The BBB Pool Method: How to Maintain Your Swimming Pool Using Household Items

How to Maintain Your Swimming Pool
How to Maintain Your Swimming Pool

“Can I use regular household products to maintain my swimming pool?” That’s what most pool owners ask and often don’t get the right answer.

It sounds fanciful, to say the least and if you have even asked your local store attendance, you surely have lots of doubt about these products. However, the BBB Pool Method was developed by PoolSolutions and the phrase was created by CarlD, a PoolForum moderator.

What is the BBB Method?

BBB are three letters that stand for Bleach, Baking Soda, & Borax. With the BBB in place, the only other pool chemical you will require is Muriatic Acid (which we will look later).

1. Bleach

The active element in household bleach is sodium hypochlorite. Hypochlorite is also the same active element you will find in chlorine.

In the BBB method, bleach will act like a sanitizer that will prevent harmful organisms from developing in your pool. 2 teaspoons are enough for cleaning 26 gallons of water.

There are a lot of misconceptions about using this product to clean swimming pools or as a sanitizer. Bleach will turn your swimming pool plaster yellow and create cloudy water and ammonia.

The reality is that bleach acts just like the normal liquid chlorine you get at your local store and the one used by pool service provider companies. The difference is that it’s slightly weaker than the chlorine.

2. Baking Soda

This product will increase the total alkalinity of your swimming pool. Alkalinity comes in handy to keep the pH level of your pool in the right condition, which will then allow the bleach to remove contaminants and bacteria.

½ a teaspoon of this product can treat about 26 gallons of water.

3. Borax

Borax is readily available in the laundry section in the grocery outlet and will boost the pH of your swimming pool. As you might be aware, the pH will affect a lot of things including the effectiveness of the bleach when cleaning your pool and even how the pool water will affect you when swimming.

If the pH is unbalanced, you can easily have irritating eyes, itchy skin, and even red eye and skin. The right pH to take a dive in is between 7.2-7.6. ½ a teaspoon of borax can treat about 26 gallons of water.

How Does the BBB Method Work?

CarlD came up with the following summary of how the BBB method works:

  • The BBB method is actually easier than what most people think. There is no secret or magic formula.
  • Fundamentally, you only need to worry about the pH level and chlorine, and everything else will fall in place or is just secondary.
  • You simply raise the PH with Borax from your local grocery store and reduce it with Muriatic acid, from your Home Depot/Lowes or hardware store.
  • Total alkalinity in mainly (merely) a buffer to keep your pool’s pH level stable; you can raise the total alkalinity using baking soda.
  • Chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) only prevents the sun from breaking your chlorine down faster. It is easy to add but hard to lower and can easily affect your pool chlorine level.
  • Calcium for calcium hardness is required for concrete swimming pools and should be considered in a swimming pool with heater. It is generally not needed for a vinyl pool.
  • Most of the other pool chemicals are simply junks and useless. The ones that are needed are only required when something is wrong. Using these chemicals when you don’t require them will mess your pool – so, avoid them.
  • Shock! We all know you cannot buy shock but you need to shock your pool by increasing the chlorine level in order to kill anything growing in it. Thus, all chemical labeled shocks are simply normal chlorine at a concentrated level or stuff that shouldn’t enter your pool.

The BBB Method Things to Know

Here are some things that you should know to ensure that your BBB method is effective:

Muriatic Acid

By now you know that Muriatic acid is used to lower both the pH level and alkalinity of your swimming pool. It is the safest method.

The dry acids have been shown to stain your facility if they are used the wrong way and you will require a larger amount to get the same results as 31% Muriatic acid. Also, remember that the alkalinity and pH level are twins – lowering one will also lower the other.

In short, if the alkalinity gets over 120 and the pH is 7.8, you will need to reduce them with acid. This is where you will need a good test kit with an Acid Demand test.

Good Test Kit

You should never try the BBB method if you don’t know how to test the pool water. Depending on how hot the season is and how big your pool is, you might need to test it once per week or even every day.

You can even use a basic 5-in-1 kit and also use test strips to double check the results.

Know Your Pool Size

Almost all chemical computations are based on 10K gallons of water. Therefore, knowing the size of your best above ground pool and unground pool is important.

You shouldn’t just guess the amount of water in your pool and start the treatment process. It might seem small but water can be deceiving.

NOTE: Part of effectively doing the BBB method is having time to wash your pool, a clean filter, and good working pool tools.

The Essentials of BBB Method

All the products and chemicals might get a little bit puzzling, but the objective is to keep your swimming pool sanitized, by killing all germs and algae, and clear, by keeping the pH level balanced and the chlorine sufficient to burn up what the filter cannot remove.

The two things that really matter in the BBB method are:

  • pH to make sure that your pool is neutral (not acid nor basic).
  • Chlorine to sanitize your swimming pool.

However, there are two more things that will make this possible:

  • Alkalinity
  • Stabilizer

The normal chlorine level should be 5% of your CYA or 2 ppm, whichever is higher. If the CYA is 80, you should maintain 4 ppm and if it’s 40, maintain 2 ppm.

Some Detailed Explanation

You might have come across the pH scale that runs from 0-14, in a science class. Super-acid, such as pure hydrochloric acid is “0”, while super-basic, such as pure lye is “14”.  

Vinegar and lemon juice are weak acids, borax and baking soda are weak base. Your body’s pH will range from lemon juice to borax. But for different reasons, your swimming pool needs to be slightly above neutral or somehow basic and should range from 7.2-7.8.

Use Muriatic Acid to Reduce pH Level

You can reduce the pH if it’s too high by adding acid – 31% Muriatic acid or dry acid granules. In the BBB method, we have opted for the Muriatic acid which is readily available at your local hardware stores.

Use Borax to Raise pH Level

You can raise pH using 20 Mule Team Borax which is readily available in your local green store. You can also use soda ash but this will increase the alkalinity as well. So, use Borax to raise only the pH.

Use Bleach to Sanitizer

Bleach is a sanitizer. It will kill germ and algae and it’s the only product you should use for your pool. The bleach will also remove excess suntan lotion as well as other stuff.

Hence, you can add laundry bleach to your pool or the more concentrated pool bleach. These are also readily available at your local store.

Avoid Other Types of Chlorine

Other types of chlorine play their part, but they have lots of side effects. For instance, dichlor is 50% stabilizer and 55% chlorine (that’s a bad thing no matter what you want to achieve).

Use Test Kits to Test the Chemical Composition

You should measure the chlorine level using your test kits. You should test chlorine, stabilizer, and pH. There are other chemicals that you should test including:

  • Salt levels
  • Base demand (BD)
  • Acid demand (AD)
  • Phosphates (PO4)
  • Calcium hardness (CH)
  • Total alkalinity (TA)

But these are not critical. Test strips will work effectively for chlorine and pH but not for the stabilizer.

Chlorine: Total, Free, and Combined

There has been a lot of debate, in pool forums, about total chlorine, free chlorine, and combined. If you own an outdoor swimming pool and follow the BBB pool method, that won’t matter since the chlorine in your swimming pool will be free chlorine.

The chlorine level should be 1-50 ppm but begin at 3 ppm, and then change according to the CYA and whether your pool is working properly.

Chlorine Fear: Phobic or Rational?

People usually fear chlorine in their swimming pools. But you shouldn’t. The risk from chlorine is quite exaggerated, especially on outdoor facilities.

Pediatricians and dermatologists use “bleach baths” to treat skin conditions and eczema, no prescription needed. These baths involve patients being soaked in 50-100 ppm and there is no stabilizer. Even the kids…what should you fear?

BBB Method: Only What You Need

The reasoning behind the BBB method is that you add only what you need…no more! You should never add a swimming pool chemical since it “might help”. It probably will not and will make things to get worse.

Here is a critical thing that you should know: pool chemical companies and pool stores make little cash when your swimming pool is running smoothly and thousands of dollars when it is all messed up.

In short, if all pool owners adopted the BBB pool method, at least half of pool chemical companies and stores would shut down.

Basic BBM Pool Method Chemistry

That’s all you need: pH, chlorine, and CYA at the right level:

  • Chlorine at about 2 ppm but about 5% CYA.
  • CYA between 30-60 ppm (80 if there is a salt system).
  • pH between 7.2-7.8.

We often use  Borax to raise pH, bleach to sanitize and chlorinate, Muriatic acid to reduce pH and stabilizer, either through dichlor or directly to make chlorine last. Note that Baking soda is rarely used in BBB Pool method.

Once you understand how it works, you will require to test your pool 2 times and add chemicals 2-4 times per week. If you use bleach and an OTO kit, this process can take less than 30 minutes.

Benefits of BBB Pool Method

The BBB pool method has a lot of benefits when you compare it with the traditional methods. These benefits include:

  • Cost – This method is quite affordable when you compare it to most traditional methods. All the products that you require are readily available at your local store or you can simply order them online.
  • Time – This is a time-saving method. First, you don’t need to mix any chemical that can take time before you get the right proportion. Also, you don’t need to wait for a professional to do it for you. It is similar to using a dolphin robotic pool cleaner to clean your swimming pool.
  • Mistakes – There is no chance that you will screw up your swimming pool when you use these products since they are not as harmful as other pool chemicals.
  • Maintained pool – Lastly, these products are able to maintain your pool all year round. And you can swim as soon as you finish treating your pool.

Lessons Learned

With the BBB Pool method, it will surely be a different experience for all pool owners. Here are a few things that you might learn when you start going the BBB way:

  • Trust the experienced folks on online pool discussion forums. They have the knowledge and it is free.
  • Once you understand them, it will be much easier to follow and start maintaining your pool through DIY methods.
  • The pool store companies raise numbers that your pool doesn’t need.
  • Change your filter sand regularly to ensure that your pool cleaner effectively.

In Conclusion

BBB pool method is a proven method that has shown to be effective in pool maintenance. We hope that you have understood the basic of this method and ready to maintain your pool like a professional.

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