Chlorine shortage looms for pool owners ahead of summer

At his store Poolmasters in Bellmore, Long Island, Eric Siegel organizes his buckets of chlorine tablets but he doesn't know for how much longer the chlorine will keep coming in.

"We were notified back in the winter, we knew this was coming," Siegel said. "Our distributor was trying to prepare us to bulk up on chlorine and alternatives to chlorine." 

His business, like so many other pool supply companies, is now faced with a nationwide chlorine shortage. In some parts of the country, pool supply stores have already imposed quantity restrictions. In other areas, prices for chlorine tablets have skyrocketed from last year. Siegel hasn't had to take drastic measures just yet but he's prepared to.

"We are telling customers that this would be the best time to convert over to salt generators. There is also granular chlorine and liquid chlorine," Siegel said. "Liquid chlorine is going to dissipate in a pool a lot quicker. It's a lot tougher and bulkier to carry around than chlorine tablets, so it will just have to be administered a little bit more frequently than typical chlorine methods to sanitize pools."

Siegel said he's never seen a shortage in his more than 30 years in the business. He said there are a few factors to blame. First, there was a boom in building swimming pools during the pandemic due to more people staying home, which in turn created a higher demand for chlorine. There was also a fire at a major chlorine manufacturing plant in Louisiana at the end of last summer, which halted production there, and it still hasn't resumed yet. 

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Bellmore homeowner Mark Johnson and his family are relieved to have a saltwater pool.

"Maintenance is much easier, everything is simpler," Johnson said. "I feel bad for my neighbors and everyone who's going through it. It's unfortunate, we just feel lucky right now."

Siegel is telling his customers to cut down on their usage of chlorine but continue to test it.

"If they are getting chlorine readings and the pool is staying clear, clean, and algae-free, they should rely on less chlorine to make the season a little bit better," he said.

For those of you with chlorinated pools during this shortage, experts also suggest showering before getting in and not allowing pets in the pool. The more oils and debris brought in, the more often you'll have to add chlorine to your pool.