Unless you’re familiar with pool care, you imagine that colorful stuff that washes up on the beach when you hear the term “algae.” Most of the time, when it comes to splotches of greenish unwanted growth, we think of mold or mildew. But for pool care, it’s algae every time.
Algae spores cannot be avoided altogether, no matter what climate or region you live in, even if your pool care routine is immaculate. While it isn’t directly harmful to humans, it feeds harmful bacteria that tends to propagate in pool water, and can clog up your filtration system.
Understanding how algae spreads, and how to deter this process, are key components to maintaining a healthy pool. For additional information on pool care, be sure to read How Often Should You Clean a Swimming Pool? from our friends at Sun Valley Pool Care.
Causes of Algae Growth
While algae spores cannot be avoided completely, what can be avoided is providing a strong “breeding ground” for them. Like all living things, algae feeds on other organic matter. Aside from conducting photosynthesis, algae’s main source of sustenance is phosphates.
Phosphates are found in all manner of debris that makes its way into your pool. This includes dirt, grass, leaves, skin cells, and the oils secreted from our hair and skin. Most algaecides include harmless enzymes that will munch away at those phosphates before algae gets a chance to digest them and start flourishing.
Preventing Algae Growth
All of your run-of-the-mills pool care tactics are at play in the chore of preventing an overgrowth of algae. Here’s a quick list:
Change or rinse your filter on schedule, to keep your water cleansed. This task will vary depending on the size of your pool and the type of filter you’re using. Be sure and educate yourself on appropriate specifications.
Monitor and regulate your water’s various chemical levels, including pH and free chlorine. For more info on “free chlorine” versus “total chlorine” levels, check out Maintaining Your Pool’s Chlorine Levels in the Summer.
Vacuuming and Brushing
Vacuum and brush your pool regularly. Brushing knocks loose any organic matter that’s gotten stuck to the tiles, sides, and/or floor of your pool. Vacuuming clears it away. All of this helps reduce the amount of organic matter available for algae spores to feed on.
Take care of your circulation system. Your pump, pump lines, and filter baskets should be serviced regularly, either on your own or by a pool care professional. As mentioned above, algae buildup can clog your filtration system, so be sure you’re running your pump often enough to accommodate the frequency of pool use.
Shock your pool regularly, even if you’re monitoring your chlorine levels. This is especially important in the summertime, when the heat, sunlight, and extra pool usage all cause chlorine levels to break down more rapidly.
While all the measures mentioned above are critical to reducing algae levels, algaecides are specifically formulated to target algae growth. You can find these products as a stand-alone application, or as a shock/algaecide combination.