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Thread: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

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    Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    I keep hearing people say do that you can't smell chlorine when it's used correctly and I'm wondering if that's literal or just a relative term. I don't notice a chlorine smell when I'm just swimming in the pool most of the time, but I do get the occasional whiff and when I get my sample to test each day, I usually give it a good sniff (to get a hint as to whether I should test for CC or not) and can definitely tell the chlorine is in there even when my test shows 0 CC.

    I test my water each evening and bump my FC to 8 with 6% (it's generally around 6.5PPM by the end of the day), CC is 0 most days (about twice a week, it'll read .5 in the evening, but zero by morning). CYA is about 70, I keep pH 7.4-7.6. I think TA is about 115 and cH is 220. My Borates are about 50.

    The chlorine smell isn't annoying or anything.. I don't really notice unless I'm thinking about it, but I'm wondering if others really don't smell it at all?
    ----------------------
    20,500 gal gunite pool w/ PebbleTec and infloor cleaning system.
    Sta-Rite System 3 cartridge filter.
    Houston, TX

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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    I am new to the pool thing,, but I have heard people on here say a well balanced pool does not smell, its the CC that make it smell.... someone correct me if I am wrong... MY pool does not smell of chlorine at all, everyone ask am i using chlorine and i say of course I am... and i tell them a well balanced pool does not smell!!!
    so good luck
    live in eastern washington state
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    The pool doesn't have to smell like "chlorine" at all.

    The smell comes from CC, and you can sometimes notice it even when the CC level level is extremely low. One thing to try is to raise your FC target level just a little, by 1 or maybe 2, and see if that makes any difference.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    If the air is still then the concentration of chlorine gas (actually, it's mostly hypochlorous acid gas and only a very small amount of actual chlorine gas) can linger near the surface of the water so you can sometimes smell the "fresh clean" chlorine smell that is somewhat similar to having a diluted whiff of bleach (though much more subtle, of course). Because I have a pool cover, I sometimes smell this when I first open the cover and bend down to take a water sample for testing. When swimming, I can sometimes just barely detect chlorine if my face is right near the water (and the air is still). However, the smell is "clean" and not like "pool smell" associated with improperly managed pools.

    The smell of chlorine combined with ammonia (monochloramine) in a pool that isn't well maintained or has a very high bather load or a urinary incident will be much more noticeable and is typically what is associated with "pool smell". Dichloramine is also associated with "pool smell". Ironically, nitrogen trichloride has a smell often described as geranium, but it is very irritating and very volatile. Fortunately, the very low effective chlorine levels in pools with Cyanuric Acid (CYA) in them results in a minimal amount of nitrogen trichloride well below any detection or irritation and any monochloramine or dichloramine is relatively short-lived and also at fairly low levels unless the bather load is high. If one sweats, then one can sometimes smell some monochloramine on the skin if one gets out of the water and holds one's nose near such sweat.

    The bottom line is that properly managed pools do not smell objectionable. As to whether there is any fresh chlorine-like smell at all depends on wind conditions, position of the nose relative to the water, sensitivity of the person, and active chlorine level.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    I have put the water in a glass and held my nose over it and can't smell it. We drink well water, and I've even noticed the chlorine smell in ice cubes in a drink at a restaurant before.

    Like Dave said, very calm conditions will allow some smell to accumulate.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    If I pull a sample from the surface, I get no smell, but if I go down 18" (where I take my samples for testing), I get a "laundry room" smell.. I have to work to smell it and it's not offensive. I may repeat the experiment later today after the pump has been running for a few hours. I re-tested using the larger sample size to test in .2 increments and still show zero CC (I even added an extra 5 drops of R-0003 after the first 5 left the water clear and still no hint of pink).

    Anyway, I'm happy with my water, was just interested in comparing notes with others.

    Thanks for the responses.
    ----------------------
    20,500 gal gunite pool w/ PebbleTec and infloor cleaning system.
    Sta-Rite System 3 cartridge filter.
    Houston, TX

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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    I agree. The water definitely can have a very faint pleasant "clorox" smell to the water when it is clear, clean and there is no CC. The FC in my pool usually stays between 5 and 9. Perhaps those who can maintain lower FC levels in their pool have a more difficult time detecting it.

    Also, this smell is quite different from the other "chorine" smell that is detectable when the CC starts rising.
    25000 gal inground freeform plaster pool with spillover hot tub. 1.5 hp PacFab Challenger pump, Hayward DE filter, Natural Gas heater, BBB convert 2009, Aquasol solar panels on ground rack 2010, PS-4 controller 2010, Rocky roller, SWG 2011.

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    Gooserider's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    Slightly off topic, but a few weekends ago the GF and I went to look at one of those timeshare "resorts" - (no we didn't buy!) and they had a medium size indoor pool with a fairly high bather load, including lots of kids - the indoor was essentially a sunroom so it wasn't shaded.

    We were polite to the guy, but given that the "pool smell" was enough to make our eyes water, it wasn't a real temptation... Obviously I didn't run any tests on it, but would it be a safe guess that they had CC's through the roof? Or is it just that the fact that the pool room was enclosed and thus not getting much air circulation letting the smell build up?

    I've noticed the few times I've been to the GF's health club that it has a pretty bad pool smell as well, from it's indoor pool. Is pool smell an indicator of problematic conditions for an indoor pool, or is it kind of normal?

    Gooserider
    Free-form Inground gunnite pool, Estimated 16-17K gallons. New Pentair TR60 ClearPro 24" sand filter and Compupool CPSC-48 SWG, Hayward SP1607X10 Pump w/ 1HP motor, 1.5" plumbing, Polaris Pressure cleaner w/ booster pump. pool is more than 25 yrs old, less than 35. Not painted, deteriorating tile surround. I am paraplegic, get in/out of pool w/ S.R. SMITH PAL portable pool lift (significantly modified)

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    The more obvious "chlorine" smell is CC and indicates a problem. A more fleeting fresh bleach smell is fine, but usually isn't at all obvious.

    Managing high bather load indoor pools is rather tricky, and very few places do it well.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    I have noticed that if i put my nose right at the water level there is a very very faint chlorine smell, and if i put my hands in the pool and then smell my hands i can sometimes pick up the smell. I have a super sensitive nose. Most people cannot smell it at all.
    Kidney shaped ~ 10000 gallon Ig Plaster pool with pool cage. 120sf Cartridge filter. Pentair WhisperFlo WFDS-26, 230 Volt, 7.8/3.0 Amp, 1-1/2 Horsepower 2 speed pump, Solar panels on the roof. Heliotrope HelioMatic 4000D solar controller.

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    pool4me's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    I too get a very (only sometimes) faint smell of "Laundry Room" as mentioned above. Mostly on a still day or sometimes in a passing whiff. In fact, I very rarely notice a chlorine smell at all ... but more frequently than outside, I'll usually smell it on my bathing suit (very faint) if it's hanging on the shower rod drying, I know when my water is correct, I just get a nice "clean smell".
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    fordman's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    Why when you go to a hotel pool or public pool you can smell the chlorine when your in the pool? Just a higher setting
    1988 Ceder Ridge
    24' Doughboy AGP

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    At public pools you are almost always smelling CC. Most people associate the smell of CC with chlorine, but it actually smells different than FC. Take a sniff from a bleach bottle and it will probably be quite different than what you are smelling at public pools.

    It is possible to smell FC at a few public pools, especially indoor pools where they don't use CYA and no one has been swimming is several hours. Some indoor public pools use really extreme levels of FC, which is easier to notice than the levels we recommend. But that is really rare, almost all of the time you are actually smelling CC.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    fordman's Avatar
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    Re: Can you really not smell the chlorine?

    cool thanks we will be traveling this weekend and hotel pool swimming is why I was asking.
    1988 Ceder Ridge
    24' Doughboy AGP

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