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CYA continues to cloud water balance parameters

Pool chemistry is complicated, but there may be no other water chemistry subject so widely misunderstood and confused as the topic of cyanuric acid. 

Part of the problem involves industry standards. The industry has long embraced operational parameters for the proper chemical treatment and maintenance of pools and spas. 

Chlorine should be within 1-to 4 ppm. Cyanuric acid shouldn’t exceed 100 ppm. The pH should be within 7.4 to 7.6. Total alkalinity, calcium hardness, and total dissolved solids all have their minimums and maximums as well. We know these things. 

But there is a powerful argument gaining wider acceptance that these guidelines fall short when it comes to the actual chemistry of what is going on in the water. 

For example, many industry professionals have come to recognize that it is entirely possible for water balance parameters to be within range, and yet have water that is out of balance. A Langelier Saturation calculation is, in fact, the best way to determine if the water is balanced. 

According to Harold Evans, owner of Orenda Technologies, industry standard ranges should take a back seat to LSI balance, and especially during winterization. That’s because temperature has a profound effect on whether the water is balanced or not.

Industry expert Kim Skinner and the consulting team onBalance make a similar argument about the current industry accepted pH ranges. They say it is high LSI not high pH that results in cloudy water. They further argue that higher pH does not cause eye irritation and that high pH does not necessarily create unsafe conditions because it makes chlorine ineffective. These ideas will be explored in the accompanying articles. 

It is also true that sanitizer levels may be well within the industry recognized ranges and still not be properly sanitized. Consider a green cloudy pool with 3-ppm chlorine: would you call that sanitized?

Your customers probably will not see it that way, even if you tell them the water chemistry is within range.

After all, the very point of industry standards is to achieve clean, clear, balanced and safe water. If adherence to the standards fails to achieve those objectives, perhaps it is time to rethink how the industry approaches water chemistry. 

When it comes to water balance, pool professionals may rely on the LSI for the definitive truth of the matter. And when it comes to sanitation and oxidation, the water’s ORP has the answers we are looking for. Cyanuric acid may be why it is not where it should be.

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