With the advent of the rainy season (thank goodness), and the re-opening of a majority of pools, we thought it might be a great time to revisit this important topic.
Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer or CYA) is a white powder that can be added to pool water, and it can be good for you. A moderate amount of stabilizer is beneficial, and can save you a considerable amount of chlorine on an annual basis. However, too much stabilizer is bad, and can cause low ORP, promote water quality issues, contribute to algae growth, and make a real mess when you need to treat a pool for a fecal accident. We like stabilizer, … and even developed easy guidelines for customers, sourced quick dissolve stabilizer, and trained thousands of operators for years. But now there is a new dilemma.
The dilemma below severely impacts your pool, and should really be addressed right away.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH:
Over the years, we have fought major battles with owners and pool companies that wanted to maintain stabilizer at a “residential level” of 100 PPM or more. In the mid 1980s we introduced research that showed the benefits of stabilizer topped out at about 30 PPM, and have fought hard to encourage owners to maintain an optimum level of 20-30 PPM. ORP is still good at this level, but you can save up to 50% on chlorination costs. New research and 2016 CDC guidelines now point out that Fecal Accident Treatment is severely hampered by the use of stabilizer, and proper remedial treatment is nearly impossible to achieve at levels above 16 PPM.
THE MAIN CONFLICT:
If you maintain stabilizer above 16 PPM, you’ll spend a bit less on chlorine, but in the event you have a (non-solid) fecal accident, you will need to dilute the pool water to get it down below 16 PPM. If you are holding 30 PPM, you need to drain half your pool water, refill, AND THEN SHOCK TREAT (40 PPM for 8.5 hours). Think about that; you’ll be closed for quite a while. Thinking about ignoring the CDC fecal guidelines? Not a chance… you’ll be in violation of the Florida DOH code that governs your pool operation, and also in violation of best practice and the national Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC). In other words… Legal Suicide.
When you commit to changing your facility protocol to maintain 16 PPM or less, challenge #1 is that it is nearly impossible to test and maintain using a typical test kit. We recommend a CES digital test kitwhich is certified as Level1 by NSF®. (Also a MAHC recommendation). With this kit, you use the syringe to add water to a pre-measured disc, press, test… trust.
Holding these lower levels requires additional diligence by your staff. Using the correct test kit helps, but stabilizer testing and correcting should be moved from a monthly to-do, to a weekly task. You’ll also want to pre-make baggies with precise amounts of stabilizer that will give you a known increase, say 2 or 3 PPM. The best way we’ve found to hold these lower levels is to start at 15 PPM, and when you get to about 12 PPM, then add a baggie of stabilizer and raise the level to 15 PPM. It’s also best to use the quick dissolve powder stabilizer to simplify corrections.
The dilemma described above is very real, and similar to two freight trains heading toward each other at full speed on the same track. It’s best to stay off that track, and to conform your in-house protocol to meet 2016 CDC guidelines, while still saving as much chlorine as possible.
Please let us know how we can assist you.