If your pool is clean you should be able to smell the chlorine, right? Does that mean it’s doing its job? No. If you can smell chlorine that is a sign that the water chemistry is out of balance. Many pool owners in Scottsdale, Arizona work with our team at SwimRight Pool Service & Repair on how to maintain proper pool chemistry.

How do you know if there is too much — or too little — chlorine? It’s a delicate balancing act that we are experienced with but if you are a DIYer, we have guidelines and answer some questions:

  1. How much is too much chlorine in my pool? 
  2. What is the minimum amount of chlorine that I need for the water to be safe to swim in? 
  3. Is chlorine just a liquid? No. It’s liquid, gas, solid tablet or granular forms. 
  4. If I use a salt system does that mean there’s no chlorine in the pool? No. These generators produce their own chlorine. 
  5. Why does chlorine matter? It is important to maintain sufficient levels of chlorine in your pool to kill microorganisms that cause disease, some of which can be deadly. The effectiveness of chlorine can be affected by temperature, pH levels, and different forms of contamination. I recommend maintaining the proper pH level at 7.2 to 7.8 per my previous blog in order for the sanitizer to be the most effective.

How To Maintain Proper Pool Chemistry

There are three terms in regard to chlorine that every pool owner needs to know:

  1. Free chlorine is the chlorine that is available at any given time to disinfect the water. The free chlorine level should be maintained at between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm (parts per million). The minimum should not drop below 1.0 ppm and the maximum should not exceed 5.0 ppm.
  2. Combined chlorine
  3. Total chlorine.  

When you smell chlorine, it’s not what you might think. A test of the water chemistry might show very little chlorine. It doesn’t mean that there is too much chlorine but is caused by a reaction of free chlorine with ammonia or organic compounds from sweat, urine or other sources from nature. This is called combined chlorine or chloramines. 

So how do you get rid of it? The way to get rid of that strong smell is to achieve what is called Breakpoint Chlorination. This is done by shocking or super-chlorinating the water. That is done by adding free chlorine at ten times the amount of combined chlorine. If the chloramines are organic, they cannot be removed by breakpoint chlorination.

Other methods must be used such as clarifiers added to the water, ozone treatment, or replacing the pool water with fresh water. The ideal amount of combined chlorine is zero. The max reading should be no more than .2 to .5 ppm.

Total chlorine is simply the free chlorine and combined chlorine added together.

Something else that is concerning about chlorine is that it is a very unstable material and is especially affected by sunlight. Let’s face it, that is in full supply in our area of the country! In Arizona, a chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) needs to be added to act as a sunblock to maintain balanced chlorine levels. The ideal amount of cyanuric acid should be 30-50 ppm.

If you have any questions or concerns about chlorine and pool water chemistry, please give us a call!

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