Pool companies struggle to meet demand amid chlorine shortage

Business

POWAY, Calif. — As temperatures soar, San Diegans are getting their pools summertime ready. But amid a nationwide chlorine shortage, many pool companies are finding it hard to keep up with demand.

“Once the word gets out that liquid chlorine is in, there’s a rush and it goes quick,” said Kurt Vitrano, who has been in the pool business for nearly 40 years.

The shortage is forcing pool maintenance companies to resort to black market-type tactics to get product. 

“Within two hours, they get 200 to 400 cases of chlorine in and they’re gone,” said Vitrano, who owns Kurt’s Pools out of Poway. “So what we’ve been doing is buying dry chlorine, which I really don’t prefer.”

Vitrano, who services and builds pools all over San Diego County, has purchased enough dry product to fill several storage garages.

He said he has never seen anything like this before. There are some reports of a fire at a manufacturing plant, but Vitrano said his suppliers say it’s a residual effect of the pandemic and the labor issues many industries are facing.

Like other pool companies, he has switched to the less favorable dry chlorine to get by.

“It’s definitely more expensive for dry chlorine than it is liquid,” Vitrano said. “We have bought drums and drums and drums of the dry for now, to get us through the shortage.”

He’s advising his clients to boost circulation in their pumps so they run longer and to turn down the temperature or turn off solar. But there’s no way to use less chlorine. 

“When you get down below a certain part per million … you get what’s called combine chlorine,” Vitrano said. “That’s when chlorine mixes with ammonias and it creates what’s called chloramines. That’s what causes ear infections and health problems in a pool. So the chlorine is the most important part of a pool.” 

He expects the shortage to fix itself later this summer. 

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