Most residential and service professionals who maintain outdoor pools have Cyanuric Acid or CYA in their toolboxes. But what is it and what is its purpose?
What is Cyanuric Acid?
By definition CYA is: a crystalline weak acid C3H3N3O3 used especially in swimming pools to protect the available chlorine from dissipation by sunlight.
CYA is sold as a stand alone product or can be purchased as a convenient additive in chlorine tablets. It dissolves in water, has little overall effect on pH, alkalinity or water hardness. It ABSORBS UV light and protects chlorine from the sun until it is consumed for oxidation or disinfection of material in the pool.
According to fantastic magazine article written in the Pool & Spa News titled “What to Know About Cyanuric Acid” by Rancis, we found that since its invention in 1829 CYA has been revered as invaluable and essential to keeping chlorinated pools clean and sanitary. But its overuse in swimming pools can lead to serious pool maintenance issues.
Some Health Inspectors Insist on CYA While Others Restrict
To further complicate the issue, some health inspectors insist on the use of CYA while others restrict its use in public pools. Mmmm …. Let’s dig deeper shall we?
Some is Good than MORE is Better … Right?
Unfortunately, the misconception of “if some is good, more is better” cannot be further from the truth. Consequences of high CYA levels actually DIMINISH the effectiveness of chlorine! According to the same magazine article, there is a clear correlation between increased levels of CYA and the time it takes to effectively kill bacterial present in the swimming pool water. Furthermore, when levels of CYA are too high, chlorine is rendered ineffective in killing the most dangerous microorganisms in swimming pool water.
Poolside kits coupled with testing strips that can accurately test for CYA are readily available and we recommend you use them regularly. Additionally, educating yourselves on the benefits and misuse of CYA is critical.
Help! My CYA Level is too High
Finally, what happens when CYA levels are too high in your pool water? The only reliable method for removing CYA is to simply drain your swimming pool and re-fill it all the while balancing your pool water, keeping in mind your lessons learned.
Looking for more information regarding your swimming pool? Check out these links:
Editors Note: Rancis holds a Bachelor of Science in microbiology
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