If you have a chlorinated pool, shocking it with chemicals is one of the most important pool maintenance steps that keep the pool sparkling clear and clean. Without it, algae and other contaminants will quickly build up in the water. But how often should you shock your pool?
During the swimming season pools should be shocked as often as once every week but at least every two weeks to keep the pool maintained. Pools should be shocked at the beginning and end of the pool season to prepare the pool for being covered in the off-season. Shocking also helps prevent algae blooms after rain and heavy use.
Shocking the pool doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience, even if you’ve never worked with pool chemicals before. Read on to learn more about shocking the pool and how often you should do it.
When Should You Shock Your Pool?
For regular maintenance, pools should be shocked once every one to two weeks depending on the water’s clarity and how much use the pool sees. However, there are other times when it’s a good idea to shock your pool outside of scheduled maintenance. Here are a few other scenarios where you might find it a good idea to shock your pool:
- Opening up in spring: When you open your pool for the swimming season, spring algae has a chance to start propagating quickly with rising temperatures and exposure to sunlight. Shocking the pool with chemicals at this point can help prevent a lot of hassle and clean-up later.
- After heavy use: When many swimmers enter the pool at once, this can cause a drop in chlorine levels and the introduction of bacteria that can make the pool dirty. Shocking after parties can help bring the pool’s pH levels back to baseline and help sanitize it after heavy use.
- After heavy rain: Rain can interrupt the pH levels of a pool while also introducing contaminants that encourage the growth of algae and bacteria. Shocking the pool after rain can prevent the pool from turning green after heavy rains.
- During periods of dry, hot weather: Hot weather raises the pool water temperature, making it a more favorable environment for both algae and bacteria. Flushing the pool with fresh cold water and shocking it can keep hot weather from making the pool water look cloudy.
Outside of regular maintenance, shocking a pool is a good preventative measure any time environmental factors increase the risks of bacteria and algae growth or disrupt the pool’s pH levels.
Shocking and Reducing Chloramines in Pool Water
Shocking is also a good idea if swimmers find their eyes and skin irritated by chloramines, which build up in the water as chlorine binds with ammonia-based contaminants like sweat and urine. (Source: Center for Disease Control)
Many swimmers mistakenly associate a strong chlorine smell or burning eyes with excess chlorine in the pool water, but the opposite is true.
A strong chlorine smell in pool water and eye irritation results from the chloramines in the water, not the chlorine. Adding additional chlorine to the water in the form of shock helps to reduce the smell and effects of chloramines.
Can You Shock Your Pool Too Much?
To know whether or not you can shock your pool too much, it’s important to learn what pool shock is. Pool shock is just the generic term for concentrated chlorine, and it comes in several forms. Chlorine is added to pool water to remove chloramines from the pool that can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tracts of swimmers.
What happens when you add too much shock to your pool is that you have too much chlorine in the water. It takes an extreme amount of over shock to make the pool unsafe for swimming.
However, adding too much shock can prevent you from taking accurate chemical measurements of the pool water. The chlorine causes this effect as it bleaches the test strips. This can lead to a false negative for chlorine and may lead some amateur pool owners to continue to add even more shock.
What Do You Do If You’ve Overshocked Your Pool?
If you accidentally add more than the recommended amount of shock for your pool, there aren’t many solutions except to wait. Over time, the chlorine in the water will evaporate out as it is exposed to sunlight and oxygen through a process called oxidation.
To speed up this process, make sure the pool stays uncovered while the shock wears off and that you run the pool pump to keep the water circulating.
What Time of Day Should You Shock Your Pool?
The best time of day to shock a pool is in the evening after the sun is down. This allows the pool chlorine time to spread out in the water and clean it before day-time temperatures reduce the effectiveness of the shock. Ultraviolet light reduces the effectiveness of chlorine.
Shocking the pool in the evening also allows you the opportunity to run the pool pump overnight to help distribute the shock around the pool and also this means that the pool will probably be safe to swim after shocking again the following day.
How Long Does Pool Shock Last?
Pool shock lasts in a pool around twenty-four hours before the concentrated chlorine begins to dissipate, which means that during this twenty-four hour period, chlorine levels will be higher than usual. Swimmers should avoid swimming during the twenty-four hours after shocking to prevent irritation to eyes, skin, and lungs from chlorine exposure.
After twenty-four hours, the pool should be sanitized and ready for use. It’s a good idea to check the pool’s chemical levels prior to letting people swim again to ensure that chlorine volume has dropped to a comfortable level before people enter the water.
Tips for Using Pool Shock
Along with knowing when to use pool shock, it’s also important that pool owners understand how to use pool shock correctly. Pool shock is formed of strong, volatile chemicals that should be handled cautiously every time they’re used.
Here are a few general tips for getting the most out of shocking your pool:
- Don’t add shock directly to the pool. Granular shock is highly concentrated and letting it settle on the bottom of a vinyl pool liner can quickly bleach it out, leaving unsightly blemishes. Instead, pool shock should be mixed up with water in a five-gallon plastic bucket before being dumped into the pool as evenly as possible.
- Scrub your pool out on a regular basis. Scrubbing the liner of your pool helps dislodge bacteria and other contaminants so that shock is able to access them more easily and the filter can pick them up once they’ve been sanitized.
- Use a manual vacuum on algae rather than a robotic pool cleaner. Robotic pool cleaners don’t remove algae from the water. Manual water vacuums are able to remove algae from the pool completely as run-off without reintroducing it. With manual vacuuming, you’ll have less algae build-up between shock treatments.
- Make sure your water pH is stable. Water that is too acidic may look sparkling and pretty, but it will cause gradual corrosive damage to your pool’s mechanical components and any plastic-based pool parts such as the liner. Use pool chemicals to maintain a pH neutral water that is neither too acidic nor too alkaline.
Using pool shock regularly is an important part of pool maintenance, but it’s not the only thing you’ll need to do to keep your pool looking clean. Some scrubbing and water testing is also necessary for keeping your pool crisp and clear.
As with adding any chemicals to a pool, always add the chemicals to water, NOT WATER TO CHEMICALS.
In other words, if you will be mixing the shock solution in a bucket always fill the bucket with water first and then sprinkle in the shock. Do not put the shock into the empty bucket and then fill it with water.
Shocking Is Vital for Pool Success
It might seem tedious at first to have to shock your pool once a week during the summer, but pool owners who neglect this basic maintenance task will soon find themselves dealing with a green, cloudy mess that is a lot more difficult to treat than it is to prevent. It’s better to get into the habit of shocking the pool every week when you first open it. That way, it’ll soon become second nature for you to keep it crystal clear and clean.
Pool Maintenance Course
When I first bought my house with a swimming pool I knew nothing about how to clean and maintain it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.
It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.
My top 3 pool cleaning tools
These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.
Step and corner vacuum brush
This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush
Leaf rake net
If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.
Robotic pool cleaner
These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.