It’s finally time to get your pool ready for another summer of fun! Most of the steps to opening your pool are straightforward. You understand why you can’t go swimming before you have removed your pool cover. Restoring your pool’s water level with a garden hose is hardly rocket science. And reassembling the filtration system and pulling out the winterizing plugs are actually kind of fun!

But one aspect of opening a pool tends to intimidate people: taking care of the water itself. That is because pool water maintenance requires chemistry, and just because you enjoyed Breaking Bad doesn’t mean you understood everything Walter White was talking about.

Fortunately, correct pool water care while opening your pool is less complicated than it seems. We’ll tell you every chemical you need, how much of each to use, and which order to use them in!

Which Chemicals Do You Need to Open Your Pool?

Pool chemicals are essential. All of them work toward one or both of two goals: making your water safer and more comfortable to swim in, and making your water clearer and more pleasant to look at.

Let’s begin with the chemicals every pool owner has to purchase – or at least hire a local pool maintenance service to provide.

  1. Chlorine – Chlorine doesn’t technically kill germs like E. coli and salmonella. It combines with pool water to form hypochlorous acid, a chemical which is also useful for sterilizing medical office furniture. Several forms of chlorine are available for sale including tablets, granules and even gas, but they’re all effective at creating the weak acid which makes bacteria go bye-bye.
  2. Shock treatment – It’s not how it sounds – no electricity is needed for shock treatment! This chemical breaks up the chlorine in your pool that has combined with elements like nitrogen and ammonia, either of which renders chlorine ineffective at sterilizing water. It’s a great way to rapidly restore your water’s chlorine level, which will help to kill bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms.
  3. Algaecide – Algae isn’t just hideous. Algae can also irritate your skin, as well as attract water bugs looking for a free lunch. Some types of algaecide burst apart the algae’s cells; others simply make the algae unable to convert water and sunlight into energy. But they are all effective at killing the aquatic plant, and they can all be used in conjunction with chlorine and shock treatment.
  4. Stain treatment – This substance contains a powerful organic compound which forces metal ions to form into ring-like structures. Stain treatment essentially dissolves metals like iron and copper that have accumulated on your pool’s lining so they can sink harmlessly to the bottom of the water.
  5. Increaser/decreaser chemicals – These are multiple separate substances, each of which is used to raise or lower an important chemical property of your pool water.
    • pH – Pool water with a high pH can become cloudy and irritating to the skin. But when pH is too low, the chlorine becomes ineffective at killing microorganisms. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and soda ash raise pool water’s pH; hydrochloric acid (aka muriatic acid), sodium bisulfate and products that contain either of those chemicals all reduce it.
    • Alkalinity – Not the same as pH! Whereas pH refers to the number of acid ions in the pool water, alkalinity measures its carbonate and bicarbonate levels. But the same chemicals which adjust pH also adjust alkalinity. Baking soda raises pool water’s alkalinity; hydrochloric acid and sodium bisulfate both reduce it.
    • Calcium – Water with high levels of dissolved calcium ions is cloudy, and will also cause scaling which looks ugly and can gradually damage filtration equipment. But you don’t want your pool water’s calcium hardness to drop too low, as that will cause grouting to erode and plaster surfaces to delaminate. Calcium chloride raises pool water’s calcium hardness; flocculant reduces it. You may alternatively reduce calcium hardness with hydrochloric acid, or by draining and replacing a portion of your pool water (although hard water may make replacement ineffective).

How to Use Chemicals to Open Your Pool

Before doing anything with your pool chemicals, make certain you have the kit or test strips you need to measure its chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels. Test your water before you begin to establish which increaser or decreaser chemicals you need to add. (Get into the habit of testing your pool water once or twice per week so you can make any needed adjustments.)

Adding chemicals one at a time will let you fine-tune your water’s chemical properties. Adding them all at once could cause a potentially hazardous chemical reaction!

Opening your pool water is a two-day process, although some chemicals should be added continuously throughout the summer. Make certain to adjust each chemical level in the following order! (Note that the following chemical levels are ideal, but straying a little high or low from them isn’t the end of the world.)

Day 1

  1. Alkalinity – 80 to 120 ppm (wait 1 hour to let chemical circulate)
  2. pH – 7.4 to 7.6 (wait 1 hour to let chemical circulate)
  3. Calcium hardness – 180 to 220 ppm (wait 1 hour to let chemical circulate)
  4. Chlorine – 1 to 5 ppm (wait 1 hour to let chemical circulate)
  5. Stain treatment – 1 quart per 10,000 gallons (wait 3 hours to let chemical circulate)

Day 2

  1. Algaecide – 16 ounces per 10,000 gallons (wait 30 minutes to let chemical circulate)

Ongoing Maintenance

  1. Stain treatment – 6 ounces per 10,000 gallons every other week (wait 3 hours to let chemical circulate)
  2. Shock treatment Correct amount depends on product; add once weekly or whenever improved water clarity is desired (wait 1 hour to let chemical circulate)
  3. Algaecide – 16 ounces per 10,000 gallons; add after every shock treatment (wait 30 minutes to let chemical circulate)
  4. Whichever other adjuster chemicals regular testing deems necessary

Do you need pool chemicals, pool equipment, or professional pool maintenance in the greater Sioux Falls, SD area? Contact Paradise Patio, Pool & Spa today! We can even help you if you don’t currently own a pool – by installing one in your backyard quickly and for a price you can afford!