Chlorine or Bromine? How to Choose the Right Sanitizer for Your Hot Tub

After you’ve bought your hot tub, how do you decide whether bromine or chlorine is right for you? Both chlorine and bromine are popular hot tub sanitizers, but they get the job done differently.

When making the choice between a bromine and a chlorine hot tub, consider factors that impact upkeep, such as maintenance, effectiveness, sun exposure, and more.

Maintenance

Maintaining a hot tub for safe soaking and relaxing can be a challenge. Chlorine hot tubs require more active maintenance and attention than bromine hot tubs since pH levels can rise quickly and bromine is less affected by these pH fluctuations. Chlorine hot tubs also can’t handle large swings as efficiently as bromine hot tubs, requiring s more attention to prevent water from turning cloudy or green.

Recommendation: If you want to spend less time maintaining your hot tub, bromine is your best bet.

Effectiveness and Efficiency

The environment of your hot tub might help decide which chemical system is right for you. While bromine is better at killing bacteria and viruses, chlorine is better at attacking algae.

Efficiency is also a factor – Chlorine acts faster than bromine, but dissipates quicker because it breaks down faster in high water temperatures. Once the chlorine is used, it needs to continue to be replaced with fresh chlorine. On the other hand, bromine tablets take longer to dissolve, but dormant bromine salt stays behind even after the active bromine has killed off unwanted organisms. The bromine can be easily reactivated into active bromine multiple times, which makes it last longer.

Recommendation: It’s a matter of personal preference, depending on what works best for your particular situation. It may be worth trying both options and seeing which best fits your needs and lifestyle.

Water Temperature

Hot tubs have different chemical demands than pools, and the temperature you want your hot tub can also be a deciding factor between chlorine and bromine. Chlorine functions best between about 65 and 99 degrees, and it quickly turns into vapor at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bromine is less effective at temperatures below 75 degrees, but it thrives in hot water environments, especially over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recommendation: Bromine is better suited than chlorine to handle the temperature of the hot tub and to combat the buildup of waste materials in hot water.

Cost

Many people choose chlorine because it’s less expensive —  at first. Although bromine can cost  20% or more than chlorine, it can give you more bang for your buck.  After it’s added, bromine can easily be reactivated after it has killed all the bacteria which means that, over time, you’ll use less bromine and spend less money.

Recommendation: This is a pretty even decision depending on whether you want to spend less up front, but purchase more often or whether you want to spend a little more up front and have the product last longer.

Sun

If your hot tub is in a sunny spot, you need to consider the effect of UV rays. Chlorine can be protected from the sun with the right amount of stabilizer. Bromine is broken down by the sun faster, which means you will need more to compensate for the UV breakdown. However, when bromine is broken down by the sun’s UV, it leaves behind dormant bromine salt (sodium bromide), which can be reactivated by additional bromine or non-chlorine shock to perform additional sanitization.

Recommendation: Chlorine will help combat algae development and has higher tolerance for the UV rays.

Personal Considerations

Chlorine has a very distinctive odor,  can be an irritant to sensitive eyes and skin, and can also be damaging to hair. Experts say that bromine protects the eyes and skin better, and emits less odor than chlorine.

Recommendation: Bromine is less harsh across the board but still provides quality sanitization.

What Do the Experts Say?

We asked our chemistry expert to give his pick between bromine and chlorine for hot tubs:

Bromine! It remains effective in a wider range of pH levels (7.0 – 8.4) than chlorine (7.4 – 7.8), and therefore, it can better protect your water from bacteria and viruses. Also, bromine in itself is a strong sanitizer. At a high pH level of 7.8, only about 25% of chlorine is active, but bromine remains efficient. And its byproducts, bromamines (a combined substance), produce their own sanitizing action, making bromine an even more powerful bacteria and virus killer. As an added benefit, that bromine already in your water can be reactivated using potassium monopersulfate after it has killed the bacteria. Reactivated bromine means less chemical use and bigger cost savings for you in the long run.”

How Do I Decide Whether Bromine vs Chlorine is Right?

If you want to try bromine instead of chlorine, or vice-versa, you’ll need to drain your hot tub and flush the lines, refill and enjoy. Make sure you keep the bromine and chlorine separate, including the containers, tablets, and granules. Chlorine and bromine combined will create negative chemical reactions that can be unhealthy and even dangerous.

Once you’ve got everything back online, test it for a week or two and decide if it works better for you and your hot tub. Regardless of your choice never underestimate how crucial it is to keep your hot tub clean, sanitized and healthy so that you can enjoy all the benefits.

If you need help monitoring and managing the chemicals for your bromine or chlorine hot tub, consider a smart monitor like pHin. With its built-in analytics, pHin  will take the guesswork out of f how much and how often to add chemicals by sending exact instructions to your smartphone.

New Pool? Tips for Getting Water Ready for Swimming

You wanted a pool, longing to jump into cool water after a hot day, splashing with your family on the weekends, or floating around with a cocktail after work. So, you researched. You planned and consulted. You purchased, you landscaped, and you waited.

Congratulations on your new pool! A pool full of new water isn’t safe to swim in right away. To get the most out of it (and protect your investment), you need to prepare it before welcoming swimmers. pHin team put together what you need to know to get your water safe and ready for swimming:

Assemble your tools.

Every pool owner should have a standard set of tools they use to test and treat their pool water. That includes:

  • A water test kit
  • Pool brushes and cleaning tools
  • Chemicals
    • Chlorine or salt, depending on your system
    • Baking soda
    • Muriatic acid: One of the chemicals used to lower pH and total alkalinity in pools. Follow the instructions on the label, and make sure it is compatible with your pool; some muriatic acid can’t be used in hot tubs or with fiberglass, vinyl, or painted pools.
    • Sequestering agent: Iron and copper can build up in your pool. Sequestering agents help prevent staining and scaling by suspending the metal particles in solution.

Test the pool water.

Take your first water measurements with test strips to get the pH, chlorine, and total alkalinity levels of the water. You can purchase a test kit at your local pool store, or online.

Safe water should have pH between 6.8 and 7.2, and total alkalinity between 70 and 80 ppm.

There is a range for an optimal pH, which should then be raised between 8 7.1 and 7.7 for chlorine pools and 7.0 and 7.5 for salt pools. Lower pH provides better sanitizing benefits. At the same time, this will raise the total alkalinity. For example, concrete pools should have total alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, where painted, vinyl, or fiberglass pools should be between 125 and 170 ppm.

Remember, whenever you’re adding chemicals to your pool, use extra caution to prevent them from touching your skin or eyes, by using gloves or goggles. Keep the chemicals secured and stored safely away from children and pets.

Grab your scrub brush.

To get the water balance right, you’ll need to keep your pool clean.

As a best practice, brush the pool often using a nylon brush. Particles, leaves, or dirt can get stuck in corners, steps, and other crevices, so make sure they get extra attention. You can also use a pool skimmer to catch leaves or bugs that accumulate on the surface overnight.

After the pool is balanced, you may want to add algaecide. Always check with your manufacturer to make sure it’s compatible with your pool, how much to add, and when it would be safe to swim.

Let the water settle.

Your pool water needs time to run through the system. Allow the pump to run for 1-2 days, and, as you add chemicals through the process, you may need to wait a few days in between to allow for stabilization.

You should also wait until the chemicals settle before using a heater or vacuum. If you don’t wait, it could interfere with the pool’s curing time, which can cause long-term damage. Some experts recommend letting your pool cure for 21 days, but it’s best to check with your manufacturer or local pool expert to determine the most suitable time-frame.

Set your pool care routine.

Once your pool is open and ready for swimming, you need to set a routine to keep it safe. Schedule weekly water test strips and chemical adjustments.

If you’re brand new to pools, testing, and chemicals, technology like the pHin Smart Water Monitor can remove the guesswork of water care. Instead of testing just once a week, pHin gives you a clear picture of your water quality in real-time. The device takes over 1,000 measurements a week (few pool owners can match that by hand!), and sends alerts, reminders, and chemical dose instructions in the app. See what users think of pHin.

Why and How Do We Shock Our Pools?

Seasoned pool owners know shocking is important to water care. When new pool owners research maintenance tips, they quickly find the advice: “Shock your pool. Shock your pool. Shock your pool.”

But, why do we shock?  

Regular pool shocks are critical to keeping the water safe, and to maintaining balanced water.

The main reason you need to shock is to get rid of the chloramines in the pool, which can be responsible for eye irritation and an ammonia smell. Shocking is an extra boost to burn off of bacteria so that the free chlorine can do its job.

Chlorine or bromine sanitizers can get overworked and need to be removed from the pool. This could be after a heavy rainstorm, lots of kids in the pool, or a pool party. Using a non-chlorine shock is the first step to eliminating bacteria, and doesn’t disrupt your chlorine or bromine levels, so your water can remain balanced.

How do you shock?

  • Check the label: If you have shock for a chlorine pool, carefully read the instructions to know how long the manufacturer recommends waiting before you can swim.
  • Set a schedule: Shocking your pool should be done each week – and it can be as simple as tossing a pod in the water. There are many brands that offer shock, so find what works best for your pool, or consult a local pool retailer or service technician.
  • Pick a time: Shock your pool when it’s not going to be occupied. These chemicals aren’t stabilized, so you may have to stay out of the water for at least a few hours to let the shock spread and start working, depending on the type of shock you’re using. Evenings or late afternoons work, or if you’re not a morning swimmer, maybe your shock can be in the morning.

In addition to pool shocking, make sure you check your pool water balance regularly. The right water balance keeps your pool safe to jump in anytime, and it can be simple. Pool experts created the pHin Smart Monitor, a system that measures your pool water chemistry, sends you alerts, and helps with chemical dosing. 

Need more pool know-how? Check out our Pool Chemicals 101 guide.

The 9 Common Hot Tub Questions

Hot tubs are a great way to unwind in the privacy of your own home or backyard. Whether it be with family, friends, or even just by yourself after a long day, your hot tub helps melt away stress and lets you relax. Since you never know when opportunity will strike, you want your tub to be ready whenever the mood strikes. This can be difficult if you don’t know how to maintain your spa, but caring for your tub should be just as easy as relaxing in it. Here are the top hot tub questions to consider.

1) How Often Should I Clean My Filters?

You want to thoroughly rinse your filter with fresh water every other week. A garden hose works great for this, since it easily dislodges hair and most other materials from the filter. You should also soak your filter cartridge in a filter-cleaning compound every three to four months, as well as whenever you change your water. Keep two filters on hand – one in the spa and a clean, dry spare. This allows you to pop in the spare while soaking the main filter. Then, after you rinse the cleaning compound off after the original is done soaking, you can replace it and clean the spare. Your filters last longer and you get to keep enjoying your hot tub.

2) How Often Should I Drain My Hot Tub?

The answer mainly depends on how often you use the tub and your sanitizing system. However, draining and refilling your spa every three to four months is a good schedule to follow to ensure that contaminants and solids that dissolve in the water do not become excessive, which makes it difficult to maintain proper sanitation.

3) Why is My Water Cloudy?

Cloudy water in your spa usually means one of two things: either the filtration system is failing to clean smaller particles out of the water or bacteria are growing in your spa. If it is a problem with the filtration system, products that act like a coagulant to trap the dust and dirt should help. Just make sure to pull out and clean your filters once the hot tub is clean, otherwise the coagulants can break down and reintroduce all the dust and dirt they just collected. If it is bacteria you need to act fast and use a double dose of both chlorine and non-chlorine shock.

4) Can I Use Pool Chemicals in My Hot Tub?

It might seem like a good idea to just use pool chemicals for your hot tub, but that is a big mistake. Pool chemicals are much stronger than those meant for a spa and can cause serious damage to your tub. When it comes to buying the chemicals for your spa, remember that you get what you pay for. Cut-rate products are more likely to include fillers and additional chemicals that can cause issues with your water and the filtration systems. A quality product keeps your hot tub running well for years to come. In addition, product labeling differs between pool and hot tub chemicals, particularly as regards acceptable EPA guidelines. Chemical overdosing is very common when you use products specifically intended for a swimming pool in your hot tub.

5) Should I Use Bromine or Chlorine as a Sanitizer?

The chemicals that you use to sanitize your hot tub really come down to personal preference. Chlorine has a stronger odor, but is a very effective sanitizer. However, chlorine can also cause colors to fade, whereas bromine does not. Bromine also causes less eye, skin, and nose irritation and can be an effective sanitizer in its own right when administered properly in a two-part form.

6) Can I Get a Rash From My Hot Tub?

Yes, but it typically means that something is wrong with your chemical routine, not the tub. Skin rashes can be caused by both a surplus of chemicals and a lack of chemicals. For example, pseudomonas folliculitis is a skin rash commonly known as “hot tub rash.” It occurs when hot tub water is not properly sanitized. It is important to make sure the chemical balance of your water is exactly where it needs to be. This is where your pHin device comes in handy. But, when in doubt, drain, clean, and refill your spa.

7) How Should I Care for My Hot Tub Cover?

Twice a month you should remove the cover and wipe the entire surface with a cover cleaning agent. You only need a few squirts, and make sure to use a clean, damp cloth when you wipe it down. To guard against odors and bacteria growth, clean the underside of your cover with a mixture that is one part bleach to nine parts hot water. You may also use a cover cleaner such as 303 Aerospace vinyl cleaner and preserver. These products are available at most local pool and spa retailers.

8) Why is My Hot Tub Green?

Your hot tub should never be green; this means that there is bacteria growth in your spa. Drain the water and scrub every surface with a chlorine solution, then rinse the tub out with water. Refill your spa and shock the water with a dose of chlorine and non-chlorine shock. Remember, you should use your hot tub if the water is not crystal clear.

If the problem persists even after you sanitize the tub, your water may contain excess copper, which attacks the plumbing and equipment. Similarly, chromium may turn the water a lime green Jello  color. Proper water chemistry, especially pH, balances chromium and copper levels in your hot tub water.

9) Why Doesn’t My Hot Tub Get Hot?

The most common culprit when your hot tub goes cold is the filter. When the filter gets clogged, the heater shuts off because it needs water flow to be able to operate properly. Pop out your filter and give it a thorough rinse and soak in a cleaning solution. If your filters are over two years old, it is probably time to replace them. If cleaning the filter does not bring back the heat, turn the heater off for about 15 minutes. If it is still not working when you turn it back on, it is most likely time for a service call. Another common cause of heater failure is scale buildup on the heater core or element, typically caused by not using a stain and scale control. Scale buildup on the heater element of only 1/20” can reduce the heater’s efficiency by 40 percent!

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

The Importance of Collecting a Water Sample to Test

It will almost always be easier to avoid water chemistry issue than it will be to solve it. Eliminating something like an algae bloom once it already colors the water is no simple task. Once the walls are stained and the equipment corroded, the damage is done. Even worse is treating contamination. By the time swimmers or soakers complain about infections and rashes from contaminated pool or hot tub water, it is too late to prevent the spreading of disease. But, using proper sampling techniques and monitoring the chemical content of the water frequently helps you avoid costly, time consuming problems. It is incredibly important for pool operators to be familiar with good water testing kits and techniques.

Use a Sample Container

When conducting a test poolside, many people will just fill the four-in-one test bottles directly. This is perfectly fine provided you thoroughly rinse the bottle prior to collecting samples in order to eliminate any contamination and the pool’s circulation pump is running. Repeat the rinsing process between pH, alkalinity, and chlorine tests.

If you use a pool supply store to test your sample, most typically require eight ounces of water for testing. Some pool stores offer a free sample bottle. If yours doesn’t, make sure that you use a container that both meets the volume requirements and is free of contaminants. Thoroughly clean any repurposed container. Never use an empty chemical bottle, since it may throw off your sample, or pickle jars, since the salt and vinegar will never fully wash out. Also avoid coffee and juice containers as they can affect the pH reading.

Where to Gather Your Sample

Just as important as what you put your water sample in is where you get the water sample from. You don’t want to skim along the top, as that water is not an accurate representation of the entire pool. The recommended level to take your sample is 12 to 18 inches below the surface of the water, or about elbow-deep. Avoid the skimmer, return areas, and anywhere near a floating chlorine feeder to keep from getting an inaccurate chlorine reading. And, if your pool has varying depths, take the water sample from the deep end, which is less affected by temperature.

When to Take Your Sample

Something that many people don’t consider when taking a water sample is timing. Do not take a water sample if you’ve added any chemicals to the pool within the last 12-48 hours. While that may seem like a fairly large time-frame, there are a multitude of factors that may cause a discrepancy, such as the size of the pool and what chemicals you added. Most pool professionals should be able to tell you when to retest your pool’s water based on its specific circumstances. Rain also makes a difference. If it is currently raining, about to rain, or has just finished raining, do not take a water sample. After a rainstorm, wait at least eight hours to take a water sample.

Testing Your Sample

If your tests require using tablet reagents, do not touch the tablets when removing them from their foil packets. If they get wet or the foil packet tears, discard them. When using dip and read test strips, replace the bottle immediately after use; the strips can become reactive with moisture in the air. Pay attention to timing, as colors can change if you wait longer than the specified time. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully, since many involve more than one step.

Your samples should be fresh; taking a sample in the morning and coming back to it after going to work or running errands is not ideal. And, if you take a sample and it rains soon after, then that sample is no longer an accurate reflection of the pool.

Ensure that your testing instruments are properly calibrated and do not expose them to high humidity conditions, drop them on the pool decking, or submerge them unless they are fully sealed. It is a good idea to purchase wide range test kits since dilution testing can be a complicated and precise process.

Working with a Pool Store

If this whole process is new to you, be sure to provide basic information to your pool store, such as pool size (in gallons), pool type (fiberglass, concrete, etc.), sanitizer (chlorine, salt system), and anything that has been done to the pool in the last 48 hours.

If you want to avoid all of these hassles and ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to  keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Do Pools Need More Chlorine When It’s Hot?

Do Pools Need More Chlorine When It’s Hot? Chlorine is a necessity for keeping your pool clean, free of bacteria, algae and viruses. Without it, your pool water can become murky, green, and even unsafe. However, too much also leads to trouble. To keep pool water safe and clean, chlorine should be maintained within a specific range. Too much chlorine can irritate the skin, eyes, and even lungs, while too little leaves you with a potentially unhealthy pool. What’s more, chemical needs change depending on the time of year, since heat and UV rays affect chlorine. To maintain the proper balance, consider the following factors.

What Is Chlorine Demand?

Pool service technicians measure two types of chlorine: combined chlorine and free chlorine.

  • Combined chlorine is the fraction of the chlorine that has reacted with organic matter, such as ammonia and nitrogen compounds and is, essentially, tied (“combined”) up. When your pool smells like chlorine, generally it is not because there is too much chlorine in the water but rather due to chloramines, the chemical compounds that result when chlorine meets organic material.
  • Free chlorine is the fraction of the chlorine that hasn’t yet reacted with organic matter; it is still able to disinfect the water.

High levels of combined chlorine indicate that there are too many foreign particulates in your pool water and free chlorine is the chlorine that needs to be replenished. It is important to remember that things like heat, increased bather load, and rain or wash-ins increase your chlorine demand.

How Do Heat and Light Affect Chlorine?

Free chlorine isn’t just lost when it interacts with organic matter; it is lost when it interacts with sunlight as well. Chlorine forms hypochlorite ions in water, which break apart when hit by ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine gas into the atmosphere. The light from the sun can reduce pool chlorination by 90 percent in just a few hours. This is why many pool service technicians add a stabilized chlorine and use a chlorine stabilizer when necessary to maintain the conditioner levels.

Temperature also has an effect on chlorine, as some bacteria and organisms grow better in warmer environments. When temperatures increase, it uses up free chlorine more quickly, potentially turning your pool into a swamp.

Rule of Thumb: For every 10-degree Fahrenheit (6 degree Celsius) rise in temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), you should add as much as 50% more chlorine to your pool water to maintain appropriate levels of free chlorine. This is especially true for those hot tubs that are not always covered, as they tend to run warmer.

Adjusting to Meet Chlorine Demand

It can take more than a week for your pool to recover from an algae outbreak or sudden water cloudiness. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help avoid any loss in the use of your pool:

  • Test Water Frequently: When conditions that require more chlorine arise, you will be able to see your sanitizer disappearing when you test the water. You don’t have to be a certified technician or water chemist to be able to test and know the condition of your pool water. Purchase some dip-strips to easily test your water and take care of any algae or cloudiness before it begins.
  • Inform Service Providers of Pool Parties: While an increase in bathers definitely has an impact on your water’s chemicals, you can minimize that impact. Informing your service technician of any plans you may have involving your pool allows your tech to take preventative steps and keep your pool clean and safe. Don’t wait until the last minute to let your service tech know about your upcoming pool party. They need to find time in their schedules to help you get your pool ready in addition to their regular commitments.
  • Monitor the Pool after a Storm: Even light rainfall can dilute your water and offset the chemical balance of the pool. In addition, be on the lookout for anything that might have gotten washed into the pool, such as fertilizer or other lawn / plant chemicals, as well as leaves and debris blown in by the storm. Some of these may actually render your sanitizer or other chemicals ineffective, so be on the lookout.
  • Prevention is Always Easier: It is easier to simply maintain well-balanced pool water than to clean cloudy or green water. Consistent testing and monitoring ensures that your water stays clean and safe to use, whereas ignoring it can leave you without a pool until you or your technician figure out exactly what is going on.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year-round, a pHin smart monitor constantly analyzes the water and automatically sends exactly what you need to keep your pool and hot tub healthy. Do you need someone to service your equipment? Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Your Guide to Chlorine and Bromine Hot Tubs

Your Guide to Chlorine and Bromine Hot Tubs. When you type “bromine or chlorine for a hot tub” into Google, you get about 205,000 search results in just half a second. The age-old debate between chlorine and bromine for hot tubs continues. Is one better than the other? Should you consider using bromine tablets? And if so, what do you have to gain?

Both chlorine and bromine are popular hot tub sanitizers but they get the job done differently. Let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of each.

1. Maintenance

Chlorine hot tubs require much more active maintenance and attention than bromine hot tubs. Without constant attention, chlorine hot tubs are much more likely to turn cloudy or green.

In addition, pH levels can often rise quickly in hot tubs and bromine is less exposed to these pH fluctuations. Chlorine, on the other hand, can’t handle large swings as efficiently as bromine, requiring frequent attention.

2. Efficiency And Effectiveness

Chlorine acts faster than bromine but dissipates quicker because it breaks down faster in high water temperatures. Once all the chlorine is used up, however, it requires frequent additions. On the other hand, bromine tablets take longer to dissolve, and once the active bromine has killed off unwanted organisms, dormant bromine salt remains behind, which can be reactivated into active bromine over and over. This makes bromine an active sanitizer for a longer period of time.

3. Water Temperature

The sweet spot for chlorine is between about 65 and 99 degrees. It quickly turns into vapor at around 100 degrees. While bromine is less effective at temperatures below 75 degrees, it thrives in hot water environments, especially over 100 degrees.

Hot tubs are, well, hot, small and typically have more people in them at the same time relative to their size. It is said that “4 people soaking in a typical hot tub equates to approximately 160 people in a backyard swimming pool due to chemical demands”. These factors make bathers perspire more, resulting in an increased amount of sweat and oils, and higher demand for sanitization. Bromine is better suited than chlorine to handle the buildup of these waste materials in hot water.

4. Cost

Many people choose chlorine because it’s less expensive at first. Although bromine can cost 20% or more than chlorine, it can stay longer in your water due to its ability to be reactivated after it has killed all the bacteria. This means that in the long run, you’ll use less bromine and hence, will pay less.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of sunshine all year round, costs related to sun protection may also play a role in your decision. Chlorine can be protected from the sun if you add the right amount of stabilizer to it. Bromine is broken down by the sun faster, requiring you to add bromine to compensate for the UV breakdown. However, when bromine is broken down by the sun’s UV, it leaves behind dormant bromine salt (sodium bromide), which can be reactivated by additional bromine or non-chlorine shock to perform additional sanitization.

5. Personal Considerations

Chlorine has been the subject of many jokes and urban legends. Some people with sensitive skin may find chlorine to be more irritating than bromine. Experts say that bromine protects the eyes and skin better, and emits less odor than chlorine.

 

For Chemistry Lovers

We’ve asked our chemistry expert to give his pick between bromine and chlorine for hot tubs.

This is what he had to say:

Bromine! It remains effective in a wider range of pH levels (7.0 – 8.4) than chlorine (7.4 – 7.8), and therefore, it can better protect your water from bacteria and viruses. Also, bromine in itself is a strong sanitizer. At a high pH level of 7.8, only about 25% of chlorine is active, but bromine remains efficient. And its byproducts, bromamines (a combined substance), produce their own sanitizing action, making bromine an even more powerful bacteria and virus killer. Add to that, that bromine already in your water can be reactivated using potassium monopersulfate after it has killed the bacteria. Reactivated bromine means less chemical use and bigger cost savings for you in the long run.”

Using Bromine Is Easy

Using bromine tablets in your hot tub is simple:

No need to drain your hot tub: you can get started with bromine right away. There’s no need to interrupt your hot tub usage for several days to drain and refill your hot tub. This also means that if you change your mind later and want to switch back to chlorine, you can easily do so.

Get the chemicals you need: To help provide the healthiest water care option and further simplify hot tub care, we will send you the chemicals you need at the time of shipping so you can start using bromine in your hot tub.

Is it Okay to Drain a Pool Into the Yard?

Is it Okay to Drain a Pool Into the Yard? If you own a pool for long enough, eventually you face the task of draining it. When that happens, you may wonder what to do with the water. After all, that’s thousands of gallons of chemically treated pool water; it can’t go just anywhere. Are there laws in your area about draining the pool? Is it safe to drain it directly into your yard? Does it matter whether your pool is chlorinated or uses saltwater? Is there anything you should do before draining to make the process safer? Read on for tips on how to safely drain your pool.

Check Before You Drain

Before draining your pool, call or look online for any regulations in your city or town. Not sure where to begin? Start with the environmental, public works, and sewage pages. Another option is simply typing the words “pool drainage regulations YOUR CITY” into Google. Then, just follow the links. If the city has a page devoted to draining your pool, it likely also includes tips on how to do it in a way that follows city guidelines, such as Mesa, Arizona’s page on draining and backwashing your pool.

The storm drains in most towns were built to handle standard rainwater, not thousands of gallons of water over a short period, and certainly not water treated with chlorine and other chemicals. Taking on too much water at once may cause flooding and other damage in the sewer system, and pool water may poison local bodies of water. Always check before you drain.

Preparing to Drain: Neutralize pH and Cut the Chlorine

If you know you need to drain your pool, stop adding chemicals to the water for at least a few days. Before you drain, test the water; you’re looking for a chlorine level that’s either zero or close to it. Chlorine is particularly toxic and could damage your landscaping or infect wildlife should any water enter your local drainage system. You also protect your neighbors’ plants from water that enters their yard.

You also want to balance pH levels. Highly acidic water damages landscaping and plants just as chlorine does, both in your yard and beyond it. Again, we’re talking about thousands of gallons of water. Unless you empty the pool with a bucket, it’s almost guaranteed that some of that water will wind up in a neighbor’s yard, surrounding greenbelt, or the local sewer system, so do everything you can to make the water as safe as possible.

Draining a Saltwater Pool

The Dead Sea got its name because its high salt levels inhibit life. Of course, your saltwater pool doesn’t have nearly the salinity levels of the Dead Sea, but it’s still not a good idea to dump thousands of gallons of saltwater into your yard. For best results, drain your pool in intervals, saturating the ground with fresh water after each draining session.

Avoid Flooding when Draining the Pool

Most yards don’t have the ability to absorb all of the water from a pool. One the ground reaches its saturation level, you need to worry about flooding, especially since stagnant water attracts mosquitoes, which begin breeding within two or three days.

Flat, level ground is particularly prone to flooding. Guard against this by moving the hose to different parts of the yard. You may also need to drain the pool in intervals.

To ensure that fresh new pool water is perfectly balanced, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects local, qualified pool techs with pool owners. You can also use the pHin smart monitor to keep the water in your pool or hot tub balanced. This handy device constantly monitors the water, automatically sending you the exact chemicals you need for safe, healthy swimming all summer.

How Does Rain Affect Your Swimming Pool?

Part of owning a pool or hot tub is learning to deal with everything Mother Nature might throw at you. While regular pool maintenance can keep your water pristine, the elements aren’t subject to any routine. Most people think about things such as snow and dust storms, but rarely do they consider rain to be an aspect of nature they should worry about. The reality is that rain affects your pool or hot tub in multiple ways. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that rain is detrimental to your pool; it can be good or bad.

Rainfall and Water Chemistry

The water chemistry of a pool is very important; it needs to maintain the proper chemical levels to remain safe and comfortable for those that use it.

Rain can be acidic, so it can offset both your pH and alkaline levels. A pool should have a pH balance of 7.4 to 7.6, while some rainwater has a pH balance around 5.0, so heavy rainfall could lower the pH balance of the pool. However, while rainfall may distort your pH levels, it can also help dilute chemicals that cannot be treated with other chemicals and need to be diluted. The downside to this is that rain does not pick and choose which chemicals it will dilute. The result is that it affects every chemical in the pool.

That said, note that, although a heavy rain, or extended period of rain, may have an effect on your pool or hot tub, you don’t need to worry too much about light rain, except for the algae spores which may wash or blow into your pool.

Rainfall and Debris

Rain seldom brings just rain; it usually comes with wind and anything the wind decides to pick up along the way. A good rainstorm typically brings along pollen, dust, algae spores, trash, and other organic matter, covering the surface and bottom of your pool. Not only this, but dirt and debris can clog your filter and pumps, making it more difficult to clean any other debris from the pool.

If any bushes or trees surround your pool, its susceptibility to contaminants is even greater, as they can throw leaves, branches, and oils into the water. However, perhaps the biggest concern when it comes to rain and your pool is algae. Rainstorms that bring in pollen and other plant matter, or even just disrupt your chemical balance, can promote the formation and spread of algae. It can be difficult to remove and repair any damage caused by algae growth, especially if left untreated for any period of time.

Excess Water

One of the biggest problems caused by rain is the accumulation of extra water. While this might seem like a given, excess water due to rainfall causes multiple problems. Heavy rainfall has the potential to cause flooding in any area, but if there’s already a large body of water in the backyard then your chances of flooding increase. This can lead to extra runoff or debris in your pool and even flood necessary pool equipment, such as filters and pumps. A heavy rain can also cause the water level in your pool to rise rendering your surface skimmer useless in effectively skimming the surface debris to the skimmer basket, meaning you’ll need to drain it back to the proper level.

Storm Prep and Repair

If you know ahead of time to expect rain, prepare by setting up your pool cover ahead of time. This keeps most of the debris out of the water. You should also store any loose items surrounding the pool, such as patio furniture, pool toys, and potted plants. This keeps them from blowing into the pool. Finally, turn off the pump.

Once the storm ends, turn the pump back on and remove the cover as carefully as possible. There is no sense in dumping all that debris into the water. Also, empty the skimmer and pump baskets. If you don’t have a lot of debris at the bottom of the pool AND it took on a lot of water, go ahead and pump out the excess. If you do need to vacuum, hold off on dumping the excess water until after vacuuming.

Next, clean the pool as per usual: skim the surface, brush the walls and floor, and run the vacuum. Finally, test the chemical balance and make any necessary adjustments.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

When is the Right Time to Open Your Swimming Pool?

With many parts of the country still experiencing cold weather and snow, it might seem like a strange time to think about opening your pool. Many pool owners debate the optimal time to open their pool. Often, the conclusion is that, if the water isn’t warm enough for swimming, then it’s okay to wait. Not true.

Spring and the warmer temperatures it brings can sneak up on you, wreaking havoc on your pool. It is often better to prepare for swim season earlier rather than later. Here are a few guidelines to help you open your pool at the optimal time.

When to Open Your Pool

There is no definitive date as to when you should open your pool. It varies from place to place, so the best thing to do is pay attention to the weather. The recommended time to open up your pool is when temperatures in your area consistently hit 70 degrees. While 70 degrees isn’t exactly swim weather, these temperatures can promote algae growth. This can be especially problematic if you use a mesh pool cover, as the water will get plenty of sunlight. Another thing to keep in mind as the weather warms is the growth season, which can bring pollen into your pool. However, with your filter and pump running, you can prevent algae growth and pollen collection, making sure your pool stays a pool instead of turning into a backyard swamp.

Opening Heated Pools vs. Non-heated Pools

When it comes to a heated pool versus a non-heated pool, the consensus for opening either remains the same. However, 70 degrees may only be maintenance weather for a non-heated pool, while it can be swim weather for a heated one. This doesn’t mean you should open a heated pool earlier, however. Freezing temperatures and snow can still affect a heated pool. It is still ideal to wait for consistent 70-degree weather before opening your pool, even if it is heated.

Watching the Weather

As stated, weather consistency is important when it comes to opening your pool. You don’t want to open your pool after a few days of warm weather, only to receive heavy snowfall the next day. We’ve already seen temperatures rise for a day or two and then plummet in places like Chicago and New York, so make sure that the warm weather is there to stay. Keep an eye on your local weather forecast to help determine the right time to open your pool. Put history on your side as well by noting the average temperatures in your region by month. If the averages temperature for a certain time of year is 55 degrees, yet it has surpassed 70 for the last week, it’s best to avoid assuming that the great weather is there to stay.

Things to Consider

When deciding whether it’s the right time to open your pool, keep the following things in mind:

  • Expenses: Opening a pool too late can cause the need for extra cleaning and maintenance before use. Consider the cost of the additional chemicals to properly clean and prepare your pool.
  • Aesthetic: Keeping your pool covered can prevent your yard and landscaping from looking their best. Think about how much better it would look to have a clean, open pool.
  • Use: Whether your pool is heated or non-heated, it is ideal to open it at least three weeks before you intend to use it. It is important that your water is clean and clear before swimming.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced no matter what time of year it is, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool or hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

How Unhealthy Pool Water Can Spell Disaster for Your Wallet

How Unhealthy Pool Water Can Spell Disaster for Your Wallet

Proper maintenance of your pool or hot tub is fundamental to ensuring the health and safety of those who use it. Avoiding murky water, algae bloom build-up, and pH imbalance is a difficult, and often confusing process. The basic chemical components involved in keeping your water healthy are a sanitizer, pH adjusters, shock and a mineral purifier that prevents algae growth. Additionally, knowing when, where, and how to apply these chemicals to your pool can be a real challenge, especially when there might be eager swimmers waiting to dive in.

Preventative maintenance is particularly important in keeping your pool or hot tub in a healthy state. Neglecting the chemical balance of a pool can be detrimental to its health. Inaction can exacerbate existing water safety issues and lead to extremely high costs associated with remedying the condition of the pool water later on. Abnormally high or low temperatures can further complicate this already arduous process, as compensation for unusual temperature conditions requires additional chemical adjustment. Ultimately, maintaining your pool properly can be a laborious process.

Out-of-Balance Water, Out-of-Pocket Expense

Common pool care mistakes can substantially reduce the lifespan of your pool. According to an CNBC article, they may cut it by as much as 50%! Not to mention the cost to replace the damaged equipment or fix the pool itself. For example, a heater attacked by corrosive, acidic water can cost over $2,000 to replace. Resurfacing your pool can cost $4,000 and more to replace. A pool or hot tub with a high pH can create a scale-forming water condition, which can cause rough surfaces from the mineral deposits coming out of solution and scale deposits building up in the plumbing and equipment. Again, this can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to remedy.

A Well-Maintained Pool Gives You Peace of Mind…And Your Wallet A Break

Typically, pool or hot tub care is a demanding and equally exhausting experience. If not maintained properly, a pool can end up harming swimmers as well as the pool owner’s wallet. Preventative care is necessary to escape the hardship of an unhealthy and imbalanced pool. Luckily, pHin is here to help. pHin monitors your water chemistry and temperature 24/7 so you don’t have to. It notifies your smartphone when action is needed and even tells you how to keep your water perfectly balanced all year long.

pHin chemical subscription members can enjoy the added convenience of single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door so you can only add what you need. Your Starter box comes with the smart monitor, free mobile app, wireless bridge and even a mineral purifier* to reduce the amount of chemicals needed to balance your water. Just the mineral purifier alone retails for over $60. Our pool experts estimate that using the pHin smart water care solution with its unique chemical delivery membership can can help you save 1/3 of your annual cost.**

ORDER YOUR pHin NOW!

*Pool subscription members only.

**Estimate is based on annual pHin monitoring, recommendations and door-to-door chemical delivery for chlorine pools. Your estimated savings will depend on which pHin solution you choose.    

Your Guide to Opening Your Swimming Pool

Your Guide to Opening Your Swimming Pool

With parts of the country still experiencing snow and freezing temperatures, the thought of opening your pool may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, the warm temperatures of spring arrive before you know it, and they wreak havoc on your pool. It makes sense to prepare for swim season early.

When the weather warms up into the 70’s or warmer, using the following guidelines to walk you through opening your pool for the new swim season.

Step 1: Clean the Cover

If you use a winter pool cover, the first step is clearing it of debris and standing water.

For a significant amount of water, use a submersible cover pump. However, do not set it in place and walk away. You need to stop the pump while a small amount of water remains on the cover; otherwise, your pump can burn out. Unless you want to dump a bunch of debris-filled water into your pool, do not remove the cover with standing water on it.

To remove debris, use your pool brush, skimmer net, or a leaf blower.

Step 2: Remove and Clean the Pool Cover

Once you clear the cover, remove it from the pool. Next, lay it flat on the ground and wash it, using a mild soap, water, and soft brush or cloth. Before storing the cover for the swim season, allow it to dry completely.

Step 3: Check and Adjust the Water Level

Check the pool’s water level. Ideally, it reaches the midway point on the skimmer. If it’s too low, add water using your garden hose.

Step 4: Reconnect the Plumbing

If you installed winter plugs, go ahead and remove them now. Don’t be worried if you see air bubbles, as they just mean that you did a good job clearing the lines when you closed the pool for winter.

Step 5: Reinstall Your Accessories

If you removed your an automatic pool cleaner, diving board, ladder, slide, or any other pool accessories, reinstall them now. To protect them from rusting, take the time to lubricate the bolts first.

Step 6: Replace the Pump Parts

Replace the drain plugs on your pump. If it has a multiport valve, you also need to replace the air bleeder, pressure gauge, and sight glass before turning the valve to Filter. Finally, look at the housing’s o-ring. If you see damage, such as cracking, replace it.

Step 7: Clean the Filter

You want to clean the filter before switching on the pump. If it’s a cartridge filter, remove it and wash it with the garden hose. You need to take apart a D.E. filter to clean it, and then reassemble it. If you have a sand filter, set the pump to backwash to clean it and then return it to the normal setting.

Step 8: Turn It On

It is now time to turn your pump back on, check for leaks, and make sure it pulls in water. If the pump doesn’t pull in water, priming it should help. Shut off the system and take off the lid. Fill the housing with water, close the lid again, and turn the pump back on.

Step 9: Clean the Pool

Grab your skimmer net and pool brush. First, skim any debris from the water’s surface. Next, thoroughly brush the pool, starting at the tile line and brushing straight down toward the drain.

Step 10: Check the Chemicals and Shock It

Take a water sample and check the chemical balance, adding the requisite chemicals. It’s also a good idea to shock the pool when you first open it. Then, let the pump run for 24 hours, vacuum it again, and retest the chemistry.

When to Open Your Pool

Unfortunately, climate differences across the country make it impossible to provide a definitive date on which to open your pool. Instead, we recommend paying attention to the weather in your area and opening your pool once temperatures regularly hit 70 degrees or warmer.

This is not your guideline for swim season, unless you have a heated pool. However, even though 70-degree days aren’t warm enough for swimming, those temperatures do promote algae growth. If your filter and pump aren’t running, the result is a green, swampy mess.

Another challenge once the weather warms is pollen, since warming temperatures indicate that plant growth is in full swing. Again, with your pump running, that pollen cycles through no problem. Without it, swamp time.