What is Water Hardness?

May 15, 2012
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Many people don’t realize that water hardness levels and chlorine levels are inextricably linked. Direct water hardness affects the amount of chlorine needed to keep pool water at optimum swimming condition. Simultaneously, the amount of chlorine used affects the hardness of pool water. In this article, we outline some of the interactions between water hardness and usable and used chlorine levels. For full understanding, you may wish to consult a local pool service company.

it’s very important that you keep water hardness levels and chlorine levels properly juggled. When you do, you’ll be able to avoid bacteria and algae overgrowth, swimmer distress and even damage to your pool. Regular swimming pool service with close attention to water hardness and chlorine levels will help you keep your swimming pool sparkling clean, safe and inviting throughout the swimming season.

Understanding Water Hardness

If you want to keep the correct chlorine levels in your swimming pool water, water hardness levels must be correct. Water hardness consists of two distinct qualities: indirect hardness and direct hardness.

The water you receive from your city water system or well determines the direct hardness reading. When the basic water is too hard, it can be very difficult to get a good chlorine balance. The reason for hard water is an excess of minerals such as calcium, as well as excessive grit and dirt. The hardness of basic water varies from one city to another and one source to another. Check with a local pool maintenance company to find out the direct hardness level of the water in your area.

The chemicals you use to treat your pool water, including chlorine, account for indirect hardness. The more chemicals you add, the harder your water will be. If you have problems getting a good balance in your pool chemicals, you may wish to opt for professional weekly pool service. This can be a simple, convenient way to balance pool water readings.

Very hard water prevents chlorine from working well. When this happens, your pool equipment, system, and the very surfaces of your pool may become encrusted with mineral deposits. In fact, excessive minerals may even become apparent within the water. Although it’s unusual, it’s possible for pool water not to be hard enough. When this is the case, the pool water becomes corrosive and damages pool surfaces. If either of these conditions is permitted to continue, you may find yourself in need of a pool repair service.

The best reading for water hardness is between 200 & 400 parts per million (PPM). If your pool water gets too far outside this range, it may be necessary for you (or your pool maintenance company) to drain some or all of the water from the pool and add fresh water.

Concentration Of Chlorine Basics

Chlorine is extremely important in destroying bacteria and preventing algae overgrowth. Getting the right amount of chlorine can be a real balancing act because too little is ineffective, and too much causes swimmer distress.

The chlorine in your pool water falls into two categories: used chlorine and usable chlorine. The measurement of total chlorine in your pool water is a combination of both.

Usable chlorine is also known as free chlorine. This chlorine is still active killing algae and bacteria in your pool water. It’s extremely important that free chlorine levels be correct. The very lowest free chlorine level reading that is acceptable is 1 PPM . Less than that will be totally ineffective against bacteria. The highest acceptable reading of free chlorine is 10 PPM. More than that, it will cause damage to swimwear, swimmer distress, and could even endanger swimmers in your pool. The very best free chlorine reading is 3 PPM.

Chlorine that has done its work and been used up is called used chlorine. This chlorine no longer has any effect and simply lingers in the water causing water hardness and swimmer discomfort. When you measure your chlorine readings, take into account that quite a bit of the chlorine in your pool may be used chlorine. This can be a tricky determination and may require the services of a pool maintenance company for the most accurate reading.

If the amount of used chlorine lingering in your pool water becomes too great, it will become necessary for you (or your pool service company) to give your pool a shock treatment (a very large dose of usable chlorine). When you give your pool a shock treatment, the new effective chlorine will cause the used chlorine to dissipate. Once this is done, the excessive hardness of the pool water will be corrected, and your usable chlorine will be able to do its job.

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