Posted on Thursday 10 January 2008 by Lee Coleman

It's probably not one of the things I would read about out of choice, but I thought I would try to cover as much ground as possible on the subject of algae as it helps to know what you are up against when you get it in your pool.

Most of us who work on pools or own a pool will have at some time encountered algae in one form or other, but what form? Algae can grow as a result of several things but is usually most prolific in the summer months.

The arrival of algae can be as a result of poor maintenance, cheap chemicals, plant infestation or a number of other reasons. There are in excess of 20,000 known types of algae, thankfully only a few of these find their way into our pools.

Our mission lies in keeping the microscopic invaders at bay preventing colonization which causes the algae to bloom.

We are at war !

How to Prevent Algae.

Try to always practice good chemistry maintenance and keep your water at neutral pH and total alkalinity at all times. If you have problems keeping your pH stable, try using a stabilizing sanitizer like pHree & clear, it balances you pH and keeps the water clear and at total alkalinity stopping unwanted pH swings and reduces your chemical usage.

Keep your pool clean by vacuuming frequently and brushing the walls paying attention to the corners, steps, lights and liner seams. If that all sounds like too much like hard work buy a pool robot, it’ll wander around your pool doing all that for you.

Keep your filters clean and run your system running as long as possible, don't forget a good rule of thumb is 1/2 the water temperature to calculate running hours, for example, if the water is 24 degrees, you should be running your pump for at least 12 hours a day.

Use an effective algaecide weekly as a preventative measure.

Types of algae:

Black Algae - Sometimes referred to as blue-green algae it usually appears as randomly scattered black splotches and has become the bane of the service industry. This type of algae attaches itself to pool walls (mostly block and render type pools) and can send roots deep under the surface. Couple that with the fact that it's very slippery and has a protective gelatinous coating making it particularly impervious to chemical treatments, and you have a formidable enemy.

This insidious strain can resist most chlorine shock treatment and even most algaecides, the best way to deal with it involves a combination of chemicals and plenty of elbow grease. You will have to scrape and brush hard to remove the protective sheath and leave it vulnerable to the chlorine.

Green Algae - This is the most common type of algae, also with a gelatinous coating protecting it against chemical warfare. Unlike black algae, green algae, doesn't attach itself to pool walls, but it does cause the pea soup or green haze look of the neglected pool. Fortunately because this type of algae floats in the water, chlorine shock treatments can effectively eliminate it, make sure you brush and clean the pool in conjunction with plenty of pumping and filtering time.

Yellow Algae - Sometimes also referred to as mustard algae it is a far more advanced form than green or black algae - perhaps the SAS of algae platoons! It has a more advanced cellular structure and can appear on walls and shaded areas of a pool. Caution must be used when it comes to getting rid of yellow algae, if you attempt to brush it, it can flocculate (disperse) and spread throughout the pool making a bad problem even worse. If this does happen use a flocking agent such as Sparkle Plus, it will make the particles clump together and deposit them straight into your filtration system where you can flush it to waste. Aggressive chemical treatment can help, used in conjunction with increased filtering. A number of algaecides that specifically target yellow algae do exist, you may have to try several types before you find one that's right for you.

Pink Algae - This is not one of the most common types of algae you'll come across. It usually shows up at the waterline, distinguished as a pink, orange or reddish ring. It's actually a fungus rather than algae and can also attach itself around lights, ladders and other fixings. It's resistant to chlorine so a good scrubbing and vacuuming should get it off.

Don’t forget that proper pool maintenance can ensure that you rarely have to battle with algae, if you notice your pool turning after being away for a couple of weeks or lack of filtration due to breakdown etc the sooner you address the problem the easier it will be do get rid of it.

If your pool looks like a pond, there are chemicals which can effectively “Napalm” your pool back to life, they usually cause a reaction resulting in your pool turning “milky” at first, regular filter cleaning (every two hours) and continual pumping may bring it back to life eventually. Bar far the best option is to drain the pool and refill with fresh water. It’s best in the case of liner pools, to do this 25 or 50% at a time until all the water has been changed.

Don’t forget, once you have won the battle the war is not over! Algae is one of the oldest forms of life on earth so if you give it half a chance it will return to thrive, take over your pool, and who knows, even THE EARTH!!!! Enlist today together we can win this war.

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