A swimming pool is a great source of fun and enjoyment for family and friends. But if the water is not clean, it can cause skin irritations and other health problems due to pathogens.
While it’s obvious that nobody wants to swim in a dirty pool, the impurities in the water are not always apparent. The first line of protection against germs in a swimming pool is chlorine and proper pH levels, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states.
But unless you recently cleaned your pool and added the right amount of chlorine, there’s no quick way of detecting if it’s filled with organic matter or contaminants, such as saliva, sweat, and cosmetic products. In addition, the environment can also add contaminants like dust and debris.
Chlorine can help maintain high levels of hygiene in the pool and keep it free of pathogens. However, you can’t just dump an excessive amount of this chemical into your pool and consider it done. Aside from exuding that distinctive swimming pool smell, large amounts of chlorine can also cause swimmers to get rashes.
Learning how chlorine works is the best way to understand how you can use it to clean your swimming pool.
How Chlorine Cleans Your Pool
A simple chemical reaction is the basis of chlorine’s effectiveness in making the pool water clean and safe for everyone. It attacks and neutralizes bacteria and microorganisms. Here’s how it actually does this:
- As soon as the chlorine solution mixes into the pool water, it gets split into two molecules: hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion.
- Both chemicals break down the lipids in the microorganisms and bacteria’s cell walls. It only takes a few seconds for hypochlorous acid to do that, while it can take up to half an hour for hypochlorite ions.
While there’s a significant difference in the time they render the bacteria harmless, this helps ensure that chlorine’s clean-up process is both quick and thorough.
Keeping your pool clean doesn’t stop with chlorine. It involves an additional step, as implied by CDC’s statement above. After adding the chlorine solution, you also need to maintain excellent pool chemistry.
Following Up With Correct pH Level
After the molecules from your chlorine solution have done their part, you need to keep your pool water safe for swimmers with the right pH level. To achieve this, make sure the water’s pH level is almost the same as that of humans.
Humans have a pH level of 7.4. So this means that your pool’s pH should be within the range of 7.2 to 7.8. Consequently, this is also the pH level that your chlorine requires to remain effective. When your water is on this level, it will not cause any irritation on the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.
With a pH level past the upper limit of 7.8, the production of hypochlorous acid will be considerably limited. As a result, the chlorine will take a longer time to clean your pool.
How Often Do You Need to Add Chlorine?
The frequency of adding chlorine usually depends on several factors, including how often you use the pool and the pH levels of the swimmers. It’s near impossible to track all these things, but fortunately, a free chlorine tester can help you quickly determine if you need to add chlorine.
The free chlorine level of any swimming pool should be at one to three ppm, as recommended by CDC. You will also need to test your pool at least two to three times every week, for both chlorine and pH levels. But you shouldn’t worry if you discover that your pool water has a little more than three ppm chlorine solution. In fact, drinking water has up to 4 ppm of chlorine.
What Happens If Chlorine Levels are Too Low
Even if the chlorine levels don’t give off obvious signs, there are still some things you could look for, especially if your pool is under heavy usage. Some of the indications of low chlorine levels include:
- Discoloration of the pool walls
- Clogged filters
- Cloudy pool water
- Formation of scale
If you observe at least one of these indicators, you need to test your pool’s chlorine and pH levels right away. Remember to have the swimmers leave the pool while you clean it. Adjust the pH level accordingly – in the range of 7.2 to 7.8 – then add your chlorine solution.
What Happens If Chlorine Levels Become Too High
Too much chlorine in the pool is also not good. Not only does it produce that unique pool smell that can be overwhelming and irritating to some, but it can also have a negative impact on the swimmer’s health. The immediate effect of high chlorine levels is turning the water acidic, since it reduces the pH levels significantly.
Below are some of the effects of high chlorine on swimmers:
- Dry and unruly hair after swimming
- Dry and itchy skin
- Irritation to mucous membranes such as nasal passages
- Red and itchy eyes
- Breathing problems and other lung irritations
Compared to low chlorine levels, there are no immediate tell-tale signs you can observe to determine if it’s too high. The best way to keep track of it is to use a chlorine tester. In case you find it past the limit, lower the setting for the chlorine feeder or chlorinator. You can also use a pool cleaner such as neutralizing chemical agents to bring it down quickly.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Add Chlorine to Your Pool
Even if no one plans to swim in the pool for weeks, you can’t just leave the pool water without treating it with chlorine. Here’s a typical scenario of what will happen:
- The chlorine level could fall to 2ppm or below in a week or two.
- After a few more weeks, the chlorine will be too low that green algae will start cultivating in your pool water.
- The last vestiges of free chlorine in the water will be gone in a month, and the pool will become cloudy. As a result, more species of algae will continue to multiply and thrive.
- A few weeks later, your pool’s filtration will likely have broken down, and the pool will be exuding an offensive smell due to the proliferation of bacteria.
Maintain a Perfect Pool with The Right Level of Chlorine
Maintaining a pool is not that hard once you know how chlorine and pH levels work – the key is to keep them at the proper levels. Ensure that swimming in your pool only creates good memories, with water that doesn’t bring risk to your family’s health. So it’s important to purchase the right pool cleaner and pool supplies from reputable shops.
Ready to be a responsible pool owner? Visit Pool Goods Direct and browse a wide selection of pool cleaners and supplies.