Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing. Let’s get something straight: chlorine is a household name for a good reason. When used in the correct doses, it’s fairly cheap and it gets the job done.
Chlorine is safe when used and maintained correctly. When it dips below its recommended levels, it can allow nasty and potentially harmful bacteria to thrive in your pool. But it can also be dangerous when it’s used too heavily.
So yes, it’s a problem when your pool’s chlorine levels are too high. But I’ll explain a few methods for lowering those numbers, fast. We’ll also explore how to prevent a spike again, including some seriously easy and efficient loopholes for constant chlorine maintenance.
You’re in a pickle now, but you won’t be again (anyone else suddenly craving a sub?).
Ready to fix this, huh? Let’s go.
The Effects of High Chlorine Levels
If you’ve been handling your own chemical balance for a while, you probably know that many of the issues that we associate with chlorine are usually caused by the byproducts of chlorine, chloramines.
Chloramines are responsible for that strong “chlorine” smell that you might encounter at a public pool, and a good indicator that the waters aren’t safe for swimming. Chloramines hinder chlorine from working in the first place, which means that where increased chloramines are, there will also be increased levels of bacteria over time. They also are irritable to the skin to the point of causing rashes. And they’re no walk in the park for your eyes, either. If you’ve taken a dive in a smelly pool at some point in your life, you can probably vouch for this.
But ultra-high concentrations of chlorine are still a no-go.
This is mostly because of the vapors that a over-chlorinated pool can emit. These vapors can be highly dangerous to swimmers. And I mean highly dangerous: super-high concentrations of chlorine gas were actually used as a chemical weapon in World War I.
Chlorine vapors are the reason why public swimming pools will close when they’re in the process of being chlorinated. According to the New York State Department of Health, inhaling large amounts of this gas is poisonous and can cause fluid buildup in the lungs.
High concentrations of chlorine also mimic the negative side effects of chloramines. If used in excess, chlorine can also trigger asthma and cause skin and eye irritation.
Basically, don’t aim high with this chemical. Overdoing it presents a pretty serious health risk.
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Why Your Chlorine Levels are High
So you weren’t exactly going for this health risk, but here you are. And you’re wondering how on earth your chlorine levels got this high in the first place.
Well, a few things could have happened to increase your chlorine levels:
1. The most straightforward possibility is that you simply added too much in the first place. This can especially happen while treating your pool to its weekly dose of pool shock. It might be what zaps those nasty chloramines away, but it is a concentrated dose of chlorine.
2. If you used too much of a chlorine stabilizer, or cyanuric acid, chances are that your chlorine isn’t breaking down over time. A chlorine stabilizer is supposed to prevent the sun from deteriorating chlorine before it can do its job, and that’s important. But chlorine should break down eventually. It’s only natural.
3. The last option here is that the sun isn’t really hitting your pool at all, which is keeping your chlorine levels higher over time than you were expecting.
Three Ways to Lower Your Pool’s Chlorine Levels
Ready to lower those chlorine levels and get back on track? Well, first thing’s first: stop adding chlorine. If you have a saltwater chlorine generator or chlorine feeder, turn it off. If you have a floating chlorinator, take it out of the pool. If you’ve left tablets in your skimmer, take the remains out.
Beyond that, you’ve got options. Choose the one that works best for you.
1. Here Comes the Sun
If your chlorine is unstabilized, all you need to do is let your pool sit in the sun for a few hours—without adding cyanuric acid, or a stabilizer. You can expect that chlorine to burn off by up to 90 percent.
2. Just Add a Chemical
You’ve got two options here: pool-grade hydrogen peroxide and sodium thiosulfate. Just make sure that you test your pH before and after. In the case of hydrogen peroxide, maintaining a pH above 7 will help it to get the job done. But adding either of these chemicals will cause your pH to lower.
And for good measure, check your cyanuric acid levels afterward.
3. Do the Dilution Method
This is the toughest way to go, but if the other methods don’t work... well, it’s the only way. Dilute your pool by draining just a little bit of water and then refilling. This is guaranteed to cut down your chlorine levels, but it will also reduce the other chemicals in your pool.
Once this step is done, rebalance all chemicals in your pool. And then, all you have to do is make sure your chlorine levels don’t spike in the future.
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Chlorine Reduction is the Way to Go
At the time that I’m writing this, pool owners everywhere are rethinking how they use chlorine—and just how much of it they use. Due to the 2020 pandemic and a massive factory fire, there’s a chlorine shortage this year, and prices have skyrocketed up as a result.
But to some, the chlorine shortage is a wake-up call. Every year, it takes a significant amount of care and cash to keep chlorine at its optimal levels.
There are already better options on the market. It’s time we use them.
Make the Switch to Saltwater
This isn’t a total chlorine workaround, but you won’t have to add chlorine to your pool again.
Basically, a saltwater pool uses a salt cell to make chlorine on-site. That means that it’s also super stable, low chlorine levels. As a result, a saltwater pool has less irritating water. In fact, a saltwater pool has a similar salinity as the human eye duct. That’s why swimmers can feel the difference.
An added bonus is that saltwater pools have much lower levels of chloramines. That means more safety and less irritation.
Always wanted a saltwater pool but never thought you could cut it? It only takes a few hours of labor to make the switch, and if you’re comfortable with installing electric units, you could even do it yourself.
Ionize for the Prize
An even easier route is to cut down the cost of chlorine by 80%, prevent algae, and kill nasty and harmful bacteria—all with one simple device.
It’s called a pool ionizer, and not only does it significantly cut down the need for chlorine, but it also ensures softer and more comfortable water, reduced wear and tear on your pool equipment, and a more nontoxic swimming environment.
The easiest ionizer on the market is Chlor NoMore. All you do is set it in our skimmer basket, and it gets the job done. Seriously. It’s as easy as that. Don’t forget to replace it every six months or so.
Are you ready to make the switch over to saltwater, so that your chlorine is operating at the lowest, safest, and most consistent levels possible? Make a smooth transition with the Salt Ways Eco Friendly Salt Chlorine Generator. It’s ultra-reliable and comes with a warranty.
The Future is… Safe
Your chlorine levels are back to normal. That’s great. Or you also decided to make the switch to saltwater or get a pool ionizer to reduce the amount of chlorine you need to add to your pool. That’s even better.
Either way, you did the work and now your next swim will be back to safe. That’s a job well done. Enjoy.