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The essential ‘three Ps’ of pool care

Establishing key products and determining what works best for each pool is the key to successful water quality management. Photo courtesy Underwater Pool Masters

By Alicia Stephens

There are many chemicals involved in creating a clean and safe pool, and they can be broken down into four main categories: sanitizers, oxidizers, algaecides, and ancillary chemicals. Each plays a different role in the “Three Ps” of pool care:

  • Preventing disease
  • Protecting the equipment
  • Providing the expected swimming environment

These chemicals work together to create a successful pool care routine. Categories, such as sanitizers, oxidizers, and algaecides are “non-negotiable.” These are required for pool maintenance, regardless of the form they take. Other categories, such as ancillary chemicals, are “negotiable.” These products may not be required, but they play an important part in the quality of the pool water and bring value to consumers by saving time, money, and providing a better swimming experience. Ultimately, all four categories, along with proper circulation and filtration, work together to make pool care as easy and effective as possible.

The most crucial step in pool care is maintaining a sanitizer residual in the pool. Photos by Jason Cramp


The main job of a sanitizer is to kill bacteria and prevent diseases. The most crucial step in pool care is maintaining a sanitizer residual in the pool. Constant sanitization is key for preventing diseases. There are different forms of products available for pools, including sticks, tabs, liquids, and granule products. They are all applied differently, but ultimately do the same thing: kill bacteria. However, each type has a different impact on the water, and this is something pool technicians need to consider. For example, liquid chlorine is an effective sanitizer and is easy to apply, but it drives the pH of the pool water up when used routinely. Trichlor tablets can be applied in a variety of ways but cannot be added directly to the pool itself. However, the level of chlorine provided tends to be stable and it is easier to maintain a steady residual than it is with liquid chlorine. Using salt as the sanitizer reduces maintenance and provides a steady chlorine residual, but the equipment required can be expensive and will need to be replaced periodically. However, all these options are effective for sanitation.

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