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    Pool Chlorinators - Purify the Easy Way!

    May 21, 2012

    What is a pool chlorinator?

    Swimming pool chlorinators are perhaps more aptly known as erosion chemical feeders. These devices simply erode chlorine tablets, as pool water is pumped through the canister holding the tablets. Automatic Pool Chlorinators are manufactured by many companies, the most popular pool chlorinators being produced by Hayward, Pentair and King Technologies.

    Pool chlorinators are available in two versions, In-Line and Off-Line. In-Line pool chlorinators are plumbed into the return line, after the filter and any pool heater. A section of pipe is removed, and the In-Line chlorinator is glued into this location, in place of the removed pipe.

    Off-Line chlorinators are not plumbed in line, but are meant to be secured to the ground, in an accessible location. Two feeder hoses attach to the Off-Line chlorinator, one bringing fresh water into the chlorinator, and the other effluent line, carrying chlorinated water out of the canister and into the pool return line. The hoses on an Off-Line chlorinator attach to the pool plumbing by use of small plastic injection fittings, which are saddle-clamped to the pipe. One need only drill two small holes in the pipe, and connect the hoses, securing them with the provided hose nuts.

    In-Line & Off-Line pool chlorinator types Both types of pool chlorinators, In-Line and Off-Line - are effective at delivering enough chlorine into the water to kill pathogenic compounds and maintain water clarity. The In-Line version would be preferable, as a more permanent installation, however you need to have enough space on a horizontal pipe to install the chlorinator. It is recommended that this pipe be close to the ground, to provide a stable surface for the In-Line chlorinator to be installed.

    Why use a pool chlorinator?

    Pool chlorinators allow the pool owner to handle chlorine tablets less, by filling the chlorinator only a few times per month. They also allow for more precise control of the amount being dispensed, so that the pool is neither over, nor under-chlorinated. Thirdly, placing chlorine tablets in a sealed chamber is much safer than using a floating chlorinator or placing chlorine pucks into the skimmer. In addition, placing chlorine tabs in the skimmer has been shown to cause damage to vinyl liners, underground piping and to sensitive rubber seals inside the pool pump and filter.

    How pool chlorinators work.

    Whether you use an In-Line or an Off-Line pool chlorine feeder, the technology is essentially the same. After installing the chlorinator and adding Tri-Chlor tablets to the feeder, a small portion of the water rushing through the return line will enter the chlorinator chamber. The introduced water will flow over the slow-dissolve tablets, and erode a small amount, carrying it off to your pool.

    Two variables allow the pool owner to control the amount of chlorine being introduced. The first variable is the amount of tablets that you put into the chlorinator. If you fill it full, more chlorine will be eroded - than if you had filled it only halfway. The second control feature is the dial on the side of your pool chlorine feeder. By adjusting the dial, from 1 to 10, you control the size of the opening that allows water into the chlorinator chamber. In practice, these two control variables work together - in that if you have a full chamber, you will likely have a lower dial setting, and if your chamber is nearly empty, you will need to turn up the dial to maintain the same level of chlorine being introduced.

    How to Install a Pool Chlorinator.

    In-Line versions are a bit more work to install. You will need a PVC saw or hacksaw, PVC primer and PVC glue. Locate a horizontal pipe, after the filter and after any pool heater. You will need approximately 10 inches of clear pipe that you can remove, in order to plumb in the chlorine feeder. This pipe should be located near ground level, and should be below the level of any pool heater - to prevent chlorine from backing up into the copper heat exchanger. Measure carefully, following manufacturer's installation instructions. After gluing the new chlorinator in place - allow any fumes to disperse before adding chlorine into the chamber.

    Off-Line versions require no plumbing, but you will need a drill with a set of drill bits. You can use wood or steel drill bits for PVC plastic. Following the manufacturer's instructions, first locate the chlorinator in a spot that is level and secure, but also accessible. Shut off the pool pump, and drill one hole between the pump and filter. Connect the fitting into the hole you drilled and clamp it on with the included saddle clamp. Connect the hose from this fitting to the fitting on the incoming port of the chlorinator. Measure before cutting the second hole, to make sure the hose will reach from the chlorinator to a location on the return line, after the filter and any pool heater. It's best if you can route the hoses in an out-of-the-way manner, to avoid getting tangled-up in the hoses as you service the pool equipment. Connect the hose from the chlorinator outlet side, to the fitting installed in the return line.

    Pool Chlorinator Troubleshooting Tips

    1. Chlorine Tablets are Not Dissolving.

    a). For Off-Line automatic chlorinators, check that the unit has not been installed backwards. Small arrows indicate flow direction.

    b). For Off-Line automatic chlorinators, check the Inlet/Outlet fittings for a clog of calcium.

    c). Some units have a screen in the bottom, or a standpipe on the side that needs occasional cleaning to remove calcium.

    d). The dial may be at too low of a setting. Turn up the dial.

    2. Chlorinator is Leaking.

    a). Leaking at the top? A lid o-ring may be missing, damaged or out of position.

    b). For In-Line chlorine feeders, leaks at the threaded inlet/outlet ports may need to be replaced.

    c). If the body of the chlorinator is cracked, replace the unit.

    d). For Off-Line chlorine feeders, leaks at this Inlet/Outlet fittings. Tighten nuts, and/or use Teflon tape on threads.

    3. Chlorine Tablets are Dissolving but the chlorine level is very low, or non-existent.

    a). Check that your test reagents or test strips are fresh, to rule out false readings.

    b). Check that your level of Cyanuric Acid (Conditioner or Stabilizer) is not higher than 60ppm.

    c). Check your level of Combined Chlorine, which may indicate the need for shocking the pool.

    d). The dial may be at too low of a setting. Turn up the dial.

    e). Water pressure may be too low, backwash the filter or clean the pump basket.

    Pool Chlorinator Safety Tips

    1. Turn off pool pump before opening your chlorine feeder.

    2. When removing the lid, stand aside and do not inhale - you risk inhaling chlorine gas.

    3. When winterizing, be sure to remove all chlorine from the chamber.

    4. Only use Slow-Dissolve Tri-Chlor tablets in your chlorine feeder.

    Swimming pool chlorinators have made it easier and safer to chlorinate your pool water. They are also affordable and manufactured in different sizes for all types of pools and spas. Aboveground pool chlorinators and inground pool chlorinators are available, and installation is quick and easy. If you are feeding chlorine tablets through the skimmer or through a floating chlorine dispenser, there's a better way!  

    Ann Rasmussen
    SPP Pool Enthusiast

    Blog Author
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