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Pool Troubleshooting

SOMETIMES WHETHER BY ACCIDENT or by negligence you can let the pool water get away from you a little bit, and you need to know how to rein it in. It’s not difficult to undertake some basic pool troubleshooting; you just need to know the steps to take to correct the problem, whether you caused it or nature did. Some common problems are:


Too much chlorine: You take a reading on your favorite brand of test strips. The total chlorine and free chlorine is off the charts. You can’t remember whether you added one gallon or two of chlorine since the phone rang and you had to take off in a hurry last time you applied chemicals.


This is a pretty common problem, and normally all you need to do is simply wait it out and keep bathers out of the pool until the readings stabilize and it is safe for bathers to enter. Adding too much chlorine is a temporary shock to the pool, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do once in a great while. If you’re really concerned about it or have an upcoming pool party and you need the pool habitable, then think about running the pumps more than usual and adding chlorine neutralizer. As long as the addition of chlorine is relatively minor, you’ll be fine.


Algae bloom: Another classic pool troubleshooting scenario. You went out of town. Your buddy was supposed to add some chlorine, but he forgot. You get back to find a pool that’s a beautiful shade of emerald green.


An algae bloom can catch you by surprise especially in the summer months when chlorine levels fall faster than normal because of the sunlight and you aren’t running the pumps as often. This is easily treated with a multipurpose algaecide. On treatment in an average size pool will kill everything overnight, leaving the pool blue again, but relatively cloudy because of all the suspended particulate. You may need to add a clarifier the following day to restore the clarity. Note that if you’ve really let your pool go green and there are lily pads, bulrushes and crocodiles in there, you’ll need to drain the pool and start over again.


Smells like chlorine: A walk past the pool gives you nausea as you catch a strong smell of chlorine – yet the water looks dirty and oily. You take a test reading to find your total chlorine seems okay, but your free chlorine barely registers. What’s the problem here?


Too many pool owners associate the smell of chlorine as being evidence that the pool is chlorinated properly, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. A strong chlorine smell usually denotes that there isn’t enough chlorine in the pool! This is because as the chlorine reacts with the substances in the pool – bacteria, dirt, sweat, etc, it gets used up and forms what are called chloramines – these chloramines give off the characteristic chlorine smell that everyone recognizes, but chloramines are used up chlorine and no longer effective in keeping the water clean.


A shock treatment will bring the pool back under control and replace the total amount of free chlorine in the pool in short order.


Generally speaking, whenever you have a pool problem, the first thing you do before you grab a bottle of chemicals is to test the water. Test strips will tell you everything you need to know about the condition of the water and using them first will allow you to diagnose exactly what’s going on. Pool troubleshooting isn’t rocket science, and with accurate testing, you’ll be able to determine exactly what’s wrong with the water and take the appropriate action to fix it every time.




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