Swimming Pool Water Chemistry for the Pool Guy (Part 5) – Cyanuric Acid / Conditioner
Cyanuric Acid in swimming pools- An amazing pool companion
What is Cyanuric Acid and what does it do?
CYA is a renowned conditioner or stabilizer of pool water. This chemical forms an immediate bond by getting attached to the free chlorine ions present in the water to protect it from the suns degradation. In the pool industry, it is commonly referred to as conditioner and it protects the chlorine from that nasty sun. It’s kind of like the suntan lotion of the chlorine and is there to protect it from getting burned from the sun. If a swimming pool does not have conditioner and is exposed to sunlight any chlorine that is added to the pool will be broken down by the sun within a couple of hours and we all know what happens to pools with no chlorine. It’s not a good thing.
A pool with proper conditioner will stay chlorinated even in direct sunlight. The key thing to note here is that this is not one of those where more is better. Just because having conditioner in the pool is a good thing does not mean that you should just add a lot to the pool. The suggested range of conditioner for a pool is between 30 and 50 ppm. There have been many studies that show that with too much CYA in the pool the chlorine loses effectiveness in killing microorganisms in the water.
You should check your CYA/Conditioner once per year at the beginning of the swim season and add to the pool as necessary. Also remember that chlorine tabs, dichlor, and trichlor are stabilized. That means that it has CYA/Conditioner in it. So every time you add those products to the pool you are adding conditioner at the same time.
There are many debates in the swimming pool industry about CYA and the correct amounts. Many will say that they have high amounts of CYA in pools and that they do not have any issues with the pools. But the studies have focused on ORP. ORP is oxidation-reduction potential and is the chlorines potential to oxidize. The studies found that when the CYA levels were too high the ORP dropped. In other words, chlorine’s effectiveness dropped when CYA was too high.
High Cyanuric acid level
The ideal level of Cyanuric acid in a pool is 30 to 50ppm. However, if the level of Cyanuric acid increases, it may lead to various problems including:
- Clouding of pool water
- Decline level of free chlorine molecules in the pool water
- Increased level of chloramines in pool water
- Accumulation of Cyanuric acid in a pool as a residual
Low Cyanuric acid level
If you have a low level of CYA in the pool
- If you have not used Cyanuric acid in the pool water, then it may lead to the gassing off of chlorine on a bright sunny day.
- With chlorine burning off due to the sun your chlorine level will drop and will not be enough to disinfect or sanitize the water
- The early degradation of chlorine will prove costly as you have to add more chlorine to the pool to maintain it
To increase the level of Cyanuric acid merely add some more Cyanuric acid powder in the pool water. Use Cyanuric acid about 1lb per 5000-gallon rate for a 10ppm increase. If your CYA level is too high then you will need to empty part of the pool water to lower the level. There are some new products out on the market that say that they can lower the conditioner level without having to empty the water, but the jury is still out on those products.