WTF is Stabilizer?

Whenever I visit my local pool store for my regular water testing, I sit silently in prayer as the teenager employee behind the counter runs my water through the gamut of tests.  For I know, the next two minutes is going to decide my wallet’s fate.  Is it going to be a Buffalo Wild Wings type of lunch today or am I going to have to scavenge the fridge at home in hopes the kids haven’t eaten all the lunch meat?  Then I hear him say, “… looks like you need to add stabilizer!”.  I instantly let out a thousand expletives in my head but try to play it off like it’s no big deal and tell him to bring me some up to the counter.  Then I tell him to throw in a couple of pool noodles for the kids because I’m a grown ass man and your expensive ass bottle of stabilizer doesn’t phase me.  Afterwards, I drive home to scavenge for food and explain to the wife why we need 2 more pool noodles when we already own 10.

What is Stabilizer?

Pool stabilizer, or conditioner is actually a chemical compound called Cyanuric Acid, otherwise known as CYA.  It is typically sold as a white, flaky powder and is considered a weak acid; meaning not corrosive or hazardous.  I still wouldn’t let the children use it for arts and crafts.

Why Do I Need It?

I was hoping my research would show that the local pool store is essentially selling me a placebo that truly does nothing.  Unfortunately, my pool is an outdoor pool and I have to deal with this thing called the sun.  You see, the sun destroys your pool’s free chlorine levels.  Free chlorine being the type of chlorine that actually  sanitizes your water.  So, if you live in a place, say like Florida, you can kiss your free chlorine levels goodbye.  This is where stabilizer comes in.  Stabilizer reduces the rate in which the free chlorine is degraded.

So there you have it.  It keeps the working chlorine in your pool, working longer.

So What if I Have an Indoor Pool?

Is it exposed to sunlight?

If so, then free chlorine levels will be affected and stabilizer should be added.  Hopefully, just not as often.

If not, then NO.  You Do Not!  Congratulations Mr. Indoor Pool Owner.  Quit your bragging and go back to your cushy lifestyle.

How Much Do I Need?

CYA levels around 30 to 50 ppm are typically preferred.  For the DIYers, these AquaChek Pro2 Test Strips test for CYA levels.

test strips

Note that a lot of chlorine tablets and shock come pre-stabilized meaning that it already contains CYA.  So make sure you wait a few days after adding tablets or shock to ensure you don’t add extra CYA.

 

What if My CYA is Too High?

Well then you have your work cut out for you!  You see, there exists no chemical that will reduce the CYA levels in your pool.

rent too damn high

To solve high levels of CYA you need to dilute!!  Either by draining water and refilling with freshwater or having the kids do cannonballs for 3 straight hours and wait for rain.  Just know that high levels of CYA can negate the effect of the free chlorine altogether and essentially it is if your pool has no chlorine at all!  I personally wouldn’t start to panic unless my levels started to exceed 100 ppm.

Summary

If your pool is exposed to sunlight, it will be very difficult for you to avoid using stabilizer.  If managed properly, stabilizer can actually reduce the total amount spent on pool maintenance by making your chlorine last longer.  Many chlorine tablets today contain CYA so make sure you don’t unknowingly add extra to your pool.  Order some stabilizer today at the following link (Stabilizer & Conditioner – 4 lb. Pail) and remember this when it comes to managing your chlorine levels during the summer.

Cover Your Ass with Cyanuric Acid!