As a pool service professional I am often asked, “Can I use bleach in my pool?”. This is the most objective and best answer I can give.
What is all that stuff in a pool store anyway?
I wrote another article called “3 Main Things That Will Keep Your Pool Clear” that explains that water filtration, circulation, and chlorination are all that is required to keep your pool clear. There are other chemicals that are necessary from time to time, but the fact remains that chlorine is still king in pool water disinfection. How you choose to chlorinate your pool is a matter of personal preference.
Let’s step back a bit;
Before conditioner came on the scene in the 1950’s chlorination was achieved by adding liquid chlorine directly to the pool water. Because the sun would almost immediately burn off this chlorine in a matter of hours, it was common to add liquid chlorine several times a day. This was very labor intensive. After conditioner was introduced, solid forms of chlorine were available, namely in the form of Dichlor, Trichlor tablets, and Cal-Hypo which is a form of chlorine mainly used in shocking a pool. This was a real advantage to pool service companies who could now visit a pool once a week instead of everyday to add chlorine. Conditioner or CYA as it’s commonly called is added to these solid forms to keep the sun from immediately burning off the chlorine. This conditioner eventually builds up in the pool water over time leading to an over-stabilized pool which requires more chlorine than necessary to do it’s job.
Today these forms of solid chlorine are still commonly used by pool service companies. In fact I tend to use Trichlor tablets in a Pentair Tablet Feeder on nearly all of my manually chlorinated pools on my pool route. This way my pools all receive a steady dose of chlorine throughout the week instead of being super chlorinated at first and then eventually no chlorine at all for the rest of the week. I do keep a close eye on the conditioner levels and try to keep the CYA below 80%. If it gets higher I do a partial water change to dilute the pool water conditioner.
Liquid Vs. Solid Chlorine
Certain pool chemical manufacturers decry the use of bleach as they have a vested interest in promoting their own products. But facts are facts and common household bleach is liquid chlorine. There are advantages to using both methods so I will give you a quick list of the pro’s and con’s of using liquid vs. solid chlorine.
- Conditioner does not build up in the pool water leading to higher chlorine amounts needed to properly disinfect a pool.
- Common bleach is locally available in nearly every store which is important if you happen to live in a rural area with no pool stores nearby.
- You have to be very disciplined to check your pool water everyday and add the correct amount of bleach without fail or you will end up with a green pool eventually.
- Buying bottles of bleach ( a lot!) and storing them and then disposing of them gets to be a chore and most people tend to get tired of the task eventually.
- Your pool receives a steady dose of chlorine throughout the week when using a tablet feeder instead of the up and down spikes when using liquid, and this tends to keep a more stable pool overall.
- Buying one bucket of tablets and filling the tablet feeder once a week is much simpler than dealing with the many bottles of bleach.
- Chlorine tablets are about 50% conditioner, so the CYA eventually builds up in the pool water leading to partial water changes. This can be expensive if your water is expensive.
- The tablets are highly corrosive and will corrode anything stored nearby the bucket. Keeping them in a garage next to your car is not a good idea.
So which way should I go. Can I use bleach in my pool?
Back to our original question, ” Can I use bleach in my pool?”. The best answer I can give is that it depends on your personal preference. Bleach will do a proper job of disinfecting your pool water. Some folks enjoy fiddling with their pools and checking the chlorine levels everyday and adding in the right amount of bleach. They have sparkling pools to show for it too. Other folks who lead busy lives and just want the pool water to be right whenever they get a chance to swim, will probably be better suited for using solid chlorine tablets instead of a liquid, keeping in mind that a partial water change will be necessary eventually down the road.
So that is the liquid vs solid chlorine debate explained as factually and objectively as I can give it. Hope this helps you understand a bit better and now you can make an educated decision as to which method that you choose to use in your own pool.