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A New Approach for Algae Prevention & Treatment – Pool Magazine

Home | Pool Maintenance | A New Approach for Algae Prevention & Treatment
Algae prevention is top priority for pool owners. We discuss ways to prevent or slow an algae outbreak and what to do if one occurs in your pool.
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With estimates of over a million different species of algae in the world, is it any wonder that we occasionally find them growing in our swimming pools?  We know that pools are constantly being bombarded by algae from water, land and air, so controlling algae can sometimes be a challenge.  Let’s explore ways to prevent or slow an algae outbreak and what you can do if one should occur in your pool.
The most important practice to prevent algae outbreaks is the proper use of an USEPA registered sanitizer. The goal of a sanitizer is to provide continuous protection to the pool against bacteria and algae. Even allowing sanitizer levels to drop for a few short hours enables certain fast-growing algae species to find a hospitable spot in the pool and begin to grow.
Many algae species develop defense mechanisms once established in the pool which can require higher levels of sanitizer or special products or tactics to remove them from the pool. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and in this scenario, it is absolutely the case.

A common practice in naturally-occurring bodies of water outside of pools to help maintain water quality and avoid issues such as algae is the monitoring and removal, if possible, of certain nutrients commonly consumed by algae. Algae, like other living organisms, need certain foods to grow. The USEPA lists nitrogen and phosphorous as the “major limiting” nutrients for algae. In properly maintained pools, most nitrogenous compounds eventually break down into nitrate which, realistically, can’t be removed from pools. Certain phosphorous-containing compounds can be very helpful in maintaining pool water since they protect against scale formation and help remove metals that can lead to staining on pool surfaces. The final form for phosphorous-containing compounds in pool water is orthophosphate. These are very different from nitrate as orthophosphate can be chemically changed and physically removed from pool water. Orthophosphates are common in the environment and constantly enter the water from a variety of sources. The goal to eliminate the orthophosphate from pool water is one that is unattainable for an extended length of time. It is possible to remove high levels of orthophosphate which can lead to water quality problems and then maintain lower amounts of orthophosphate with a product designed for that application. A tactical approach to orthophosphate management could include using a product such as Natural Chemistry’s PhosFree or Phosfree Max to reduce high orthophosphate levels followed by a multi-functional maintenance product on a weekly basis to maintain low orthophosphate in the pool. Natural Chemistry’s Pool Perfect MAX with Phosfree is high performance weekly maintenance product designed to remove low levels of orthophosphate while adding other key components to maintain excellent water quality throughout the pool season.
Don’t Forget about Filtration (and Circulation)
When it comes to maintaining great water quality and providing crystal clear results, the filtration and circulation systems of the pool are the unsung heroes. These two often overlooked components are critical in the success of chemical applications, removing unwanted contaminants, troubleshooting exercises, and also play a crucial role in preventing algae.  Turnover rate is the term used to describe how long it takes for the volume of water of the pool to pass through the filtration system. The amount of time needed is based on the pump speed and run time of the pool pump.  We recommend running your pool pump at least 10-12 hours per day (running it 24/7 is even better). It’s also important to run the pump during daytime hours to allow for proper circulation and filtration when the sun is out and bathers are present. The emergence of variable speed pumps makes the required turnover rate a little more difficult to determine as most run through different cycles by default.  Pool owners should keep this in mind and adjust run speeds as required to maintain the necessary level of sanitizer in the pool if they’re using a chlorinator to erosion feed chlorine tablets.  A pro tip in this scenario is to increase the pump speed at night.
Bottom line, the goal is to push as much water through the filter as possible while being as energy efficient as possible.  Poor circulation can lead to certain areas of the pool becoming stagnant and chemical applications may not be as effective in these areas. This is problematic as dirt and debris provide a perfect home and can lead to certain types of algae growth if proper sanitizer levels are not maintained in those areas. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on keeping your filter clean and use a good filter cleaner like Natural Chemistry Filter Perfect designed for your filter type to maintain optimum performance. When filters become heavily soiled, circulation can be dramatically impacted and flow rates noticeably different with decreased water flow out of the returns.
Physical Cleaning of Pools
Although a therapeutic retreat for some, routine vacuuming and brushing of pool surfaces are important tasks that often go ignored for long periods of time which can lead to bigger problems with water quality. Dead spots, areas with no or very poor circulation, and pool walls are common places where signs of an algae outbreak or biofilm accumulations first appear. Vacuuming and brushing are two physical tasks of pool maintenance that can help disrupt these areas of poor circulation, dislodge accumulations, and bring treatment chemicals into the area to prevent an algae outbreak. Without proper physical maintenance the dirt and debris that accumulates over time can present an issue. Dirt, debris, and even sand can be brought into the body of the pool from wind, the feet of pool users, pets that enjoy a swim, or even the sand from cracked or loose laterals in a sand filter getting in the pool. There are some types of algae, particularly diatoms, that use the silica found in dirt and debris as building blocks to help build colonies in your pool.  They often take on the appearance of and are misdiagnosed as mustard algae. Once these colonies start, it becomes much harder to kill them.  Regular vacuuming can help to eliminate this nutrient source.
An Ounce of Prevention
In most pools, aside from maintaining an appropriate sanitizer level, using a good preventative algaecide as a weekly maintenance is the best way to ensure your pool is protected from algae. This is especially true if you live in an area prone to algae or have a pool with high bather loads where sometimes the sanitizer needs time to build back up after use.  Be sure to choose an algaecide that works independently from the sanitizer and does not interfere with the ability to maintain sanitizer residuals. Also look for algaecide that does not negatively impact water quality. Some algaecides can be effective but may lead to issues like staining or water discoloration if label instructions are not followed properly. Lastly, look for an algaecide that can be effective against many types of algae.  Since the algae type in the pool may or may not be the one that you think it is, a good combination of actives can be a useful tool against many types of algae.   Additionally, algae outbreaks are often more than one type of algae. A multi-active product can help treat various algae types and allow for a much faster turnaround of the pool.  Whichever algaecide you use, ensure that it has a USEPA-registration number on the label.  This will ensure that when used as directed, it has been properly tested against the algae types listed on the label and shown to be effective as well as safe to use. Pro Series Dual-Action Algaecide is a multi-functional dual-active algaecide that contains both a copper-based active ingredient and a polymeric algaecide that kills many different types of algae. It is a non-staining, non-foaming algaecide that can be used as a preventative algaecide or to remediate even the most stubborn types of algae. Pool Professionals should always have this tool in their arsenal to treat and prevent algae.
Algaecides can work in various ways to control algae.  The more popular choices are quats, polyquats and copper.  These work in different ways to disrupt cell membranes as well as enzymatic functioning of the cell, leading to cell death and cell wall rupturing.  Some algae, even within the same classification, can be controlled differently with different algaecides, so if one treatment doesn’t seem to work, try a different approach.  What worked one time, may not necessarily work every time, since the type of algae you have may be different (although they may visually look the same), or the conditions in the pool could be different.   A multi-active approach may be the key to treating more algae types to, in turn, have a more successful swimming season.
About BioLab/ KIK Consumer Products
Based in Lawrenceville, GA., Bio-Lab, Inc, the Pool Division of KIK Consumer Products Company, has been supplying water treatment products for recreational applications on a global basis for over 60 years. Bio-Lab PRO brands include BioGuard®, Natural Chemistry®, SpaGuard®, SeaKlear®, Pro Series®, ProGuard®, Coral Seas®, AquaPill®, & Spa Essentials®.
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Natural Chemistry is the leading specialty chemical manufacturer in the swimming pool and spa industry and a proud contributor of Pool Magazine. For over 25 years, we have been committed to providing education about naturally based enzyme products, filter based phosphate removal, and liquid cyanuric acid technology.
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One pool hack states a cup of baking soda in your pool every other day can keep the water in perfect balance. Is it real or just clickbait?
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In recent times, a viral article and accompanying TikTok video shared a pool maintenance “hack” that caught the attention of pool owners worldwide. In this supposed hack, a pool owner claimed that the secret to maintaining perfectly balanced water was as simple as adding a cup of baking soda to the pool every other day. But is this unconventional method truly effective, or is it a risky endeavor that could potentially harm your pool? To get to the bottom of this, we spoke with pool care expert, CPO instructor, and best-selling author, Rudy Stankowitz.
Replying to @user9410247040220 #poolhack #bakingsodahack #phblancer #swimmingpool #naturalcleaningproducts #poolcleaningtips #cleaninghacks #fypシ
The viral pool maintenance video might have garnered attention, but, as Rudy Stankowitz aptly puts it, “It was a fantastic piece of clickbait. As with most clickbait, there’s a grain of truth buried in it, but the risks and pitfalls of this method are significant. Stankowitz elaborates, “There was some truth in it, but then there was a lot that wasn’t, and a lot that can actually put a homeowner in a bad position if they just followed through with what this woman was recommending.”
Before diving into the specifics of the baking soda “hack,” it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of pool care. Stankowitz emphasizes that adding any chemical to your pool should never be a haphazard act. “Nothing should go in without first having tested the water and then determining the need for what it is that you’re going to add,” he asserts. This rule is foundational to responsible pool maintenance. Randomly adding chemicals can lead to imbalances, problems, and potential damage to your pool.
A crucial factor in pool care is the pH level, which measures the acidity or base of the water. Rudy Stankowitz breaks down the significance of pH: “It’s the measurement of acidity or base. It’s the measurement of hydrogen ion activity.” Maintaining the correct pH level is vital for various reasons:
Stankowitz recommends maintaining a pH level between 7.2 and 7.5 to ensure proper water quality and bather safety. Proper pH control is essential for an enjoyable and safe swimming experience.
In the viral video, the pool owner claimed to use a cup of baking soda every other day as a natural pH balancer. While baking soda can indeed raise total alkalinity, Stankowitz points out that blindly adding it without testing the water can lead to issues. “She’s going to get to a point where her total alkalinity is too high in trying to maintain her pH,” Stankowitz warned. Constantly adding baking soda could lead to excessive total alkalinity, necessitating the addition of acid to lower it, which in turn would drop the pH. This creates a yoyo effect and a cycle of imbalances and problems.
Stankowitz also highlights the issue of pH bounce or pH lock, a term used to describe drastic pH fluctuations. Adding chemicals without understanding their impact can cause pH to swing unpredictably. Baking soda’s natural pH of around 8.4 means it’s not the ideal choice for raising pH efficiently. A better alternative is soda ash, which is more cost-effective and effective in increasing pH.
In the same viral video, the pool owner used a copper pipe with holes drilled in a plastic bottle to create a copper ionization system. Stankowitz acknowledges that copper does have bactericidal properties and is used for algae control in pools. However, the effectiveness of this DIY method is questionable. The contact kill effect of copper relies on specific conditions, and and enclosing the copper pipe in a plastic bottle reduces the contact time even further than the flowrate. This pretty much ensures contact occurs only when the pump is off and for maybe the 2 – 3 gallons of water in the skimmer at that time, if at all. Moreover, the lack of testing and control over the copper levels poses a risk of potential staining and other issues in the pool.
My most popular pool hack to get rid of algae for good #poolhack #poolcleaning #byebyealgae #cleaningpools #poolcleaninghack #swimmingpoolhack #fypシ
Stankowitz underlines the significance of proper water testing in pool maintenance. “If she had a test kit and used every bottle in the test kit and then had some basic chemistry knowledge and then used the sodium bicarbonate every time that she needed to actually increase the total alkalinity, I would say that’s great,” he comments. Pool owners should rely on accurate testing methods and sound chemical knowledge rather than adopting unverified hacks.
For pool owners dealing with external factors such as storms, Rudy Stankowitz advises focusing on maintaining the ideal total alkalinity, which serves as a buffer for pH fluctuations. Understanding how cyanuric acid affects total alkalinity is crucial. By adjusting for the contribution of cyanuric acid in water, pool owners can achieve a more accurate measure of carbonate alkalinity. This knowledge helps maintain a stable pH and prevents it from becoming too corrosive or scale-forming.
In the world of pool care, shortcuts and DIY hacks can often do more harm than good. Rudy Stankowitz’s expert insights reveal the importance of using proper testing methods and understanding the chemistry of pool water. While there’s some truth to the viral baking soda “hack,” it’s vital to recognize that pool maintenance is a precise science that requires careful attention and knowledge to achieve consistently safe and enjoyable swimming experiences.
Listen to our entire interview with Rudy Stankowitz on the Pool Magazine podcast.
Wondering whether to close your pool or not, you’re not alone…
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As the leaves start to change color and temperatures drop, pool owners across the United States begin the annual ritual of closing their pools for the winter. Thanks to Leslie’s Pool Supplies we have National Pool Closing Day (which falls on the third Saturday in September) giving a definitive answer to the question many pool owners have about when they should close their swimming pool.
While some in milder climates may wonder why anyone would close their pool when they could continue enjoying it year-round, the decision to winterize pools in colder regions is rooted in practicality and safety. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to close your pool, you’re not alone. It’s a question many pool owners have and one we aim to answer today.
Topics in this article:
One of the primary reasons for winterizing pools in regions with harsh winters is to protect the pool’s plumbing and equipment from freezing temperatures. When water freezes, it expands, which can lead to costly damage. Pool owners in colder areas typically drain the pool’s plumbing system, add antifreeze, and winterize their equipment to prevent any freezing-related issues.
As the water temperature drops in the fall, it becomes less conducive to swimming, and pool owners use fewer chemicals to maintain water quality. Without proper maintenance and circulation, stagnant water can become a breeding ground for algae and bacteria. Winterizing the pool helps prevent these issues, making it easier to open the pool in the spring.
Closing a pool for the winter also reduces the amount of maintenance required during the colder months. Regular cleaning, chemical balancing, and skimming can be labor-intensive, and closing the pool allows owners to avoid these tasks until spring. It’s a practical decision for those who want to spend less time on pool upkeep.
In areas with harsh winters, frozen pool surfaces can pose significant safety risks. A closed and covered pool eliminates the chance of accidental slips, falls, or injuries associated with icy pool decks.
On the other side of the spectrum, pool owners in sunbelt states often enjoy more favorable year-round weather conditions. Sunbelt states typically experience mild winters with minimal risk of freezing temperatures. This allows many pool owners in those areas of the country to continue enjoying their pools without the need for winterization.
Many pool owners in these states view their pools as significant investments. By keeping them operational year-round, they maximize the return on their investment and get the most out of their outdoor living spaces. A well-maintained, year-round operational pool can increase a home’s value in sunbelt regions, as it enhances the property’s appeal and offers additional recreational opportunities.
In states with favorable climates, having a pool available year-round is a lifestyle choice. It provides a convenient and enjoyable way to relax, exercise, and entertain guests regardless of the season.
The decision to close or keep your swimming pool open during the winter should be based on your local climate, personal preferences, and the specific advantages and disadvantages that matter most to you.
Most pool experts would provide pool closing advice based on the regional climate, maintenance preferences, and the type of pool when it comes to the decision of whether to close a pool.
Cold Climate Regions: In areas with harsh winters and freezing temperatures, experts generally recommend closing inground pools. Winterizing an inground pool in these regions involves draining the plumbing system, adding antifreeze, and covering the pool to protect it from the elements.
Moderate Climate Regions: In regions with milder winters, experts may suggest keeping an inground pool open year-round, as the risk of freezing is lower. However, proper maintenance and water circulation are still necessary to prevent algae growth and equipment damage.
Cold Climate Regions: Above ground pools are more susceptible to freezing and damage in cold climates due to their exposed sides. Experts typically recommend closing above ground pools in areas with freezing temperatures. This involves draining the pool, removing water from the plumbing and equipment, and covering it with a winter cover.
Moderate Climate Regions: In regions with mild winters, some above ground pool owners may choose to keep their pools open with proper maintenance. However, they must monitor water chemistry and ensure the pool is well-circulated to prevent issues during the winter.
Key Differences in Closing Inground vs. Above Ground Pools:
The question really isn’t can you close your pool, but should you? The answer to that question largely depends on your level of experience, comfort with pool maintenance tasks, and the complexity of your pool system.
Cost Savings: Closing your pool yourself can save you money compared to hiring a professional service. You won’t incur labor costs.
Learning Experience: For experienced pool owners, closing the pool can be a learning experience, helping you understand your pool system better.
Control: You have full control over the process and can tailor it to your specific needs and preferences.
Time and Effort: Closing a pool can be time-consuming and require physical effort, especially if you have an inground pool with complex equipment.
Knowledge Requirement: Closing a pool correctly requires knowledge of pool systems, chemicals, and the climate in your region. Inexperience can lead to mistakes that may damage your pool.
Equipment and Materials: You’ll need to purchase the necessary winterization supplies and equipment covers, which can add to the upfront cost.
Expertise: Most professional pool service technicians are trained and experienced in pool closures. They know the intricacies of different pool systems and can ensure the process is done correctly.
Time-Saving: Hiring a professional saves you the time and effort required for closing the pool, allowing you to focus on other priorities.
Peace of Mind: Professionals provide assurance that your pool will be properly winterized, reducing the risk of costly repairs in the spring.
Cost: Professional pool closure services come at a cost, which can vary based on your location and the complexity of your pool system.
Lack of Control: You may have less control over the process and the materials used compared to doing it yourself.
Resources for DIY Pool Closure:
Swim University: Swim University offers a wealth of articles, videos, and resources on pool maintenance and winterization.
Trouble Free Pool: Trouble Free Pool is a community-driven forum where experienced pool owners share tips and advice on various aspects of pool ownership, including winterization.
If you do opt to close your own pool, remember these important tips to help prevent costly maintenance or repairs later on.
Begin by preparing your pool for closure:

Maintaining proper water chemistry is essential to prevent issues during the winter. Follow these guidelines:
To protect your pool equipment and plumbing, follow these steps:
Prevent freeze damage to your equipment and plumbing with these precautions:
The final step is to secure your pool with a winter cover:
By following these steps, you’ll close your pool effectively, protecting it from winter damage and ensuring a trouble-free reopening when the swimming season returns.
Ultimately, the question of whether or not to close your own pool is entirely up to you. If you feel you’re experienced enough to tackle the task yourself, performing the work yourself could certainly save some money. However, if you’re inexperienced and want the peace of mind of protecting your investment, most experts would advise to hire a professional pool service technician.
Featured Photo Credit: Aquamatic
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When it comes to the world of pool maintenance and restoration, few challenges are as daunting and yet as rewarding as the infamous green pool. In the spirit of showcasing the incredible talents within the industry, Pool Magazine initiated the “Green to Clean” contest, co-sponsored by Natural Chemistry and BlueRay XL. This platform provided pool technicians from across the nation the chance to shine by submitting their most remarkable green-to-crystal-clean transformations. The response was overwhelming, with entries pouring in from dedicated professionals who demonstrated their prowess in turning murky waters into inviting oases. Among these remarkable contestants, the esteemed title of Green Pool Master was bestowed upon Kelly McCaa, a pool pro with a passion for challenges and a track record that speaks volumes.
With a legacy spanning four decades in the pool industry, Kelly McCaa’s connection to the trade runs deep. “My family has been in the Pool Industry going on 40 years,” she shared, illuminating the background that has undoubtedly contributed to her skill and expertise. Her work ethic is no less than remarkable, shaped by a profound sense of pride and dedication. “I take great pride in my work and treat customers’ pools as if they were my own,” she states, proudly owning her reputation as a workaholic.
For McCaa, green pools hold a special allure. “Greens are by far my favorite! I love a good challenge!” explained McCaa. Her passion is evident in her dedication to the craft, as she relishes the transformation process that takes her from algae-infested waters to clear blue perfection. “I do enjoy seeing the customers’ reaction of utter disbelief when I’m finished. It’s very rewarding,” she shared.
Detailing her method, McCaa provides insight into her winning approach. “Starting my greens, I dip the bottom until I can’t feel or see any signs of leaves or debris,” she explains, emphasizing the importance of thoroughness from the very beginning. McCaa’s approach hinges on a relentless pursuit of cleanliness, one that involves extensive brushing, backwashing, and meticulous chemical adjustment.
“On this particular pool, I used Cal-Hypo, Trichlor, phosphate remover, 60% algaecide, a touch of Pool Perfect Total, some elbow grease, and TLC,” she detailed. With this approach, the once-green pool was swim-ready in four days’ time—a testament to her methodical approach and commitment to seeing this green-to-clean project through to its fruition.
In the constellation of green pool mastery, Tanner Loggins secured his place this season as a runner-up with an equally remarkable approach. Loggins’ strategy emphasizes the step-by-step transformation process. “The first step was to remove all big debris from the bottom of the pool, and I scrubbed the entire pool walls, tiles, and bottom floor,” he detailed, highlighting the thoroughness that marks his technique. Logins’ approach extends to chemical balance, filter cleaning, and meticulous vacuuming, ultimately transforming the pool from a dank green pond into a tranquil blue paradise in just a three-day period.
In the contest’s roster of winners, one particular entry stood out for its dramatic before-and-after transformation. Pleatco Perfect PoolGal – Shannon Sellers Noser, representing Jeff’s Pool and Spa Service in Georgia, wowed judges and voters alike. Her entry showcased a neon green swamp turning into a sparkling azure oasis—a transformation that can only be described as night and day.
Swimming pools are complex ecosystems that require a delicate balance of chemicals, filtration, and diligent upkeep to maintain crystal-clear water. The challenge becomes all the more apparent as the warm months approach and the pool becomes a hub of family gatherings, barbecues, and outdoor entertainment. Neglecting even a single aspect of maintenance can lead to a cascade of issues, including cloudy water, imbalanced pH levels, and the dreaded algae bloom—causing the pool to turn green seemingly overnight.
Enter the unsung heroes of the pool industry: professional pool technicians. These dedicated individuals possess a wealth of expertise that extends far beyond skimming leaves and adjusting chlorine levels. They are the guardians of pool health, working tirelessly to ensure that homeowners can enjoy a safe and inviting swimming environment throughout the entire swim season.
Each of the experts here clearly understands the importance of a systematic approach. From removing debris, brushing walls, and vacuuming, to adjusting chemicals and meticulously backwashing, each step is executed with precision.

The “Green to Clean” contest not only celebrated the expertise and dedication of pool technicians but also showcased the transformative power of hard work, skill, and a deep passion for the craft. Kelly McCaa, Tanner Loggins, and Shannon Sellers Noser, along with the many other participants, have proven that the world of green pool mastery is a realm of artistry, technique, and applied skill. These cases should serve as an inspiration for all within the industry and a reminder that even the most challenging of pools can be turned into crystal-clear masterpieces with just the right touch.
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