Swimming pools require regular maintenance to ensure they remain safe and clean, but how do you know what pool chemicals to use and what is the best order for adding chemicals to your pool?
Let’s start with some basics.
Chlorine is added regularly to maintain water quality, but too much can cause health problems. Chlorine is also added to swimming pools to kill bacteria and algae, but how often should you add chlorine to your pool?
The amount of chlorine needed depends on the size of your pool and the type of water you have.
If you want to know how and when to add chlorine to your pool, read our guide below!
Just remember there is more than one chemical you need to be using.
In most cases, the correct order to adding swimming pool chemicals is total alkalinity, ph adjusters, calcium hardness, then chlorine or another pool sanitizer, and lastly Cyanuric Acid.
First, lets overview the swimming pool cleaning process, and then we can dive into each step up of adding pool chemicals in order.
Table of Contents
The Swimming Pool Cleaning Process
Pool chemicals are necessary to keep pools clean.
Sanitizers kill germs, bacteria, viruses, mold, algae, and more.
To keep a pool clean, people need to be careful about what they use to wash themselves and their families. They also need to be careful about how much they use.
Pool chemicals should be added to the pool to make sure it stays clean and safe. Algae needs to be removed to avoid staining and damage to the pool walls. Hard water requires more chemicals than soft or regular water to remove stains.
Knowing what to test for, use and how to mix them is important to keeping your pool healthy. So what is first when it comes to testing and adding pool chemicals in the correct order?
Alkalinity accelerators and baking soda are used to keep the pH stable.
Baking soda can be used to raise alkalinity if both pH and alkalinity levels are low.
Baking Soda is perfect for raising total alkalinity and pH in your pool. You’ll need plenty of it on hand.
Alkalinity Decreaser isn’t available as an independent pool chemical, so if you want to lower alkalinity and increase pH, use pH Decreaser first. then once the alkalinity is right, use pH Increaser to bring pH back up.
This will also help raise alkalinity.
This situation can be tricky to fix, and it may take a few tries to get everything back into place.
Adjustments should be made slowly to avoid making things worse.
If the alkalinity is astronomically high, and nothing is reducing it, you can also reduce it with muriatic acid.
Make sure to do this before adjusting pH.
Sometimes, getting alkali where it needs to be will also bring the pH in line.
Alkalinity levels should be maintained within this range.
Pool alkalinity levels should be checked regularly and adjusted as needed.
2. Understanding & Adjusting pH
A pH scale ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral (not acidic or basic).
Humans’ eyes and mucus membrane have a pH of 7,4.
If it were below 7, our tears would be acid, and it would burn when you cry.
If it were higher than 7, our eyes and nostrils would dry out.
Pool chemicals should be kept on hand in a supply cabinet.
To maintain a proper pH level, you need to use two chemicals: pH increase and pH decrease.
Alkalinity is adjusted by using the pH decrease, so you may want to keep more of that around.
3. Calcium Hardness
If you find calcium building up in your swimming pool water, you might start to notice a white line forming near your water line. This calcium buildup can damage your pool material and equipment, and makes yur swimming pool look less pristine.
The ideal Swimming Pool Calcium Hardness level is 200 – 400 ppm. If you find that you need to increase your pool’s calcium hardness levels, add calcium chloride and simply follow the instructions on the provided label.
More commonly though, is if you need to decrease the calcium hardness levels, first partially drain your swimming pool and refill it with some fresh water. We recommend that you use flocculants to collect any excess calcium, and use a quality pool vacuum to remove the calcium inside and around the pool.
4. Swimming Pool Sanitizers
Sanitizers are used to keep pools clean. There are many different types of sanitizers, each with its own purpose.
Chlorine-based sanitizers kill germs by making them too acidic or basic.
Bactericides work by killing germs with chemicals. Algae killers get rid of algae, and pH adjusters raise or lower the acidity of pool water.
Pool cleaners use granulated chemicals to clean pools.
These chemicals enter the pool water but aren’t evenly distributed throughout the water.
There may be some areas that are not cleaned properly. Chlorine causes damage to pool liners.
Chlorine tablets should be used in an automatic chlorinator, which can help raise or lower the chlorine levels of your pool.
You’ll want to add them to your pool’s skimmer baskets and let the tablets dissolve before adding them to your pool.
Chlorine tablets work by reacting with free available chlorine.
Once the tablet dissolves, the chlorine reacts with the remaining chlorine molecules to form hypochlorous acid.
This chemical reaction creates a disinfectant effect in your pool.
You’ll also find two varieties of chlorine available: stabilized and unstabilized.
Our top pick, the Hayward Automatic Pool Chlorinator is perfect for pool owners who hate fussing with chlorine tablets and adjusting the chlorine levels.
Much like the top salt water chlorinators we reviewed, this automatic chlorinator is easy to use and adjusts the chlorine level depending upon your pool’s size.
Chlorine is used to kill bacteria and algae in swimming pools.
It also helps prevent the growth of other microorganisms.
Chloramine is an odorless compound that doesn’t harm people but does cause irritation to the eyes and throat.
It should be added regularly to maintain proper levels in the pool.
A pool that smells strongly of chlorine may indicate that there are too many chloramines present.
This could result in eye or respiratory problems.
You should shock your pool every week or two to kill algae and bacteria.
Chlorine kills algae, and chloramines prevent bacteria from growing. You may also consider using an algaecide in your pool as well.
Bromine is an effective disinfectant. It kills bacteria faster than chlorine but it also produces more waste.
To combat this problem, you need to shock the water with electricity.
Bromine tablets for pools are not pure bromine.
Their content includes some chlorine for an extra boost of sanitation.
The ideal bromine levels in your pool water should be around 5 ppm, and never allow them to fall under 3 ppm.
5. Cyanuric Acid (Chlorine Stabilizers)
Pool Stabilizers are chemicals used to protect chlorine in pools. Cyanuric acid is one of them.
It helps the chlorine stay in the water for 3-5 times longer, which means less frequent replacement of chlorinated water.
Chlorine should be used to disinfect pools. When buying a new pool, make sure the label says “stabilized” on it.
You should also test your pool water to see how much cyanuric acid is present.
Cyanuric acid reduces the amount of chlorine needed to kill bacteria.
In cases where a lot of cyanurate builds up in your pool, you’ll need to remove some of the old water and replace it with fresh water.
This will lower the concentration of chlorine in the water.
Our Conclusion on The Order of Adding Swimming Pool Chemicals
To keep a pool safe and clean, you should keep the water alkaline and calcium-hardened.
You must also make sure there is enough calcium hardness to prevent algae growth. You must also add bromine to kill bacteria, and finally, you must test the water regularly to check for chlorine concentration.
Keep your pool clean by vacuuming and keeping it skimmed regularly, and follow the correct order to adding swimming pool chemicals we overviewed above- total alkalinity, ph adjusters, calcium hardness, chlorine/sanitizer, and then cyanuric acid. Happy swimming everyone!
Hello! I am a swimming pool contractor with over 10 years of experience helping homeowners install and repair both inground swimming pools and above-ground swimming pools. I enjoy barbecue, Star Wars, blogging, and spending time outside enjoying the backyard with my family.