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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can Pool Chemicals be Added Through Skimmer or how to screw up a perfectly good pool.

Can Chemicals be added Through the Pool Skimmer?
To keep an inviting pool it is a necessity to add chemicals on a routine basis. These may be your sanitizer or balancing chemicals. Chemicals come in many forms and can be quick dissolving or slow dissolving. But many chemical solutions do not mix and can cause serious complications including equipment and pool damage as well as physical injury from combustion.
The most commonly used product that is put into a pool skimmer is chlorine tablets. This is done when there is no other chemical feeder installed in the pool system. Calcium hypochlorite tablets are quick dissolving and have a high pH so it is readily dissolved and only in the system a matter of minutes. However stabilized chlorine tablets commonly called Trichloro may remain in the skimmer for days or weeks. These tablets have a very low pH of 2.8 and can damage equipment making it brittle or erode even if the pump is running constantly. This is often why many pool heaters corrode and then the copper from the heater enters the pool and causes staining. If the pool is on a timer these tablets should never be used in the skimmer as a strong concentration of chlorine and low pH develops in a small area and can leach out onto the pool wall and into the equipment and valves of the system. Cartridge filters with a stainless steel rod in them corrode rapidly as well.
If cal hypo tablets and trichloro tablets are put into the skimmer together either on purpose or by mistake a chemical explosion could occur. It is always recommended to use a chemical erosion type feeder for trichloro tablets. A floater can be also used but they tend to float to one area and the same problem of concentration can occur. Also floaters are not recommended in vinyl pools or any color surface pools. If the floater breaks or fails the tablets can drop and bleach the area of the pool.
There is a trichloro product on the market in stick form that has a built in protector for when the flow of water is stopped in the skimmer to prevent the tablet from further dissolving. They are more in cost and are marketed more towards residential pools.
It is not recommended to use the skimmer to administer any chemical as the chemicals could be reached by bathers in the pool. This would not be safe and could cause injury.
Do not add “shock” products or granular /powder forms of chlorine to the skimmer either. These should be added to a bucket with water already in it and diluted before pouring around the edges of the pool. It is of the highest importance that these products be added TO water and never add water to the chemical as explosion will occur. Even a bead of sweat dropped onto a couple of ounces of calcium hypochlorite can cause an explosion. Always wear safety goggles as chlorine can do irreparable damage to the eye.
Dichloro, Lithium and Sodium Hypochlorite (liquid bleach) can be added directly to pool with caution. If any product falls to the floor of pool it should be brushed immediately. Liquid chlorine should be added from a close distance to pool water and around the pool perimeter. Also, take note of wind so that product does not blow out of pool or back onto you.
Most balancing chemicals for pH adjustment, total alkalinity, cyanuric acid and calcium hardness are added directly to the pool and brushed. Do not add in one area. Never add these products to the skimmer as they can clog the lines and also would react adversely to chlorine solutions. If calcium increaser is added in one area and not brushed it can form a hard mass that is next to impossible to remove. This can happen in the pool lines as well.
The pool skimmer is there to skim the top of the water removing debris and return water to the pump. Although it is inviting to use otherwise it is not wise and can be dangerous.

The picture above is of a 4 year old originally blue vinyl liner 25 mil. It was bleached, brittle and wrinkled under the skimmer area. Because his main drain line was connected to the skimmer it was the same around his bottom drain. This homeowner used chlorine Trichloro tablets in his skimmer and used a timer to turn his pump off for a period of time each day. This was a $3,000 replacement cost.

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