Look Before You Leap

Refreshing, sparkling and invigorating are words that come to mind when thinking about swimming in the summertime, or at least that’s how it should be. Memories of playful afternoons in the water are easy to recall, and usually with an eagerness to relive them time and time again.  Perhaps it was a summer at the lake, a spring at a Caribbean beach or a late August pool party at a friend’s house, far upon a hill.
Chances are that your memories are about to get an update as our summer season in the islands is about to begin, and the temperature of the swimming waters are again rising to more comfortable levels.  The water at the beaches is becoming somewhat calmer yet again, and very conducive to swimming.  Fortunately, our sea water is still fairly clean, as our islands are just a spot in a grand ocean; circulation is good and the large amount of sunlight combined with relatively high salt levels provide good sanitation.  This is nature at its best, delivering its sparkling waters to our doorstep.
If you are fortunate enough to own a swimming pool, you will undoubtedly be spending some extra time ensuring that the water you swim in is just so.  Unlike the sea, swimming pools need a couple of pieces of equipment to keep their water clean.  A pump and filter will remove small particles from the water and induced chemicals keep the water free of bacteria.  In order to know how much of these chemicals to add, we need to use some simple chemistry.

Being a pool owner, you probably are familiar with the common parameters for safe and healthy pool waters.  To ensure your safety and well-being, regular testing of swimming-pool water is crucial.  This information will give you a good picture of your swimming environment, the level of sanitizer (a word to describe the amount of chlorine, for example) as well as the acidity and alkalinity of the water.  The latter will give you an idea how effective that sanitizer will be at that moment.
These measurements are very important, as is the recording of the tests, which allow you to see a trend, similar to tracking your stocks and investments in a graph.  Armed with these figures, you can address the health of your pool water as well protect your actual pool.  Balanced pool water is conducive to lower sanitizer (chlorine) costs and also makes your pool structure last longer.  Aggressive water is not only painful to swim in, but will actually eat your pool finish, grout, tiles and light fixtures as well as the pump and filter equipment.
Testing the water is the only way to accurately adjust your water chemistry.  While being able to see the pool bottom is a requirement for all pools, it does not guarantee the water’s health; remember that both pure muriatic acid and bleach are clear in appearance, however not very desirable to stick your toes in, let alone your face.