at 3.0 - 5.0 And Stabilizer at 100 PPM

4.) pH at 7.6 - 8.2 (7.6 only if you are thinking about using metallic (Copper or Silver) Algaecides)


That's the recipe for a sparkling, low maintenance, pool. DON'T FORGET #1(Filtration and Circulation), as even with proper water chemistry, you can still turn your pool green or cloudy without it.


Regular Draining and Refilling (COMPLETELY DRAINING!) (Click HERE for more)


        There are a number of things that are important in water Chemistry, One of the most important is draining a pool and refilling it with fresh water on a timely basis. For D.E. and Sand Filters, this is a minimum of every 2 years; Cartridge is a MANDATORY EVERY year. Again this is for Phoenix and surrounding areas. (Yes, regardless of the Filter type, draining and refilling it every year is better.

         Yes, I know we live in a desert, but your pool is like the dead sea. Everything stays in, and when the water evaporates you add more of it. If you want to keep your pool in decent shape, COMPLETELY drain it and refill it.) No, partial drains do not help.


        Let's say you have a hardness of 2000. Manufacturers say drain your pool at 800 PPM. You drain half and add fresh tap water to your pool to refill it. You have 1/2 at 2000 PPM and 1/2 at 600 PPM add the 2 together and divide by 2. That's 2600/2 = 1300 PPM. So you decide to drain it 1/2 way again and refill it. You have 1/23 at 1300 and 1/2 at 600 PPM, that's 1800 PPM/2 or 900 PPM. YOU STILL NEED TO COMPLETELY DRAIN AND REFILL YOUR POOL! Just drain it, restabilize the chemicals, and be done.


Get your Stabilizer Reading to 100 PPM (Click HERE for more)


        Yes, this is for the Phoenix area, although I can think of no reason why it should not apply to every pool across the globe. Having a 60-70 PPM reading almost doubles the chlorine consumption and results in a lot of pools turning green or getting algae growth on the walls. Hmmm. All the pool chemical manufacturers recommend lower levels. You almost double the usage of their chemicals at this lower level. Can you say conflict of interest? Let's see, can't keep Chlorine readings, algae grows, double the costs, double the chemical suppliers prophets, ... why exactly are we trying to keep the stabilizer at 60 - 70 PPM again? Again, I keep all my pools at 100 PPM.




Get a Proper Chlorinator (Click HERE for more)


        I know Ducks, Sharks, Geese ... shaped chlorinators "Look" cool, but besides acting as decoys that might fill your pool with ducks and geese, and everything they "Release" when they populate your pool, they are usually worthless as floating Chlorinators.


        The in deck chlorinators are a problem as well. There is no way to adjust them properly, and the time wasted, and the need to compensate for misadjustment by adding half to double the amount of chlorine to keep a reading all week is a waste of money, and puts far too much chlorine in at the beginning of the week, and next to nothing at the end of the week. If you add to this the changing operation times during the different seasons, and no chlorine going into your pool at all unless the equipment is running, you have a real problem.


        Get a floating chlorinator with the 2", or longer, adjustable side slits. I prefer the Blue/White floating chlorinators with the big side slits. (Yes, you "can" get good chlorination with a Salt system. Yes they "can" have some advantages. They also all have disadvantages. (See "New Pool or Equipment Recommendations" "Chlorination and Sanitation" for details. (Click HERE))



Adjusting your Chlorinator (Click HERE for more)


        How do you adjust your Chlorinator? You adjust the openings so that 1/2 of the weight of a new Chlorine tab will dissolve in exactly 7 days. If more dissolves, close up the slits. If less dissolves, open the slits.


        Yes, this is counter intuitive. But it works. In the summer the water is hotter, things dissolve faster. You can fill a chlorinator to the top and dissolve the tabs down to a couple of slivers in 3 days. All that chlorine goes into the pool. Your chlorine reading is through the roof. If you are black you come out light grey, red men a light pink. White men, like myself look like albinos with green hair... “Smurf’s” from mars. Then, after that first three days, there is no more chlorine. By the end of 7 days, the pool turns green. Then you add 4 lbs. of shock and repeat the process.


        DON'T DO THIS. Close the slits in the summer so that half the weight of a new tab is dissolved in a 7 day period. Yes it seems weird, but it evens out the chlorine peaks and lows. It will cost you far less, and allow you to swim without eating your skin, hair, swimsuits ... away at the same time. (How many tabs to put in is another issue.)


        No, I cannot tell you how to adjust your "Deck-Chlor", in the deck chlorinator, or your in-line chlorinator. Guess. Next week it will be different. You need to fiddle with it every week, and fiddle some more when the water temperature changes, usage level changes, operation time changes, when there is a full moon, when your cat has fleas, when gas costs increase, ... in other words, don’t bother, get a floating chlorinator.


Adding Chlorine Tabs


                First, let me suggest a baseline. In the middle of the summer “most” of my pools take 5-6 tabs a week. In the middle of the winter, 1 tab every week or two does the job. If you are in the Spring or fall, the numbers should be right in-between those two sets of numbers. That said, let's start...




2.) Again, get the Proper Chlorinator and adjust as is described above. (Middle of the summer almost all of my chlorinators are completely closed. Middle of the winter, completely open. Again, if you are in-between these two times of the year they should be approximately 1/2 open. Again, go by the weight of a new tab. 1/2 of the WEIGHT of a new tab should be dissolving in a 7 day period.


3.) If the weather is getting warmer, and your “Free” Chlorine level drops below a 2.0, start adding one more tab a week. If the weather is getting cooler, and you have had a 3+ reading for 3-4 weeks, lessen the number of tabs by one. This will "GRADUALLY" increase or decrease the number of tabs being used, and prevent the pool from turning green.


4.) I always tell my clients, "If you are going to have a pool party, let me know a week in advance so I can leave extra chemicals." If you are going to put a large number of people in your pool for hours, ALWAYS put 2 lbs. of shock in the pool when you are finished swimming. (Note: I will usually put in at least one more tab in the chlorinator that week as well.) If you don’t do it then, and your pool is green the very next day, IT’S NOT MY FAULT, IT’S YOURS. Yes, if I am your pool man, this might cost you $100 more in chemicals, and up to a week in swim time. If you have a cartridge filter it might cost you double that with a filter element clean as well.


5.) Yes, you can get more complex than this and give yourself a "little" more fudge time and keep a reading for a longer time by keeping some tabs in wrappers (With a slight cut in the wrapper to allow water flow.) and some out of wrappers. Every week I take the most dissolved "In Wrapper" tabs out of the wrapper and put fresh "In Wrapper" tabs in. This way I can further restrict tabs from dissolving, and keep more stable Chlorine readings for an even longer time, but normally, unless you are doing this for a living, it isn’t worth the extra bother.


 ALL POOL CHEMICALS are not the Same:  Compare Apples to Apples ...


        You "usually" get what you pay for, but check. Look at the "Active" Ingredients, and what those ingredients are. For example, I have seen 50 lb. buckets of tabs with 1/2 of the level of active ingredients (Chlorine) at a 25% discount from another 50 lb. of tabs that actually contains double the chlorine. Since you will need DOUBLE number of the cheaper tabs to maintain the same chlorine reading in your pool, the "More Expensive" 50lb.er of tabs actually will cost you 50% less than the cheaper tabs will.


        ASK. GET THE PERCENTAGES OF ACTIVE INGREDIENTS. Same with algaecides. A gallon of copper based algaecide that costs $30 but has 10% copper by volume seems cheaper than a quart of Copper based algaecide for $32 that has 68% copper by volume (Swimtrine), but is it? The copper in that gallon would be = 40% copper in a quart. So, for $2.00 more, you get almost 43% more active ingredient. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. I have seen 68% copper in one bottle, and 45% copper in a slightly larger bottle by the same manufacturer. Is 1% Silver better than 68% Copper? Depends on the algae.


        Silver is quite a bit more expensive than copper. You can't compare prices on different active ingredients. Each has its own use. For some the 1%, or even .8% silver, is better than the 68% copper as silver is best for black algae, and copper for yellow and green. IN MOST CASES! (If the algae you have becomes resistant to one, switch off with the other algaecide.)  


Shocking the Pool


        I do this after EVERY pool party. It is amazing how you can put 15 kids under age 12 in a pool, go through (4) 5 gallon containers of Kool-Aid and only one kid in 6 hours, will ask where the bathroom is. That said, even as adults in the pool, you sweat as much in the pool as you do out of it. Sweat is as much a fertilizer as the previous Kool-Aid example is. Yes, Shock your pool after EVERY party. 


        During the summer months, if I haven't shocked for parties, I still shock my pools every month (2 lbs.) regardless. Again, when purchasing, check the % of available chlorine on the label. Obviously a product with 85% available chlorine, and 15% inert ingredients is far superior to a product with 15% available chlorine and 85% inert ingredients. You will need 6 times the amount of the lower concentration chemical to get the same result.



Note: There have been signs up at the wholesale houses for years stating that they are not responsible for the ineffectiveness of liquid chlorine (Bleach) if added between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm. The reasons for this is that it will disperse into the pool, and then into the atmosphere at an alarming rate when the temperature is high leaving only a very small percentage in the pool. I do not use bleach between March and October. I use Shock. Putting Chlorine into the air costs a lot and does my pools no good. I do use it during the late fall, winter and early spring.


Ozonators, Ionators, Salt Systems, Phosphate Removers, Algaecides, ... (Click HERE for more)


            First off, when I have a pool, I have a Salt System. I don't use Ozonators as the levels allowed in this country are not effective. I do not use Ionators that put copper or Silver into my water as I can buy a bottle of algaecide containing those elements, and add them much cheaper than they add it for me. Yes, I do add Phosphate removers “on occasion”, but they are expensive, and most of the time it is cheaper just to follow the drain and refill cycle advised elsewhere on this web page, as it isn’t just the phosphates that screw up water chemistry, and the effectiveness of algaecides and sanitizers. It’s the dead sea, drain it.
Pool Operation Times (Click HERE for more)


            People forget to increase their pool operation times as the weather gets warmer, and as pool usage, storms, … increase. People forget to turn their equipment on. People forget to warn you they are putting 45 people in the pool for a party, and then forget to shock afterwards ... When you forget to warn your pool man of major events, your pool will turn green. I shock enough to get the "Free available chlorine" (Not the total Chlorine, they are different things.) Above 3.0. Yes, there have been times where it took 6-8 lbs. of shock, and even times when it took double that.) Add 2 lbs. Brush it in. Check the reading, and repeat until the reading is above 3.0. 

Proper pH Adjustment and Metallic Algaecides (For more on pH check HERE)

        I adjust my pH down to about 7.8, 7.6 if I need to add metal based algaecides. If it is above these numbers, I add 2 quarts muriatic acid with the equipment running, away from all steps, love seats, ... pouring it in a circle over the deepest part of the pool. (NOT OVER THE DRAIN!) Acid is heavier than water so it sinks. I then brush it in to help mix it. After the equipment runs another 5 minutes, I retest it. Still high? Add another 2 quarts.


        Once my pH is at 7.6 for adding metallic algaecides I add an algaecide following the manufacturer’s directions (I do not lower my pH below 7,6 though. Plants love low pH and low alkalinity. I read an article on hydroponics where they said that plants thrive on a pH in a 6.0 - 6.4 pH range. If your goal is to grow plants (Algae) lower your pH real low.


        With a pH below 7.6, even with super strong chlorine readings, you can still get a bumper crop of algae in your pool. (Yes, chlorine is more effective in lower pH ranges, but whatever you gain in Chlorine effectiveness, you double your losses on because plants like the lower pH ranges even more.) The other reason for low pH's is so that the metallic algaecides (Usually Copper or Silver) will stay in solution better in these ranges. Having high pH's cause the metals to precipitate out and stain your pool. 7.6 “usually” is a good balance point.




        If you have a “pristine” plaster surface, if you can, use an ammonia based algaecide, and again, FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY! If your plaster is already stained, or is old and falling apart anyway, the Copper based algaecides offer the best bang for the buck. Pebble “Tech” pools are pretty much immune, as, in most cases, you usually can't see the staining.


        For problem algae, I alternate a full quart of Copper, then a week later a full quart of Silver, and then a week later a non-metallic chemical or ammonia based algaecide, and then, if needed, phosphate removers, … but only if I keep coming back to algae.


       Again, get your free available chlorine up, and your pH adjusted first, and always put in at least 2 lbs. of shock until the algae is gone. Funny, in 2-3 weeks a client can easily spend close to what they would have spent on draining and refilling their pool the previous spring, and on getting their filter taken care of, on algaecides during the next summer, and they lose out on weeks of their swim season as well. Of course, when it happens, even when I have warned them, they always blame the pool man for not being able to take care of their pool properly.

Again, the Importance of Annual Pool Draining (Click HERE for more)

        And when I tell them that the pool needs draining, and that EVERY MANUFACTURER IN The VALLEY SAYS TO DRAIN ONCE YOUR HARDNESS EXCEEDS 750 ppm (Which it does every year). they always bring up this guy who has never drained his pool in 20 years, has a cartridge filter that has never had to replace his elements for that entire period of time, and always has a spotless pool. And the car that never needs an oil change, … And no, they cannot give me his name and number, but everyone knows "of" him.


        I have seen a pool not drained in over 10 years "Once" in my 30 years in pool service & repair. It wasn't with a cartridge filter though, it was with a D.E. filter, and we pulled it apart and cleaned it and acid washed it every 6 months. It hadn't been drained in 15 years, and you could literally break off hunks of calcium, over an inch thick, from the tile line. No one could swim in it, because of what it would do to your skin, eyes, … but it didn't have algae either. The levels of gunk in the water were too high, and we had added so many "Gallons" of different algaecides to it over the years that no algae would grow in it either.


        The horrible taste of even getting one drop of that pool water on your tongue would make you reach for a handful of dirt, and rub it over your tongue, to try and get the taste out of your mouth. I am not kidding. No one EVER swam in that pool. I know about the taste, and the dirt. Honestly I do. That's one case... out of thousands of pools, but yes, there are pool like this. Not draining this pool on a regular basis cost the customer over a thousand dollars extra every year, but they didn’t want it drained for a total of $225 / year. Their costs would be in the neighborhood of $1500 plus in today’s dollars, and double that with a cartridge filter. 

But you own a Salt System (Click HERE for more)

            Yes, I have a salt system. I have an EXPENSIVE self-cleaning, top of the line salt system. Why? Because I don't like to worry about my own pool ... much. With this expensive system, I can almost go 2 full months without worrying about servicing the unit / chlorine levels in my pool. Yes, I bought a system for a pool half again, or more the size of the pool I own. Why? So I don't have to mess with it, or worry about it's ability to generate enough chlorine. Plus, it has a "Shock" button. Insty super-chlorinate. A "cheap" salt system requires it's users (In the Phoenix area) to pull apart the salt cell, soak it in an acid solution for 15 minutes, EVERY WEEK.


        Thinking about a cheap salt system (i.e. less than $1500)? Let me ask you, if you are unwilling to spend 4 minutes testing your chemicals and adding tabs to a chlorinator every week, are you really going to spend 15 minutes disassembling plumbing, pulling out a salt cell, disconnecting wires, mixing acid solutions, soaking elements, keeping the solution off you, your deck, your clothes, shoes, other equipment components, ... and then reassemble the unit and wiring? No, right? Then why do it. This is what you will have to do EVERY SINGLE WEEK, if you want to keep a cheap salt system working. No, I am not going to give you a discount for owning one of these either. I can service at least 1 other pool in the extra time it takes me to service your salt cell every week. If you force me to use it, it will cost you DOUBLE. Or, we can shut it off, and I will use chlorine tabs for the same price everyone else pays. Moral of the story, Go big, go top of the line, or don't waste your time and mine. If you are going to take care of your own pool, and you are going to put in all top of the line equipment, and maintain it as it should be, great, get one. Less time and hassle for you. A lot more expense, but less time and hassle. How much more expense? You have the cost of the unit in 2010 prices above. Now keep reading.


        Here's something else. To recharge a salt pool after draining and refilling it often costs what 2 years of Chlorine tabs for the same pool would cost. Now add to this cost, the cost of the salt system itself, and the cost of replacing a $500.00 - $700 salt cell every 5 years. We aren’t done yet. Now add to this the electricity that you need to break salt down into sodium and Chlorine.


        SALT SYSTEMS DO NOT SAVE YOU MONEY! You will spend it up front, with the setup and salt costs, and then will spend it again on electricity as long as it is in use, and then you will spend it again on maintenance, AND YES, YOU ARE STILL USING THE EXACT SAME CHEMICAL TO CHLORINATE YOUR POOL: CHLORINE!


        Tabs are cheaper. Tabs are easier. Yes I own a salt system (Or rather my ex now owns one) I only needed to pull it apart and clean it 3 times a year. My pool stayed in great shape. I paid for it though. I paid double what I would have for a cheap model.


        If you use a slat system, you will need to run your pool longer hours because the only time chlorination occurs is when the equipment runs. If you have a cartridge filter and are not completely draining and refilling your pool every year(Phoenix area), and are not replacing your elements every year, and did not buy a top of the line salt system, ... your pool will be green and your salt system will be inoperable.


        Stick to tabs. Yes, salt in the water is more comfortable on your body than pools without salt. But, if you want the same "feel" as a salt system pool, without the expense, add the same amount of salt, and then use tabs to sanitize your pool. IT’S THE SAME CHEMICAL. There is no difference. If you remove the chlorinator prior to the guests arriving, no one, not even a chemist will be able to tell the difference.

We need a salt system because we are allergic to Chlorine ... (Click HERE for more)

        Just remember to put the chlorinator back in when they leave. I had a gentleman that was renting a home I was servicing who swore everyone in his family was allergic to Chlorine, and so he needed a salt system. 6 months after he moved in the salt cell died. After explaining this to the owner, we decided to use the in the deck chlorinator with real tabs. For the next 3 years the renter thanked me for maintaining the salt system so well, and keeping chlorine out of his pool. When he went to move out, he again thanked me.


        When I explained, again, that salt systems use the EXACT SAME chemical as the chlorine tabs use, and that he, and his family were not allergic to chlorine, but rather that they were either sensitive to low pH, (Click HERE) and their previous people let it get out of hand, and they had a bad experience with chloramines (Explained next or Click HERE), and I believed that they were falsely led to believe that a salt system didn't generate the same chemical, again he responded in disbelief.


        I then explained that the salt cell had died over 2 1/2 years prior, and that the owner had made the decision to use chlorine tabs from that point on. The only sanitizing going on for that entire period was from tabs. He still didn't believe me, even when I showed him the tabs in the “Deck-Chlor”, and the disconnected wires from the salt cell. He simply stated that since he, and his family, were no longer living there, the owner was free to add whatever chemicals he saw fit to add, but that he was glad neither he, nor his family, had to swim in a pool with chlorine tabs being added. Oh well, it’s one of many. I have had a number of rental properties with very similar circumstances. Funny, for some reason, I have yet to find anyone who alters their beliefs. 


What if I can Smell the Chlorine and my eyes are Burning? (Click HERE for more)


        First understand that it is not a high chlorine reading that is causing the smell and the burning of the eyes. You can have a chlorine reading that is 10 times greater than a reading for which the health department would close the pool for “high chlorine”, and still never "Smell" chlorine. What you are smelling is chlorine that is bound up with waste products, like ammonia.


        The "Total Chlorine" reading might be a 10.0, but the "Free Available Chlorine" is a Zero. All of the chlorine is tied up with waste products, forming chemicals called chloramines. They are horrible irritants of skin, eyes ... every human being, and most animals, are highly allergic to these, and their presence shows that an unsanitary situation exists in that pool. You are in danger. Do not swim. Amazingly, if you shock the pool and "burn off", or oxidize, the waste products the smell goes away. The irritation goes away. The problem goes away. Add 2 lbs. of shock, mix it in, recheck free available chlorine levels, and repeat until the free available Chlorine reading is above 3.0. (Click HERE for More)


             When the above rules for water chemistry are followed, and the pool equipment is operating properly, and the water flow is adjusted properly, and the equipment is operating for enough hours, and during the right times of day, and landscaping is properly maintained, and your pool is being drained, refilled and restabilized properly, when it should be, ... I have NEVER had a pool turn green. None of the people I have trained, that have followed these methods, on pools maintained and adjusted this way, have ever had a pool turn green either.


        Yes, that's a lot of ifs. If you are having problems with water clarity, or algae, go through the list of adjustments for water clarity, and reasons for having those problems, and eliminate those problems first. If you are still having problems, send me an e-mail and I will help you trouble shoot your problem.



What about pH, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Hardness, Alkalinity, ...


    First, I keep my pH between 7.6 and 8.2. Guess where 95% of all pools will fall naturally? At around 7.8., which for most of my pools is ideal. (One exception. I will lower it to 7.6 when adding metallic algaecides to keep them from precipitating out of the water and staining the sides of a pool.)


      We discussed some of this earlier. Here it is in greater detail: What about the increased effectiveness of Chlorine at lower pH levels, what about lowering pH and alkalinity to reduce staining ... Lowering pH from 7.6 to 7.4 does increase the effectiveness of Chlorine a small amount. Lowering pH and alkalinity greatly boosts the propensity of plants (Algae) to grow.


        This is why I have come across about 50 pools with a chlorine reading so strong it would be closed by the health department, and algae thriving because of the 6.8 pH and the alkalinity of 80. If the added effectiveness of the free chlorine was truly greater than the love plants have for the same environment, I would push for the 7.4, or even 7.2 pH all the time. Funny thing, on those pools, I added enough soda ash to raise the pH back up around 7.8, AND WITHOUT ADDING ANYTHING ELSE, the algae died. Just increasing the pH to 7.8-8.2 killed the algae.


        In reality, there is little more to it than this. The chlorine was already off the top of the scale, so even with the lower % of free available chlorine, the levels were still high enough to close it down for too high a chlorine, had it been on a commercial account.


       Of course, once the algae was dead, I had to filter out all of the dead algae. I used water clarifiers ... to help get it out of the water, … But I added nothing to kill the algae other than what I used to raise the pH.


        Here's another point. For years I fought to get the alkalinity down, (To 80, or lower, depending on what the latest chemists said was best) and to keep the pH around 7.4. For my first 5 years in the business, I had almost 3 times the propensity to see algae in my pools, than I have had since I started keeping it at 7.6 - 7.8. (Preferably 7.8) regardless of alkalinity.

        When I was trying to control alkalinity and keep my pH low, I was going through 32 or more GALLONS of acid a week or more on my pool route. I had some algae in about half of my pools, and about 5% had severe algae that I was heavily hitting with shock and algaecides on a regular basis. I was also going through 2-3 GALLONS of algaecide as well. I also had just as much staining in all of my plaster pools as I did after I stopped adding any acid. When I stopped adding acid, within 1 month I went from 50% of my pools having "some" algae and 5% with a real problem to 95% having no algae and 5% having very mild algae. I saved the cost of 32 gallons of acid a week, I dropped my algaecide usage from 2-3 gallons a week to about a quart a week, and within 2-3 months, once all my pH levels got up to about 7.8, I rarely had ANY algae, and cut my algaecide usage even further. How? Raising the pH and keeping the chlorine reading where it belongs.

    Why does the industry not tell people about this? Think about it. One pool man, 32 GALLONS of acid a week, 2-3 GALLONS of algaecide per week. Multiply that by thousands of pool men in the valley of the sun. How much money is tat a week. Now drop that to ZERO acid and 1/2 qt. of algaecide a week. Multiply that by the multiple of thousands of pool men in the valley. If you sell chemicals, and sponsor training programs to teach water chemistry to pool men, which program are you going to promote? Which program are you going to teach?


        Remember, I get paid to keep pools looking nice ALL THE TIME. I get paid to teach new pool men how to keep ALL of their pools in great shape for the least amount of effort, and the lowest costs possible. When I tried to keep the pH’s low, and the Alkalinities low, all I did was spend a ton more time adding a ton more chemicals, answering more calls from clients with algae problems, adding more and more algaecides, more shock/bleach ... and I spent a ton more money on chemicals. Guess when I added anything other than chlorine tabs to my 35,000 gallon pool was. Answer: Last year when I forgot to add tabs for 3 weeks in July. I shocked the pool, refilled the chlorinator and added a quart of Swimtrine plus. 2 days later ... clear pool, no algae, perfectly swimmable. The time before that was the same situation.

Phosphates & Phosphate Remover
        How much agent do you use per week to starve the gophers in your yard? Strange question, right? What does this have to do with phosphates and phosphate remover? For the vast majority of you, you have no gophers in your yard, so you would never even go out and get an agent toad to your yard that would starve gophers, ever, right? Unless you had gophers ...

        My point: Food for algae comes in 2 forms: Nitrates and Phosphates. If you have no gophers you need no gopher starving agent. If you have no algae problem, you have no need to try and starve your nonexistent algae at 45 cents an ounce or more, right?

        1.) Phosphates are not the ONLY source of food, even if you greatly reduced the phosphates.
        2.) You can never remove ALL the phosphates... all you can ever do is reduce them.

        3.) Prior to 2005, or so, no one ever heard of phosphate remover.

        4.) Draining your pool (See above) maintaining proper chlorine readings, "high" pH and adding a capful or two of a quality copper based algaecide a week will kill and keep out all of the algae for far less cost and bother than adding phosphates.

                a.) While chlorine is a pore algaecide, it does help keep algae under control.

                b.) Algae hates pH at 7.8-8.2 and THRIVES, regardless of chlorine levels at pH 7.2-7.4.

                c.) Copper based algaecides are the cheapest, although you can add silver or chemical based algaecides if you get a resistant crop.

    Do I ever use phosphate remover? Nope. No need. If you properly maintain the rest of the chemicals, maintain proper filtration and circulation, and do your pool drains often enough, you will never need any. If you don't have algae, and you still buy phosphate remover I have some agent you can buy to help starve imaginary gophers in your yard as well.

What about all the seminars, books, what the guy at the pool store said, ... about pool water chemistry?

        Think about it. Who sponsors all of the water chemistry training seminars for pool men and for pool store clerks? Hmm, let's see. we have: Olin Chemical, Applied Biochemists, bioguard, Hassa … ALL OF THE CHEMICAL PROVIDERS WERE THE ONES TRAINING US TO USE THEIR CHEMICALS. Who wrote the books and guides? Chemists working for and developing chemicals for, you guessed it, the same group.  Question: If your income was based on the amount of chemicals you sold every week, do you think you might promote methods that “sold more of your products”, and made you more money, or methods that used less than a 100th of the quantities of your products currently being sold. So let me ask you, that person telling you what you need to take care of your pool ... where did he get his training from? Look at the company that makes the test kits. Look at the company printing the pool chemistry training brochures. Who is giving out the instructions for what to add. Is it a chemical company that only makes money if you buy more pool chemicals? Or is it me, a guy who "included" all of the chemicals in the rates and had a great interest in #1 Keeping his pools looking great, & #2 keeping his chemical costs down as low as possible while maintaining #1. Keep in mind that there was a time when me and my guys were servicing about 1000 pools a week. At an average of about 3/4 gallon of acid per pool per week we were using about 750 GALLONS of acid a week. We dropped that to ZERO. And all the pools looked better for it. 


           There have been years where I have over analyzed everything, micromanaged everything, and in the process learned that those that claim to have the latest and greatest understanding of water chemistry, and who boggle our minds with the latest tests, latest chemicals to fix problems, ... have made it complex for a reason. It makes them money selling their tests, paying for their seminars and books, and selling their chemicals. Next time you ask someone for advice, think about this first: What are they selling. I sell, "Spotless pools that stay algae free for reasonable monthly rates.". My business only grows when this occurs. Now I don't do service much.


        Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that having an understanding of the difference in the pH of a Chlorine tab, and that of Sodium Hypochlorite or Bleach, … is bad? Nor am I saying that understanding that the rise in TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) for those that use bleach to chlorinate their pools is much greater than that of using tabs (With a once a month shock treatment.) cannot be important in diagnosing a problem, … in one pool out of a thousand? But what about the science of the "Langelier Saturation Index", Hamilton Index", ... There are dozens of different scales, theories, methods, ... and most aren't worth the paper they are printed on when it comes to taking care of your pool. Am I saying don't study them? No. Just understand that many don't work, were never designed for pools in the first place or don't work in our environment here in the Phoenix area, and that these things aren't necessary to know to keep your pool looking great. I am trying to keep things simple here. Follow these simple things ... great results. Get lost in the quasi-science, and have a swamp for a pool if you want. Test what I say. It works. It has worked for over 30 years.

Dead Sea Jr.


        Your pool is like the dead sea. Water, with all of the chemicals, minerals, metals, TDS ... is used to fill your pool. We then add more chemicals to that water. The wind blows in dirt and debris adding more to the water. Depending on your filtration system and how things are adjusted, and what cleaning system you have ... some of these non-dissolved solids are removed from your pool. Others are not. Water evaporates from your pool and more water is added with usually the same amount of hardness, and chemicals as were added before, those levels increase.


        The more "Stuff" getting into your pool, the more likely your water will turn cloudy. The poorer the filtration, the more non-dissolved particles of larger sizes will turn your water cloudy. The more stuff in your pool to offer nutrients to the algae spores that are in every pool, the more likely things will be green and cloudy. Pool chemicals are less and less effective ... Since everything goes from bad to worse in a pool because of this pattern, it is good to start over quite often. DRAIN YOUR POOL, AND RESTART WITH "FRESHER" WATER AND YOU WILL SOLVE 95% of the problems that aren't related to your equipment and adjusting the circulation in your pool.


        Don’t worry about all the little details. Drain your pool annually, if possible. Then restabilize, use a proper chlorinator properly adjusted, keep your pH at 7.8, properly adjust your water flow, keep your filter cleaned properly, and swim and enjoy. Don’t listen to the people who over complicate everything. Chances are, they are selling something, or were trained by those selling something.

The Exceedingly Hard Valley Water

            Lastly, about 30 years ago, when the hardness of water out of the tap in the phoenix area was under 200 PPM. Manufacturers were telling people to drain and refill their pools every year )(To two years max), or when their hardness reached 250 PPM, whichever came sooner. Then water started coming out of the tap at 250 PPM. (I laugh when I still see videos on YouTube stating you should keep your hardness at 150-250 ppm. Yeah Right!) The manufacturers revised their estimates and said, “Drain your pool every 1 to 2 years or when the hardness reached 300 PPM.” Then the hardness started coming out at over 300 PPM and they raised the level to 500 PPM or every 1 to 2 years. Now it's coming out of the taps at over 600 PPM, and in some places, up to a high of 1000 PPM+. (2016 update. I have a home where it is coming out of the tap at 1650 ppm. Keep it below 250 ppm... LOL) What are they saying now?  I don't know. I don't care. The consistent part of this is, "DRAIN YOUR POOL EVERY YEAR IF YOU CAN!".

Drain your pool annually or pay more ... and be unhappy with the results at the same time.
        Since cartridge filters do not do well in a high hardness area, and high hardness also means high TDS and high everything else that makes keeping pools looking nice a nightmare, I tell my clients that we will be draining and restabilizing their water every spring. If they forgo this there will be a 25% increase in their service rates to cover the extra hassle, problems, increased need for intensive brushing, damage to my reputation, having to deal with their complaints that the pool is green or does not look like it should , dealing with their gripes, complaints, and their dragging of their feet, when I tell them they need new filter elements even though they just replaced the last ones 8 months ago, having to constantly fight with the cloudy, and/or green pool that results until they give me authorization to drain the pool ...

        To be honest, a 25% increase in service rates for those that are unwilling to drain their pool in accordance with EVERY POOL MANUFACTURERS RECCOMENDATIONS, is really way to low. And yes, at that rate, they would have paid for the drain and chemical restabilization, and then some. Every year past that I raise their rates another 25%. The problem is that while their rates increase, the overall quality of the pool and it's water is dropping even though my costs and time have gone up, and so have their costs. Less for more. I usually hope that they will cancel as I will get call backs... "There's algae in my pool", "How come I got charged $45 for extra shock and algaecide?", "My pool water is cloudy." If they cancel service, I win. Let some other pool man look bad. I don’t need the headaches when it is due to their not allowing me to take care of the pool as it should be.

    Trust me, If you ignore my advice your costs, hassle, time scrubbing your pool, gripes and complaints ... are going to go up as well. You can pay me now, or gripe, complain, hate your pool, be unable to swim in your pool, pay a ton more for additional chemicals, and youwll still pay me.  
Keeping your pool looking good is simple. Don't let anyone make it complicated so they can sell you their expensive chemicals.

            Keeping your pool looking good is simple. Yes, you can worry about phosphate levels (Yes, if I have multiple cases of algae in a pool during the same year I will add a high quality phosphate remover. Guess what. Every pool where I have added them, and there have been dozens, hasn't been drained and refilled completely in over 2 years. Every one. ). Yes, you can worry about TDS. You can worry that you have not been able to apply the Hamilton index and get your alkalinity down to 60 while keeping your pH at 7.8…


        YOU CAN WORRY ABOUT DOZENS OF TESTS,  DOZENS OF CHEMICALS, INTERACTIONS BETWEEN ALL OF THEM, … AND STILL GET LOUSY RESULTS, OR, you can drain and refill your pool 1 year(Cartridge Filter Pools) to 2 years(Max for other filter types. 1 year is still best), restabilize your water, and monitor your chlorine and keep your pH at 7.6 to 7.8 (Which it should balance out at naturally) shock once a month(During Swim Season), or after every pool party, replace lousy filters with good ones, adjust your water flow and circulation as it should be, maintain your landscaping, ... and enjoy a pool that stays nice without all the extra hassle.


        My e-mail address is at the bottom of my home page. Let me know how this works for you.


Subpages (1): Restabilization