What’s the Best Way to Clean Your Pool Water?
Have you heard someone say “I love my saltwater pool!” or “UV is the way to go!”? These statements leave many homeowners confused as to which sanitation option to select for their new pool. Many homeowners struggle while trying to select cleaning systems for their swimming pools because they have many options to choose from including a saltwater system, chlorine, UV, and more. The truth is: no single system is best. Different swimming pools call for different systems. You should therefore consider a number of variables when selecting a system, including initial costs, maintenance costs, maintenance tasks, climate, and number of swimmers.
Chlorine has historically been the most widely-used chemical for swimming pool sanitization, though several alternative sanitation methods have recently gained popularity. It sterilizes bacteria by undergoing a simple chemical reaction. In this chemical reaction, chlorine breaks down into hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ions, which then oxidize bacteria until they are neutralized
Advantages of Chlorine Sanitization
• Chlorine has a long half-life and can therefore be stored for long periods of time. (except in sunlight)
• It is available to consumers in many different forms. It can be found as a gas, liquid, or solid.
• Chlorine has a residual effect: not only does it neutralize contaminants when it is first added to swimming pool water, but it also continues to neutralize afterward.
Disadvantages of Chlorine Sanitization
• Byproducts of chlorine are chloramines and trihalomethanes (THMs), which cause skin and eye irritation to swimmers and they smell
• After being added to a swimming pool, chlorine dissipates very quickly. Swimming pools that utilize chlorine must therefore be regularly tested and maintained.
• Chlorine Byproducts have been associated with a number of health issues, including respiratory problems.
Mineral Systems (FROG)
Mineral systems, such as the FROG, use chlorine and “minerals” to sanitize the pool water. It works the same way as a chlorine feeder with pool. The water flows through as uses the chlorine and minerals to sanitize the pool water.
cheaper initially than other systems
great for small bodies of water, like hot tubs
more expensive long term
replace cartridges filled with chlorine every 3-4 weeks and the mineral cartridge every 4-6 months
not a cost effective method for large bodies of water, like pools
same disadvantages as chlorine
Salt chlorine generators utilize a chemical process called electrolysis to form hypochlorous acid (a sanitizer) from salt and water. The key characteristic that distinguishes salt chlorine from its sanitizing counterparts is its ability to recycle itself. After the hypochlorous acid sanitizes the swimming pool water, it reverts back to salt, and then the process repeats. Salt chlorine generators have gained much popularity with homeowners.
Advantages of Salt Chlorine Sanitization
• Because the chlorine generated is so concentrated at the point of production (inside the salt cell), swimming pool water is superchlorinated when it passes through the energized cell. This superchlorination helps combat the buildup of chloramines.
• Swimmers experience less skin and eye irritation in salt chlorine swimming pools than in traditionally-chlorinated swimming pools.
• You have very little maintenance time.
Disadvantages of Salt Chlorine Sanitization
• Salt chlorine generators typically cost about $2,000 to purchase.
• Salt cells typically cost between $500 and $1,200 and must be replaced once every three to five years.
• Excessive salt concentration is corrosive and can contribute to the breakdown of handrails, lighting systems, swimming pool liners, and other equipment. It can also damage swimming pool decks.
• Salt chlorine runs a very high pH
Ultraviolet Water Purification
Uses UV light to decontaminate water to be treated. Various chemicals, bacteria and other materials are often present in untreated water. Whether the water is intended for consumption or some other application that requires treatment, water purification is necessary to reduce the amount of contaminants occurring in it. The use of ultraviolet light to purify water has many advantages over chemical methods like chlorination.
Advantages of UV Water Purification
Ultraviolet water purification possesses advantages over a more widespread treatment like chlorination. These mostly have to do with the toxicity levels of chlorine. Chlorine requires attention during the purification process while UV purification does not. UV does not contribute to poor-tasting water like chlorine, nor is it chemically active. Chlorine may actually react with other ingredients present and form compounds of a toxic nature. Ultraviolet radiation does not use heat or chemical additives of any kind during the purification process. The simple fact that it comes into contact with the microorganism is enough to inactivate it and render it harmless.
Disadvantages of UV Water Purification
• The first is that the water being treated must be in no way turbid or cloudy. Any level of color present in the water will hinder the ability of the UV radiation to penetrate it and destroy the microorganisms within. This requires water filtration prior to the purification which adds expense to the procedure. Otherwise, much of the UV light is absorbed and becomes largely ineffective.
• The second main disadvantage is that ultraviolet purification offers no residual treatment. Unlike chlorine which maintains a presence in the water after the treatment, continuing to disinfect the water, ultraviolet radiation does not stay in the water. Any microorganisms that the radiation missed would remain in the water whereas chlorination would destroy them. For this reason, a chlorine compound such as chloramine is sometimes added to water purified by ultraviolet radiation after the fact.
Ultraviolet light is an effective means of disinfecting water for consumption, but an additional chemical process is sometimes necessary to ensure that all residual microorganisms are destroyed. By inactivating bacteria and other harmful particles found in untreated water, UV leaves no chemical side effect. To be effective, however, it must enter relatively clear water so as not to be absorbed. Since ultraviolet water purification does not remain in treated water, a chemical such as a chlorine or non-chlorine compound is added to the treated water after the fact. Although this does negate some of the advantages of ultraviolet water purification, it still manages to avoid the potential side effects of chlorination.
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