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Get the scoop on pool sanitizers
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Many homeowners enjoy the convenience and recreational value of having a pool in their backyards. Pools can be a great spot to gather on warm days, often serving as the centerpiece of summer recreation.

Pools require substantial upkeep to function properly and be safe for swimming. The right combination of factors are needed to maintain a proper water balance to prevent skin and eye irritation as well as to ensure the water is clean. Sanitizers play a significant role in ensuring that safety.

Various sanitizers are on the market, although people are most familiar with chlorine-based sanitizers. The goal of a sanitizer is to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae in pool water. Sanitizers also will inhibit the growth of viruses and other organic contaminants.

First-time homeowners who have never had a pool may find it challenging to choose a sanitizer that will work for them. Each sanitizer has its share of pros and cons, but many homeowners hope to find one that is both cost-effective and convenient. The following are some of the sanitizers to consider.

Liquid chlorine: Sodium hypochlorite, also known as bleach, is a common pool sanitizer. Liquid chlorine does not have any additives and will not affect pool water in any other way except for providing sanitation. Liquid chlorine can be cumbersome to store and splashing the product while adding it to the water can damage clothing.

Cal-hypo: Calcium hypochlorite is another sanitizing option for pools. It is usually sold in granular form because pucks or sticks will break down too quickly in chlorine feeders. Cal-hypo is often an unstabilized form of chlorine, which means it does not have a stabilizing chemical mixed with it to prevent chlorine burn-off from the sun. Depending on your needs, unstabilized chlorine can be an asset or a detriment.

Dichlor and trichlor: Dichloro-s-triazinetrione and trichloro-s-triazinetrione are two different stabilized chlorine sources. They are mixed with a substance called cyanuric acid, which helps prevent the quick usage of chlorine in outdoor pools. Sunlight can reduce the efficacy of chlorine, and this stabilizer will help buffer that effect. Since these chlorine sources typically come in pucks or tablets, they can be placed in feeders and will deliver consistent chlorine without daily maintenance. Trichlor has one of the highest levels of available chlorine of all pool sanitizers. However, one disadvantage is that if the stabilizer levels build up too much in the pool, you will require even more chlorine to combat this effect, sometimes creating a cycle of chlorine ineffectiveness.

Salt: Salt-cell pools use a process of electrolysis to extract chlorine from the salt added to the specialized equipment, thus sanitizing the pool automatically. Some people prefer salt because it seems more natural and requires less maintenance.

Bromine: Bromine is similar to chlorine. While the byproducts of chlorine do not benefit pool water, bromine byproducts can continue to sanitize the water, making it last longer than chlorine. Bromine can be more expensive than chlorine, which might deter homeowners looking for the most cost-effective pool sanitizer.

Pool water chemistry can be a complex process. But homeowners have many options at their disposal when it comes time to choose the right sanitizer.