There’s no doubt that pool shocking is an efficient method to sanitize your pool. But how frequently should you shock the pool? This question is often debated among pool owners. There are times when pool shock is necessary to get the pool water into line.
What is pool shock?
Pool shocking is a method of adding chlorine to the pool. This breaks down chloramines or combined chlorine. Pool shock raises the free chlorine level of your pool which is integral for killing bacteria, algae, and other dangerous pathogens.
Why is pool shocking necessary?
Contrary to the notion where you simply fill the pool with water and jump in. Your pool water is not completely safe for swimming until it is treated. The pool water has to be clean at all times. Outside influences like changing weather and wind constantly change the condition of your pool. In other words, your pool accumulates bacteria with every passing minute.
This is why a cocktail of chemicals is put into the pool water. Chlorine is the main component. It acts as a sanitizer. Chlorine makes the pool water safer and cleaner. Although most pools have a sanitizing agent present at all times, with time, these agents break down and become inefficient. At this stage, you have to add something to the pool to keep it clean.
The concept of pool shocking is to rapidly increase the level of free chlorine in the swimming pool. This instantly kills off algae growth, bacteria, pathogens, and chloramines in the pool. Shocking is conducted using either non-chlorine or chlorinated pool shock. Of the two methods, chlorinated pool shock is the preferred method. It puts a large dose of chlorine into your pool and kills everything in sight (in the pool).
Non-chlorinated pool shock is an oxidizing agent. It combats organic contamination in the pool. By targeting these compounds, free chlorine is released in your pool. It helps the free chlorine to be a better sanitizing agent.
When should you shock your pool?
There are times when additional pool shocking is necessary outside the regular maintenance schedule.
- There’s a chlorine smell in the air.
If your pool is reeking of chlorine, then it probably lacks this agent. Although it will feel counterintuitive because you will associate the pungent smell of chlorine with a good pool smell.
In reality, you’re smelling the chloramines. These are created when the free chlorine interacts with ammonia. Sometimes called combined chlorine, it is a gas that evaporates and floats on the water surface. Chloramine is a skin irritant. They can be hazardous to your health. When present in high concentrations, chloramine causes lung and nasal irritation, itchy skin, and red eyes.
Is your pool giving off that familiar chlorine smell? Then shock it immediately!
- There is an increase in pool use.
Summer is pool time. The kids are home, splashing around in the pool. They’re probably inviting their friends over too. You’re probably going to host pool parties as well. But pools must be shocked with frequent use. Why? Even though you and your family might be very clean, you cannot guarantee the same for others. People carry bacteria and germs. When they dip into your pool, much of these bacteria get transferred into the pool.
In addition, many organic pollutants also make their way into your pool, such as sunscreen, sweat, skin oils, fecal matter, urine, and even hair. With so many pathogens to deal with, chlorine works harder to keep it germ-free. This leads to rapid chlorine consumption and depletion.
If you’ve had extra pool visitors lately, shock your pool right away!
- It rained heavily.
The chemical concentration of your pool is thrown out of balance every time a rainstorms hits. Rain is acidic, and it should decrease the pH of the pool water. But alkalinity will kick in and prevent the pH from dropping. When the rain is heavy, many contaminants will up in the pool, such as debris, mold spores, and insects. It also dilutes the water and disturbs the chemical balance. At this point, a pool shock is put in to bring diluted chlorine levels back up and keep the swimming pool in balance.
- The water temperature has increased.
Warm water quickly depletes free chlorine. In addition, bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms love warm water conditions. The ideal water temperature ranges from 86 to 88 °F. If the pool is used frequently, lower the temperature range between 78 to 84 °F.
- You closed or opened the pool.
Shocking, in either case, is a must. When the pool is opened for summer, the water must be balanced well. After adjusting the water balance, oxidize and sanitize the pool by shocking it. This restores the water’s clarity. When pool season is over, shock it again to keep it sanitized.
How often should I shock my pool?
So far, we’ve discussed potentially ‘must shock’ scenarios. How frequently you should shock is a debatable question.
Pool owners should commit to shocking at least once every two weeks. This must be a part of your maintenance schedule. Some people would prefer to shock the pool every week!
Over shocking your pool is also not recommended. Apart from being a waste of money, over shocking temporarily spikes the chlorine level, but it burns off with sun exposure rather quickly. The ‘must shock’ situations we listed above may also put you off your shocking schedule.
When is the best time to shock the pool?
The ideal time to shock the pool is when the sun sets or during twilight/dusk hours. During daylight hours, unstabilized chlorine has no protection against the sun’s rays. This is why shocking at sunset or at night is the best time. It gives your pool water a chance to circulate for at least eight or more hours.
If you use an oxidizer (a non-chlorine shock), pool shocking can be done at any time. After adding the treatment, wait up to fifteen minutes before jumping in the pool.
When it comes to pool shock, the recommended guideline is once every two weeks. However, you may pool shock once a week as well, especially if the pool is being used often.