Frustrated With Pool Chemicals

by Jane
(Conroe TX)

I have a 24'x 24'round pool that holds 13,000 gallons of water above ground. Well, I am totally confused on what I am doing wrong.

I have 2 floating canisters of 3" in each 3" tabs floating around in pool. I have shocked then added muriatic acid then I get reading of chlorine too high and pH too high.

When I try to lower the pH with the acid then I lose my chlorine so I am playing this game over and over wasting so much chemicals. What am I doing wrong? Please help.

Also my total alkaline reads high also as in the highest number on a test strip and the pH is always up 8.2 and when chlorine is high it reads 5 10. I am so confused on this. It is making swimming to me a nightmare.

Thanks for the question Jane

Swimming is fun and taking chemicals is even fun (I've done it thousands of times) but we need to start from the beginning. First, I'd like to have the rest of your chemical readings: CYA (cyanuric acid/stabilizer), Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Metals (iron and copper), Total Dissolved Solids. It makes troubleshooting much easier and the process of clearing up your pool will go much faster. You can get this done at your local pool store. Without these numbers I'm just guessing at what the problem is.

Next, you need to get a good test kit and lose the strips. Yes, they're more convenient, but you want accuracy. I'd advise you to get a Taylor FAS-DPD K-2006 pool test kit.

Pool Water Testing

Water Testing Kit

What I have in terms of readings is the chlorine is between 5 - 10ppm and the pH is 8.2ppm. The reason that you're losing your chlorine may not have anything to do with adding acid. This is where the stabilizer (CYA) comes in. It might be too high or too low. A good range is between 30 - 50ppm.

You can have it high, but the chlorine must increase in proportion to the CYA. You wan't to keep the pool chlorine at 7.5% of your CYA level. Your CYA might be at 100ppm, but the chlorine is at 5ppm. This isn't a good fit. You can have the CYA at 100, but the FC needs to be increased to 7 - 8ppm. You can decrease the pH using acid. Broadcast it around the perimeter of the deep end with the pump on.

Allow for 1 full turnover of the water (normally about 8 hours) then retest and make another adjustment.

Swimming Pool pH Levels

Pool pH

16oz. of acid will reduce the pH .2ppm per every 10,000 gallons of water.

Reducing the pH is the only thing that I'm comfortable telling you to do right now, until I have the other readings. If you're using granular chlorine, I'd tell you to stop, for two reasons. One, granular chlorine normally has a pH of 12, which means that the more you use the higher the pH will automatically go.

2nd, you probably have hard water in Texas. Granular has calcium and you don't want to add any more hardness to the pool. Use liquid chlorine or bleach. Get back to me with the other readings and we can go from there. We'll get your pool back to crystal clear perfection in no time.

Take a water sample to your local pool store for immediate results.

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To post a reply, or if you have a similar question, you can see your post (Frustrated With Pool Chemicals) on the Q&A page in the "Chemical Questions" category.

Swimming Pool Questions and Answers

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Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


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Jan 20, 2015
Here Is My Pool Water Analysis
by: Jane

cya: 40, alkalinity: total 170, calcium hardiness:280, metals: 0, total dissolved solids: 600, free available chlorine: 3, total available chlorine: 3, Water ph: 78. You told me yesterday to get back with you with my water sample so we can fix my water problem.

Thanks for the follow up Jane

By the looks of these numbers, your readings are what many pool owners wish they had. Did you do the test yourself or get them done at a pool store?

The only thing I can see wrong is the alkalinity which is a bit on the high side. It should be between 80 - 100ppm, with 120ppm being the highest you want to go. Chlorine and pH are fine. Hardness is just a bit high, but nothing to worry about. A good normal range is about 150 - 250ppm.

You can add a bit of acid to reduce the alkalinity. To reduce the alkalinity per 10,000 gallons 50ppm (to get to 120ppm), you'll use 1 gallon. I'd first start with a quart, maybe just a hair more, and work your way down.

Pool Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity

Make the adjustment in the evening with the pump motor off. Get a bucket with pool water and add the acid. Remember gloves, goggles, long sleeves and pants. Mix it up and add to the pool in one spot. Very gently sweep the bottom to break up any hot spots.

Let this sit for about 3 hours, then turn the pump back on and let it go all night. Retest in the morning and make another if needed. It may drop the pH just a bit, but nothing to worry about 7.6 -7.8ppm is a good range, but if it gets to 7.4ppm, no worries.

I think you were better off than you thought. A couple of minor corrections should do it. Best of luck and let me know how it turns out for you.


Jun 05, 2013
Test Strip Accuracy
by: Anonymous

New 22 x 52 Intex pool using salt water system. Gallons 10472-added 280 lbs of salt per Intex.

24 hours later test strips show ok on free chlorine and very low on pH and alkalinity. Let run another 8 hours and still shows same.
Purchased Aquachem pH up and 6 way test strips. After running 8 hours again Intex strips still show low on pH/alkalinity ok on free chlorine, but Aquzchem shows pH 7.3, alkalinity 50 and 0 on free chlorine.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for the question You're not doing anything wrong. It's the test strips that are wrong. Trying to gauge the accuracy of test strips is an oxy moron, like jumbo shrimp.

You need to get a good test kit. The Taylor FAS-DPD K-2006 kit is the best on the market. You can also take a sample of pool water to your local pool store for analysis. The TF-100 is good but I think a little more cumbersome compared to the K-2006 kit.

If you need immediate assistance (within 24 hrs) or for emergency personal assistance, you can make a donation of $35 per hour and I'll answer your questions by phone.

Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


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