Algae Control and Prevention in your Swimming Pool
By Dave LeBeau
One of the most common battles for swimming pool owners is prevention and control
of Algae growth. Nothing can ruin a backyard summer
more than struggling with algae in your swimming
pool all summer long. The good news is that in
most cases, there are a few simple steps that
can be taken to avoid the cyclical struggle with
algae growth that many pool owners' experience.
What is Algae? Algae are one-celled plants
and there are over 20,000 known varieties. The
word algae is derived from the Latin word for
seaweed. Algae thrive in sunlight, warmer pool
water, and pool water with inadequate sanitizer.
It appears in pools as green, brown, yellow, or
black slime often resembling fur. Algae will first
show up in your swimming pool on steps and in
corners where the circulation can be less effective.
If unnoticed or untreated, algae can quickly spread
and become out of control, sometimes in as little
as 24 hours.
Forms of Algae
Green Algae - this is the most common
algae and is green in color and grows as a broad
slime on the swimming pool surface. Green algae
can be removed by brushing, but that doesn't kill
the plant. Brushing along with super chlorination
and/or algaecides should eliminate most green
Yellow Algae - is also known as mustard
algae and can appear as yellow, brown or muddy
in color. Yellow algae does not grow as rapidly
as green algae, but does grow in the same broad
pattern. As with green algae, brushing combined
with super chlorination and/or algaecides should
eliminate most yellow or mustard algae problems.
Black Algae - black algae is the worst
form of algae. Black algae show up first as small
dots, appearing to be specs of dirt on the bottom
or steps of the pool. Slowly over time these small
specs grow larger and in more population in the
pool, and start showing up on the walls of the
pool. This growth slowly accelerates and without
proper treatment can quickly get out of control.
Black algae cover itself with a hard substance
and resist all scrubbing with a normal pool brush.
Only a stainless steel brush will break open the
hard shell exposing the algae to sanitizers or
algaecides that can then help kill the plant.
Pink Algae - pink algae is not really
an algae at all. It is a fungus and appears as
a reddish slime in the pool. It is easily removed
with brushing and normal sanitizing.
Algae Prevention There are three primary
components to creating the healthiest environment
possible for your swimming pool in order to avoid
constant algae problems. Two out of three won't
do the trick in most cases, so make sure all three
of these components are being addresses and maintained
at all times. Preventative maintenance is the
most effective form of algae prevention.
3. Water Balance
Circulation is a must. Make sure your
swimming pool pump and motor are running properly
and are in good order. You should be able to notice
if your swimming pool has good circulation by
a couple simple observations. First make sure
your pump is pulling a full basket of water. If
you see a lot of air in the pump basket, there
is a problem. Secondly you can simply observe
the circulation in the pool or feel the return
lines with your hands to make sure water is returning
to the pool with enough pressure to indicate good
Filtration is crucial. If the circulation
in the pool is fine, the next step is to confirm
that your pool is getting adequate filtration.
Visually inspect your filter media to make sure
there are not any holes or cracks in the filter
cartridges or filter grids, or any of the equipment
that hold the filter together. Once you verify
that your filter is in good working order you
will need to make sure that you are running the
filter equipment for the proper amount of time
each day. For the typical swimming pool, the filter
needs to run for 6 - 10 hours a day, depending
on the size of the pool, season, and climate.
Water Balance is the final piece to the
puzzle. Once the circulation and filtration components
are in good working order, the last primary issue
is to balance and stabilize your swimming pool
water. Always keep the proper amount of sanitizer
in the pool and regularly test and adjust the
alkalinity and PH as needed. Swimming pools like
Keeping these three components of your swimming
pool maintenance plan in check should prevent
most occurrences of algae and set you free from
a contestant battle with swimming pool algae.