As the summer continues to progress, we almost always tend to cruise along living our busy lives and developing our routines of kids, camp and car pooling!. You may have a certain day each week when you complete your errands, make plans for the weekend and clean your pool, test your pool water or make your weekly trip to your friendly local pool store to get advice and further help for water chemistry issues.
This year has been no different than the past in that here in the Northeast we have experienced rain and severe thunderstorms almost daily. The West is continuing to deal with a very real drought situation and the midwest has had strong storms including wind and rain all of which can effect your swimming pool by dropping debri, and change your chemical levels leaving you to wonder as to why you have cloudy water and algae. Add the various heat and humidity changes and you can go nuts trying to figure out how to maintain that clear consistent clean water.
Every season I find there is a specific problem which afflects the majority of pool owners and this year is no exception. Usually, I find water test results change with the weather. Alkaline and PH levels more times than not will will need either increaser or decreaser but I am finding these levels being juggled to the higher end of the ideal range with PH levels quite often over 8 parts per million. When dealing with salt water pools whose PH and Alkaline levels tend to run a bit higher anyway I am finding we have had to increase the amount needed for decreasing these levels back to the ideal amounts of 7.2-7.6ppm for PH and 80-120ppm for Alkalinity.
The real puzzle for me this season is the Cyanuric Acid Levels I am coming across. Cyanuric acid levels are usually established at ideal in the 30-50ppm level. What does CYA or Stabilizer do for you? Well at optimum levels it can decrease the usage of chlorine by protecting against the suns UV's. I try to explain by using the example that it works like sunglasses or sunscreen helping to conserve your chlorine use. Levels this year seem to be off the charts, I am talking at 100 or more parts per million. I understood that certain types of chlorines such as Dychlor and Trichlor have stabilizer built into them, however after speaking with chemist they are saying manufacturers are using up to 45% more stabilizer in their products in recent years and this can lead to higher levels. Once these levels reach these heights the opposite intent of stabilizer can occur leaving you with chlorine levels that become ineffective at fighting bacteria and doing their job. Furthering my research there are many sites on the web who say 100-140ppm is perfectly fine, however, that is not what I am finding in my own testing for customers. I am finding lower than normal free chlorine (whats available to fight bacteria) and difficulty bringing the free chlorine to a level of proper maintainence of the pool. The problem with a Cyanuric Acid level of over 100 is that there is not an easy fix to bring the level down, to lower the levels you would have to dilute with more water or drain the pool water out and add new water which for my particular area is expensive and difficult because many of our customers use wells as they source of pool water. If you are in say California or other area of drought this may or may not even be allowed.
Another season issue we are experiencing id a high instance not of green algae but of the yellow/mustard variety. Usually this will need to be treated by a specific chemical for yellow mustard algae. With this years blooms I am determining first and formost the chlorine levels, but also alkalinity levels which can can enhance the blooms and likely part of the problem also. When you think about our environment there are so many organic compounds such as pollen etc. that are airborn and decide to land in pools via wind and rain. Yearly, testing can be a little more complicated.
So you see, this year is no different in that proper attention to your pool water, and testing when weather events occur can help deter a pool from becoming a swimming oasis to a swamp in 1-2 days. If you are not sure what or how much chemical to put in find a reputable store who tests the water and is knowledgable about the products they sell. Listen and heed the proper amounts of each chemical you need to add to your pool and be patient enough to allow the chemical to work. I have had people in every day throwing this in and that in, going from pool store to pool store for opinions and the miracle pill that will make it all better in an hour when all they are doing is giving their money away. Stop and let the treatment work, give your filter system at least 24 to 48 hours before retesting and putting more stuff in. If your professional pool technician tells you to add two pounds out of a five pound container there is a reason, don't go home and think "well if two is good then the entire five pounds will be quicker" and do more. Not how it works folks. Go slow, you can always add more but if you add too much in the first round then you will be taking your wallet out again for a chemical to correct your mistake.