Like interconnected gears, Water Balance is the relationship between different chemical measurements of your pool water. It's an extremely important aspect of pool care. A good combination of chemical water balance as well as proper circulation and filtration, is required to keep your water clean and clear.
Not balancing your pool water properly? There are several drawbacks to ignoring water balance, such as the many Recreational Water Illnesses that can affect a person’s health. The likelihood of breaking out in skin rashes or eye irritations is high in a poorly balanced, filtered and sanitized pool.
Improper balancing of chemicals can also affect the health of your liner as well as your other pool equipment. You can develop scaling and even stains on the liner. Balancing chemicals are not usually ones that will stain the liner, but improper water balance makes it easier for stains to form on a vinyl liner.
Vinyl Liner Problems from Poor Water Chemistry
Some of the major problems are caused from not enough, or too much, sanitizer in the swimming pool. Not balancing the pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness can also damage your swimming pool as well as the equipment like the filter and pump.
Alkalinity: Recommendations for Alkalinity in a Vinyl Lined Pool
The Total Alkalinity reading for your swimming pool should be between 80-120 ppm (parts per million). If your alkalinity is too high, you can have signs of scaling and the water will probably be very cloudy. In this case, the pH will probably be very high also. By adding pH down, or pH decreaser, you will be lowering the pH as well as the Alkalinity.
If your alkalinity is too low, you may also have a low pH condition, which is very corrosive to pool liners, and rubber seals and o-rings. As mentioned above, it is really important to balance the alkalinity first and then then adjust your pH level. Without the proper level of alkalinity, your pH will seek it's own level, and resist adjustments that you make - or "bounce" right back to where it was before adding your pH up or pH down chemical. Add alkalinity increaser if your levels are below 80 ppm.
pH : Recommendations for pH in a Vinyl Liner Pool
pH should be between the range of 7.2 – 7.6. If pH is too high, you can see scaling and calcium deposits on your pool, and perhaps algae problems. The water may also have cloudiness issues. If the pH is too low, you will have eye and skin irritations. Low pH - below 7.o, begins to become acidic, and acidic water will cause a vinyl liner to weaken. it is important to remember that the Alkalinity level affects the pH level. If the pH is out of line, always check and balance the alkalinity first then balance the pH.
Calcium: Recommendations for Calcium in a Vinyl Liner Pool
Calcium hardness is also very important to the chemical balancing of your vinyl liner swimming pool. Calcium for a liner pool can be a bit lower than a plaster pool, in the range of 150-250 ppm. If a vinyl liner's calcium level is too low, this soft water situation could lead to foaming and other water problems, but should not harm the vinyl.
If the calcium hardness level is very high (over 400 ppm), you could begin to see signs of scaling, a white flaky crust, on the pool and equipment surfaces. Your skin could begin to feel itchy. The water, itself, will not feel silky smooth (because it is very "hard"). For calcium levels that are below 150 ppm, you will need to add some calcium increaser. If the calcium is very high, it is best to empty some of the water and refill with softer water.
If Continued, high levels of pool chlorine can dry out a liner, as it sucks out the material that makes vinyl soft and pliable. High chlorine levels also fade the colors of a pool liner, giving you what's known as a "bleached" pool liner. My recommendation for chlorine, is to use less of it - by investing in a Nature2 or Frog mineral system. These units use silver and copper ions to help purify your water, and can reduce your chlorine usage by half. The money you save in chlorine will be spent on the mineral cartridges, so no immediate savings, but in the long run, your liner should last much longer.
Shocking the pool can also be hard on a vinyl liner. If you are going to use granular or powdered pool shock, make sure to mix the shock in a bucket of water before adding it to the pool. You do not want to have undissolved granules landing on the liner, it can instantly bleach out the color, or damage the vinyl. Another option is to use a non-chlorine shock, instead of chlorine shock, or fast dissolving types of pool shock such as lithium shock.
Cyanuric acid, sold as a "chlorine stabilizer" is sometimes considered a component of water balance, and it is sold on our Water Balancers page. But it's not really part of water balance. Adding stabilizer to the pool, to the level of 30-50ppm, will protect the chlorine molecules from the sun - "stabilizing" them from the effects of the sun.
Water Balance then, is not such a complicated exercise. Test your water at least weekly, with a fresh test kit or test strips - and make any adjustments, to maintain the proper levels. This will protect your pool liner, from corrosive or scaling water conditions, and prevent the need for a replacement inground pool liner - too soon.
Enjoy your Summer!
SPP Pool Expert