Filling the pool with water is now complete and the kids are ready to swim, all you need is a way to treat that water to keep it clean and healthy. The care and maintenance of a pool includes vacuuming, brushing, running the pump and filter and adding chemicals. Chlorine is a popular way of treating the pool to keep it sanitized and looking good. Prior to adding it, though, you need to balance the water, so it is ready for that chlorine.

Testing

Pool-water test-kits come in two basic varieties, either test strips or drops. Test strips provide a range of tests and are dependent on the pool owner dipping a strip and then visually comparing the results to a color chart for verification of the amounts. These readings provide a range of acceptable colors. Drops are more specific and pinpoint exact levels of tested materials. Droplet test kits can test for chlorine and pH, or be an expanded version that tests for alkalinity, calcium hardness and even metals such as copper or iron. The more expanded test kit provides more information that the pool owner needs. The basis for all chemical additions is the test result, which is why testing is the beginning step in the process.

Pool Balance

Balancing your pool water begins by knowing how many gallons are in your pool, followed by testing and then adding the correct amounts of balancing chemicals. Alkalinity is the first test result to address. Alkalinity has an acceptable range which is 80 parts per million (ppm) to 120 ppm. Adjust the alkalinity level by adding the necessary alkalinity-increaser product. Next, adjust the pH to its ideal range, which is between 7.2 and 7.6 on the pH scale. Once completed, adjust the calcium hardness level of the water by adding a calcium-hardness-increaser product until the ideal range is set.

Chlorine

Above ground pools and in-ground pools that have skimmers use 3-inch chlorine pucks. This form of chlorine fits into the skimmer basket and slowly releases its sanitizing effect as water flows over the pucks. Add new pucks to replace the dissolving originals, always maintaining an ideal chlorine range of between 1.5 and 3.0 ppm of chlorine.

Pool Shock

Although chlorine pucks sanitize and kill algae and bacteria, they require additional assistance. Once a week it is necessary to add chlorine shock to the pool water, which oxidizes any organic matter that is left. The addition of shock raises the pool chlorine to a level approaching 9.0 ppm, which is not safe for bathers. Shocking usually takes place after sunset; because the sun's ultraviolet light breaks chlorine down. Overnight gives the chlorine ample time to oxidize and destroy all contaminants, so that by noon of the next day the level has once again entered the ideal zone, which is safe to swim in.

Algaecide

Another chemical to consider using is an algaecide, which helps the chlorine in its fight against algae. A small maintenance dose of algaecide each week is all that is required to ward off algae formation.