What Are Phosphates & What Effects Do They Have On Your Pool?
More than 60% of pools will experience two full algae blooms this season! Let’s dive into what causes them and how you can prevent them.
Algae blooms are very taxing on the chemicals in your pool and if your chemicals aren’t enough to fully prevent an algae bloom from taking place its both extremely costly and time consuming to clean up. Most of us would agree on the steps that need to be taken once the algae has taken over, but we’ll do one better, we’ll teach you the preventative measures that can be taken to help ensure that nothing blooms in your pool.
To begin, we need to talk about phosphates. Phosphates are the keystone when it comes to the build up of algae in pools, they’re the building blocks that are continuously added into your water (without you knowing) that are responsible for feeding and nourishing algae spores. We’re going to teach you how to be proactive when it comes to fighting algae through the use of phosphate fighting chemicals instead of using elbow grease with a scrub brush and adding in exuberant amounts of chlorine stock. We’ll help make sure your water is crystal clear while your neighbors scratch their heads wondering how you did it!
When it comes to algae there are only a few things that need to be presence in order for them to thrive, they are:
Phosphates are part of the nonmetallic element phosphorous. Phosphates are also the main food source for types of algae as well as aquatic plants. When these phosphates are broken down into their simplest forms or ‘compounds’ which are called orthophosphates, algae has the ability to digest them. These phosphates are broken down by:
- Hydrolysis (decomposing in water)
- Oxidation (oxidation states of atoms are changed)
- Enzymatic Digestion
It doesn’t really matter how the phosphates are broken down, once broken down the algae has the ability to digest them, thus its ability to grow.
Orthophosphates within your pool should be kept at levels below 100-125 PPB (parts per billion). Once these orthophosphates exceed 200 PPB you’re getting into trouble. Algae becomes less and less resistant to sanitizers like chlorine stock once 200 PPB is exceeded. If you ever find that your pool is in access of 1000 PPB then you need to take immediate action and treat your water with an extra strength phosphate cleaner.
So, How Do These Phosphates Show Up In The First Place?
The real problem with phosphates is the fact that they are continuously being added to your pools water without you even knowing it, or being able to stop them! They are found in sunscreens, oils, city water, vegetation and even pool chemicals. This means that phosphates are being added to the water every time:
- Rain water runs into the pool
- Dirt is blown into the pool
- You level off the pools water levels
- Leaves and other debris blow in
- The addition of pool chemicals are added
So, it turns out that you really cant completely eradicate phosphates, you’ll have to come to live with them. But, with this being said, you can keep them under control but continually monitoring their levels and adding in additional chemicals that are designed to continually battle them and keep them under control.
How Does One Control Phosphate Levels?
Continual Pool Water Testing
In order to ‘know thy enemy’ you need to be continually testing your water to ensure that phosphate levels are kept both in check and under control. There are test strips that are specifically designed to measure these levels. They’re specifically designed and highly accurate at having the ability to test your water for orthophosphate ranging between 0-10,000 PPB in less than 10 second. We recommend that you test your water on a monthly basis but during your peak swimming season we recommend you test your water on a weekly basis just to ensure the level are in check with the addition of all the added activity.
Regular Pool Maintenance
There’s nothing better that continually checking on things and doing some preventative maintenance. You can do the following to help with limiting the number of additional phosphates that might enter your pool:
- Remove leaves and other organic material from the water
- Clean your filters and pump basket regularly
- Vacuum your pool regularly
- Pay attention to your other pool cleaners (they contain phosphates)
- Limit the amount of drainage that enters the pool (lawn/rain runoff)
NOTE: Phosphate removers DO NOT kill existing algae. Once algae has bloomed you need superchlorination or algaecide to remove it. In addition to some good ol’ fashion elbow grease!