Spring Into Summer

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Swimming Pools

‘Spring’ into Summer and Get That Pool Ready Now!

Bear with me…

I’ve been going to Cincinnati Reds opening day games since the 1970’s. Those were great times and great teams, but I never liked the astroturf. It added a phony aspect to the game. My most memorable games are more recent and began when old Riverfront Stadium was converted to natural grass. Then came Great American Ball Park and the feeling continued. Baseball opening day is like an announcement to the world: Spring means warmer days are here again!

But what does that have to do with swimming pools? It goes back to the first glimpse of the baseball field as I made my way to a view of the field. Natural grass. Green. Lush. Beautiful! But that look didn’t just happen. There was no magic wand involved. It took work and time to get perfection. Seeding, fertilizing, watering, mowing. And more.

The field is a lot like when you first remove the winter cover from your pool. The water may look…decent, but it just doesn’t have that shine. And what’s that stuff that has settled on the pool floor? Work must be completed before it’ll be ready for swimming. Like the baseball field, there are steps to be taken.

Get the filter running and the water flowing.

A winter cover will never be confused with a work of art. Basically, they are ugly and a reminder of the cold, raw winter months. So, get it off and get the water flowing. A pool that’s up and running just looks better. Filtration is also the first step in prepping your pool. And this time of year, it only takes a few hours a day to do the job. And since the water and air temperatures are both well below ideal swimming conditions, you won’t need a lot of sanitizer in the water, either.

Moderate filtration and a base sanitizer will help return that sparkle to the water. Best of all, it will be accomplished with a bare minimum of expense.

Balance the water.

Now that you’ve got the system  up and running, address the water’s chemistry. Here are the basics to check:

pH. This is a 1 through 14 scale of how acidic or basic your water is. 7 is considered neutral. Low pH is acidic and will make you burn through chlorine and can damage metal components. It can also make your eyes red and your skin tingle or itch.  Disruptively high pH can case cloudy water and cause scaling. Chlorine also loses its effectiveness. Generally, an acceptable range for proper balance is 7.2-7.8.

Total alkalinity.

In short, alkaline content helps hold the pH in place. A low alkalinity let’s the pH bounce all over the scale. A high alkalinity locks the pH in, and if it is already high, makes it difficult to lower. Scales vary, but we generally recommend that total alkalinity to be in an 80-150 parts-per-million range.

Ignore the alkalinity level and you’ll never get a consistent pH reading.

Calcium Hardness.

What role does calcium play in a swimming pool? Primarily, it acts as a buffer to help hold the alkalinity steady. Too low (soft water), and you will experience pH bounce and resulting corrosiveness to metals. Too high (hard water) and you may get scaling on the pool walls and floor. I’ve seen pools that had super high calcium levels and the liner felt like sandpaper when I brushed against it.

I won’t get into acceptable calcium levels here. It varies greatly with the type of pool you have and the sanitizer you use. 

Cyanuric acid (chlorine stabilizer).

If you use chlorine as your primary sanitizer, this is pretty self-explanatory. Cyanuric acid helps reduce the effects of sunshine and UV rays on chlorine life. I have often referred to Cyanuric acid as a chlorine life-giver. Again, the proper ppm level will vary, but starts at just 30 ppm. If you use calcium-based chlorine or have a chlorine generator on your pool, you will definitely need higher levels. 


Not everyone needs to add salt to their pool. However, if you have a chlorine generator, it is imperative that you maintain a proper salt level. The generator breaks down the salt compound, NaCl, and produces hypochlorous acid from the Cl part. This is the working part of chlorine. Not enough salt and you won’t get enough chlorine.

Some above ground owners rely on the Simple Salt Water treatment system. This is a LOW salt system. Without getting into a long dissertation on how Simple Salt works, I will offer a suggestion. Make that a plea. If you get your water tested at places that are unfamiliar with it, they may give you incorrect advice. It is likely they will end up telling you to add excessive amounts of salt to your above-ground pool. Don’t do it. A high-salt level can, and will, ultimately damage your pool.

Which leads me to this statement…

If you are located in the greater Cincinnati area, bring a water sample to Eastgate Pools & Spas for testing. We need about 10-12 ounces of water, obtained after the filter has run for a day or two. This guarantees a good mix of the previously stagnant water. Bring it in a clean container, free of any food or drink residue. The sample should come from an arm’s-length depth in the pool and should be fresh. A sample that sets in a hot car all day will produce some false reads. If you will be out running errands, it’s better to make us the first stop.

Play ball!

You may not feel the urge to start the pool up just yet. However, getting it ready now helps make sure your pool is all set when you want to swim. Like the crew that gets the baseball field ready, efforts now yield impressive and memorable results.