Here's an alphabetical listing of the terms we use to describe, diagnose & treat swimming pool water problems. Click on the letter to take you to that part
of the Glossary.
I J K L
T U V
W X Y Z
product used to LOWER pH and Total Alkalinity. A common acid used in
swimming pools is Muriatic Acid. Due to its extremely corrosive nature, we
recommend using a DRY acid such as BioGuard Lo 'n Slo instead. Dry
acids are safer to use & store in residential settings. Something
known to be acidic in nature has a pH value of less than 7.0.
Algae - microscopic,
single cell plants found virtually everywhere. Various strains range in
color from yellow to dark blue-green. For more detailed information on
algae found in swimming pools plus how to prevent or treat it,
Algicide or Algaecide - chemical
products used to kill, prevent or control algae.
Alkali - a term used to
describe water having a pH value greater than 7.0.
Bacteria - microscopic
organisms found everywhere, some of which may be harmful to people (pathogens).
Balanced Water - the state
of the pool water where the components are in their proper ranges for optimal
comfort, clarity, and sanitizer effectiveness. Components include pH, Total
Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Total Dissolved Solids.
the common generic term used when referring to a class of pool & spa sanitizers
whose active ingredient is PHMB (poly hexamethyl biguanide). These
sanitizers are often times referred to as being non-chlorine or non-bromine or
chlorine-free or bromine-free. BioGuard Soft Swim is a biguanide.
(biofilm or bio film) - a build-up of
slime, greases & oils on pool surfaces, ladders, filters, piping that form a
breeding ground for bacterial & algal problems. Bio-films are often the
result of scum-lines allowed to get out of control.
Please read our
complete article on Bio-films in
or Spas/Hot tubs.
Breakpoint Chlorination -
the point at which a specific quantity of chlorine product is added to a pool
destroy ALL chloramines present, determined after running a proper Chlorine
Demand test (normally the total amount of chloramines times 10 of the amount of
Free Available Chlorine, per 10,000 gallons) .
Bromine - a halogen
element used in place of chlorine as a sanitizer in swimming pools and spas.
Buffer - to prevent large
fluctuations or shifts in the pH level.
- the amount of dissolved calcium present in pool & spa water. Low levels
of calcium hardness can and do promote corrosion and deterioration of pool
surfaces, including vinyl liners, and pool and spa equipment. High levels
promote the formation of scale, clogging pipes & scaling pool surfaces.
(Ideal ranges: Vinyl Pools 175 - 225 ppm; Concrete / plaster finish Pools 200 -
Water hardness in the
United States To learn how water balance affects you & your pool,
- a filtering media using a porous, replaceable element. Dirt, debris &
particles are removed from the water when they pass through the cartridge.
Loose debris can normally be hosed off, however greases & oils must be
chemically removed by soaking the cartridge (i.e. Strip Kwik, Soft Swim Filter
Chelant - a
chemical used to "tie-up" heavy metals such as iron, copper, manganese or
calcium to prevent staining & scaling. Can also be referred to as a
Chloramine - a chemical substance formed when a chlorine molecule
combines with organic waste such as sweat, urine, ammonia (and other nitrogenous
compounds) causing a strong, pungent odor and irritation to bathers' skin, eyes
and/or mucous membranes. Chloramines have almost no sanitizing value when
compared to Free Available Chlorine. Click here for further information on
Chlorine - one of the 5 members of the halogen
family of elements. Chlorine is the most widely used, bacteria and algae
killing product for swimming pools and spas. Found in 2 forms: Organic
- stable toward UV rays and therefore longer lasting and Inorganic -
which are susceptible to UV degradation and less convenient for pool use.
Please note: Inorganic compounds make effective Shock treatments.
Chlorine Demand - the amount
of chlorine required to be added to the water before a free chlorine residual
can be maintained. Almost anything entering the water (including rainfall
or fresh-water fill ups) can contribute to chlorine demand.
Chlorine Residual - the
quantity of chlorinating product present in the water, available to kill
bacteria & oxidize swimmer and/or environmental waste entering the pool.
This residual is what is left after the Chlorine Demand has been met.
Combined Chlorine - chlorine
that has combined with ammonia, nitrogen or other organic compounds.
- (sometimes known as purple cyanurate) a chemical reaction caused by high
levels of Cyanuric Acid (CYA) dissolved copper in the swimming pool water. Most
often seen or noticed at spring pool opening. Click here for
Copper Sulfate -
a chemical (usually an algaecide) used to kill & control algae growth in
Corrosion - pitting, etching
or erosion of pool equipment & surfaces caused by LOW pH and/or other chemical
Cyanuric Acid (CYA or
triazinetrione) - chemical added to pool water to "stabilize" chlorine.
Helps prevent degradation of chlorine due to UV light. Too high a level (over
100 ppm) of CYA can lead to high Total Dissolved Solids or interference of
chlorine or in certain cases, Copper Cyanurate.
(DE) - a powdery filtering media composed of the skeletal remains of plankton.
DPD - a testing reagent
(typically in tablet form) used to measure chlorine or bromine. #1 tests
for Free Available Chlorine, #3 tests for Total Chlorine, #4 tests for Combined
water that flows OUT of a filter or pump.
special, naturally occurring (although there do exist man-made and natural
enzymes) molecules that "eat" or "digest" organic waste that is not easily
filterable or to be oxidized.
Filter - a
device that removes particulate matter from a swimming pool utilizing a "porous
media". The e commonly used filters are Sand, Cartridge & DE.
Filter Cycle - the time
between filtering cleanings or backwashings. The longer, the better.
Filter Element - see
Filter Sand - Sharp, graded
silica or quartz of uniform size, used as a filtering medium. #20 (45-55
mm) is the industry standard grade of filter sand. DO NOT USE BEACH OR
PLAY SAND IN A FILTER.
Flow Rate - the measure of
the volume of water passing a given point during a specific time period,
typically expressed in gallons per minute.
Free Available Chlorine (FAC)
- (hypochlorous acid) the chlorine residual in pool water that is NOT combined &
therefore able to kill bacteria and control algae entering the water.
Gunite - a
type of "concrete" finish sprayed on pool surfaces.
the most important part of the pump. The impeller's rotating veins create
the suction into the pump & flow through the rest of the filtering system.
Influent - the water entering
a pump, filter, heater or pool.
(Unstabilized Chlorine) - a form of chorine NOT containing a carbon atom that is
very susceptible to UV degradation (i.e. Calcium hypochlorite, lithium
hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite).
- fresh water used to fill or "top-up" a pool or spa. Oftentimes referred
to as "source water".
Nitrogen - an
element that can combine with chlorine & produce chloramines.
- a form of chlorine CONTAINING carbon including CYA. Organic chlorines
are not as susceptible to UV degradation (i.e. Sodium Dichloro or Tri-chloro).
Organic Matter - most
any living organism or their waste, including leaves, bugs, urine, perspiration,
cosmetics, bird droppings, etc. containing carbon in their material composition.
Oxidize (Oxidation) - a
chemical process used to remove undesirable organic & inorganic compounds from
Ozone - a gas containing 3
oxygen atoms. More typically used in spas. Very unstable and has a
short "kill-life". Normally used as a supplement to chlorine or bromine in
pH - a
measurement of the acidity or basicity of a solution. pH is measured on a
scale from 0 to 14. Under 7.0, the solution is considered Acidic.
Over 7.0 is considered Basic. The ideal range for swimming pools & spas is
7.4 to 7.6; this level provides the best swimmer comfort as well as optimal,
efficient use of chlorine & bromine. To learn how water balance
affects you & your pool,
pH Decreaser (minus)
- a generic term for chemicals that LOWER pH (acid)
pH Increaser (plus)
- a generic term for chemicals that INCREASES pH (soda ash)
PHMB - see
Phenol Red - a liquid reagent
used to measure pH. Most accurate in a range of 6.8 to 8.2.
Plaster - a type of interior
finish on a pool.
ppm (Parts Per Million) - a
unit of measure for chemical application.
Precipitate - Solid particles
forced out of solution by a chemical reaction. Normally settle out or give
a "cloudy" look to the water.
- those products having EPA approval for factually killing bacteria or
- see Copper Cyanurate above.
(quarternary ammoium compound) - a family of chemical compounds applied to water
to kill or prevent algae.
chemical testing solution used to test chlorine, bromine, pH, Total Alkalinity,
Calcium Hardness, etc.
mineral deposits that form on pool surfaces & equipment normally due to excess
calcium in the water. Scale more typically forms in heated water rather
than cool water.
Scum-line - the
build up of greases, oils, dirt, organic and inorganic waste that accumulates at
the water line of a pool or spa, usually sticky or gummy in nature, sometimes
difficult to remove with normal cleaners, dark in color. Scum-lines will
lead to Biofilms if not treated.
Shock Treat (shock, shocking,
Burn Out Treatment) - the addition of an oxidizing chemical to the water with
the purpose of destroying chloramines or other undesirable compounds. Download a
FREE brochure to learn about shocking.
Skimmer - a device in the
pool that aids in the removal of floating debris (leaves, bugs) being taken into
the filter system. See
"how a pool
Soda Ash - a product used to
RAISE the pH of the water.
Sodium Bromide -
a chemical used to treat algae. (products such as Yellow Out,
Yellow Treat, Mustard Free, Defense or Drive Out) should be done cautiously, and definitely NOT in
biguanide (SoftSwim or Baquacil) treated swimming pools. Adding sodium
bromide (as little as 0.5 ppm) to pools treated with chlorine can cause high chlorine demands and
cause the chlorine to become unstable, increasing chlorine consumption. Since sodium bromide cannot be
removed from the water, you effectively transform the pool to a "bromine"
treated pool. Unfortunately, many consumers may not be aware
of the increased chlorine demand and may not check chlorine
levels as often as necessary. This could result in a drop in the chlorine level
leading to subsequent Algae blooms.
For more detailed information on algae found in swimming pools plus how to
prevent or treat it,
Stabilizer - see Cyanuric
Superchlorination - the
addition of large quantities of chlorine (usually unstabilized chlorine) at a
rate of 3 to 5 times the normal shocking dosage in order to destroy chloramines,
kill bacteria, and to kill algae.
(TA) - a measure of the pool water's ability to prevent pH "bounce" or
fluctuation. TA measures the amount of carbonates, bicarbonates,
hydroxides, and borates in the water. To learn how water balance affects
you & your pool,
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
- the measure of all of the dissolved matter in the water. TDS over 1500
ppm may interfere with the pool sanitizer's ability to control bacteria & algae.
Turbidity - cloudy condition
of the pool water
Turnover Rate -
the time it takes in hours to circulate the entire pool's gallonage or volume.
Not necessarily the pool's actual water.
Let us explain...
Mold - a form of mold that forms on pool surfaces. Click here for
the procedure for protecting pools from winter weather. This includes
physical as well as chemical protection. See the
Winterizing section for more
If you still need help, here's how to
store hours): Stratford 203-377-0100
FAX: (24 hrs) 203-375-7787