What chemical should be balanced first?


LifeTime Supporter
May 24, 2007
Staten Island NY
I am a new pool owner and will be opening my pool soon. Upon reading posts to this site it appears that having your pool chemicals balanced correctly is essential to maintaining a healthy pool. Is there any guidance on how this should be done? Should I shock first, take some water tests and then adjust accordingly? Should I aim for PH first, FC next, and so on. I have seen many posts on how to adjust the chemicals, but not in which order? As any adjustment seems to effect other components of a balanced pool, I was wondering if I could get some guidance. :hammer:


LifeTime Supporter
May 8, 2007
Katy, TX
Here is a quote from forum member CarlD that I thought very concisely explains what to do. Hope it helps.

CarlD says:

"It's actually all simpler than most people think. There's no magic, no secret formula.

Basically, you worry about Chlorine and pH--and everything else is ancillary to that.

Chlorine is controlled with bleach. Levels can safely be much higher than pool stores and pool books tell you. You can use nothing but bleach as your chlorine forever.

pH is raised with ordinary 20 Mule Team Borax, lowered with ordinary Muriatic Acid (available at hardware stores and Home Depot/Lowes).

Total Alkalinity is merely (mainly) a buffer to keep pH stable--raise T/A with Arm&Hammer baking soda. Lower it--well that's trickier.

CYA/Stabilizer keeps chlorine from breaking down too fast. But it's a 2-edged sword and the CYA level affects the ideal chlorine level. Easy to add, tough to lower

Calcium is needed for concrete pools, irrelevant for vinyl pools.

Most other chemicals are useless junk. The ones that aren't junk are ONLY useful if something's messed up.

"Shock" is a verb, not a noun. You don't buy "Shock". You "Shock" your pool by raising the chlorine level high enough to kill everything growing in it.

And you can't do anything right without a proper test kit.

That's it in what? Nine lines."
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TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
Silver Spring, MD
Generally speaking you adjust PH first, chlorine second, and worry about everything else more gradually.

However, there are many situations where you can adjust two or more numbers at the same time if the correct combination presents it's self. For example baking soda raises TA and PH. Trichlor pucks raise chlorine and CYA and lower PH. Cal Hypo raises chlorine and CH and PH. And so on.

Also there are exceptions where problems with one number might make it difficult to get others right. For example, if your TA is zero you will have trouble getting your PH to be at all stable. If your CYA is zero it will be difficult to hold a chlorine level.

If you post your full set of numbers someone will be happy to make specific suggestions.


LifeTime Supporter
Apr 5, 2007
Joliet, Il.
Hi Craig,

Congrats on your new pool! :-D

Something you will want to do, if you haven't already, is to get a good test kit. Once you get the test kit get a good set of numbers for your water. From there you can see where you need to be for your ph, chlorine and CYA.

happy swimming!