Unbalanced pool water can lead to a whole host of issues with your pool. In this article, we will show you a few simple signs that your pool water is out of balance. But first, what is “balanced” water anyway?
What Is Water Balance?
Water balance is a term used to describe the relationship between different chemical measurements in your pool water. It is based around the concept that water will dissolve and holds minerals until it becomes saturated and cannot hold any more. This is known as the water’s “saturation point”.
Water that is below the saturation point is corrosive. It tries to saturate itself by dissolving everything it comes in contact with.
Water that is above the saturation point is scale forming. It can’t hold all of the minerals that are dissolved in it. These excess minerals group together and form scale on any surfaces within the water.
Water that is well balanced is neither corrosive nor scale forming. This is the water that you want in your pool!
Cloudy or Hazy Water
The simplest sign that your pool water is out of balance is if the water is cloudy or hazy. Cloudy / hazy water can be caused by several different things; some of which are water balance related and some of which aren’t. To see how you can diagnose and clear a cloudy pool, consult this guide.
A Slimy or Slippery Feel To The Surface
A slippery or slimy feel to some or all of the surface of your pool is a sure sign that your pool water is out of balance. Specifically, it means that your pool water is low on chlorine.
When the chlorine levels in your pool water are low, algae will start to grow. As the algae grows it will begin to stick itself to any surface that it can find, then cover itself in a protective layer of slime. This slimy protective layer is what you’re feeling.
To fix this issue you will first need to brush the entire surface of the pool to break up the algae buildup. Once the algae has been brushed off of the surface of the pool, apply a “shock” treatment to the pool water to kill the algae. Continue testing the water over the next few days to ensure that the water is maintaining the recommended 1-3ppm of chlorine. If it isn’t, you’ll need to add more until it does.
The Water Has A “Chlorine Smell”
If you’ve ever visited a public pool, you’ve likely noticed that most of them have a particular smell. While this smell is commonly thought to be from too much chlorine in the water, it’s usually a sign that there is not enough. That’s because you’re actually smelling chloramines (spent chlorine that is no longer able to effectively sanitize) rather than “free chlorine” (chlorine that is available to disinfect the water).
As free chlorine does its job, it will bond with the waste that it interacts with and become chloramines. As the level of chloramines rises, the water will begin to get the “chlorine smell” that is so common in public pools. To remove these chloramines, and the “pool smell”, you’ll need to shock the water to unbind the used chlorine and free it up to sanitize the water again.
Your Eyes Turn Red After Swimming
Another sure sign that your water isn’t balanced is if your eyes turn red after you swim in the pool. While often thought to be caused by high levels of chlorine; red, irritated eyes are more commonly caused by the pH level in the water. Your eyes have a pH level of around 7. The farther away your water’s pH is from this level (above or below), the more the water will irritate your eyes. To keep your eyes from becoming irritated you should try and keep your pool water’s pH between 6.8 and 7.2.
To fix this water balance issue, you’ll first want to test the water to confirm that the pH is the issue. If your pH is off, you’ll want to add pH balancing chemicals to the water to bring it into the recommended range. If your red eyes are instead being caused by high chlorine, simply wait until the chlorine level in the water decreases to the recommended level of 1-3ppm.
Your Skin Feels Dry After Swimming
Swimming in water can disrupt the oily layer on top of your skin that acts as a natural moisturizer. This can cause your skin to feel dry or irritated after a swim, especially if you were in the pool for an extended period of time. While this isn’t entirely unique to pools (long term exposure to water of any kind can cause the same issue), high levels of chlorine can make the problem worse.
To fix this issue you’ll want to test the water and adjust the pH / chlorine levels as needed. If the problem persists you should rinse off in the shower after swimming using a moisturizing soap to remove any chlorine residual on your skin.
Tips To Fixing Unbalanced Pool Water
Once you know that your pool water is unbalanced, the question becomes how to fix it. The first step to fixing unbalanced water is always to test it. The best way of doing this is to bring a water sample into your local pool retailer for a free pool water test. These tests will give you a clear picture of the health of your pool and give you a precise plan to get the water back in balance.
Once you know what to add, you’ll want to add each chemical to the pool water separately, at least 30 minutes apart. This will prevent the chemicals from affecting each other.
Once your water is balanced, you will want to keep doing regular water tests at home to ensure that the water maintains a proper balance. These tests should be done 2-3 times per week as well as after any period of heavy use.
Properly balanced water is both safe and comfortable to use. It also helps protect your pool from premature wear and tear. Keeping an eye out for these common signs of unbalanced water can, therefore, help you maintain cleaner, clearer water with less effort, and save you some money at the same time!