the most common causes of water related problems in spas, hot tubs, and swimming
pools is the presence of chloramines. Chloramines are often referred to as
“combined-chlorines” because they are molecules formed by the combination of
chlorine in the form of Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) and organic wastes (saliva,
perspiration, urine) in the form nitrogen or ammonia (NH3). Chloramines or
combined chlorines produce the
“chlorine odor” that many people do not like (tear gas is a form of Chloramine).
When people complain of “too much” chlorine, it is almost always the case of
combined chlorine or chloramines causing the foul odor as opposed to a proper
level of Free Available Chlorine (FAC). In other words, there is actually
NOT ENOUGH of the proper chlorine present to kill the bacteria.
Please keep in
mind that when we are talking about "chlorine" or "bromine" that kills
bacteria & algae, we are always talking about Free Available Chlorine or
Bromine. The Free and Total Chlorine should always be equal, about
1.0 - 3.0 ppm chlorine or 4.0 - 6.0 ppm bromine. If your test
gives you a TOTAL chlorine or bromine that is higher, then chloramines
or bromamines are present - and you want them out of the water.
chlorine odors are just the ugly mask of the underlying problems present in
spa & hot tub water.
Chloramines are the root of many problems in pool water. Chloramines cause
problems because of their stability and persistence. This stability and
persistence forms additional Chloramines. This is chlorine demand (consumption)
at its finest. (Consumers complain that they “just shocked” the pool but
there’s no chlorine showing when tested.) As more chlorine is added without
reaching breakpoint, more chloramines are formed thereby exacerbating the
problem leading to what I’ll call “obvious problems” such as cloudy water or
algae growth. Homeowners and/or pool dealers unfamiliar with chloramines and
chlorine demand begin treating the symptoms (cloudy water or algae) rather than
dealing with the root cause – especially after the second or third treatment.
Without the knowledge of chloramines & chlorine demand, consumers may not
receive the help they need.
In some cases, it
may be better to drain & refill the spa or hot tub with fresh water.
But be careful -- your fill water may already contain high levels of
chloramines. As you read on you'll see why.
demand testing stations aid greatly in determining the appropriate amount of
chlorine needed to reach breakpoint chlorination – usually recognized as 10 ppm
FAC (free available chlorine) to correct each 0.1ppm of combined chlorine.
Failing to realize this amount actually contributes to the chlorine demand
problem as more chloramines are formed. We often hear the consumer complain
that “my pool guy told me to put in a double dose of shock to treat my cloudy
pool.” That amount may indeed fall VERY short of the actual need. When a
chlorine demand test is performed, it is often necessary that a dose of 10, 20
or more times of chlorine shock is needed to reach breakpoint chlorination.
That means potentially adding 40, 50 or more pounds of shock (in the form of cal
hypo) at one time! Yes, at one time! If you try spreading it out (even over a
few hours) you’ve defeated the cure and unwittingly added to the problem.
Remember, in spas
& hot tubs it is usually more efficient to drain & refill than it is to
shock with that quantity of chlorine.
describe the problem this way to our customers in regards to reaching breakpoint
or satisfying chlorine demand: Reaching breakpoint chlorination is an “all or
nothing” proposition. Think of it as trying to jump the Grand Canyon in a single
bound; you can’t “come close”. You MUST reach the other side FIRMLY. You can’t
“almost make it.” Whether you’re 2 inches short or 100 feet short, you’re still
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