Swimming Pool Maintenance and Conditioner, AKA Stabilizer, AKA CYA

Conditioner and Swimming Pool Maintenance

Most swimming pool maintenance professionals will charge their customers a modest annual fee for adding pool conditioner which is also known as stabilizer and the acronym for its chemical compound: CYA (a convenient acronym given how conditioner positively impacts swimming pool maintenance).  Cyanuric acid or CYA is a chemical compound with the formula (CNOH)3.  Unless you’re a chemist this probably doesn’t mean anything to you, especially in regards to swimming pool maintenance.  What you should know and what your swimming pool maintenance professional knows is that conditioner binds to the free chlorine in your pool protecting it from the UV rays from the sun.

Sanitizer and Swimming Pool Maintenance

To keep your pool water fresh and safe to use requires the addition of a sanitizer to the water for proper swimming pool maintenance.  The most common form of sanitizer used in swimming pool maintenance is chlorine, and the two most common forms of chlorine that are used are liquid chlorine and chlorine tabs, or TriChlor.  Liquid chlorine (Sodium Hypochlorite) is very similar to household bleach, but the chlorine content for liquid chlorine used for swimming pool maintenance is 12% to 15% versus 5% for household bleach.  TriChlor has a chlorine content of 90% and also includes CYA right in the tablet. So while the chlorine from TriChlor tabs will degrade slowly when released into the pool water (usually from a float), they are not an effective way to add large amounts of chlorine for effective swimming pool maintenance because of their small size.  The most common way your swimming pool maintenance professional will do this is by adding liquid chlorine, usually a gallon at a time.

swimming pool maintenance

To boost the free chlorine in your pool to the required level for swimming pool maintenance and proper sanitation is pretty easy by adding liquid chlorine, but keeping it there between service calls is the challenge for your pool maintenance professional, especially in the summer.  Let’s face it. Summertime is when swimming pools are used the most. The weather is warm and the kids are out of school. It also happens to be the time of year when the sun is out for much longer periods than in the winter. This makes the summer months the most challenging for your swimming pool maintenance professional.

Conditioner Is Your Swimming Pool Maintenance Professional’s Friend

There are two things that contribute most to the degradation of free chlorine in your pool.  One of them is usage. When people swim in a pool they leave behind all kinds of “stuff” that the chlorine needs to eliminate from the pool water to keep the water fresh and safe to use.  This includes body oils, dead skin, suntan lotion or oil, hair, and other waste products that are part of the human condition which we will not mention. Obviously there’s no way of getting around people using their pool.  So swimming pool maintenance requires adding a sanitizer to your pool to eliminate these waste products. The problem is once the chlorine attaches itself to the waste products in the water it is no longer available. It’s kind of like a bee protecting its hive and queen.  By taking out the enemy chlorine is also sacrificing its life in the service of swimming pool maintenance.  

pool maintenance professional

As mentioned previously the other culprit that works to degrade the level of free chlorine in your pool is UV radiation from the sun.  The mechanism for UV radiation degrading the free chlorine in your pool is oxidation. How this happens is beyond the scope of this article, but the thing to remember is that it happens and your swimming pool maintenance must take it into account to keep your pool sanitized and safe to use.  As previously mentioned the combined compound of conditioner and chlorine is not susceptible to UV degradation. So the free chlorine level of your pool will be buffered by the conditioner and result in less degradation of chlorine in between service visits by your swimming pool maintenance professional.

By adding conditioner to your pool, your swimming pool maintenance professional can manage the UV damage done to the chlorine and maintain the free chlorine in your pool.  TriChlor tabs are also added to the pool water through slow release from a float because the slow release of chlorine over time will also help to maintain the chlorine level in your pool in between service visits by your pool maintenance professional.