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WATER BALANCE FAQ​

These are some of the most common questions that we have received in previous seasons concerning water chemistry. If you have issues that are not addressed in this section, please forward them to brad.nelson@planetcoastal.com. We will answer your questions promptly in a direct email; if your problem is a fairly common one, we will add it to the FAQ page. 

Click on one of the problems below to get the answer you need. If you don't see your issue listed here, send your question to the email above and we will respond promptly.


Fluctuating pH

Cloudy Water

Pitted Pool Surfaces

Chlorine Odor

"My pH seems to fluctuate a lot. What's causing it and what can I do to prevent it?"

pH fluctuation, or bounce, is a common problem related to an important balance parameter, Total Alkalinity. By definition, Total Alkalinity is a measurment of your water's resistance to changes in pH. The ideal range for TA is 80-120 ppm. If it gets lower than 80 ppm, you will start to have erratic pH movement. The lower alkalinity gets, the more your pH will fluctuate. And while pH bounce is one symptom of low alkalinity, there are other problems created by poor alkalinity maintenance. Low alkalinity means that your water is more aggressive and can damage pool surfaces. The resulting pH bounce is irritating to bathers, causing eye discomfort. It causes your chlorine to become less effective - you will use more sanitizer at higher pH levels. As far as water chemistry in swimming pools goes, maintaining Total Alkalinity is the surest way to limit balance problems. And as important as it is, it becomes even moreso if your pool is automated. Automation equipment can operate erratically when Total Alkalinity is low. Think of Total Alkalinity as the foundation upon which all other balance parameters rest. If you maintain it properly, you will most likely reduce your "chronic" balance problems and lower your frustration level.


What are the causes of cloudy water?

There are so many causes of cloudy water that it's almost safe to assume that any balance parameter that is out of the normal range can cause it. But there are a few common causes that we can look at first. We discussed in the answer to the previous question how important maintaining Total Alkalinity is to the overall health of your water. We talked about the problems that can be caused by low alkalinity but guess what can be caused by high alkalinity? That's correct - cloudy water, among other things. Make sure your alkalinity is kept between 80-120 ppm, but there's certainly no need to panic if it's higher - 150 and even 180 ppm, although high, are not usually high enough to cause clouding unless there are other factors involved, which we can discuss next. Calcium Hardness is the next chemical we should check. The ideal range is 200-400 ppm. Higher readings can lead to clouding among other things, such as scaling of pool surfaces, pipes, and filters, and bather eye discomfort. Total Disolved Solids (TDS) is a measurement of everything that is disolved in your pool water. It's commonly used as an indicator of how "old" your water is. Above 1,500 ppm, your water can cloud, pool surfaces can become stained, and scaling can occur. Unfortunately draining, at least partially, and refilling with fresh water is the only way to lower TDS. Some other things you can check are filtration issues, sanitizer levels, and stabilizer levels.


A few sections of my pool are pitted and it seems to be getting worse. What is causing this?

Pitted pool surfaces are a sure sign that at some point the water was extremely aggressive. Low pH and low alkalinity can cause it, but a more likely candidate and the one you should check first is Calcium Hardness. The ideal range is 200-400 ppm and probably should be checked about once per month. Pitting indicates that the water was so low on calcium that it essentially had to find it on its own. It does this by leaching the calcium from the plaster, hence the pitting. In a nutshell, if you don't give your water the necessary calcium, it will try to get it from other sources. You can increase the hardness by adding Calcium Chloride and, although this will satisfy your water, it will likely only slow the decay of the pitted surface. At some point, repairs will have to be made.


My pool has a strong chlorine odor. What can I use to reduce the chlorine level in my water?

Your problem is not related to excessive chlorine, but more likely, too little free chlorine. Here's the skinny: free chlorine has no offensive odor! If you are one of our many customers on liquid chlorine, here's something you can try that will really drive this fact home. On your next chlorine fillup, smell the liquid (it won't harm you). You'll notice a slightly sweet smell, almost as if you were smelling a Mountain Dew, not chlorine! Now, dip the tip of your finger in the liquid and, as it begins to turn white, smell that! Is this what your pool smells like? Here's why: while free chlorine (the chlorine in your chemical drum) has no odor, combined chlorine (the chlorine on your finger) does. It's like this: free chlorine in your water attacks (or combines with) impurities and becomes the foul-smelling stuff that was on your finger. It's caused mainly by the reaction of chlorine with ammonia-based substances, like sweat and, unfortunately, urine. Long story short, it's probably time for you to shock your pool. A new introduction of fresh (free) chlorine will "scour" the water of impurities, including the combined, or dead chlorine, and in doing so, rid you of the odor problem. To help lessen the severity and frequency of this problem, especially on indoor pools, be a real stickler on the showering before entering the pool thing. And insist that the  little ones are properly diapered, although in truth, I'm sure a few adults are guilty of it as well. Most importantly, maintain a regular shock schedule.

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