A question that many new pool owners ask has to do with the proper level of chlorine to maintain in their pools. The answer depends more on situation and circumstance than anything else. When first starting up a pool, you need to take levels to high amounts to start. Recommended standard levels will be quite a bit lower though. And in cases of contamination or when "shocking" is required, extremely high levels will be called for.
The recommended level of chlorine for swimming pools is two parts per million (PPM). It shouldn't be higher than three nor lower than one. If it's above three PPM, chlorine smell results. Additionally, swimmers will experience skin and eye as well as mucus membrane irritation. Below one PPM, there's not enough chlorine present. Typically, 1 lb. of chlorine to 10,000 gallons of water is what's called for. Use a good pool test kit to monitor and adjust chlorine.
Shocking is the informal name for a process known as superchlorination. It should be performed periodically regardless of any contamination. And when a pool's in need of disinfection, such as when algae blooms appear, it should be performed without delay. It's accomplished by adding pool chlorine until levels are 10 times the recommended two PPM, meaning about 20 PPM. Once that level's reached, the pool will need to sit for several hours until levels have declined to normal.
Whenever a swimming pool is being opened for the first time or after it has been refilled, chlorine levels should be raised, which is only temporary; after they've declined to about two PPM, the pool will be safe to swim in. While the pool doesn't have to be chlorine shocked to 20 PPM, doing so certainly can't hurt. At a minimum, shoot for 10 PPM, then let it decline. If it's stable at two PPM, no further action is needed.
Effective pool chlorine levels rely on the pH of the water. If it's too low or too high, issues with chlorine often occur. For one, if pH is below 7.0, chlorine will quickly dissipate, leaving none in the pool to fight contaminants. If pH rises past 8.0, chlorine will work poorly or not at all, and too much of it will be left in the pool. Use a pool test kit to monitor pH as well as chlorine.
Chlorine is classified as a hazardous material and should be handled with care. The most common form sold for pools is calcium hypochlorite. It comes as granules in tubs and buckets and in stick and tablet forms. If you will use large amounts of it, wear rubber gloves and safety goggles and avoid breathing fumes. If you spill some on your skin, flush with water, and always keep chlorine away from pets and children.
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