Chemical Free Swimming Pools

by Pool Builders on 03-30-2008 in Articles

The chemical chlorine is the most widely used and effective method of sanitizing a swimming pool or spa. Typically a pool owner must buy, transport, store and handle the caustic chemical during the water treatment process, and the presence of the chemical in the water often causes problems for swimmers. There are several alternatives available today to the traditional routine of pool maintenance that may also improve water quality for the people that use the pool. The use of a chlorine generator eliminates the need for handling chlorine in its hazardous form.

A chlorine generating device produces chlorine by using low-voltage electrolysis of dissolved salts in the water via an electrode unit installed in the pool's plumbing. This small electric current breaks water down into its basic components: hydrogen and oxygen. Common chlorine is generated when granulated salt is added to the mix. Two popular brands of chlorine generators are AquaRite and Intex.

There are two types of chlorine generators in use in residential swimming pools: the brine unit and a unit that requires salt to be added directly to the water. The brine unit has a chlorine generating unit that is usually located in the pool equipment area. The brine unit relies on brine blocks, which are housed in the chlorine producing cell. The produced chlorine is injected directly into the pool. The brine units are less commonly used than the alternative design, because they tend to be messy and produce undesirable by-products.

The second type of unit, the type requiring that salt be added directly to the pool water, is more commonly used. There are two versions of this unit, differing only in installation location of the components.

Chlorine generators have clear benefits. Since the best units require that the pool's pump runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they produce chlorine constantly. This constant addition of chlorine into the water prevents the build-up of algae and waterline scum. Eliminating the necessity of buying and handling hazardous chlorine chemicals is a bonus. The pool water feels smooth; many people compare swimming in a pool equipped with a chlorine generator to taking a shower in soft water. The cost of generating chlorine is lower than purchasing it.

No pool is without maintenance and there are, of course, drawbacks to using a chlorine generator. Obviously, the water is still chlorinated, so swimmers will experience all of the problems typically associated with swimming in chlorinated water including dry skin, irritated eyes, discolored hair and damaged swimming suits. Chlorine generators tend to produce by-products that raise the pH of the pool water to a level which renders chlorine ineffective as a sanitizer. The pH of the pool must be carefully monitored, and hydrochloric acid is typically added to the water to lower the pH. Handling and storing hydrochloric acid is as undesirable as handling and storing chlorine.

The bottom line is that while chlorine generators may produce swimming water with a more pleasant quality and may eliminate the need for handling chlorine, these generators are a new way of using chlorine to sanitize water, not an alternative to it.

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