So you got an above-ground pool, had it installed, and filled it with water. Now what? You know a pool needs chemicals, but which and how much?
Chemically starting up a new above-ground swimming pool in Central Florida is easy if you filled it with municipal(city) water as it’s already balanced. With that, you only have to shock it and maybe adjust the PH.
If you filled your new pool with your well, then depending on the quality of your water, you may want to take a sample of the pool’s water to a pool store. They can analyze it and tell you what to add for your start-up.
BASIC ABOVE-GROUND POOL WATER CHEMISTRY 101, VERY BASIC
This article is not about swimming pool chemistry. It’s about telling you what to add to your brand-new pool for the first time. Even though it’s not necessary, some understanding can help.
1 Pool water needs to be sanitized
In the water business, they like to use the word “sanitize” instead of kill. To help you understand, know that this fancy word means “kill”,
You’ll want to kill all the things in swimming pool water that can hurt humans, so when starting up a pool, it must be sanitized or “shocked” so you know everything is dead before you go swimming.
This is what shocking a pool does.
2 The pool water’s PH needs to be in range
Every single thing has its own PH. A chair, a dog’s skin, a tree leaf, coffee, pool water, humans, etc.
If the swimming pool’s PH is not in the middle range, then it can irritate human swimmers. In reality, it’s somewhat rare for a pool’s PH to irritate human skin, the main reason to have proper PH in a pool is so the sanitizer/oxidizer (chlorine) can work well.
3 Pool water needs to be clear
It is unsafe for a swimming pool to not be clear. You should be able to very clearly see the deepest part of the bottom.
Anything in the water that is causing an unclear pool needs to be addressed either chemically or manually taken out.
These are the only three things that have to be accomplished when chemically starting up a swimming pool.
You can add a hundred more scenarios and issues to confuse this process, but this is all you need initially.
SO, TO CHEMICALLY START UP A SWIMMING POOL, YOU NEED TO SHOCK IT AND ADJUST THE PH.
THE POOL SHOULD BE CLEAR BEFORE ANYONE GOES SWIMMING
If you filled your pool with city water, then it should be clear even before you shock it. This is because it already has some level of sanitizer(Orlando municipal water uses chlorine) and the PH is in range.
If you filled with your well and it’s colored or cloudy, then you will have to wait for the water to clear up from shocking it, adjusting the PH, and adding anything else needed to remove excess metals to oxidize what’s in the water making it cloudy.
Depending on how bad your well water is, this can take a few days.
SOME ABOVE-GROUND POOL PACKAGES COME WITH A CHEMICAL START-UP KIT. DON’T EXPECT MUCH
There is nothing standard when a retailer puts together a chemical start-up kit. I have seen kits that have all kinds of unnecessary chemicals with them.
All of them will have some kind of a shock though, and that’s good. In some cases, that is all you’ll use in the kit.
Just don’t think that everything you need is in one of these kits. They aren’t extensive, they are only basic and you rarely get much with one, so don’t rely on it.
DID YOUR POOL COME WITH A SALT CHLORINE GENERATOR (SALT POOL)? YEAH, YOU’LL STILL WANT TO SHOCK THE POOL AT START-UP
People have all kinds of ideas about what a salt pool is. And they can be sold all kinds of ideas of what a salt pool is by websites and salesmen.
A salt chlorine generator (which is what makes your pool a salt pool) only does one thing – it makes a small amount of fresh chlorine all day and introduces it into the pool.
A SCG cannot shock the pool though, so you will have to shock your salt pool initially just like a non-salt pool just to make sure the water is safe to swim in.
USING A TEST KIT/STRIPS
Your new above-ground pool will most likely come with a maintenance kit which will have a test kit included.
It won’t be much, but it should do the two things you need it to. And that is to check the chlorine level and PH.
The strips are very easy to use and so is the drop kit type. Just follow the directions and learn how to read them. It’s not hard.
Regardless of what the readings are on your newly filled pool’s water, I recommend shocking the pool initially no matter what.
HOW MUCH CHEMICAL SHOULD YOU ADD TO YOUR POOL?
This is not an easy question to answer here as there are different-sized pools and each chemical requires different amounts per gallon of water.
Since we are only talking about starting up the pool though, you’ll only need to know how much chlorine is needed and maybe adjust the PH
When using liquid chlorine, one gallon will shock 10,000 gallons of water. So if you have a 24’ round pool with 14,000 gallons, then pour in two gallons ( or just a full 2.5-gallon yellow jug).
You don’t have to be precise, but it’s better to add more than recommended instead of not enough. The shock effect doesn’t last long, so you can add more and it’s ok.
When using granular shock, one pound will shock 10,000 gallons of water, so follow the same routine as with liquid. Shock a little more than you need if you want.
WARNING: When using granular shock, dilute completely in a bucket of water before pouring it into the pool. The granular can damage the liner if not diluted.
To adjust the PH, determine how many gallons of water are in your pool and follow the directions on the product label. There are a few different chemicals used to raise and lower PH.
NOTE: Don’t get too tripped up on getting the PH perfectly in range. It doesn’t matter as much as you think. Enjoy your new pool and go swimming.
WHEN IN DOUBT, TAKE A WATER SAMPLE TO A POOL STORE
This is the advice I give everyone just starting out with pool water chemistry. You’ve got a new pool and you want to enjoy it.
Learn pool chemistry as you go but initially let the pool store do the work. You will eventually learn what is needed and what isn’t with your pool. You don’t have to figure it all out on day one.