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Thread: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

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    Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    ::edit For anyone looking at this thread for answers to what is in your pool: I have since figured out that it is algae! So, if your pool looks like mine you probably have algae, not pollen.

    Hi all,
    I've read through a bunch of posts and am trying to figure out if I'm dealing with Algae or pollen. First, the numbers

    FC: 4.5
    CC: 0
    PH: 7.2
    TA: 75
    CYA: 35

    I brought down the pH from 7.8 to 7.2 this morning because I think I might need to SLAM, but I wanted to check first.
    Over night my FC went down from 5.5 to 5.0, so not really a loss. I am in western New York, and there is a dead branch from a neighbors tree over the pool dropping leaf pieces. We also have tons of pollen flying around. Most prevalent are white fuzzy things right now (you can see them in the backwash picture)

    What I have on the bottom of the pool is this stuff:












    This morning I dove down into the pool as recommended and picked up some of the stuff on the bottom with a squirt bottle. I put it in a glass and let it settle. Here it is up close:








    Here is what my skimmer sock looked like:





    And here is what the stuff that comes out when I backwash looks like after it has dried:



    And here are the trees that are directly over my pool:





    I just installed that solar cover reel but I don't want to put the new solar cover on if I currently have algae. The stuff behaves like pollen, and there is pollen everywhere, but I don't know what I"m looking at really.

    Thanks for the help,
    KKell
    24' round above ground 52" vinyl pool - 12690 gallons at 45'' fill.
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    Mod Squad woodyp's Avatar
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    I'd venture to say you have some of BOTH. You need one of our recommended test kits in Pool School and need to perform an OCLT as described in the SLAM section there to determine that. Meanwhile, vacuum, brush, sweep, filter, clean filter and hold a minimum of 4 FC if you can. Your sand filter is kinda small for that size pool as well, so it will take a while to clear if it's just pollen.
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    Seems to me like it is pollen for these reasons:
    1. Your chlorine loss is minimal
    2. You have no CC's
    3. You have stated that "There's pollen everywhere", so it's settling on your patio, patio furniture, as well as in your pool. If your pool had a substance in it that was not present anywhere else near the pool, that would be a cause for concern.


    I will say that any debris in the pool (leaves, pollen, twigs, blooms, etc.) will consume some chlorine vs. when none is present. However, if you notice a sudden spike in chlorine consumption or your water suddenly turns a bit cloudy, that would raise an eyebrow.

    Continue keeping an eye on your FC consumption and CC's (which all of us should be doing anyway). Algae will frequently result in a spike in chlorine consumption before it is visible. That does not appear to be happening in your pool.
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    Thanks,
    I've got the test kit (The one for $50 that does all the things), so I can test stuff fine.

    I sort of did the overnight loss test last night. but didn't get outside in time, but I still only lost 0.5 FC. (It was 5.5 at 9PM and 5.0 at 9a.m.) I had gotten it up to 9 the other day because I was afraid it was algae (Not sure why I didn't go to slam level of 14 at the time - I think that was just all the chlorine left in that bottle) and that he been going down at pretty normal rates for being in the sun.

    Im worried that whenever I vacuum all I do is stir the pollen up and disperse it in the water instead of vacuuming it up. I was hoping that since someone had recommended scooping things up and looking at them up close someone could look at the picture and give me a good idea based off of that.

    I suppose I could jack the levels up to 14 and see what happens, but I don't want to dump chemicals on nothing but leaf debris. A lot of leaves broke down in that pool. I could scoop a learner full out four times a day for a few weeks, but of course didn't have the time tondo that all week long.

    i should also say there was pollen everywhere. I think the big dump is over now, but for a month it was all the trees dumping everything. I'm not seeing like a film of pollen everywhere now because we had some strong winds blow it all away. I'd say it's pretty inconclusive from circumstances alone. I was banking on the close up shot.
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's pollen. A finer skimmer sock would help strain it out. I've had good luck with the hairnets.

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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    Quote Originally Posted by KKell
    I suppose I could jack the levels up to 14 and see what happens, but I don't want to dump chemicals on nothing but leaf debris.
    I wouldn't either. No point in doing a SLAM and using unnecessarily high amounts of chlorine when there is currently no reason to. Just focus on monitoring FC consumption and CC's along with water clarity. You may want to bump your FC target up to about 6-7 ppm which is the upper part of the maintenance range given your CYA of 35, which will account for the marginal chlorine consumption of the pollen. You could also give your filter some additional runtime along with gently brushing the surface to get the pollen in suspension so the filter will pick it up (keep an eye on your filter and clean as needed along with skimmer baskets), but that's about it for now. And, oh yeah, go swimming and enjoy the pool!

    BTW, I have spent some time in Western NY (consulting assignments). I am very familiar with that "white stuff" you speak of and, as I recall, it is currently high season for that up there. On a windy day, it looks like it is snowing in June! It should pass in a few weeks.
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    FYI- The "white fuzzy things" appear to be cottonwood seed. They can plug up a skimmer basket fairly efficiently and don't disperse when you dump them on the lawn. Hopefully you have a main drain, but if not I would certainly empty the skimmer basket at least once a day.

    My neighbor has a tree that spits them out for the better part of a month. Certain weeks, it looks like it snowed in my back yard. Now that I have my pool under control and my slide redone, they are the bane of my existence as far as my back yard goes.
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    Thanks for all the help.

    Just to test it I put some liquid chlorine in one of the jelly jars with the stuff from the ground of the pool and so far after 15 minutes it hasn't started to even change color which is a bit odd.

    I used the FC to about 7 for now. What I'm also worried about is that my filter won't pick out the debris because it's just so small. When I stirr the jars the greenish yellow things just swirl around like mist, and I have a sand filter, so I don't know if that can even pick it up at all.

    I also forgot to mention that I just hooked up a used solar heater from someone else's pool that had been sitting in my driveway for a whole year. There's a good chance that had some nasties in it. Thinking about that, slamming sounds like not such a bad idea. It's only 7 more FC which at my pool size is about $3.00 worth of chlorine, and since it's safe to swim in I just might do that after sunset.
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    Re: Algae or pollen? (Lots of pictures)

    Just to update:
    I thought it was pollen and happened to find a bottle of clarifier in the garage from the previous owner. I read around the forum some and thought that if it really is pollen it won't hurt to give it a try. I did, and the water cleared up quite a bit leaving just a thin yellow/green layer on the bottom. I also vacuumed the whole pool, but when I backwashed afterwards I got a solid stream of dark green water, so now I know it was

    It was Algae

    I'm putting that so large to help other people finding the same stuff in their pool to identify this. Of course I'm SLAMing now, and oddly the algae really isn't eating much chlorine. I'm almost out of dpd reagent, sol I ordered the xl refill http://tftestkits.net/XL-Option-p62.html.
    Hopefully that will arrive before my bottle runs out. Once my phone cooperates I can also post a picture of what my backwash solids looked like for reference.
    24' round above ground 52" vinyl pool - 12690 gallons at 45'' fill.
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    Quick question about SLAM end

    Got a quick question about SLAM and backwashing - I'm in the middle of a SLAM, and my levels were all great (until I ran out of DPD testing solution yesterday - more is already in the mail)

    But my main question is this: Should I get green backwash when my pool is at SLAM levels for 3 days? I would have thought the chlorine would kill the algae in the sand filter. My pool is completely clear and sparkly now, but when I backwash I still get about 45 seconds of dark green liquid that has that lovely algae look once it runs down my backyard. I don't get how, chemically, in the filter where highly chlorinated water is being pushed through something can stay so green.

    You can see some pictures here of what the pool looked like before the slam: http://www.troublefreepool.com/threads/120206-Algae-or-pollen-(Lots-of-pictures)

    I should say that before I ran out of DPD tester the chlorine consumption was pretty low (I had a CYA of 35 - might be lower now thanks to my backwashing) so I SLAMed at 14.5 FC, and I maybe had to add 3-4 ppm a day to keep that up, so most of the consumption seemed to come from sunlight, not organics. Still, the water in my sandfilter looked like bogwater when backwashing.

    So:
    1. Why is the filter algae not dying? (I saw here http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...-in-the-filter that it should at least not be growing in there)
    2. Does all the algae in the filter need to be dead before I'm done SLAMing?
    2.b - should I backwash even when the preassure isn't up to check whether the algae in there is dead?


    p.s.: Before anyone asks, I got a Taylor 2006, last values I measured on Monday afternoon were:

    FC: 12.5
    CC: <0.5

    Pre-SLAM I had measured:
    PH: 7.2
    TA: 75
    CYA: 35

    After that test I added 36 oz of 12.5% liquid, so at my pool size that should have left me with 15.5 FC - but I couldn't test any more cause the DPD was empty.
    24' round above ground 52" vinyl pool - 12690 gallons at 45'' fill.
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    I mine does the same thing. I don't think algae is living in the filter, I think it just retains the color. I've backwashed nasty green out of the filter during a slam when my pool water was dull gray. My old DE filter did the same thing, until the pool was clear the debris in the filter stayed green. I have no idea why.
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    Ok, so your CYA is basically 40, are you SLAMing it with a FC of 16?

    Only backwash when your filter raises 25% over baseline. Believe it or not a slightly dirty filter actually filters better than a pristine clean one. Go figure?
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    My CYA is 35, so I'm slamming at 14.5 That should be adequate given the SLAM level of 12 for 30 and 16 for 40.

    Thanks for the input. I always thought the algae wasn't dead until it was bleached white.
    24' round above ground 52" vinyl pool - 12690 gallons at 45'' fill.
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    I would push it up to 16 just to err on the side of caution. 35 isn't really a value on the Taylor gauge... It may be in the middle of 30-40 but since there are no lines you cant be totally sure... I was sitting at the same CYA and targeted 16
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    Quote Originally Posted by KKell View Post
    My CYA is 35, so I'm slamming at 14.5 That should be adequate given the SLAM level of 12 for 30 and 16 for 40.

    Thanks for the input. I always thought the algae wasn't dead until it was bleached white.
    There is no 35...... The scale from 30 to 40 is logarithmic, not linear (halfway between 30 & 40 is not 35).


    It's best to round up to 40, and use a FC shock level of 16ppm.

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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    I got the 35 from two sources.
    i measured between 30 and 40 a few weeks ago, and then just for kicks brought my water to a pool store (after two more backwashes) and they gave me the 35 number. It made sense, so I ran with it.

    Looking at the Slam values that function looks like:
    20-30 +2
    30-40 +4
    40-50 +4
    50-60 +4
    60-70 +4
    70-80 +5
    80-90 +4
    90-100 +4

    I know somewhere buried on this board should be some more precise calculations from chemgeek, but I'd be surprised if this doesn't map on to a function where I can achieve the desired result by bumping up the target FC by 2.5 when the CYA goes up by 5 from the previous benchmark.

    If it increases by 4 from 20 to 30 and by 4 from 30 to 40, why wouldn't it go up by around 2 between 30 and 35?
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    All that math is great, but you're missing my point, the CYA scale on the view tube is not linear, halfway between the 30 mark and the 40 mark is not 35.

    I don't know why you are throwing in pool store testing, we don't trust their results at all.

    Its your pool, do as you wish, but you are really making this more complicated than it needs to be. What you are seeing on your CYA view tube is probably closer to 37-38ppm when it's between the 30 & 40 mark, which now puts your FC lower than optimal.

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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    Yup, when dealing with CYA levels for a SLAM don't try to cut the edge like that. Round up to 40 and SLAM at 16
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    Quote Originally Posted by domct203 View Post
    All that math is great, but you're missing my point, the CYA scale on the view tube is not linear, halfway between the 30 mark and the 40 mark is not 35.
    Thanks Dom, I was missing the point. I'm pretty terrible at measuring CYA, and I got to 35 because I had measured somewhere between 30 and 40 before, backwashed since, and gotten the pool store result since. I tend to not trust them either, but I just wanted to get another data point (I actually went to buy more filter sand since I thought I had lost a lot since the last refill and the guy wouldn't sell me any because he said I should just do a complete replacement after 2-3 years. I need to go and read back up on what I should actually do). The CYA reagents are just so rare that I can't re-measure it every couple of weeks, but with all the trees over my pool I'm constantly backwashing 2-3 inches of water, so since my pool is full at 45 inches that means I lose about 5% of my water every time I backwash (I don't know if that is normal or too much, now that I think about it). So, if my CYA was 37 before the backwash (and refill/rain) and I lost 5% I'd be at 35 again.

    I get your advice though, and if once my DPD test comes in I can't pass an OCLT I'll measure my CYA again and do another SLAM, and if it's anything more than 30 I'll do it at 16.

    Thanks again for all the help.
    24' round above ground 52" vinyl pool - 12690 gallons at 45'' fill.
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    Re: Quick question about SLAM end

    You may want to consider a deep clean of the filter after the SLAM is done. I had to do a quick SLAM this spring. Frequent pressure rises and backwashing gave me an indication it was needed. There was some sort of goop on the top of the sand that was too heavy to backwash out. (I think it was pollen.) It's a pretty simple process. Did the trick for me.
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