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The Basics of Water Chemistry for Pool Cleaning

GL Pools Team
The Basics of Water Chemistry for Pool Cleaning

By the Pool Service and Repair Experts at GL Pools

Swimming pool cleaning is important for ensuring a safe and healthy environment for everyone that enjoys its waters. Beyond pool cleaning, pool owners must keep chemicals balanced. Properly doing so offers many benefits, to your equipment as well as swimmers, beyond general pool cleaning. These include:

  • Stopping algae growth
  • Avoiding skin and/or eye irritation
  • Removing harmful chemicals, bacteria, and other impurities
  • Protecting pool equipment
  • Promoting effective pool filtration

While it is possible to do it yourself, balancing pool chemicals requires a good bit of technical knowledge. GL Pools has been in the pool cleaning service industry since 2006, so we understand exactly what pool cleaning chemicals need to be measured and how to analyze the results. We also have the right tools for the job and our pool cleaning team knows how to properly correct imbalances. If you’re looking for pool cleaners near me to help you with your water chemistry, our expert pool cleaning service can take care of everything you need from balancing your pool’s chemicals to pool filter cleaning. In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about balancing your pool’s water chemistry.

Pool Cleaning and Commonly Monitored Pool Chemicals

As we mentioned previously, pool cleaning goes beyond the surface. And to maintain optimal chemistry, several chemicals and chemical properties need to be tested regularly as part of your pool cleaning service. The most common include pH, Calcium, Chlorine, Cyanuric Acid (CYA), Total Alkalinity (TA), and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Continue reading to get a better idea of why these matter so much to pool cleaning.


Pool owners that have ever done their own swimming pool maintenance are probably already very familiar with pH. Also referred to as potential hydrogen, pH is not actually a chemical but a chemical property. It is used to determine how acidic or basic a pool’s water is. The pH of your pool water can be measured using test strips or a Taylor test kit. A professional pool cleaning service can help ensure you always have an ideal pH level between 7.2 and 7.8.

Your pH can be affected by several factors. Oxidation, liquid chlorine, and chlorine gas can cause your pH level to become too high. Rain and Trichlor tablets can cause your pH levels to drop too low. In general, pH levels tend to rise in swimming pools. To ensure optimal levels, we recommend weekly testing with your pool cleaning service.

When the pH level in your pool is too high, it can cause scaling, the build-up of calcium on the plaster or salt cell. In turn, chlorine becomes ineffective, leaving you at risk for bacteria and algae. The resulting poor water quality may also cause eye and skin irritation. If a routine pool cleaning and chemical check reveals that your pH is too high, it can be lowered by adding muriatic acid.

For pools with low pH, there is an increased risk of plaster etching and damage to pool equipment. For example, copper heat exchangers can burst, leaving you with a stained pool and a costly pool heater repair. And just like a pH level that is too high, a pH that is too low can also cause skin and eye irritation. If your pool cleaning service finds your pH is too low, they may add soda ash or sodium carbonate to your pool to increase the pH.


Chlorine is an important sanitizing agent used for pool cleaning service and is necessary for killing microscopic contaminants such as viruses, bacteria, algae, and parasites. Furthermore, it serves as an oxidizer that helps remove any waste remaining after neutralizing contaminants within the pool.

As mentioned earlier, chlorine can also affect your water’s pH levels. Trichlor tablets can lower the pH of your pool. Dichlor, in granular form, will typically have a minimal impact on pH. Liquid chlorine, as well as calcium hypochlorite in granular form, on the other hand, may increase the pH of your water. Chlorine levels should be tested as needed during routine pool cleaning.

Cyanuric Acid (CYA)

Cyanuric acid helps increase the lifespan of chlorine by protecting the free chlorine from ultraviolet rays. Also referred to as a chlorine stabilizer or pool conditioner, CYA should be tested as needed and at least once a month during your scheduled pool cleaning. Ultimately, CYA levels should rest between 30 and 50 parts per million (ppm) for salt and fresh water. If your pool water doesn’t contain enough CYA, your chlorine will become depleted more quickly. Too much CYA reduces chlorine’s sanitizing capabilities.


As part of your regular pool cleaning routine, your water’s calcium levels should be tested as needed. When a pool contains too much calcium, it can cause both scaling and cloudy water. Too little calcium can ultimately result in corrosion. Your calcium levels are primarily determined by the source water from the tap. If they are too low, calcium can be added. If they are too high, the only solution is partially or completely draining the pool. When considering your approach to pool cleaning and water chemistry, it is helpful to know whether you reside in an area with soft or hard water; calcium levels start off lower with soft water and higher with hard water.

Total Alkalinity (TA)

Total Alkalinity is not a chemical, but a chemical property describing water’s ability to neutralize acids. Total Alkalinity helps buffer your water by making it more resistant to rapid changes in pH levels. It should be monitored as part of your pool cleaning with optimal TA levels being between 80 and 120 milligrams per liter. A Total Alkalinity that is too low can cause your pH levels to wildly fluctuate. And if your TA is too high, your pH will be difficult to adjust. Weekly testing of TA, using either test strips or a Taylor test kit, is an essential part of any pool cleaning service.

For TA levels that are too high, muriatic acid can be used to lower. For levels that are too low, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be used to raise your TA. However, when balancing chemicals during your pool cleaning, if both pH and TA are out of range, the TA should be fixed first due to the buffering effect it has on pH levels.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

The term Total Dissolved Solids is another chemical property used in standard pool cleaning service. Measured in parts per million, TDS describes dissolved combined content of all organic and inorganic substances in water. Some of the more problematic TDS found during pool cleaning and chemical balancing include chlorides and sulfates. Both can result in reduced chlorine efficacy, algae blooms, and cloudy pool water. In addition, high levels of phosphates and nitrates as TDS can consume chlorine and also contribute to algae blooms. TDS can effectively counteract your pool cleaning efforts, so it’s important to monitor and correct TDS levels as needed.

GL Pools Pool Cleaning Service Near Me

If you find yourself searching for pool cleaners near me and would like to learn more about what GL Pools can do for you in terms of Escondido pool cleaning, chemical balancing, and more, contact us today. We are one of the most trusted pool companies in San Diego. Our passionate experts are standing by to answer your questions and get you set up with your first appointment.