What Is a Chlorinator and Why Do You Need It?

gloved hand dropping large chlorine tablet into skimmer to treat pool water

Chlorine is one of those things in life that we may not love but we pretty much just accept. You know it's in pool water. You know it when you smell it, those times you walk into an indoor pool and that scent first hits you. It's a smell associated with summer and fun and it's a chemical that's such a part of everyday life that you probably never think much about it.

But do you know what chlorine actually does, why it's so essential and why it's so important that you have a chlorinator for your own pool? Probably not. It's time to learn all about what the chlorinator is and why you need it. And once you know you need it, you can find out how to maintain it and keep it working safely for you and your pool.

What Is Chlorine?

For starters, what exactly is chlorine? It's some chemical concoction dreamed up by water scientists, right? Actually, chlorine is a naturally occurring element and it appears on the Periodic Table of Elements. Chlorine occurs naturally all over the planet. Without chlorine, human life probably wouldn't exist the way it does today.

Chorine actually helps make water drinkable because it essentially disinfects the water, killing water-borne diseases without adding any toxicity to the water. It's safe to swim in chlorine, in other words.

Without chlorine, many different types of bacteria and disease can thrive in water. After all, water is one of the building blocks of life. That includes microscopic life, such as disease-causing agents. Chlorine gets rid of all those dangers so you can enjoy the water without taking horrible risks.

All of this means that chlorine is pretty darned important. You don't even know what it does yet, but a chlorinator is probably starting to sound pretty good already.

What is a Chlorinator?

pool chlorinator device for treating swimming water

Though it sounds like it could possibly be a cousin of the T-800 from the "Terminator" movies, a chlorinator is a piece of machinery that automatically dispenses the right amount of chlorine into your swimming pool. This eliminates a lot of guesswork and definitely makes it easy for you to keep your pool well chlorinated. A chlorinator cuts your pool maintenance time way down because it does so much of the work for you.

Chlorinators are filled with either liquid or granule chlorine, which sits in a reservoir. It is then released through the dispenser into the pool. The rate at which chlorine is released is all quite scientific and based on the volume of your pool. You simply set the chlorinator based on your pool volume and it does most all of the work after that. As long as you keep filling the chlorinator with chlorine, it will keep dispensing this necessary chemical into your pool water to keep it clean and healthy.

Delivering Chlorine

There are other ways to get chlorine in your pool, of course. Likely, you've seen the floating dispensers that bob and move across the surface of the pool water. These floating dispensers take up space in the pool and sometimes get in the way of having fun or exercise. Chlorinators don't take up space in your pool, which is a huge bonus. After all, you want to use all the available space (and water) in your pool.

There are different types of chlorinators, too. An inline chlorinator is actually a part of the pool filtration system, which cleans the water before it releases it into the pool. This design actually helps prevent corrosion of pool equipment, as the amount of chlorinated water entering the filtration system is also being filtered.

If you can't add an inline chlorinator due to space concerns, an offline pool chlorinator can get the job done. This is placed right next to the filtration system and connected directly to it in many designs.

floating pool chlorinator

Choosing a Chlorinator

Which type of chlorinator is right for you? Make sure you note whether you're getting an online or offline chlorinator. Also, check the volume. Chroloinators are designed to have different capacities. Some clean 10,000 gallons of water, for example, while others provide chlorination for 40,000 gallons. Make sure you’re getting the right size. You don't want your chlorinator to be undersized but you also don't want it to be far more powerful than what you need it to be.

If you don't know your volume, no worries. There are multiple pool calculator tools online that can help you.

When it comes to adding chlorine to the chlorinator, tablets may be your best choice. They last longer than liquid and granules, so you won't have to fill up the chlorinators much.

Let the chlorinator do its work and you can get back to what really matters: being someone who owns a pool!