If you spend a lot of time in swimming pools, chances are you’ll be familiar with that strong whiff of a chemical smell that can often linger.
But did you know this smell isn’t from the chlorine used in the pool? It’s actually a combination of those bodily fluids we would rather not think about, combined with the chlorine itself.
Basically, a pool which has been treated with the correct amount of chlorine shouldn’t give off any kind of strong chemical smell.
That’s all very well for the experts who take care of public pools, but what about when it comes to our own pools? How do we ensure we’re getting that chlorine balance just right?
If you’ve got the job of maintaining a pool, you’ll have to get to grips with chlorine, including how to use it safely, how much to use and when to use it.
So, what exactly is chlorine? Chlorine is simply a chemical liquid which kills all bacteria and viruses in the water, which makes it a pretty important product for your pool!
Not only that, but it’s perfectly safe to use in the pool when you use it in the right proportions.
If you’re wondering if you can skip out on using chlorine in your pool, don’t.. That’s assuming you don’t want to make yourself, and anyone else who swims in the pool, violently ill!
Chlorine works against many nasty things lurking in your pool, including:
- Micro-organisms carrying diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A, and dysentery
- Poo, pee, sweat, saliva, and dirt from other people swimming in the pool
- Dirt and debris from the wider environment
- Any growth and spread of algae
Chlorine works hard at getting rid of any such germs and micro-organisms which can be harmful in a pool. It also cleanses the water while you enjoy your swim!
Okay, so now you’ve worked out that you really are better off with using chlorine in your pool, how much should you use to keep your pool clean and safe?
The answer depends on the size of your pool, and there’s no one solution. All pools differ in several factors, including temperature and the number of people using it, to name but a few.
To get this bit right, you need to know the number of gallons of water your pool holds. As a guide, you should be looking at keeping your pool between 1 to 3 ppm.
(For those not familiar with this term, ppm simply means parts per million and is the ratio of chlorine to water.)
You should also aim to keep to the instructions on the chlorine solution you are using, which will give you guidelines of how to calculate your pools required chlorine amount.
This whole process is what they call water chlorination. This is just the process of adding your chlorine solution to the water so that it can break down into lots of bacteria-fighting chemical compounds.
If you want to be sure you have added the right amount of chlorine, there is an easy way to check your pools chlorine levels.
You can always purchase pool chlorine test strips from most reputable hardware stores, and all for just a couple of dollars. These can then be dipped into the pool to test its current level of chlorine.
In fact, you don’t need expensive or fancy equipment to test your chlorine levels. Just follow the correct ratio and then double check it with these small and simple test strips every time!
If you want to ensure that you get the chlorine level of your pool just right, you also need to keep an eye on the pools pH levels beforehand.
pH levels are usually second nature to most pool owners, and you will often hear this term being used when it comes to keeping water levels safe.
All pools should have a balanced and stable level of pH which means it is neither too high or too low. 7.4 is the ideal level for swimming pools, but the range can vary healthy from 7 to 8.4.
Once again, pH levels can easily be tested with strips, in a similar way to those you can use to check the chlorine levels. If the pH level is at its best, your chlorine will be more effective.
Many people are nervous about the idea of putting chemicals into their water. It’s especially nerve-wracking if you’ve never done it before.
It’s actually really a simple process, and if you’re worried about getting it wrong, you can always run a quick test on your pool before allowing anyone into it!
Let’s cover some of the most common questions people tend to ask when it comes to using chlorine in the pool:
Is there an alternative to using chlorine in my pool?
There is something called UV filtration, where ultraviolet light kills off existing bacteria in the pool, but it won’t kill the bacteria brought in by people getting into the pool, neither will a similar method called ozone. Both methods still need a low level of chlorine in the water to meet safety standards. Chlorine is safe, as long as you use it correctly.
How soon can I use the pool after adding chlorine to the water?
To ensure the chlorine is mixed adequately, it is best to allow around 4 hours before you get back into the pool after adding this chemical. This gives the pool time to settle.
Isn’t a stronger smelling pool a cleaner pool?
Don’t make the mistake of believing the stronger the smell of chlorine, the cleaner your pool is. A pool which gives off an overpowering smell of chemicals is not in any way cleaner and should not be used.
What happens if I put in too much chlorine?
Chlorine may work to kill off unwanted germs and bacteria but overdoing this can lead to many irritants and pose serious long-term health problems, if not appropriately calculated.
Alongside using your pool strips, you should also get into the habit of visually checking your pool to ensure it remains healthy. This is easy to do:
- Water: This should be clean and clear and hopefully blue! You should be able to see the drain at the bottom of your pool.
- Tiles: Run your hand along the tiles to make sure they feel smooth. Unclean tiles will be sticky to the touch, suggesting traces of algae.
- Odors: Do the sniff test regularly to make sure no strong smells or scents are coming from the pool!
- Sounds: Get used to the regular sounds of your pools cleaning equipment and check the pumps and filters are running correctly.
If you’ve tested the water and find your chlorine levels are too high, don’t worry. Simply dilute these levels by adding extra water. This is the easiest and most effective way to lower it.
There are products you can use to bring back the chlorine levels if they’re too high, but it’s more important you get used to setting that natural balance through adding the right dosage and using those test strips regularly instead.
As well as maintaining your chlorine levels with chemicals, there’s a few other ways you can keep your pool running healthy.
Make sure you’re clean when you enter the water. It may sound silly, especially as you’re getting into water, but if you take a shower before getting into the pool, you don’t take any germs with you!
Never get into the pool if you’re feeling ill. You can spread more of your germs this way, making other swimmers sick as well.
It also goes without saying; never get into the pool if you’ve got diarrhea – for obvious reasons!
Don’t be tempted to take a quick pee in the water – ever! Again, the reason why speaks for itself, but you may want to remind the youngsters of this rule especially!
Encourage anyone who uses the pool to shower as soon as they get out. That way, they remove any traces of chlorine from their body.
It might help you feel better about using chlorine in your own pool if you look at the many benefits of it in a different way.
There’s no getting away from using chlorine if you want to ensure that everyone using the pool enjoys their time both in the pool and when they get out.
Try not to look at chlorine as a chemical, but a cleanser that’s essential if you want to look after those who swim in your pool on a regular basis.