How and why does a swimming pool get algae?
One of the grossest things that can ruin a pleasant day at the pool is the sight of algae. Algae can invade swimming pools in a variety of different ways. Wind or rain can bring it into the pool, but algae spores can also sneak in via bathing suits or pool cleaning supplies that are contaminated.
Algae are living aquatic organisms that can reproduce through their spores, making them easily spreadable. Because they’re plants, they give off oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide. Being alive also means that they require food and specific conditions to grow and thrive. Let’s go over what feeds these pesky things to ensure your pool doesn’t become the perfect algae buffet.
One of the main conditions that must be present for algae to thrive is sunlight. Unfortunately, if you have an outdoor pool, there isn’t much you can do about this one. However, it’s crucial to be aware of light (in addition to warmth) as a factor in some algae growth.
2. Stagnant water
A second condition that algae need, and one that you can prevent, is stagnant water. Though we don’t typically notice it while swimming, the pool water does circulate. If something interferes with this circulation, such as the filter not working, the water in the pool will become stagnant, making it easier for algae to grow in.
A third contributor to algae growth is alkalinity. Regularly testing your pool’s pH levels is good practice and can prevent algae from becoming an issue. Things to check for in this regard are the levels of calcium and cyanuric, alkalinity, and amount of chlorine.
4. Poor sanitation/maintenance
Lastly, lack of sanitation is another factor to consider to prevent algae growth in your pool. This oversight is the apparent obvious reason algae may grow, and it goes without saying that keeping your pool clean and ensuring you use chlorine will go a long way.
Though even the cleanest pool water will always have some pool algae present, you can avoid unsightly levels easily by ensuring yours always gets checked, filtered, and cleaned.
What are the signs of algae in pool water?
As we mentioned above, keeping an eye on pH levels is vital. If your pool’s pH is too high, it could indicate the presence of algae. Your target PH level is between 7.2 and 7.4.
Another sign that algae may be invading your pool is low chlorine levels. Chlorine kills algae very efficiently, so having enough is crucial. Minerals such as calcium also defeat algae, so not having these balanced likely indicates algae presence as well.
In the absolute worst scenario, you may find out your pool has algae if it starts getting cloudy or changing colors – such as turning into a green pool.
Types of pool algae
If you’re unlucky enough to spot the pool algae yourself while swimming, you will probably see the green kind. Green algae are the most commonly found in swimming pools and can be seen both on the walls or floating in the water. Neglecting your pool maintenance is the number one cause of green algae growth: make sure to keep pH balanced and the water clean and circulating.
Black algae can cast dark shadows in your pool and look grotesque. The main reason you see it? Lack of chlorine. These algae form an aggressive barrier of protection, so scrubbing the walls of your pool a little extra would be in order.
Yellow algae or mustard algae
Mustard algae are yellow with a tinge of brown – quite the nauseating color. Unlike green algae, mustard algae thrive in the shade. Mustard algae will brush off quickly, but don’t let that fool you – they’ll come back with a vengeance until you’ve killed them for good.
The term “pink algae” is deceiving because these aren’t algae at all. This slimy pink stuff in your pool is bacterial matter and can be found in both pools and lab equipment. Luckily, you can prevent this bacteria the same way as algae: ensuring proper maintenance of your pool and keeping chemistry levels balanced.
Steps to take before dealing with pool algae
Clean the filter
Though the ideal time between cleanings can vary depending on pool size, you generally want to clean your filter every six months. You want to make sure to look for debris or any foreign particles clogging up the filter and scrub them out with a brush. Sometimes, you may need a hose to provide extra pressure.
Check the pool pump
Wash out your pump on a regular basis to avoid the water becoming stagnant. Like a clogged filter, a clogged pump can keep your water from circulating properly, making it a crucial part of pool maintenance.
Brush the pool wall
This step is essential. Some algae, like the aforementioned black kind, can be tough to remove from the walls. To avoid having to deal with extra steps later, make it a habit to scrub your pool walls regularly and thoroughly.
Test the pool water
Water chemistry is one of the most important things to look for in keeping your swimming pool hygienic. It bears repeating: check those PH levels! Also, ensuring you have enough chlorine is an important step in algae prevention.
How to get algae out of a pool without a vacuum
Use a pool algaecide
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to get rid of your algae problem is to use an algaecide. Some algaecide types target specific kinds of algae, while others are multi-use. Depending on how aggressive your algae is, you may want to shop for a targeted kind. After running your pool pump, pour a good amount of algaecide (about 16 ounces per 10,000 gallons) and then leave the filter running between 12 and 24 hours for best results.
Remove algae using swimming pool shock products
First things first: don some protective gear like gloves and goggles. Next, combine a pound of pool shock product with 5 liters of water in a bucket (double if your algae is out of control). Apply the product and leave the filter running overnight or for eight hours.
Using the hand method (filter or no filter)
If you’ve got a pool filter, clean it out thoroughly. Brush off the algae from your walls meticulously, and then turn the filter on and leave it for a few hours. That’s it!
If you don’t have a pool filter, skip straight to the brushing stage. Opt for either a steel brush for a concrete pool or a nylon brush for a vinyl one. Carefully brush all the algae and debris to the bottom of the pool, and collect it in a dustpan to dispose of.
Removing green pool algae
Check the water chemistry and adjust
If your pH levels are higher than 7.6, it’s time to reduce them (but remember, not below 7.2). There are several effective pH reducers on the market, and you can easily find them anywhere that sells home improvement or pool supplies. Look for muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate as a key ingredient.
Using an algaecide
Make sure your pump is running, and pour the algaecide into your pool. Wait at least 30 minutes before letting anyone swim after application.
Picking the right chlorine shock products
Shocking your pool basically means you are hitting it with an extra potent dose of chlorine and added disinfectants. The concentration will kill off whatever uninvited organisms are growing in the water or pool walls. Generally, it’s a good idea to shock your pool every other week, and especially after heavy use.
When shopping for chlorine shock products, keep in mind the type of pool you have and its size. For example, inground or above-ground pools have different products, as well as saltwater pools. Additionally, there are multi-use shock products that work effectively for several types of pools.
Maintenance steps to keep your pool water healthy
- Test, test, test. The best algae prevention method is to test your pool water regularly for pH and chemical levels.
- Scrub your walls often with a proper brush, and make sure the brush is cleaned properly between uses.
- Shock your pool on the regular.
- Invest in a vacuum to remove debris.
- Check your pump and filter to ensure good water circulation.
How to get dead algae off the bottom of a pool
One of the best methods to get rid of algae from your pool bottom is to use a vacuum with a multiport system, such as a pressure-side pool vacuum. This type of vacuum will completely drain the wastewater from your pool, leaving it much cleaner.
You can also use a vacuum without a multiport system. This method, however, will cause damage to your filter, as this is the route it takes to eliminate waste.
Removing the dead algae from a pool with no vacuum
If you have no vacuum for your pool, you can temporarily create your own (sort of). If you’re wondering how to get algae out of a pool without a vacuum – this is what you should do. You’ll need two items: a telescopic pole and an attached garden hose. Aside from these, all you need is a bag where the waste will go. Connect one end of your ersatz vacuum hose to a vacuuming port, and voila, watch the debris leave your pool.
How to keep leaves out of the pool skimmer
Having trees near your pool may be aesthetically pleasing but can also make the fallen leaves an extra chore. To ensure they stay out, adjust your skimmer baskets by closing the main drain valve to ensure the highest suction. Also, check that the weir gates are securely in place, so the leaves don’t fall out once you’ve turned off the pump. Lastly, make sure that you have a circular water flow with pool water flowing in the same direction.
In the event that your skimmer becomes clogged, try using a special tool for removal, such as a leaf gulper.
What to do if your pool is full of leaves and algae
If you have tons of leaves and algae in your pool, there are a few extra tools you can use. The most basic of these is a leaf rake, which is what it sounds like. Use it to rake up leaves and get them out of the water. To prevent it from happening again, consider a leaf catcher, which is essentially a cover that catches everything that may fall on the pool.
After you’ve removed surface debris, it’s time to vacuum or manually remove the rest with a hose and pole. For more significant amounts of leaves, try using a leaf canister to provide ample room for waste to go after vacuuming.
Once you’ve cleared all visible debris and leaves, follow all the steps to sanitize your pool by using a pH reducer as well as shock treatment. If needed, use an algaecide as well and follow instructions for dosing. Make sure your filter and pump are in good shape, and if you have trees, check out basic leaf-catching covers to minimize debris the next time.