When shocking your pool, it is important that you get it right. A wrong calculation can completely upset your chemical balance.
You should add chlorine only when you have properly tested the water and know what the stabilizer levels are. The range is between 30 and 50 parts per million. After that, you can begin adding the chlorine.
Follow me in this article as I discuss how you can properly add stabilizers to your pool.
What to add to pool if stabilizer is low?
Pool stabilizers also go by names like chlorine stabilizer, pool conditioner, or cyanuric acid. They are added to your pool to protect the chlorine and keep it in the pool for longer. Chlorine, when exposed to UV rays from the sun, degrades very quickly.
Research has shown that up to 90% of chlorine is degraded when exposed to sunlight for a period of two hours. The UV rays cause the chlorine to quickly evaporate from the pool.
The half life of chlorine is 45 minutes when exposed to sunlight. This means that in 45 minutes, half of your chlorine is gone. Another half is finished in 45 more minutes, and so on. This shows the need for stabilizers.
The ideal range for pool stabilizers is between 30 and 50 parts per million. So if your stabilizer levels are below this, you should know that your chlorine levels are also at risk. Hence, you must top it up. To increase your stabilizer levels, you could add more cyanuric acid.
Also, you could add some more stabilizer. However, you must do proper tests before going ahead. This is to know the proper dosage and prevent you from adding too much.
What is the working principle of pool stabilizers?
Come with me on a quick trip to chemistry class. Atoms of carbon and nitrogen alternately make up the cyanuric acid molecule. These molecules are arranged in a hexagonal structure. This structure enables three chlorine molecules to bind to the nitrogen, resulting in the formation of the weak nitrogen-chlorine bond (N-Cl).
Since the nitrogen-chlorine bond is weak, chlorine can easily separate from nitrogen when a contaminant is present that it can destroy or oxidize. When chlorine is bound to cyanuric acid, it is shielded from UV rays. In other words, we can say that cyanuric acid acts as a sunblock against chlorine.
An analogy to help you understand will be this. Imagine an umbrella that the chlorine is taking shade under. This umbrella is cyanuric acid. When it needs to oxidize or kill something, the chlorine molecule leaves that shade and another takes its place. As long as the chlorine remains under that umbrella, the sunlight can’t get to it.
However, once it leaves the shade, it becomes exposed to the sun’s rays. This is how the cyanuric acid works, giving shade to the chlorine until it needs to work.
One of the proofs that the nitrogen-chlorine bond is a weak bond is due to the fact that when carrying out a free chlorine test, the chlorine still shows up. A stronger bond won’t allow that. Chloramine bonds are stronger. That’s why chlorine will only show up when carrying out a total chlorine test.
How do I add chlorine stabilizer to my pool?
When adding chlorine stabilizer to your pool, there are some things you must do. Follow these steps to stabilize your pool effectively.
- Consider your pool type: You only add the pool stabilizer to outdoor pools. You won’t need it for indoor pools or your spa. This is because the chlorine won’t get exposed to UV rays indoors. In fact, you should avoid using stabilizers in your hot tub or spa. The reasons for this, I will go into detail later in this article.
- Test your water: There is no way to know whether your stabilizers have gone low just by looking. So, testing the water is your best bet. There are test strips you can use to accurately determine the levels of stabilizer in your pool. Whatever method you choose, you should know that the recommended range for stabilizer is between 30 and 50 parts per million. If it is below that, then you know it is time to whip out your stabilizer.
- Measure out the dosage: As a general rule, you should use about 4 pounds of pool chlorine to raise 10,000 gallons of water by 30 parts per million. You can always adjust this proportion depending on the size of your pool. It is also a wise thing to check the manufacturers’ instructions before proceeding. Some manufacturers might have their products tweaked. And this will in turn cause you to either add more or less of that aforementioned value.
- Take caution: The addition of stabilizers is a very dicey event. The reason for this is that, when excess is added, you can have trouble on your hands. In excess, pool stabilizers can cause a situation called “chlorine lock.”
Chlorine lock is a situation whereby your chlorine is rendered ineffective no matter how much you add to the pool. The major culprit here is excess stabilizer in the pool. Let’s take another trip to chemistry class.
Pool stabilizers form a bond with the chlorine. This is the nitrogen-chlorine that I have discussed earlier. Although this bond makes chlorine last longer in your pool, it has a drawback—it hinders the chlorine sanitizing power. In chemistry, this sanitizing power is what we call oxidation reduction potential(ORP).
The ORP is simply a measure of how effective chlorine will be at destroying contaminants. So, in other words, the stabilizer gradually reduces the ORP of chlorine. Because of this, when the stabilizer level gets very high, it can cause any added chlorine to become ineffective.
At this point, your pool’s chlorine can no longer work, no matter how much more you add. This can let the growth of algae and other bacteria go unchecked. Trust me when I say that this isn’t what you want for your pool.
Another way to see it is this. Because of that bond, the chlorine cannot leave the cyanuric acid to oxidize any contaminant. It stays locked in. This is a downside to excess stabilizer in a pool.
Any level above 50 parts per million is dangerous, and usually the only solution to this problem is draining and diluting the pool. In addition, there is a product called cyanuric acid reducer. However, there are serious debates about its effectiveness.
So, to save both time and money, it is best to watch carefully for those stabilizer levels as you add them.
Can I add stabilizers to my hot tub?
As mentioned above, you don’t add stabilizers to a hot tub or indoor spa. One of the reasons for this is that there are no UV rays to degrade the chlorine, so your sanitizer could last longer without the aid of stabilizers.
The second reason is linked to what I already discussed earlier. Chlorine stabilizers reduce the ineffectiveness and oxidation time of chlorine, and this can be a problem in hot tubs.
Folliculitis, also known as hot tub itch, is caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria takes about 100 times longer to be eliminated from your hot tub when stabilized chlorine is used. This means you and other bathers are left vulnerable to infection.
Do I add chlorine or stabilizer first?
If you are going to be using unstabilized chlorine, you should add the stabilizer first. This is the wisest thing to do. You don’t want your chlorine already leaving the pool before you add the stabilizer.
However, after adding the stabilizer, you must test the water first before going on to add the chlorine. The right level is what will determine how effective the chlorine is going to be.
Can I add shock and chlorine stabilizer at the same time?
As a general rule, avoid mixing chemicals. It is best to add the stabilizers before treating your pool with shock. However, adding them both at the same time should not cause many problems.
This is because most chlorine shock comes stabilized already. But if you are making use of unstabilized shock, add the stabilizer first. After testing the pool’s water, proceed with shocking the pool.
How long does it take a pool stabilizer to work?
Pool stabilizers begin functioning almost immediately after being dissolved in water. Nevertheless, the amount of time necessary for complete dissolution is dependent on the form used. Cyanuric acid in liquid form dissolves instantly. The dissolution time for the granular form is between 48 hours and one week.
How long after putting liquid stabilizer in the pool can you swim?
You should wait about 20 to 30 minutes after adding cyanuric acid before going in for a swim. But, it’s advisable to wait for at least 2 hours to be on the safe side. However, before you can use the pool again test it to ensure that everything is normal.
Does chlorine stabilizer lower chlorine levels?
Chlorine stabilizer doesn’t necessarily lower chlorine levels. What it affects is the chlorine efficiency. In excess, it can make the chlorine stop working.
How often should I add stabilizer to my pool?
You should only add stabilizers when the level goes below 30 parts per million. A weekly check should show you when you need to add more. So, it depends mostly on how you use the pool because there is no specific time frame for it.
Will low stabilizer cause a cloudy pool?
As already discussed, low stabilizer levels will cause your chlorine to evaporate faster. As a result of this, algae and bacteria can grow easily. The growth of this algae can make your pool cloudy.
Does pool stabilizer affect pH?
Cyanuric acid is an acid. As a result, its addition will lower the pH. But the effect is usually insignificant.