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Balancing a Swimming Pool? Why and How?

Swimming Pools

Swimming Pools are very popular, even in the frozen north. By ‘frozen north,’ I’m referring to Eastern Ontario, Canada. True, winter lasts for about 6 months of the year, but in the summer months Ontarians almost live in their swimming pools.

The Why of Balancing is Easy

‘Balancing’ is an expression that gets bandied about around swimming pools. Balancing a pool doesn’t mean that you have to emulate Hercules and heave the pool up on your shoulders. It means that the water in the pool has to be balanced - chemically.

The proliferation of Canadian swimming pools


Would you rather swim in this


Or this?


The How is more difficult

When you have your first pool installed, whether it’s above ground or in-ground. There are three things you should NOT do when filling it with water.

1 Do not try to fill it from your own well. Your well would probably run dry, apart from which there could be an excess of iron or other minerals in your own well that could eat through your pool lining.

2 Whatever you do, do NOT fill your pool up with stream or river water – even if you live on a river bank. It may sound like a great idea to fill it with crystal clear, sparkling natural water, but that natural water is alive with bacteria. Another good reason for not filling your pool up with river water is the pollution. Yes it’s illegal to pollute rivers and streams, but it happens. I’ve seen owners of riverside properties dumping more than their pet’s crap in the river. And consider sailors; they throw things overboard and muck up waterways much like motorists toss things out of cars and muck up ditches. Keep e-coli in mind.

3 Do not try filling your pool up from your own tap. Some above ground pools hold as much as 25,000 litres/6,600 U.S. gallons, and it would be a crying shame to waste your summer waiting for the pool to fill up.

The initial fill should be with municipal water; tanker loads of filtered, purified city water. Even city water contains some bacteria, but nothing like the slime you might get from river or stream water. Depending on the water rates in your locality, the fill will cost you a few hundred dollars, but believe me it will be worth it.

Chlorinating Tablet

Chlorinating Tablet

Test Strip

Test Strip

Use the algae resist if necessary

Use the algae resist if necessary


Once you have your pool filled up and are raring to leap in, just hold on for a day or two. First of all you will need your water ‘balanced’. To do that your pool pump will have to run for a few hours to circulate and filter the water.

After the allotted time, take a sample of the water to your local pool supplier; they will tell you the pH of your water. The pH, which, according to Wikipaedia, means either Potential Hydrogen or Power Hydrogen, will show whether the water is acidic or alkaline. It should be like everything else, in the middle. If it is too acidic it will feast on your pool lining – if it is too alkaline, scale will form on the lining. When you’ve filtered the necessary chemicals into the pool to get the pH level where it should be, then you can swim in it.

Weekly maintenance of your pool is relatively simple:- Place a chlorinating tablet in the filter each week and also use a test strip to check the Bromine, Chlorine, Alkaline, pH and Total Hardness of the water. The check consists of dipping a test strip into the water and removing it. From the results of the test strip, you add the requisite amount of chemical (shock) to either lower or raise the pH in order to keep the pool balanced, and – enjoy!


The pool’s yucky green colour is caused by algae and bacteria. Green water is a common problem in Canadian swimming pools after winter; especially if the pool was not readied for hibernation. Because the pool will freeze over during the winter, the pump and filtration system must be turned off, which means that extra chemicals have to be added to make up for the 6 months of stagnation.

You’ve probably seen the same type of micro organism explosion in unattended goldfish tanks; as long as the tank is being filtered the goldfish look cute. As soon as the filtration is stopped the goldfish practically disappear behind sludge. The thing about algae is they need food to survive and multiply; unfiltered and uneaten goldfish food as well as goldfish crap, gives them that food. (Let’s face it; we don’t walk the goldfish to the washroom, do we?)

I’m not suggesting for a minute that you have shoals of defecating goldfish prowling in your swimming pool. But what you do have are swimmers; swimmers who shed skin, dandruff, hair and other foreign……liquids. Your pool will also have the privilege of hosting leaves, dead flies, mosquitoes, wasps, shad flies – you name it, you will have the pleasure of its carcass sinking gently to the bottom of your pool where it will make algae heaven.

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Forget maintenance and despair?



John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 15, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting alicialoyd. It depends on the mineral content in your well water. Our daughter's well water is so iron rich that it turns the bath, sink and toilet red. It is so bad that the family has to purchase and drink bottled water. Thanks again; your visit is much appreciated

alicialoyd on June 15, 2012:

These tips are very helpful, didn't know that the water from the well would damage the pool lining, great hub.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 15, 2012:

Thanks for the comment tirelesstraveler. It is much appreciated.

Judy Specht from California on June 14, 2012:

John, I have a friend who is from London, Ontario and I have traveled through Eastern Ontario several times during the summer. Now that you mention it a swimming pool would be the perfect place to cool off during the summer.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 13, 2012:

??? mckbirdbks. Thanks young man. When I noticed the 100 number I thought I'd print it out because it will probably never happen again. I couldn't print it out; instead the printer began printing page after page of the Hubpages home page - I managed to stop it after 5 pages, but I still couldn't get the 100 printed. Ah well, that's what happens when I get big headed.

Thank you muchly, I appreciate it Mike.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on June 13, 2012:

That is quite the hub score you are toting today. Congratulations.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 13, 2012:

Thanks for visiting and commenting tirelesstraveler. I was astonished as well the first time I flew into Canada from Scotland. I had to ask a fellow passenger what those strange blue things were in people's backyards. I found it hard to believe they were swimming pools, as I'd never seen an outside pool in Scotland.

The temperature today is 33C - 91f. The pools in the photograph were taken from a balloon and are of the city of Cornwall. Remember that Niagara Falls is in Eastern Ontario.

Thank you timelesstraveler.

Judy Specht from California on June 12, 2012:

I am astonished that pools are popular in Eastern Ontario I know people in South Dakota who never learn to swim. Very nice hub.

Would never have thought to fill the pool with lake water. Have spent hours balancing the chemicals of my parents pool.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 12, 2012:

I take it there was a news story about pools in your neck of the woods, mckbirdbks? I don't know about the karma, but I do know that 3 days ago we had a vicious storm that pelted us with hailstones the size of pin-pong balls. It devastated the garden, beheading the flowers and denuding the trees. In the town it uprooted lots of trees and cost a heck of a lot of money. Swimming pools or ice rinks?

Thank for reading and commenting again, mckbirdbks - where would I be without you?

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on June 11, 2012:

See what you have done. The entire word read your article, cleaned up the pool and are now lounging around on those floatring things. Quietly thanking you. It's karma I tell you, karma.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 07, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting mckbirdbks....and it seems that more and more Canadians are if only summer would come along before November.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on June 07, 2012:

This is a very balanced hub. You have chosen a subject that is important to those fortunate enough to have a pool for their use in the heat of the Canadian summer.

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