Chemical and Pump Care for the Laurel Cove Pool

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Recommended Levels

The Laurel Cove pool is approximately 50,000 gallons.

  • pH: 7.2 - 7.8
  • Chlorine: 1.0 - 2.0 ppm
  • Total Alkalinity: 80 - 120 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 180 - 220 ppm, though some say 200 - 400.
  • Cyanuric Acid: 25 - 50 ppm
  • Total Dissolved Solids:: 500 - 5000 ppm


If the gauges on the filter tanks read above 10, then we need to backwash to flush out the junk that the filters have trapped, and thereby decrease the pressure.

  • turn pump off (circuit breaker)
  • push down large circular valve on tank 1, and move it to "backwash"
  • push down large circular valve on tank 2, and move it to "backwash"
  • turn pump on (circuit breaker)
  • wait 1-2 minutes
  • turn pump off (circuit breaker)
  • push down large circular valve on tank 1, and move it to "filter"
  • push down large circular valve on tank 2, and move it to "filter"
  • turn pump on (circuit breaker)

after a couple of minutes, make sure that there is no water still draining from the backwash pipe. If so, then one of the valves is still open a little. Turn pump off and fix this, if need be.

The valve on the right (as you are standing in the pump area facing the pool) is a little gimpy, and it will let water through to the backwash even though you don't intend it. So be careful there. Make a full circle with the valve, seat it into place, wiggle it back and forth, and tap upward on the valve. After all of that, hopefully it's seated and you won't get wastewater discharge when you turn the pump back on. If you do, reseat the valve.

Algae Treatment

Once a week, pour in one bottle of Algaecide around the edge of the pool. Before pouring in, take the pool brush and brush down the sides of the pool to agitate any algae on the sides.


Always keep the chlorinator well supplied with chlorine tablets, and there is a meter valve on the chlorinator that determines how much chlorine is supplied to the pool. If the chlorine readings are low, then open the meter a bit, if high, vice versa. Note unless the lid to the chlorinator is on tightly, there will be bubble injection into the pool, so make sure it's tight.

BE CAREFUL adding chlorine. You should use gloves to handle the chlorine tablets, but if using bare hands, at least rinse off your hands immediately. Be extremely careful not to splash the water in the chlorinator back into your eyes; you will need to go to the doctor if this occurs.


As a last resort, if the pH just won't balance, use Shock. Just open the bags and sprinkle in around the edges of the pool. The pool is 50,000 gallons, so *at least* put 5 bags (5 lbs) in the pool. I usually put eight.


Ideal pH is between 7.2 and 7.8.

If the pH is too low (acidic), dump in baking soda around the edge of the pool. Personally, I've dumped anywhere from 3 lbs to 8 lbs of the stuff, and it didn't seem to be able to raise the pH. Based on information I've gleaned from some websites, we should never add more than 10 pounds of baking soda at one time.

If the pH is too high (basic), use the pH down chemical.

Fixing an Airlocked Pump (Priming the Pump)

  • Turn off the pump, if it is on
  • close all valves on the suction side (skimmer, vacuum, and drain)
  • slowly open the strainer lid on the pump, letting the pressurized air bleed off
  • check out the strainer basket and dump/clean if necessary.
  • replace the strainer basket and fill the strainer with water, using a bucket of water
  • replace the strainer lid, making sure it seals securely; just hand tighten the bolts evenly.
  • turn on pump
  • slowly open the suction-side valve labeled "drain"
  • wait for pump to catch its prime (you will hear the difference)
  • slowly open the suction-side valve labeled "vacuum"
  • wait for all air to exit that pipe (you will hear the difference)
  • slowly open the suction-side valve labeled "skimmer"
  • wait for all air to exit that pipe (you will hear the difference)
  • close the suction-side valve labeled "vacuum"

If the pump doesn't catch its prime after the first suction side valve is opened, close the drain valve, and start back at the step where you fill the strainer with water.

Random Problems

  • If you notice a large number of small bubbles being pumped into the pool by the jets in the deep end, this is usually due to the lid on the chlorinator not being tight enough. Tighten down the lid, and all should be fine.
  • If there is water running out of the "dump" line when both of the white valves are turned to "filter", then one or both of those valves are not seated correctly. Turn off the pump, press on the black valve handles a few times, and turn the pump back on.

Notes on pH levels

The efficacy of chlorine, that is, the power of it to have an effect, is greatly influenced by the care with which you manage your pH levels. As the pH of your pool increases, the killing power of your chlorine decreases. At a pH of 6.0, we'll get 96% or so of the potential out of each lb of chlorine, but at what cost? Such a low pH would wreak havoc on all of the surfaces the water comes in contact with, including swimmers. It's just too corrosive. Move the pH up to 7.0 and the efficacy of the chlorine drops to 73%, but raise it up to 8.0, where many a pool seems to drift to, and it drops dramatically...down to 21%! At a perfect pH level of 7.5, we can expect to have about 50% of our chlorine in the molecular structure of hypochlorous acid, the active, killing form. The remaining half is in the form of a hypochlorite ion, which is also an active form of chlorine, but very weak and slow to kill.

Explanation of free and combined chlorine

These are states of existence for the chlorine molecule. If a molecule is free, it has not bonded with or combined with another compound. It is therefore available for sanitizing. When free chlorine molecules encounter and destroy a nitrogen or ammonia containing compound, they combine with them to create a combined chlorine compound, or a chloramine. The chloramine is no longer available to sanitize anything, and it floats around in the water, blocking the path of those do-gooder free chlorine molecules, and stinkin' the place up! If you smell a strong aroma of chlorine in and around a pool, chances are it has high combined chlorine levels. This level can also be tested with a DPD test kit which measures total and free levels separately and allows the tester to determine combined levels by subtracting the two. Total chlorine is simply the sum of combined and free levels.

Explanation of Shocking

This oxidizes everything in the pool. By raising chlorine levels ten times the level of chloramines, a threshold is reached called breakpoint chlorination. When this is reached, something of a shock, or perhaps more akin to a lightning bolt, rips through the water, slashing and burning everything in its path.

When to shock? Some recommend shocking the pool when combined chlorine levels reach .3 ppm, while others suggest shocking after a party full of kids get out of the pool :-) (the theory here is that kids=urine=nitrogen+chlorine=chloramines). Others recommend it once every few weeks, whether it needs it or not. You may use your senses to determine the need for shocking. If the pool is hazy, because somebody left the filter off or forgot to add chlorine, your eyes may tell you it's time to shock. If you notice a strong chlorine smell to the water, and the eyes are burning, you may sense the need for shocking. Large doses of chlorine, in the way of shocking, are also very effective when algae has turned the water or walls a yellow or green color.

How much chlorine is required to shock? Generally, we want to raise the chlorine level up to around 10 ppm. If using cal hypo, you'll find that at least one bag per 10,000 gallons will do the trick. A little more wouldn't hurt, because if you don't reach the crucial level of breakpoint chlorination, not only is the chloramine problem not solved, but matters have been made potentially worse. Follow instructions on the package of granular chlorine shock or non-chlorine shock, which may be potassium peroxymonosulfate. Liquid chlorine can also be used for superchlorination. Whatever chemical, we must introduce 10 times the potential of the chloramines. For example, if combined chlorine levels are at 1.0 ppm, we need 10 ppm of free chlorine levels to reach breakpoint.

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