It’s true that more and more customers are asking for alternatives to traditional chlorine. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they should switch.

“Usually we ask them why they want to change,” says Matt Gohlke, president of Gohlke Custom Pools in Denton, Texas. “If they’re happy with what they’re doing, then what’s their motivation for changing?”

Often enough, homeowners want to switch because a friend or relative told them about something new.

“But it may not work in his pool in Seattle like it did in his cousin’s pool in Florida, because of the different environment,” says John Antilla, vice president of sales for Seattle-based Aqua Quip. “For us, it rains all summer. So we’re getting water, dirt and debris introduced into that pool that they’re not getting in Arizona. That’s why you ask questions.”

Other times, the customer may just be responding to a sense of helplessness after a surprise algae bloom, or frustration following long periods of cloudy water. So their first reaction is to just change. But retailers should guide the consumer to delve deeper into their own habits and needs.

“It could just be that they’re using chlorine, but they’re not following any type of systematic approach to their water care — they’re just kind of blindly throwing things in the water and hoping that it keeps the water clear,” says Blair Lynch, director of operations for Mermaid Pool, Spa & Patio in Anderson, Ind.

You may determine that the customer’s current regimen is not the best for them. But don’t automatically go to a non-chlorine alternative. “They may not be using the right form of chlorine,” Antilla says. “Maybe they were using a hand-fed granular and they should be using tablets that are more consistent.”

The problem may not even have to do with the sanitizer. “We’re going to ask about a lot more than just their disinfectant,” Antilla says. “Maybe they just need to change the sand in their filter. Maybe they aren’t circulating the water enough.”