With September around the corner, you might think this is an awful time to talk about pool maintenance and I’d probably agree with you except that many pool owners are SICK of their pools right now and I’d like to offer some help in their weakest moment.
The pool is turning green AGAIN. The water is cloudy AGAIN. You haven’t seen sparkling water EVER. And worse, you’ve dumped half your earnings at the local pool store this summer. If that’s you, then LISTEN UP!
We’ve had our above-ground pool probably 5 years or so. We opened our pool mid-May this year. I always have a hard time getting the water clear so I wanted an extra head start. I started going to the pool store 2-3 times a week. They’d check chemicals and I always had $50-100 worth of chemicals to take home. They would always say if it doesn’t clear up in 2-3 days, come back, so I did even when I followed their instructions to a T to no avail.
Four weeks later in mid-June, most of the green was gone but the water was never clear even though the pool store guys kept telling me the numbers were perfect.
The BBB method means, ALL our pool’s chemical needs are taken care of by grocery store ingredients and not unnecessary, expensive pool store chemicals. Just a few weeks later, I had clearer water than we’ve ever had it.
I haven’t been to the pool store now in two months and my pool is perfectly balanced and respectfully clear.
The BBB Method
I’m not going to attempt to teach you the entire system but give you an overview.
The first step is to buy yourself one of these Taylor test kits. I know it looks all science-y but I promise, if you can count to 20 you can do this. It’s kind of pricey, but if you’ve been going to the pool store regularly, you can handle pricey and I promise you will get every single cent back you pay for this.
The instructions that come with the kit are super easy and it’s literally just putting water in a tube and then counting drops of chemicals into the water and noting them.
The main goal each day is to keep your chlorine at a target level. Your target level is determined by the amount of CYA (cyanuric acid), which is also measured in your kit. There’s a handy chart over here to tell you your target Chlorine based on your CYA.
Once you have your CYA, then based on your pool size, you find out how much bleach will raise your water 1 ppm. So, in my case, I know that 1 Liter bleach of will raise my Chlorine level by 1ppm. So, one gallon of bleach will raise my chlorine 4 ppm.
At first, I would test every night and morning to see how much bleach I needed but I’ve found it is very normal that I lose about 4ppm every day from the sun and activity so my regular chore is to pour 1 gallon of bleach in the pool at night.
We spend about $15 a WEEK on bleach and the best part is I don’t have to go to the pool store! We just pick some up at Walmart when we’re there!
Now, as you know there are more numbers the pool store looks at. pH and Alkalinity are two of them. Those can also be adjusted using simple chemicals.
Your pH target is 7.2-7.8 and you can raise it with Borax—yes that stuff in the laundry detergent aisle. I’ve only had to do that twice this summer and it only takes 1 cup of it at a time. pH is lowered with Muriatic Acid from Lowe’s/Home Depot but thankfully I haven’t had to mess with that all summer.
Your Target Alkalinity is 120ppm but it doesn’t change much and I haven’t had to mess with that all summer. It’s easily raised with simple baking soda.
That’s the basics but you can read more here.
It’s definitely been a different summer with our pool and here’s a few things I learned:
- Trust the fine folks at poolforum.com. They are the true heroes here. If you just get the kit, post your issue and numbers and then commit to BBB method, they will stick with you until your water is clear. I still can’t believe it’s all free.
- Once you stick with them and read other posts, you’ll see the trends and start to understand what they’re doing. Once you know your targets and how much you need, it’s easy to maintain yourself. It’s just as easy as reading a thermometer and giving your child Tylenol if it’s too high.
- The pool store chemicals raise numbers that you don’t need it to raise. For example, your standard powder chlorine (pool geeks are dying at my naming) also raises your CYA levels. Target CYA is something like 40-50 so you could be putting chemicals in there that you don’t need.
- Always, always take the steps out at the start of each pool season. We regret not doing it every time.
- Change your filter’s sand. This can really hinder your pools ability to clear your water.
- Get yourself a skimmer sock. It saved us from a ton of backwashing and annoying basket-cleaning. I also make this a daily task. It’s not hard and so worth it.
- Most of all, like many things, no one cares about your stuff more than you. Take control of your pool and take care if it daily. This really isn’t a problem with the pool store, but the understanding that it needs daily care from US as owners. Understanding how to care for it daily without trips to the pool care specialist is paramount.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be spending less money and less time with more results and more appreciation for our pool.
You can get started at the forum or find them on their newly launched blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts. I’m not being compensated for this post, just want fellow pool owners to find the same success!