Thursday, November 27, 2014

How to Maintain Swimming Pool Water

t’s all about the water.  In order to make your pool look inviting, you need to keep the water crystal clear.

You do not have to be a chemist in order to maintain the water quality in your pool.  However, you should understand the components that make your pool water safe and ideal for swimming.   The components are tested based on a parts per million (ppm) measurement.  This is the measurement of the parts of a substance in relation to one million parts by volume of pool water.

How to Test Swimming Pool Water
Using the test strips from the pool supply store should be sufficient for testing.  Water test strip containerGet the strips that show the chlorine, alkaline, pH, and cyanuric acid.  Find an area away from the skimmer and the returns and with the strip in hand submerse about 18 inches into the water for about 10 seconds.  Remove but don’t shake water off.  Wait a few moments until the colors fill in.  Compare each component’s color reading to the color range on the product bottle. (Read the instructions that were provided with the test kit as this procedure could vary from product to product).


The pH balance of your water impacts the effectiveness of the chlorine in your water. The idea test reading for pH is between 7.4 and 7.6.  If the test reading is below 7.2 then the water is more on the acidic side. A test reading above 7.8 indicates the water is more on the alkalinity side.  Monitor the pH daily using test strips.


To keep bacterial, pathogens, and algae from growing in your water, the chlorine (sanitizer) level needs to be at a safe level for swimming.  A chlorine test reading between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm is optimal.  If you use bromine tablets instead of chlorine as the sanitizer, then the reading should be between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm.  Ask your pool store for more advice on the pros and cons of using bromine instead of chlorine, or if you want to switch over to bromine from chlorine or visa versa.  Monitor the chlorine level daily using the test strips.

The alkalinity reading should be between 100 and 120 ppm.  Typically goes hand in hand with pH.  If the alkalinity reading is low, then most likely the pH reading is low and visa versa.  Typically chlorine shock contains alkaline which will help raise the alkaline level.  On the flip side of that, chlorine tablets which contain cyanuric acid tends to lower the alkalinity.

Cyanuric Acid

The cyanuric acid (chlorine stabilizer) reading should be between 20 and 30 ppm. This component is usually a product of chlorine tablets.  It slows the escape/evaporation of chlorine which in turn helps to maintain a more consistent chlorine level.  However, since chlorine tablets contain this component which is an acid, it tends to lower the alkalinity and the pH.

Safety Considerations

Consideration to keep in mind when dealing with pool chemicals:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings as indicated on the label.
  • Don’t mix any chemicals together.  Add each separately to the pool.
  • Wear protective safety glasses and avoid breathing in vapors when applying.
  • Store chemical in a cool, dry, and shaded area out of reach of children and family pets.

How to apply pool chemicals

If your pool is sanitized using chlorine chemicals, then the two primary applications you’ll want to use in your pool are chlorine shock (I like the granular shock that is package in 1 pound bags) and the chlorine tablets (I prefer the 3 inch tablets that you add to the chlorinator).

If your pool is sanitized with a chlorine generator system that produces chlorine from salt added to the pool, then you won’t need to add chlorine chemicals at all. You just need to add salt occasionally to the pool and adjust the main control unit to increase the amount of chlorine release.  Ask your pool installer or pool supply store for advice on this.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an idea ingredient for raising the alkalinity and the pH.  Other products like pH Increaser and Alkaline Increaser are available at the pool supply store.

Adjusting Pool Water After Pool Opening

When you first open your pool, you should get the system running before adding the initial dose of sanitizer via chlorine shock.  However, if you have a chlorine generator, you only need to add salt to the pool so you can skip to the the Adjusting the pH and Alkalinity section.

If applying chlorine shock, then for example: a 16’ by 32’ pool which is about 20,000 gallons, one pound of shock should raise the chlorine level to 2 ppm.  You should probably add 2 pounds to kill all the bacteria and get the level to 4 ppm.  After this you may need to add more if the chlorine level doesn't rise to the appropriate level. I would not add any more shock for at least a day or two after the initial dose.  Also wait about two days before adding the (chlorine or bromine) tablets to the chlorinator.  Otherwise your chlorine level may be too high.  Also, do not add (chlorine or bromine) tablets to the skimmer basket.  Doing so will reduce the life of the pool pump and filter.  Getting the chlorine to the correct level after pool opening can be tricky.

Applying Granular Shock to your pool

Granular shock should be mixed with water before adding to the pool.  Otherwise it could reduce the life of your vinyl liner.  When mixing granular shock, wear safety glasses and rubber gloves.  Using a 5-gallon bucket, insert 1 pound of granular shock. Be careful not to inhale the vapors or dust.  Add water to fill about ½ way with a hose (be careful of splash back) and stir very well with a wood stick.  Pour the mixture slowly into the water on the pool steps. If there are any granules left on the bottom of the bucket (there usually is) then add more water and stir and pour this in again. As with all pool chemicals, keep children and pets away from the bucket when mixing and keep everyone out of the pool when adding to the pool.  The best time to apply is in the evening because the chlorine won’t escape/evaporate (sunlight causes this).  Also, you must keep everyone out of the pool for about 8 hours after shocking to allow time for the shock to circulate throughout the pool.

On a routine basis, apply one pound of shock about every 10 days to keep the pool chlorine level active.

Applying Chlorine Tablets

Chlorine tablets can be added to the chlorinator.  Usually 2 or 3 at a time should last about a week before you need to add 2 or 3 more.  You can also put chlorine tablets in a floater basket but remove the floater basket before swimming.  Do not put tablets in the skimmer basket.  When you open the chlorine tablet container, avoid inhaling. .  Keep children and pets away also.  After handling the tablets rinse your hands off in the pool water.  Avoid touching your eyes.

Adjusting the pH and Alkalinity

Raise alkalinity and pH with baking soda If the alkaline is low, try add baking soda to the skimmer in the morning.  You could also add ‘alkaline increaser’ or ‘alkaline up’ if you don’t want to use baking soda.

Keeping a pH reading around 7.4 and 7.6 is the best level for your swimming pool.  It is easiest on your eyes and the pool parts and equipment.  If it is lower than 7.0 then most likely the alkaline is also low. Adding baking soda or ‘alkaline up’ should raise the pH also.  If the pH is still low after a day or two, then try adding pH increaser.

If the pH and alkaline are too high, then the water tends to get cloudy and this condition could invite algae growth.  Under these conditions, I would get the ‘alkaline decreaser’ or the ‘pH decreaser’ from the pool supply store.

If the cyanuric acid is too high, then I suggest backing off on the chlorine tablets since these contain cyanuric acid.  Shock doesn’t have cyanuric acid and can be used temporarily until the cyanuric acid levels come down to normal.  If this is the case, try adding 1 pound of shock (using the mixing method in the bucket and apply to pool steps) about every other 3 days for about 2 weeks.  Then return to the tablets.  Ask your pool supply store for more advice on this if the condition continues.  They may recommend draining a few inches of water from the top of the pool.  The cyanuric acid tends to hang on the top.

Green Water Trouble Shooting Tips

If you pool water turns green, this could be caused by algae growth if the pH is too high or if the chlorine level is too low. Adding chlorine tablets (sanitizer) should alleviate this. If the pH remains high then add ‘pH decreaser’ or ‘pH down’ and follow the instruction on how to apply.

If the pH is low and the chlorine is 3.0 ppm and the water remains green, then this could be an indication that your water has a high copper level.  Have your water tested at the pool supply store. There are products at the pool supply store that can remedy this situation.

Green water could also be an indication your filters are dirty or coated with tree pollen.  This usually happens a day or two after you add shock because it breaks down the yellow/green pollen material collected on your filter that is eventually pushed back into pool.

To remedy this, pull the filters and hose them off. Add baking soda and within a day or two the water should clear.

Routine Maintenance to keep pool water crystal clear

On a daily basis, remove any leaves and debris from the skimmer basket.  Also check the pump trap basket to see if this has a lot of debris floating around.  Occasionally empty this as well.

Remove leaves and bugs that are floating on top of the water with your hand held leaf net or hand held pool skimmer.

Also keep the filtering system clean.  Backwash filters or remove filters from housing and hose off about every two weeks or so.

Test the water with test strips to check the component levels.  Make any necessary adjustments that are needed.


Tips and design ideas for using stamps to add pattern, texture and color to a concrete pool deck

Colored and stamped concrete is an ideal pool deck surface, combining the attributes of beauty, durability, and low maintenance. Stamped concrete pool decks give you a vast array of decorative options not possible with other pool deck materials. You can choose from many different stone, brick, and tile patterns and even wood-grained textures. Using stains, powdered pigments and antiquing agents, contractors can color your pool deck to look identical to natural stone or customize the color to complement your home and landscape. When properly sealed, stamped concrete will also resist harsh pool chemicals, constant water exposure, and fading. If you're worried about your pool deck getting slippery when wet, you can easily improve the traction by mixing a nonskid grit additive into the sealer. Here are some other ideas for enhancing the look and function of a stamped concrete pool deck:

Design ideas:

  • If your concrete pool deck is exposed to the hot sun all day, you can keep the surface cooler by coloring the concrete with lighter shades, such as sand, coral or pearly white tones.
  • Avoid using stamp patterns with deep grout lines or rough surface textures, which can allow water to collect and be uncomfortable to walk on in bare feet.
  • Set off your pool deck and add decorative interest by installing a pool border, or coping, in a contrasting color and pattern. Options include broom-finished concrete, limestone, concrete tile, and hand-scored concrete.
  • Terrace the levels of your stamped concrete pool deck to provide separate zones for lounging and recreation.

Interlocking Concrete Pavers Shapes

Paver Shape Considerations

Paver shapes can create engaging patterns and designs that no other paving material can match. The color, shape, pattern, and visual texture add charm, vitality, and ambiance to any landscape setting. With all these available in the marketplace today you are sure to find the perfect paver for your project.
Manufacturers offer a multitude of shapes that can be combined, from simple patterns to intricate patterns.

You can create your own unique design by mixing and matching different shapes and colors. Some shapes and their patterns are of larger dimensions and they need a larger area to show their beauty. If you have a combination of larger and smaller areas, combining different ones will be easy. Keep in mind that you should use color combinations for a pleasing effect.
paver shapes
The same applies for areas to be installed with 2 3/8" pavers in ground and 1" pavers on existing surfaces. Most shapes come in the two sizes to provide a match, but again you can easily mix them as long as you keep within the same color scheme.


Numerous research and observations demonstrate that paver shapes do contribute largely to the structural performance of a concrete block pavement. Dentate shapes key optimally into each other and by their plan geometry, interlock and resist the relative movement of joints parallel to both the longitudinal and transverse axes of the unit. Researchers have therefore divided paver shapes into three types:

A - Fully interlocking on both axes
B - Interlocking on one axes
C - Non dentate - basic square and rectangular shapes

It is strongly advised to use a Category A shape for frequently trafficked areas, while Category B and C may be used for less trafficked areas or for pedestrian use. Additionally, various shapes were developed for certain specialized applications, such as water permeability, grass growth, noise reduction, mechanized installation, and so forth.

concrete pavers Most people consider rectangular shaped pavers to be the standard or normal looking shape. After all, rectangles have been around since Roman times, or even longer. Some home owners want something different, something a bit out of the ordinary, something you don't see on every street, something visually interesting.
Many geometric shapes lend themselves to modular paving but rectangles are the simplest to manufacture, to package and ship to sites and Builders' supply throughout the land and so the paving market has been dominated by rectangles literally since the beginning.

The market for block paving has become more sophisticated so the demand for new, exciting, innovative products has grown and the leading manufacturers spend a lot of time, effort and money trying to develop innovative paving shapes and patterns to meet the growing demand.
paving pattern
There are a large variety of shapes, such as hexagons, pentagons, octagons, parallelograms, fans, keyhole-shapes, X-shapes, W-shapes and more. As mold technology and production techniques continue to evolve, you can be sure that interesting and more wonderful shapes will make their presence upon the paver marketing pathway.