Get Rid of Ammonia in a Swimming Pool: High Chlorine Usage

Last Updated: | By Barack James

How to Get Rid of Ammonia in a Swimming Pool

What Causes Ammonia in a Swimming Pool?

Ammonia is caused by bacteria, which form in a swimming pool that is not well sanitized. It is common in pools that close during winter and open in summer, but proper pool winterization measures were not taken.


Ammonia is one of the causes of severely cloudy swimming pool water, which is challenging to clear and needs a lot of chlorine to kill ammonia and clear cloudy water.


To avoid ammonia in your pool, always ensure you shock your swimming pool so that the free chlorine level (FCL) is within the recommended range for a standard swimming pool, which is 3 pp for non-saltwater pools and between 3 to 4 ppm for saltwater pools.


Secondly, when closing your pool during winter, make sure you perform all the necessary steps for closing a swimming pool, including blowing the lines, balancing your water, and covering your pool using solid winter pool cover that won't allow dirt and sunlight to deplete free chlorine, leaving your water vulnerable to bacteria causing algae and ammonia.


Signs that you have Ammonia in your Pool 

  1. High Chlorine Demand: Your pool will be in high demand for chlorine, and you will use a lot of it but with little to no change in FC levels.
  2. High Chloramine Levels: Your pool water will have a lot of chloramine or combined chlorine(CC), which will turn pool water cloudy and smell bad.
  3. Low Cyanuric Acid Levels: Ammonia feeds on Cyanuric acid(Cya), leaving your water with very low Cya or none.
  4. Low Free Chlorine Level: Free chlorine level will be deficient, mostly 0 ppm, and will only rise easily once you get rid of ammonia.


Requirements to Clear Ammonia in a Swimming Pool 


1). Liquid Chlorine ( Sodium Hypochlorite): To clear ammonia in your pool, you will need a lot of liquid chlorine, probably 2 gallons of 12.5% or 10% chlorine (sodium hypochlorite). This is because you will have to reach high FC shock levels and maintain that shock level by adding more chlorine when the FC level drops.

Liquid chlorine is recommended because it will not affect pH, Calcium, and Cyanuric acid or stabilizer levels in your water like granular (Calcium Hypochlorite), diclor, and tablet chlorine.


One of the top quality brands is HASA liquid chlorine, which comes with 12.5% available chlorine; you can find HASA dealers around you to buy HASA Saniclor liquid chlorine.


There are best alternatives like KemTek chlorinating liquid and Pool Essentials chlorinating liquid, both coming with 10% available chlorine or Pool Shock Liquid Chlorinator with 12.5% available chlorine.


2). Reliable Pool Chemical Test Kit: Not all test strips can measure high FC levels above 5ppm. Since you will be reaching high FC levels between 10 to 16ppm and sometimes above that, you will need a test kit that can measure high FC levels like LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 series or Taylor Technologies test kit with FAS DPD that measures up to 50ppm FC level.


3). Cyanuric Acid: Since your Cya levels will be reading low, sometimes 0 ppm, you must add Cyanuric acid to the recommended levels once you kill all the ammonia in your swimming pool. 


How to Eliminate Ammonia in your Swimming Pool 


The harder you hit ammonia by adding sufficient chlorine, the faster you will get rid of it. To get rid of ammonia, you have to SLAM your pool, which means reaching high shock levels and maintaining that shock level by adding more chlorine every 15 minutes if FC drops.


If you have a saltwater pool, shut down your saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG) and follow these steps like a non-saltwater pool.


Here are the steps to perform and eliminate ammonia in your pool:


1). Using liquid chlorine of 12.5% chlorine, add enough chlorine to raise your FC level to 10ppm(recommended). 10 oz. of 12.5% liquid chlorine will raise FC by 1 ppm in a 10,000-gallon pool. So, you need to add about 100 oz. of liquid chlorine to raise your FC by 10ppm in a 10,000-gallon pool.


2). Test your FC level in 15 minutes. If FCL falls below 5ppm, add more chlorine to raise it back to 10ppm.


3). Repeat step 2 until your FC level becomes stable between 5 and 8 ppm for at least 20 minutes to be sure you have killed all ammonia.


4). Leave your FC level to come down to 3ppm and balance your water chemistry, starting with Cyanuric acid to avoid losing more free chlorine. If you have a chlorine generator, power it back on to resume chlorine production.

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