A swimming pool is a greatly enjoyable thing to have with your home. It requires constant maintenance; checking the pool’s chemistry, skimming out leaves or other debris, vacuuming up sediment from the ground, and maintaining the filter. How do you know if you need to do some more intensive maintenance? What are the signs that something has made your pool go badly out of line? Below, I cover the common signs to look for when your pool is unsafe to swim in. If you see one or more of these signs in your swimming pool, head over to my pool cleaning guide for a thorough step-by-step process to get it squeaky clean.
Strong Smell of Chlorine
A strong smell of chlorine does not mean your pool is safe. A healthy, safe pool will have little to no odor. That smell comes when your pool is out of balance. The smell of chlorine arises when the chemicals are dealing with a lot organic material like sweat, urine, and bacteria in your pool. As the chlorine tries to deal with the contaminants which are not being filtered and cleaned sufficiently, it causes chloramine, which makes that smell. A strong smell does not mean there is too much chlorine in the pool; it means there is not enough to deal with all the contaminants.
Badly Out of Line Chemistry
Part of pool maintenance is regularly checking the chemistry and keeping a healthy pH, alkalinity, calcium, and free chlorine or bromine levels. If these numbers are badly skewed, immediate work is needed. Check out my guide on swimming pool chemistry to learn how to do the appropriate checks.
Cloudy or Murky Water
Cloudy water indicates chemical imbalance and a lot of particles in your pool. It can be a sign of heavy rain, lack of sunlight, lack of sufficient filtration, or poor water circulation. Time to do something about it! Read my guide on clearing cloudy pool water to learn how to clear everything up.
Unhealthy pool water can be other colors than green. The most common is brown or yellowish. This can be from the growth of brown algae or from other contaminants in the pool. Any change in color is a serious sign that something is out of order and needs to be corrected.
Bubbles or Foam
Having too many bubbles or a layer of pool foam means your water has enough contaminants that it is able to keep long-term bubbles due to having strong surface tension. This can be caused by substances like lotions, sunblock, soaps etc. in the pool; from a high concentration of bacteria in the pool; from a chemical imbalance or having way too many chemicals in the pool, or from clogged filters.
Living Organisms in the Pool
Uncared for pools can become breeding grounds not only for bacteria but for creatures like mosquito larvae, water beetles, or other small life forms. Do not swim in a pool where you see small things wiggling in the water. Seek professional assistance.
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When Is It Safe To Swim In Your Pool After Cleaning?
In general, different chemicals have different wait times. The wait times can range from 15 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the harshness of the chemical. Some chemicals are safe to swim in while others can cause burns on your skin. After shocking your pool or doing a deep clean, you should test your chemistry to make sure it is balanced before going swimming in it to ensure it is safe to do so. Here are some pointers for specific chemicals and treatments.
- Wait at least 20 minutes to an hour after adding any water balancing chemicals such as pH, alkalinity, or clarifier.
- Most algaecides are safe to swim in but it’s a good idea to wait at least 15 minutes before your jump in your pool.
- Always test the water after shocking your pool but it is generally safe to swim after the chlorine levels are around 5 ppm or after 24 hours.
- Muriatic acid has the potential to burn your skin. It is best to wait at least 30 minutes after adding it to your pool.
- It is recommended to wait for a full cycle through the filter or at least 2-4 hours after adding calcium chloride.
- Testing your pool is the best way to determine swimming in it after adding liquid chlorine but it’s generally safe to enjoy your pool after waiting about 4 hours or until the level reaches 5 ppm or lower.
- After adding flocculant to your pool, you should only swim in the pool after the floc has been vacuumed from settling to the bottom of the pool, otherwise, it loses its effectiveness.
Have questions about any of these issues? Shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to help.