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How your chemical feeder works.
The trichlor feeders feed chlorine to your pool by eroding the tablets or sticks. The amount of chlorine being fed to the pool ( feed rate) is controlled by the amount of water flowing through the feeder and the amount of chlorine in the feeder. The greater the flow of water, the faster the tablets will erode, thereby increasing the amount of chlorine fed to the pool. The more tablets in the feeder, the more surface area of chlorine you have. Therefore, you will have more erosion taking place. Note: Because small tablets (generally 1") have more surface area than the same weight of large tabs (usually 3"), you will get more chlorine feed out of the same weight of small tablets than you will with large tablets.
An automatic chemical feeder will have a control valve that controls the amount of water flowing through the feeder. By adjusting this, you can increase or decrease the amount of chlorine being fed to your pool. You will need to test your water to determine where to set the valve. Don't forget that the amount of chlorine in the feeder also has a great effect. As the amount of tablets decreases, you will have to open the valve more to get the same amount of chlorine feed.
Using an automatic chemical feeder is far superior to the "tablets in the skimmer" method. Putting tablets in your skimmer only gives you one method of controlling the water flow rate, and that is either pump on or pump off. If your pump is on a timer, then when it is off, the chlorine level in the skimmer water climbs very high. This can rust and corrode your steel pool wall. Also, feeding chlorine through the skimmer feeds a high level of chlorine directly to your pump, filter, and heater (if you have one). This can greatly shorten the life of your pump seal, steel filter tank, and heat exchanger. By using an automatic chemical feeder, the chlorine is added to the water after the water has gone through all your equipment.
The most common problem with automatic feeders is trash caught in the valve. You may notice that your chlorine level is dropping. Upon checking the feeder, you see that your tablets are not eroding. This is because trash has clogged your valve. Usually, this can be fixed by opening and closing the valve all the way several times with the pump running. This will normally blow the valve clean. If not, you will need to take the valve off and clean it out.
Another common problem is the hoses becoming brittle over time. It is a good practice to replace the hoses every other season or so. When taking the hoses on and off, it will go a lot easier if you soak the ends in hot water or pour hot water over them to make them more pliable. Also, never leave chlorine in the feeder over the winter. Stop adding tablets far enough ahead before closing the pool to allow them to totally erode away.
Never use a regular rubber O-ring on these chemical feeders. The rubber will quickly become brittle and crack, causing leaks. Always use the manufacturer's O-rings, usually Viton, for replacements.