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Swimming Pool Temperature – Dangers, Safe Levels, Comfort Aspects

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W hether you are using your pool for leisure, treatment, or training, one thing is essential, namely keeping it comfortable. Just like a home, the pool depends on a series of parameters, which should be adjusted to perfection to ensure a safe and pleasant environment. You are probably aware that the most important of them is pool balance, which implies keeping the pool clean and periodically pouring a measured quantity of chlorine or sanitizer into the water to keep it algae- and bacteria-free.

However, there’s another factor that needs to be treated with the utmost consideration, not only because it impacts on the user’s comfort but because it can influence the safety of the pool. This variable is the temperature of the water.

People are asking ‘Should the water be colder or warmer?’ or ‘What is a good temperature for my pool?’, and the answers arise from a variety of sources. Neighbors, friends, coworkers, TV shows, articles, they all come with information that is often contradictory. So, which one is right? Or, to put it differently, is there a right temperature? We will explain.

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Analog pool thermometer floating at the surface of the water Image

Why Is Pool Temperature Important?

First of all, you will want to feel comfortable. If the water is freezing, you will want to get out as soon as you feel it on the tip of your toe. On the other hand, if the water is warm on a hot summer day, you will only get hotter instead of receiving the refreshing relaxation you were looking for. But this isn’t all. The value registered by your pool thermometer can have other consequences as well, and some of them can reflect on your health.

What Happens If the Water Is Too Warm?

  • Algae and bacteria multiply at an exponential rate – It is known that microorganisms need a humid and warm environment to grow and spread, and if the water stays warmer, you may need to use more chlorine or apply shock treatments more often to make sure it is safe to swim in the pool.
  • The level of free chlorine gets lower faster – Free chlorine is the amount of chlorine in the water that is still active and ready to combine with contaminants and inactivate them. When the water is warm, you tend to sweat more while all the grease from your hair and skin is dissolved by the high-temperature water, so the pool gets filled with all these substances, which get triggered and attacked by free chlorine. When this happens, it turns to combined chlorine, and this means you will need to add extra to maintain the water balanced.
  • Urea levels increase – Urea is a component of sweat, so if you are sweating more, you will have more of it in the water. And the problem here isn’t the fact that some may consider this aspect grose, but that it favors the production of nitrogen trichloride, which is irritant and dangerous for the skin.
  • Air humidity becomes higher – This can be uncomfortable, especially if it is an interior pool we are talking about. High moisture levels are associated with mold growth and bacteria colonies, so you will want to deal with this problem fast.
  • Increased energy costs – Even raising the temperature with one degree costs money, so if you decide to keep the water warmer, it will reflect on your energy bill. While some accessories, like, for example, a pool cover, may help you save some money, you will still pay considerably more.

If you are struggling to keep the pH and chlorine levels balanced, consider installing a saltwater pool system. Specially designed to separate the chlorine from salt and use it to sanitize the water, it will do this operation automatically, so you will never have to apply time-consuming treatments yourself.

Woman covering a pool with a pool cover Image

What Happens If the Water Is Too Cold?

  • Breathing problems – If the water is too cold, the first sign you will see is shivering. This is your body trying to warm up. If the situation persists, you may start experiencing blue lips, a phenomenon known as cyanosis, and find it more difficult to breathe. If this happens, you need to get out of the water and do some exercise to warm yourself.
  • Cardiac arrest – If the water is too cold, you are at risk of having a cardiac arrest, which can be caused by the temperature shock.

Learn how a solar cover works and use it to get more free heat or your pool. Thus, you will be able to maintain a safe temperature while keeping heating costs lower. The math is simple: cheaper heating means longer fun in the pool.

Woman teaching a little girl how to swim Image

What Is a Comfortable Temperature for a Swimming Pool?

Things are a bit more complicated when it comes to establishing the right value, which should ensure both comfort and safety. If a temperature of 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is usually a great fit for everyone, in some cases, you may need to adjust this value:

84 Degrees Fahrenheit for Swimming Lessons

For an adult first learning how to swim, things can easily get pretty stressful, and the last you will want is to add more discomfort by keeping the water cold. If you are trying to teach a family member or a friend how to swim, make sure first that they will feel comfortable in the water by increasing the temperature with a few degrees.

If you are teaching a kid how to swim, this should no longer be regarded as a recommendation but as an instruction. Kids’ bodies release less heat than adults’ bodies, so they will have more problems adjusting to cold water. So, make sure your little ones are safe. Shivering and blue lips are visible signs that the water temperature is not right for them.

Once you’ve taught your little one how to swim, make sure not to let them unsupervised. For more security, consider installing an inground pool alarm, which will let you know if a child or a pet enters the water.

86 to 88 Degrees Fahrenheit for Seniors

How many times you’ve heard your grandma saying she’s cold and put on a long sleeve blouse even if you were just about to hit the pool? As we get older, our body becomes more sensitive to temperature change, and sometimes it finds it difficult to adjust. This is why a bit of help is more than welcomed. If your grandparents or other senior family members are using the pool regularly, you should do them a favor and raise the temperature to 86 degrees. You can go as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit if arthritis is the main problem that draws them into the water. This therapy lifts the pressure off their joints and reduces the pain, and the results can be further amplified by a warm environment, so make sure the water stays this way.

78 to 82 Degrees Fahrenheit for Water Aerobics and Swimming

This range is considered the most suitable for active pool activities. As you move constantly, some of your body heat gets transferred to the water making it warmer. If other persons are making the same thing, it won’t take long until the pool thermostat registers 1 or 2 degrees more, so it is better to set a lower value from the start, otherwise, you will feel like swimming in a hot tub. And it isn’t only the discomfort that should trouble you. The risk of overheating is real and present in this case.

How Cold Is Too Cold to Swim in a Pool?

Is it ever recommended to swim in a cool pool? Sometimes it can be a necessity, but it should always happen under professional supervision. In this case, athletes training intensely may need cooler water to prevent them from getting overheated.

However, if the temperature drops under 77 degrees Fahrenheit, breathing problems are just a step away. Not to mention that values under 53 degrees Fahrenheit may cause cardiac arrests. And this isn’t a presupposition based on some untested theories or unreliable lab tests. People have died while entering waters as cool as that.

So, we know you are trying to reduce heating costs, but you shouldn’t follow to cut them completely, especially if you are going to use the pool when the weather is getting a bit colder. It is just a matter of safety for your family.

Digital pool thermometer floating at the surface of the water Image

How to Measure Pool Temperature

All pool heaters come with built-in thermostats, so you will have no problems reading the temperature and even setting the value you desire, leaving the adjustments to be made by the heater. Nevertheless, if you have ever dealt with a home thermostat, you know that it may not reflect the temperature for the entire room but mostly for the air around it. This goes the same for a water thermostat. Plus, in some cases, these devices can be off with a few degrees. This is the situation. Their main purpose is to heat the water, not to establish if it is too warm or too cold.

On the other hand, a pool thermometer has this as its main purpose, so you may want to rely on it for accurate measurements. You can go for an analog, infrared, or digital option. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the first type is usually more difficult to read and will not give you extremely accurate readings, while the second type is nice and easy to use but can come to be super expensive. This is why we recommend purchasing a digital pool thermometer. The price is good, and you can expect it to correctly evaluate the water temperature. Thus, you will never shiver or sweat into the water.

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Solar pool heater Image

How to Keep Temperature under Control?

The sun can be an excellent energy source, and you can take advantage of it, especially if you live in an area where it is blazing all day during the summer. However, you will have no way of controlling how warm the water becomes. Not that this would be a great problem. Usually, the water remains too cold actually. Plus, this method doesn’t work for an indoor pool.

If you are looking for enhanced control, an electric or gas heater is your best option. They come with thermostats that allow them to maintain an even water warmness. The only problem here is that they generate costs, and the costs are considerable.

One more option could be a solar heater that can get installed on the roof and heat both outdoor and indoor pools. This is actually the wisest pick, as, besides the initial investment, you won’t need to pay any extra money. But the drawback here is that once the winter hits, the indoor pool will become cold as ice and your heater won’t be able to reheat it until spring gets back in its rights.

The Bottom Line

The most important aspect when it comes to pool heating is maintaining a good report between comfort and costs. Thus, if the seniors in your family use the pool for therapy, but only once or twice a week, you may find it more economical to install a bathtub and offer them the comfort they deserve while reserving the pool for swimming and leisure.

If you have kids, you will need to raise the temperature to make sure they don’t experience hypothermia. In this case, some accessories like a pool cover can help you preserve the heat and thus reduce some of the costs. Nevertheless, what you truly need to remember is that cold water is seldom a good idea, and if you are going to adventure yourself at under 77 degrees Fahrenheit, it is better to have a specialist around.

Trystan Jensen
Trystan Jensen
Trystan is a trusted reviewer who has extensive experience in customer satisfaction gained while he worked as a market research analyst. He is well aware of what consumers want, as well as what they expect the most from the acquisitions they make. It is his personal interest in technologies that help improve life quality combined with his attentiveness to detail and customer experience that make Trystan an unending source of qualitative content.