Maintaining a pristine swimming pool demands a delicate balance of water chemistry, a balance where chlorine plays the pivotal role of sanitizer. Too little, and the chlorine will fail to sanitize the water. Too much, and the chlorine can cause harm to the pool and swimmers.
In this article, I will go into the details of signs to watch out for that indicate too much chlorine in your pool, the side effects of too-high chlorine levels, how to lower chlorine levels, and more.
- Some signs that indicate you have too much chlorine in your pool include high levels when testing, bleached hair/swimsuits, unpleasant taste, unbalanced pH, and corroded pool equipment.
- Side effects of swimming in a pool with too much chlorine include respiratory issues and skin and eye irritation.
- In severe cases, you may deal with chlorine poisoning.
- To lower chlorine levels, use sunlight, a chlorine neutralizer, hydrogen peroxide, or vitamin C, heat the pool, or dilute the water.
Signs There Is Too Much Chlorine in Your Pool
While chlorine may be an important chemical to add to your pool, you should not add too much. If you accidentally put too much in your pool, what are some signs to watch out for?
Test Strips or Kits Show High Chlorine Levels
Of course, one of the first and most obvious signs you’ll notice is that your test strip or kit shows that you have high chlorine levels. Your free chlorine levels should ideally lie between 1 and 3 parts per million (ppm). If your chlorine levels are far above this range, you have far too much chlorine in your pool.
Bleached Hair or Swimsuits
Over-chlorination can lead to the bleaching of hair and swimsuits. Swimmers may notice that their hair becomes dry, brittle, and lighter in color. In some cases, swimmers with blonde hair may notice that their hair is turning green, which is a combination of the chlorine and copper in the water.
If chlorine levels are too high, the water may taste bitter or unpleasant. However, remember that if your pool smells and tastes like chlorine, more likely than not, it points to an issue with too many chloramines rather than free chlorine. So, in this case, I’d strongly recommend testing your pool water to ensure you are dealing with too much chlorine rather than too little.
Excessive chlorine can cause the water to become unbalanced. If you have a high or low pH, too much chlorine is one cause you may be dealing with. The best way to check if this is indeed the case is to test the pool’s chlorine level.
Corroded Pool Equipment
Check pool equipment for possible corrosion. If there are any signs of rusting or staining on metal components, such as ladders or pump parts, it could result from high chlorine levels.
Side Effects of Swimming In a Pool With Too Much Chlorine
Now that you know what to look out for, why is it important to keep an eye on the chlorine level of your pool anyway? What exactly is so bad about too much chlorine?
Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant used to sanitize swimming pools and kill harmful bacterial contaminants. If you get into a pool with too much chlorine, you’re risking exposure to a chemical that, in high enough amounts, can cause serious side effects. In severe cases, you can expect to experience fatal respiratory distress or temporary loss of vision. The risk of something going really wrong is even higher for individuals with pre-existing health problems.
Here’s a quick overview of what can happen to your body if you go swimming in a pool that has too much chlorine, as per the CDC.
First and foremost, excessive chlorine causes eye, skin, or lung irritation. If swimmers experience red, itchy eyes, dry, irritated skin, coughing, or difficulty breathing during or after swimming, the chlorine levels may be hazardously high. This is especially bad news for swimmers with health problems like asthma or chronic bronchitis.
For this reason, it’s always best to test the water before you use the pool.
Water with too much chlorine can also result in red, itchy, or dry skin. Extended contact with such water can, in extreme situations, even result in eczema, blisters on the skin, rashes, or chemical burns.
Another common side effect of chlorine exposure is eye irritation. Basic symptoms include a burning sensation, eye irritation, redness, and constant watering. Prolonged contact can also mean more long-term damage to the eyes, including partial loss of vision.
Is Too Much Chlorine Bad for Your Pool?
Yes. Too much chlorine isn’t just bad and unpleasant for the human body; it’s also a big problem for your pool as a whole. Too much chlorine in the pool can corrode your precious pool equipment, such as the filter, the heater, the pump, the impeller, and other vital aspects of your pool infrastructure.
And this, in turn, hurts your wallet since it means a spike in maintenance costs and can even be the cause of replacing your equipment entirely!
Symptoms of Chlorine Poisoning
Chlorine poisoning can be a real threat. The signs and symptoms of chlorine poisoning vary depending on how long the person was exposed to high chlorine levels. However, if exposure to the chemical is significant, severe damage to the eyes, lungs, and throat can occur.
Signs of chlorine poisoning include:
- Blurry vision
- Burning sensation in the nose, eyes, throat, and lungs
- Bloody stool
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting blood
- Respiratory failure
- Skin redness
- Holes in the skin
- Corneal burns
- Abdominal discomfort
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, move away from the contaminated area immediately and find fresh air and water immediately. Rinse yourself with fresh water for 10 to 15 minutes (standing under a shower helps), and splash your eyes to flush out the chlorine. If you swallowed the chemical, immediately drink water or milk unless instructed otherwise!
Then, call the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) for further instructions.
If the symptoms persist or worsen, seek emergency medical treatment.
How to Lower Chlorine Levels
Now that you know how dangerous too much chlorine can be, test the water before jumping in. Ensure the chlorine is between 1 and 3 ppm. If it’s too high, you’ll need to lower the chlorine levels.
There are a few different methods you can use.
If your pool is outdoors and you have the time, simply remove the pool cover and wait. The chlorine levels will dissipate naturally, thanks to the sun’s UV rays, which break down chlorine over time. All you have to do is expose the water to direct sunlight for several hours, and tada! Problem solved. Remember to continue to test the water to ensure your chlorine levels don’t drop below the recommended levels!
Add a chlorine neutralizer like sodium thiosulfate to lower the chlorine level in your pool. Depending on your current chlorine level, calculate the amount of neutralizer you need to add to your pool and pour it in. Let the pump run for at least two hours or more to circulate the neutralizer throughout the pool before you retest the water.
You could use hydrogen peroxide to help neutralize the chlorine in your pool. If you use hydrogen peroxide, make sure to use a specifically made for use in pools. For best results, your pool should have a pH of at least 7.
Vitamin C is another alternative to chlorine neutralizers like sodium thiosulfate. If you have particularly high chlorine levels, I recommend using vitamin C to neutralize the chlorine in your pool, as it’s both fast and non-hazardous. However, since vitamin C is an acid, you’ll need to check your pool’s pH levels after you use it.
Heat the Pool
Interestingly, if you heat the pool water, your chlorine level may decrease indirectly. This is because increasing the pool temperature allows bacteria and algae to spread in the pool, which, in turn, uses more chlorine. As always, make sure to continuously test the water while you do this.
Dilute the Water
A final possible solution to having too much chlorine in your pool is to simply add fresh water by doing a partial drain and refill. You should carefully readjust all chemicals after you refill the pool.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can too much chlorine make my pool go green?
Yes. Strangely enough, too much chlorine in your pool can indeed make your pool go green. This is because metals in the water, like copper, oxidize when exposed to chlorine, causing your water to turn green.
What can I put in my pool for too much chlorine?
If you have too much chlorine in your pool, you can use sodium thiosulfate, hydrogen peroxide, or even vitamin C to lower your chlorine levels.
Will the chlorine level go down by itself?
In most cases, yes. UV radiation is an effective chlorine killer, breaking down chlorine over time. If you wait long enough, chlorine levels will drop significantly. This can even occur on a cloudy day, though to a lesser degree.
Everything (Including Chlorine) in Moderation
Keeping your pool clean can be as easy as pie once you get the hang of it. But no matter how experienced you get, you must keep a sharp eye on your chlorine levels. Occasionally, even the most experienced pool owner can slip up and add too much chlorine. While too much chlorine is not ideal, the good news is there are plenty of methods to bring the chlorine levels back down.
Need help with anything else related to pools, chlorine, and chemicals? I’m here to answer your questions.