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Thread: Cost of Bleach versus Chlorine Tablets

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    Cost of Bleach versus Chlorine Tablets

    Hi all - I have a SWG and have never owned a straight chlorine pool so am clueless as to the true costs of using bleach versus chlorine tablets. I was talking to a friend that uses tablets about BBB when I realized I really didn't know enough to try and talk them into switching to BBB! So now I am curious:

    - is using bleach really that much cheaper than getting a good online deal on a bucket of tablets?
    - for those using tablets, in the summer when chlorine use is theoretically the highest, how quickly does one go through, say, a 35 lb bucket of chlorine tablets (looking at Leslie's on sale for ~$65 right now)
    - for those using bleach, how often do you have to dump bleach into your water in order to maintain a good Cl level?

    I'm sure there are more considerations that these, so feel free to bring up arguments, for and/or against using bleach versus tablets.

    Thanks!

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    The primary advantage of bleach is the fact that it doesn't add anything to the water that will cause problems. Trichlor and dichlor add CYA (and sometimes copper), and cal-hypo adds calcium. Bleach is not that much cheaper than the alternatives, and it is certainly less convenient since you have to add it every day. With bleach, you use it for both shock and routine chlorination so you only need to keep one thing on hand, and you can buy it almost anywhere.
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    You can also search for an excellent post by chem geek, who broke down the cost of each type of chlorine source.

    I believe trichlor actually came in the cheapest, followed closely by bleach.

    Something else to consider is that because of the additives John mentioned, over time your pool can develop problems that those that don't know better use more of the same product to try to overcome, such as algae blooms due to sky high CYA levels causing ineffective sanitizing power, compounding the problem. In use this can potentially add greatly to there cost.

    Staying ahead of my pool with bleach has been by far the cheapest and easiest method of keeping my pool sparkling clear. When using the pool store stuff, I routinely spent $80 per month on stuff and my pool didn't look or feel half as good as it now does spending $15-20 per month on bleach.

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    Rangeball is correct in that Chem Geek has estimated that the cost of using trichlor (pucks) is the cheapest way to chlorinate a pool. Possibly short of adding a Salt Water Chlorinator, it is also the easiest. Just load up the feeder and forget it, or so THEY say.......

    Problem is, as JohnT and Range both noted, is that you are adding CYA and lowering the pH with every puck. I just had a friend whom I've helped to balance his 22k above ground pool. He had used nothing but trichlor (pucks/sticks) and dichlor (bags of shock) for seven years. His pH was so low that it wouldn't even register and we finally got it within safe levels after 8 boxes of borax, 12 lbs of baking soda and a near 50% water change. Chem Geek (our resident chemical expert and genius IMHO) calculated for me that his pH was probably around 4!

    Bottom line, most of us have discovered that using bleach as our primary source of chlorine (short of possibly adding a SWG) is not the cheapest and by far not the easiest, but is the BEST way to chlorinate our pools. Every thing you add to your pool will have some other side effect. Adding 1 gallon of bleach will add approximately 1ppm to 10k gallons of pool water if I am not mistaken. This is, IMHO, a benefit and not a side effect.

    Dave

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    gonefishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidD
    Rangeball is correct in that Chem Geek has estimated that the cost of using trichlor (pucks) is the cheapest way to chlorinate a pool........

    Many of get bleach much cheaper...and some of us pay more than was estimated. I get 1 full gallon of 6% for $0.79 and 12% for $1.80 per gallon. It always helps to shop around to ensure your getting your 6% or 12% for the best prices in town!

    dan
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    Could it be possible that people who live in Northern climates who close and do partial drains of their pools can get
    away with using pucks for the swimming season without any buildup of unwanted chemicals.

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    I'll chime in here as someone who's been using the trichlor and dichlor exclusively for the past 4.5 years. My CYA level is so high now that a 50% replacement of my water still hasn't fixed my problem. I estimate I've added about $300 worth of replacement water this week trying to fix the problem of too much CYA and I'm still not there.

    I really, really regret using those stabilized chlorines as my sole means of sanitation. I'm really paying for it now.
    blubluenoiseise

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluenoise
    I really, really regret using those stabilized chlorines as my sole means of sanitation. I'm really paying for it now.
    You are not alone my friend. Nor will you be the last to make that statement. It is a shame that the pool industry doesn't do a better job of informing its customers of how to properly use its products (i.e. keep an eye on CYA and drain at least some water every year)

    Dave

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazycanuck
    Could it be possible that people who live in Northern climates who close and do partial drains of their pools can get
    away with using pucks for the swimming season without any buildup of unwanted chemicals.
    Some can. From experience during a vacation trip last summer, my pool gains ~7.5ppm per week of CYA using trichlor pucks in my feeder. I'd be in the problem range before the end of the summer, and if I open early to avoid algae, I'd be there in the middle of the summer.

    Some years I lose a lot of CYA over the winter. Other years it remains close to constant. It's very practical to switch back and forth IF you know what's going on with your water. After a few years, you might be in tune enough to know how much you can use the pucks.
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    I still have a nearly-full 40-pound bucket of 3" pucks. As I am intending to switch to the SWG this weekend, I'm hoping to keep the pucks around whenever I need to boost my stabilizer level in the future. As it stands now, though, that might be a decade or two away.
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
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    I use a combination of trichlor and bleach. I've found that the amount of CYA added by the trichlor is less than what I lose on water and then have to refill. Stated another way (because the previous sentence doesn't make much sense), my CYA level has slowly gone DOWN to where I added 1/2 cup just to get a reading of 35 ppm.

    I use the 3" pucks and have the chlorinator set to 1/2. In practice, this keeps the FC at 3 and the pH at 7.5; both values have been holding for over a month now. I add bleach when I have a heavy swimmer load. In our pool, that means dogs. I may also boost the chlorine level after a heavy rain or if I've had to refill with more than an inch of water.

    This system works for me. At the beginning of the season I use strictly bleach, baking soda, and add CYA granules. Once the chemistry is adjusted and stays that way, I go with the pucks. I've never had a testable CC reading (using a Taylor drop kit), have no algae except under the bottom step occasionally, the water is sparkling and the pool floor is 'squeaky clean' and doesn't feel slick.

    Anna
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    I actually use a combination of things, depending on my situation.

    I can get a big bucket of TriChlor pucks at CostCo or SAM's pretty cheap. I use them when I know I'm going to be away or otherwise too busy working 15+ hours per day to do much.

    I also, occassionally use Leslie's Chlor Bright - I think that's the name of it - to chlorinate my pool. I also have a lot of evap and splash out - so my CYA is not critically affected.

    Mostly, I use liquid chlorine.

    The key is to stay on top of it and use whatever fits your need at the time. The worst thing to do is to not test regularly (a minimum of once or twice per week, but daily is the best) and to blindly throw in a bag or two of dichlor every week such as most pool stores get you in the habit of doing or even worse to not keep your chlorine levels up and let the crud grow. It's so much more difficult to correct problems, than it is to take the time to do the tests and dose regularly.

    After a few times, it only takes a couple minutes to test and maybe another couple minutes to dose.
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    Hi everybody
    nice thread I live in Ohio so i will add to this. I think i could get away with the tablets as i always start in the spring with 0 cya and i do daily tests and monthly tests on cya through the swimming season. Would also like to add I havent bin adding polyquat whin i close and I think JohnT does, correct me if im wrong John. I think my whether would be almost the sames as JohnT. This fall at closeing I think I will try the polyquat and see if i can keep some cya over the winter. I will keep using liquid cl as I feel I have more control over this and I understand it well. I really dont want to say you have to be a bbb period. Next door to me they do whatever they want to with no cheking and get away with it but I dont get in there pool. I stayed at a hotel in Lackland Florida on vacation and the water was great I asked the maint man what they used and it was the tabs. I really think the key is to test often and you can see what you need.
    Ric W
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ric
    I really think the key is to test often and you can see what you need.
    Ding ding ding!!! We have a winner! Know what the water needs to be like and keep an eye on it. Couldn't be much simpler.
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    gonefishin's Avatar
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    I live in Illinois and have done some water test for friends. All of their CYA levels were either just under 100 or over 100, with the exception of my brother in law who has his CYA always drop down to zero over winter.

    So I suppose only one of the people I know could use pucks without concern over raising CYA levels.

    dan
    21' Aqua-Leader AGP (10,200 gallons).
    Hayward cartridge filter and two speed pump.
    Aqua-Cal HeatWave 100k (HeatPump)
    Salt 3200ppm (in non-salt water pool)
    Borates 20ppm (slowly raising)
    Aqua-Rite SWG

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