Proper pool maintenance is important to enjoy crystal-clear pool water year-round. However, many pool owners occasionally face a problem that can literally happen overnight. The name for this common issue is algae, and it can certainly put a damper on a refreshing swim or pool day with friends and family.
While experienced pool owners know how to tackle the issue immediately, first-time owners can be overwhelmed with how to clean this stubborn substance. If you are looking for how to handle algae, keep reading. Understanding how algae happens and how to remove it is easier than you think.
What is Algae?
Algae is a plant organism that uses the sun to make its food. The substance often enters a pool as spores from the wind and quickly attaches to walls and steps or floats harmlessly on the water’s surface. It can quickly multiply in dirty, debris-laden waters. Algae is normally caused by a combination of poor filtration, low chlorine levels and water circulation. Other conditions, such as heavy rain and high heat levels can facilitate this plant’s growth, making it even more troublesome during Florida’s rainy season.
Once it appears, algae causes all kinds of unwanted mischief in your pool. Algae can quickly clog a pool’s filter, decreasing its effectiveness and potentially damaging it to the point of replacement. This organism also capitalizes on low chlorine levels and uses up the chemical, creating a heavy demand for it. While algae is not necessarily harmful to swimmers, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can make some people quite ill.
Once you see an algae bloom in your pool, don’t delay cleaning it. This organism can rapidly grow within 24 hours, making the entire cleaning process longer and more of a strain on your wallet!
The Keys to Cleaning Algae
- Water Test
To remove pool algae, start with a quick water test and check your pool’s chemical levels. Algae always thrives when pools have unbalanced chemical levels, so you will want restore this right away. If you use a pool heater, shut it off as the heat will only work against you and promote algae growth as you clean.
2. Filter Cleaning
If you have pool algae, it is highly likely it made its way to the filter. Give your filter a thorough cleaning to dislodge the unwanted material. Waterscapes utilizes multi-cartridge filters which require only a garden hose to fully clean.
3. Brush Cleaning
You will then need to use a pool brush to get rid of algae clinging to the pool’s walls, bottom and steps. Doing so penetrates the protective layers, allowing chemicals to effectively attack it. Pool skimmers are strongly encouraged if you need to remove algae from the water’s surface.
4. Shock the Pool
The next step to take is shocking the pool, adding a bigger dosage of a chemical that will ensure the algae’s demise. Waterscapes recommends using liquid chlorine to facilitate this process as it can quickly raise the chlorine level, killing the algae in turn. Shocking a pool at night or at dusk is recommended, for the lack of sun limits algae growth and maximizes your chemical’s cleaning impact.
After your shock treatment, test the water levels again. If the chlorine level is still low, shock the pool another time to balance the level (between 1– 3 ppm). Once your pool’s levels are properly balanced, Waterscapes recommends adding algaecide to your pool, a key chemical that prevents algae growth. Allow this substance to circulate for at least 24 hours before you finish cleaning.
To finish your efforts, use a brush or pool vacuum to remove any loose algae so it does not latch itself elsewhere and grow. You will then want to run the pool filter continuously for at least 24 hours to make your water clear. Lingering algae can enter the filter, so clean it off one more time after this final step.
While there are quite a few steps involved in algae removal, you should not feel overwhelmed. The steps are easy to implement but you will need to be vigilant and make sure you tackle any algae issues the moment they arise.
Colors of Algae
Despite how common pool algae is, many people are surprised to learn this problem comes in various shades. Like many other plants, pool algae is normally green from the chlorophyll sustaining it, but there are several variants you need to know. The cleaning methods will not change much, but the reason for the onset of different-colored algae can vary:
- Mustard algae: A stubborn variant of normal pool algae that creates dirt-colored or yellowish-brown spots. This form can also be harder to remove with its high chlorine resistance. Fortunately, mustard algae can be easily brushed away but you will need a pool vacuum for complete removal as it can quickly attach itself elsewhere. Potential extra shock treatments may be required if your variant possesses chlorine resistance.
- Black algae: If you notice something looking like black or green-blue mold lodged anywhere in your pool, you are dealing with black algae. Black algae is actually a bacteria that often enters a pool from external sources (ie. Swimming in the ocean and then entering a pool without cleaning your swimsuit first) and quickly attaches to any nearby surface. You will still follow the same steps for algae cleaning, but on a more aggressive level. Black algae can also make you very ill if inhaled, so do not enter the water!
- Pink algae: Similar to black algae, pink algae is a bacteria that forms as a kind of slime in stagnant pools without direct sunlight. Pink algae is often attributed to poor pool maintenance and chemistry, so test your chemical levels and clean your pool frequently to prevent this substance from making unwanted appearances.
The best way to stop algae from becoming your pool’s problem is to do some preventative maintenance. These are steps you can include the next time you clean your pool:
- Test the water levels: Algae often thrives in pools with unbalanced chemical levels. If you have not already, test your pool waters weekly, especially after a heavy rainstorm. If any levels are low, adjust them properly.
- Clean your pool: Another way algae can grow is if your pool has any loose debris or even leaves, providing the pesky substance with a food source. Skim the water and use a vacuum to remove these materials.
- Wash your swimsuits: While it may seem trivial, swimming in places like the ocean or even a lake can make you carry algae sources back to your pool. Before entering your pool, quickly clean your swimsuits ahead of time.
- Watch the chlorine level: Algae can grow quickly if a pool’s chlorine level is low. Make sure you keep this chemical at its set level. Waterscapes uses saltwater chlorinators which turn salt into chlorine, allowing you to easily regulate the chlorine circulating in your pool.
Stopping algae is an important step to take for proper pool health. By addressing the issue immediately, you ensure the safety of you and your guests, prevent excessive chemical costs, and make your own private slice of paradise operational all year long.