Why Does My Pool Smell of Chlorine?

Published: 22nd September 2009
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A pool pump is "primed" when there is a solid flow of water running through it. Because pumps can't "grab" or move air, the presence of a little air in the system will quickly slash the pumps performance. The pump may even "run dry" not moving water at all.

A "Chlorine" Smell May Mean "No Chlorine"

Unfortunately, if you can smell chlorine, the pool usually hasn't got enough chlorine- strange, isn't it? Actually, what you can smell are chloramines.

Chloramines often form in pools and their pungent odor is commonly mistaken for chlorine. Moreover, the have virtually no sanitizing effect. In other words, your pool may smell strongly of chlorine, but actually be dangerously un-sanitised.

How Do Chloramines From?

Chloramines are formed when insufficient levels of free available chlorine react with ammonia and other nitrogen-containing compounds (swimmer waste, sweat, urine, etc.), resulting in their only being partially broken down (creating halomethanes).

The presence of chloramines can be confirmed if you (or your local pool shop) has a test kit that can measure "free chlorine". Simply measure the "total chlorine" level and then subtract from this the free chlorine level (as follows):

Combined chlorine = total chlorine - free chlorine.

You will probably find that there is little or no free available chlorine and too much combined chlorine (i.e. a high level of chloramines). Remember, its only the free chlorine that is available to kill bacteria (and the like).

Super-chlorination to fix the problem.

Thankfully, it's easy to get correct the situation by shock-dosing your pool with chlorine. Professionals often recommend raising the chlorine level to between 5 and 10 parts per million (ppm).

As a guide, to dose the pool to a level of 7ppm, you would need to add approximately 100 grams of ordinary dry chlorine (which is 65% pure) for every 10,000 liters of pool water. For liquid chlorine, check the dosage instructions for more details.

You can achieve a similar result by running a salt chlorinator for an extended period, (for example, 24 hours). Many salt chlorinator models (such as the Zodiac TRi) allow you to do this at the touch of a button.

How often to super-chlorinate? Basically, as often as required. Many pool owners (wisely) super-chlorinate every month as a matter of course.

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