If you have a garden swimming pool, hot tub or spa then you should be using a disinfectant in your pool system to keep your water clean and safe.
Garden swimming pool disinfectants are used to kill bacteria and other micro organisms that can get into the water from people, some of whom may be unwell and from other sources such as dirt, garden waste and other places. If you do not treat your pool correctly then your bathers could experience health problems from water borne illnesses and diseases.
Why to use disinfectant in home pools?
If you have a home pool then it is essential that the water in your pool, hot tub, spa or other pool, has enough disinfectant in it at all times.
Disinfectants are used to kill micro-organisms such as bacteria, that, if left unchecked can cause serious problems for anyone using the pool.
Imagine the scenario. You are using your pool or hot tub and a friend or family member gets in who has a bad cold or other bacterial infection.
In normal day to day activities this might not be a problem, but, the warm and damp conditions of a pool or hot tub, is a great place for germs to flourish.
You would like the water to contain something that will kill bacteria within seconds of that person getting into the water.
This is why we use disinfectants within pool water.
What do home pool disinfectants do?
Home pool disinfectants operate in the same way as those that are used in commercial swimming pools and leisure facilities.
Disinfectants that are used in pools are known as oxidising agents.They penetrate the walls of micro organisms and break down the DNA and other molecules which results in the fast death of the bacteria.
What is the best home pool disinfectant?
Chlorine is one of the best disinfectants that you can use on a home pool. It is used widely for cleaning and sterilising purposes. for example by water utility companies to sterilise drinking water supplies.
Chlorine will kill most bacteria within 3 seconds of exposure.
Household bleach is one of the most common forms of chlorine and is widely recognised as an effective cleaning agent.
Bromine is another common pool disinfectant but this is not as powerful as chlorine and takes twice as much to be effective.
Chlorine and Bromine products are the most common disinfectants that are used within home pools.
How home pool disinfectants help to clean the water
As well as killing bacteria, home pool disinfectants perform another useful role in keeping your water clean and safe.
Due to the way that they work, disinfectants break down large molecules.
They help to remove organic and inorganic chemicals that are introduced into the water by people – you, your family and friends – anyone who uses the pool.
For example, every person that gets in your pool will, involuntarily, deposit faecal matter and urine into the water, as well as sweat, body fats and products including perfume, sun cream, deodorants, fake tan, make up and more, as well as dirt that is on their skin.
If left unchecked these can all provide a breeding ground for bacteria.
Disadvantages of using home pool disinfectants
The advantages of using disinfectants in your home pool far outweighs the disadvantages.
If you use a pool or hot tub that is not treated then you are putting yourself and others at risk of all manner of water borne infections.
However, there are some things to consider when treating a pool.
When you use a disinfectant in your pool the process of killing bacteria is similar to burning paper in your back yard. You will be left with a residue that needs dealing with.
In the case of burned paper this is ash that you need to clear up, in the case of water treatment you are left with by products which, if left to build up, could be harmful.
The way that we deal with this is by dilution, draining water and adding fresh water or, in the case of filtered pools, by ‘backwashing’ the pool to remove these by products.
Cryptosporidium and Giardia
Cryptosporidium and Guardia are hard shelled organisms that flourish in the human gut.
If someone with diarrhea gets into your pool then there is a very strong chance that they could deposit this type of organism into your water which would then get picked up by anyone else using the pool.
The resultant infections can be serious and can be difficult to treat in the young and elderly – prevention is much better than the cure.
Both of these organisms are resistant to traditional disinfectants and, if you or anyone else uses your pool that has these symptoms then you will need to take a different course of action.
Equipment can be used along with different chemicals to deal with this type of organism, but, for a small home pool, often the best option is to fully drain the pool and then clean it thoroughly with brushes and powerful cleaning agents.
The pool should be well rinsed before being refilled.
Chemicals used for pool disinfection
There are several chemicals that are commonly used for the disinfection of home pools.
- Sodium Hypochlorite – This is a liquid form of Chlorine with a pH of 13. It is similar to household bleach but is much more concentrated. It contains between 10 and 15% active Chlorine.
- Calcium Hypochlorite – This is a granular or tablet form of Chlorine. It contains about 65% active Chlorine.
- Bromochlorodimethylhydantain – This is a combination of Chlorine and Bromine. Chlorine levels are less than other options but this is compensated for by the presence of Bromine which has a disinfectant effect.
The most common chemicals in use are sodium and calcium hypochlorites.
- A liquid form of Chlorine used by many public and commercial swimming pools. It is very similar to household bleach but is much more powerful.
- pH of 13
- It contains between 10 and 15% active Chlorine.
- It is normally available as 11% stabilised or 15% unstabilised. Recommended that you don’t keep it for longer than 4 weeks as it has a short shelf life.
- Should be stored in dry, dark conditions.
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- Used commonly worldwide and more common than any other disinfectant.
- Normally comes in tablet or granular form.
- Contains 68% active Chlorine.
- Shelf life of about 1 year if stored properly – dark, dry, cool place.
- Can be used in tank and pump systems or can be added to pool skimmers or feeders.
- BENEFITS: Increases the chlorine level in swimming pools to kill bacteria and algae to keep your pool water clear and ready for fun all season long
- USE: Apply directly to pool water as needed; Test pool water and shock weekly to keep free available chlorine levels between 1 and 4ppm
- COMPATIBILITY: Effective for all swimming pool types including pools with liners and Gunite pools, and saltwater pool systems
- FEATURES: Increases chlorine levels; Kills and prevents bacteria and algae; Keeps water clear; See results in 24 hours; 1 bag treats 13,500 gallons; Won’t fade vinyl pool liners
- INCLUDES: 15 1-lb bags of shock treatment for your swimming pool
Regular, framed and above ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas should all have sufficient disinfectant in the water to keep you and your other bathers safe from disease and infection.
Running a pool without any form of treatment is putting you and your pool users at risk and it really will be just a matter of time until you run into problems with peoples’ health and wellbeing.
There are a range of easy to use products that are available to help you to keep your pool water clean and free from micro organisms and bacteria and it is important, for your health, to use them.
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