Chlorination is a necessary part of swimming pool ownership. When we think of a swimming pool, most of us envision enjoying the cool, sparkling water. However, the perfect swimming pool doesn’t occur naturally. There’s a complex science behind keeping your pool clear, sanitary, and enjoyable.
Sanitizing your swimming pool is extremely important. It helps prevent health problems for swimmers as well as aesthetic issues. The goal is to have swimming pool water clear of all algae, debris, bacteria, and other pathogens. There’s a delicate line you must walk when caring for your pool. Too few or too many chemicals can make your pool unhealthy for swimming and potentially dangerous.
Thankfully, chlorine is an excellent sanitizer, algaecide, and oxidizer when properly used. Chlorination can help keep your swimming pool safe and enjoyable for you, your friends, and family. All you need to know to begin using this pool additive is a few chemistry basics.
What is Chlorination?
Chlorine is a chemical regularly used in swimming pools across the nation. Pool water quickly becomes a treasure trove of bacteria, disease, and other pollutants. Chlorine helps keep your pool free of these harmful contaminants. Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to water. Adding chlorine helps kill dangerous microorganisms that have the potential to cause gastroenteritis, ear infections, athlete’s foot, and Legionnaires disease.
Owning a pool means testing your water daily to ensure its safe. It’s important you understand how to properly test your water. This skill will help you identify if you are using the appropriate amount of chlorine. To understand how to test your water, you must first understand the terms related to this task.
Free available chlorine, or FAC, is the amount of chlorine remaining in the water which has not reacted with pollutants. As illustrated by its name, this chlorine is free to kill bacteria, algae, and other contaminants. Combined available chlorine or CAC is the opposite of FAC. Your pool’s CAC shows the ratio of chlorine in the water which has already reacted with ammonia, nitrogen, urine, perspiration, and other byproducts. Total chlorine refers to the sum of free available chlorine as well as combined chlorine.
Parts per million is the form of measurement used in testing swimming pool water. It refers to the parts of a substance (like chlorine) by the weight related to one million parts per volume of water. It’s best to keep FAC levels in the range of 2.0 and 4.0 parts per million, or ppm.
A shock treatment is heavy chlorination. Large amounts of chemicals can destroy organic contaminants, ammonia, and more. It’s important to follow the chemical labels carefully when using a shock treatment in your swimming pool to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
Chlorination for Your Swimming Pool
There are several forms of chlorine available for use. This chemical can be used as a gas, liquid, tablet, or granules. When mixed with water, hypochlorous acid is released and sanitizes the water. Many times a stabilizer is combined with the chlorine, or it can be added separately. The stabilizer will help reduce chlorine loss due to ultraviolet sun rays.
Anytime you’re adding any substance to your swimming pool it’s important to read the label carefully. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you’re using the chemical in a safe and appropriate way. Test your pool water often. During times of heavy use it’s important to test the water at least daily. This allows you to understand if the water is balanced or needs more chlorine.
Your pool’s FAC should be between 2 and 4 ppm, but this number should never dip down below 1 ppm. The total chlorine levels should be below 0.2 ppm. The pH level should stay between 7.2 and 7.8 to provide a safe swimming environment. Additional measurements include total alkalinity and calcium hardness. Every test should be in the optimal range before you, your family, and your friends enjoy the water.
Most pool owners don’t realize that the required amount of chemicals can vary from pool to pool. The pool’s requirements can even change from day to day. It’s a good idea to keep a log recording your pool care. This will help you become familiar with what your pool needs during various circumstances. Understanding your pool allows you to balance it more effectively and even predict what it may need in the near future.
Chlorination Shock Treatments
There will be times that your swimming pool may need more chlorine than normal. Often this is noticeable as a strong chlorine smell. Contrary to popular belief, the strong smell of chlorine doesn’t necessarily mean that too much of the chemical has been used. In fact, it’s more likely to be a sign that your pool needs a shock treatment to correct the issue. However, you should always test the water before reaching any decisions.
Performing a shock treatment involves adding an above normal quantity of oxidizing chemicals to your swimming pool water. This will destroy contaminants, ammonia, and nitrogen compounds. It removes the odor of chloramine and sanitizes the water. Some shock treatments are also capable of destroying algae and bacteria. Most instructions advise to perform the shock treatment after the sun has set to prevent the sun from interrupting the process.
Remember that these chemicals can be dangerous if improperly used. Always follow the manufacturer’s label. The chemicals should be kept in a cool, dry location out of the sun. They should also be inaccessible to children and pets. Do not mix different types of chlorine or other chemicals; instead, add them to the pool separately. Chemicals lose their effectiveness over time so only buy what you know you’ll use. When using pool chemicals it’s important to avoid breathing any vapors or fumes.
Due to the complex nature of pool maintenance, many pool owners opt to hire someone to manage the pool’s needs. This provides you with the peace of mind knowing that your pool is in prime condition for you, your family, and friends. It also saves you the stress of weekly testing and chemical use. Flower Mound Pool Care & Maintenance offers weekly pool service to ensure your family can enjoy your pool without hassle.