There’s no question about what is top of mind for residential pool owners: how can we keep water safe and clean without overloading the pool with chemicals? The “traditional” way to keep pools clean is using chlorine alone. At the other end of the spectrum, new systems attempt to go completely chemical free–or very close. What if the industry can go beyond moving from the “old” thing to the “new” thing? With a better understanding of alternative sanitizer systems and their strengths alongside chlorine, we can create a better way to keep modern pools healthy and clean.
Let’s review chlorine first. Chlorine–via tablets, liquid or salt generators–is the most common pool disinfectant. It’s a powerful sanitizer and historically effective at keeping pools clean. Chlorine also has a bit of a bad reputation with many pool owners. It’s commonly associated with burning eyes, bad chlorine smells and being unpleasant to handle. However, you could say that chlorine isn’t bad . . . it’s just misunderstood.
Pool professionals know that many bad chlorine experiences come from pH and chloramine problems. Pool pros are also aware of new concerns about dangerous hard-to-kill contaminants that make swimmers sick. Most will agree chlorine performance could be better. Even as we deal with these issues, chlorine holds an important role in the pool. Safe pool water must have an active sanitizer residual in the water. Adding an alternative, or secondary sanitizer system allows us to complement and improve chlorine performance.
● Maintains an active residual in the pool
● Continues sanitizing even when the pump is off
Secondary sanitizer systems still feel relatively new but they’ve actually been around for awhile. Pioneers like DEL Ozone have produced systems since 1975. Current systems include Ozone, UV and the newest technology: AOP. All have benefits that include powerful disinfection, destruction of chloramines and killing algae. Ozone and AOP are exponentially more powerful oxidizers than any traditional sanitizer. All disinfect dangerous microorganisms–like Cryptosporidium Parvum–that chlorine alone requires very long contact time to kill. Many commercial pools now require a secondary sanitizer for these reasons. The same principles apply for residential pools.
● Break down harmful, foul-smelling chloramines
● Disinfect chlorine-resistant microorganisms
● Act as a powerful oxidizer in a broad pH range
It’s time to move beyond asking if a pool needs either a traditional treatment or a newer sanitizer system. The best results come from using both. This is what makes a “modern pool.” In a modern pool, a proper residual in the water keeps the pool safe, while a secondary sanitizer breaks down chloramines, destroys dangerous microbes and increases water clarity. Chlorine is free to do what it does best, while Ozone, UV or AOP pick up where chlorine ends. And while “chemical free” may be an unattainable dream, the secondary sanitizer can dramatically reduce the amount of chemical that must be added to maintain a safe residual.
Be cautious of any systems that promise amazing results with no work and no chemicals in the pool. These might be tied to a nice sales and marketing pitch, but may not be safe if the technology is unverified. Like most areas in life, it takes the right combination of things to succeed. We all need both diet and exercise to be healthy, not one or the other. The “quick fix” is always too good to be true. Modern pools need an active residual and a secondary system that picks up where the residual stops. By combining proven and tested technologies, it is possible to have a pool that is clean, safe and clear.