Ozone is created by taking air, drying and sometimes concentrating its oxygen content and running the concentrated oxygen through a chamber across a corona or sparkling electrical arc, which converts the oxygen molecules (O2) to ozone (O3). The resulting ozone is then introduced into the pool water where it oxidizes everything in sight, including unprotected metals in the mechanical system. Ozone can result in pristine water.  Before the water can be reintroduced to the pool, it has to run through a stripping filter of anthracite, or activated carbon, which removes all halogens along with the ozone.  The ozone must be stripped out because if it reaches the pool and is inhaled, it can be deadly.  Unfortunately, the anthracite and activated carbon also strip out the chlorine.  Chlorine has to be replaced after the contact chamber since it was stripped out.  Therefore, more chemical is used to replace what is being destroyed.  The water that emerges from the stripping filters is very pure, but it will be several hours before that water again runs through the ozone chamber to be re-sanitized.

Some of the ozone manufacturers claim that through the use of ozone a facility will experience lowered chemical usage.  This is not always the case since the actual chemical usage of a facility depends on a large number of factors, including: bather load, water temperature, pool maintenance techniques, air quality, makeup water policies, etc.  Ozone should not be installed with the expectation of saving a significant amount of money in chemical costs.

Benefits of an ozone system include:

  • Reduction or elimination of chloramine odor from the natatorium and locker rooms;
  • Improved water clarity;
  • Reduction or elimination of complaints from swimmers about eye or skin irritation;
  • Ability to maintain a lower level of chlorine residual;
  • Ability to maintain a lower level of combined chlorine;
  • Reduction or elimination of the need to super chlorinate the pools.

Drawbacks of an ozone system include:

  • Increased initial costs – properly sized systems are costly;
  • Increased operators’ technical abilities are required – ozone systems are very complicated;
  • Increased maintenance costs – ozone is an active system and there are components that will require periodical maintenance or replacement such as transformers, solenoids and seals;
  • Dehumidification/HVAC – the installation of an ozone system does not reduce the need for proper air handling and makeup air demands within the natatorium;
  • Increased ventilation in the equipment room – the heat generated by the ozone systems will increase the need for greater air changes in the pool equipment room.

The main problem with this solution is the construction cost of the ozone generating system.  The first-dollar costs of this system are substantial.  First there is the cost of the system itself; an air separation unit for producing oxygen, the ozone-creating system and the injection system.  Second is the space requirement.  The ozone system is usually a substantial piece of equipment, and the addition of a required stripper tank to remove the ozone further increases the mechanical space required.

Compressors filter out everything but oxygen from the air and filters must be replaced weekly and monthly.  There is also a lot of associated labor cost and annual maintenance cost.  Coronas usually have to be replaced annually.  Clients have usually had to spend between $10K and $20K on maintenance alone to keep the ozonators running.

The second-dollar operational costs are also substantially greater than other systems.  Because of the elaborate technical requirements of ozone, a skilled technician is required to maintain these facilities, adding to the facility’s labor costs.  Those same issues have also led to some problems in reliability, and the cost of chemical treatment has to be factored in as well.

Dehumidification systems should not be undersized based on the inclusion of an ozone system.

The number of air changes per hour in the ozone equipment room should be defined by the manufacturer or code.

Temperature control in the mechanical room should be included – cooling if necessary.

Specify a quality manufacturer with qualified and experienced people to provide and install the complete ozone system.

Operators should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations closely as to interconnecting the ozone system into the other systems of the facility, operation and maintenance.

Ozone should be used to the DIN (Deutsch Industrie Normen) Standard which requires 100% of the water be treated by putting it in a contact chamber for 2-3 minutes. 

Ex.  A pool with 1000 GPM needs a contact chamber of 3000 gal.  To create ozone, you must create oxygen.  Then you must pass this oxygen over a corona.  Requires a lot of service and upkeep.  Over 90% of the oxygen must pass over these coronas.

Ozonators have been cheapened in the U.S. by not treating 100% of the water and instead treating only 60%, 40% or even 20% of the water.

CH does not currently recommend ozone systems for the cost and for the fact that un-sanitized pools full of swimmers, even if the water is pristine, will quickly become unhealthy.

CAUTION: with the use of ozone, some states require ozone monitoring in the filter room and natatorium.

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