Jumping into the world of swimming pool maintenance has become treacherous water indeed. Now that the rock had been shattered, a sizeable hole dug, and concrete/piping/tile/plaster had all been installed, we plunked ourselves on lanai chairs and blankly stared at the hoses filling the new pool to capacity.
Like anxious new parents, we pondered, are we capable of proper pool water caretaking? What is the PH level, and how do we navigate the corners of this new swimming pool adventure?
Our pool scrubbing machine is named Wai Wai (Hawaiian for cleaning). It navigates the pool floor like a water Roomba. We watched Wai Wai silently pace, turn, and scurry toward the shallow end with a snakelike pipe lanyard attached as a vacuum.
Accessing YouTube and scrolling the world-wide-web introduced us to this new water chemical-balancing arena, and I discovered both my pool and I have a common thread. We both reside somewhere between alkalinity and acidity.
Let’s say a bit niminy-piminy.
I dipped the test strip into the water, per the directions on the newly purchased product. A rainbow of colors pops into existence on my sample. I’m to hold it horizontally for 15 seconds for the magical calculations. Snap, done, and now I compare the multi-colored test strip to the graph on the bottle. It’s a quick study.
Hmm. Low on acidity but in the perfect range for chlorine content (not sure what that means— give me a little grace here). Smack in mid-range for PH. Is that good news? No time to celebrate, for it looks like the pale color for alkalinity is too pale-ish— a Tic-Tac minty-green.
The test strip jury has concluded that my bubbling and swirling pool requires baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and muriatic acid.
And my unanswered question would be, don’t those two ingredients offset each other?
The bottle would never respond to my question, so I referred to YouTube for a proper primer or at least some equitable response.
Perhaps alkalinity and acid are a bit like sweet and sour
or the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote
or good cop, bad cop?
A sun-screened scooter trip to the hardware store was required for supplies. Soon realization hit hard, and we drove the car to the store for more, much more— gallons.
The store assistant looked at the muriatic acid, raised her eyebrows, and asked, “You put this in your pool?” After I nodded, she added, “And you swim in that?”
My mind imagined a cackling witch stirring a cauldron of frothing brew. I nodded again, “Well, we need to wait a while before swimming.”
Back at the pool’s edge, I tossed in a few pounds of sodium bicarbonate. Sam added the acid, and our fifteen-thousand-gallon pool gulped it up like a drunken sailor on shore leave.
We waited and watched and drummed our fingers on our coffee cups. Was something supposed to happen?
YouTube concurred that the slurry must slosh and pump through the pipes to blend the science project concoction perfectly. How long are we to wait? The web gave no advice on timing, and Wai Wai, our busy pool whisperer, isn’t whispering.
I concluded another colorful test strip would give us the long-awaited answer. Like a Country Music Awards announcer, I paused and squinted at the results, ready to announce the winning combo.
“We have a successful mix.” I waved the dripping results over my head, and we both did a short-lived but celebratory jig.
I reached for the bottle to peer inside at the dwindling supply. How many strips remained? I’m going to need a boatload of these fantastic test strips.
By Diana Warren