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Thread: Phosphate questions

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    Phosphate questions

    So on the site it says phosphate levels are not important? Does anyone have a good explanation as to why? I know that if my chlorine levels are correct I'm not going to have an algae problem. However sometimes I am gone or neglect the pool and have found my chlorine level at zero. Will having high phosphate levels and zero chlorine lead to algae growth? Are there any benefits to high phosphate levels or low to no phosphate levels.

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    IF you are gone or neglect pool, it may or will turn on you regardless of phosphates. Once algae starts it produces it's own phosphates, which is why during an algae outbreak your Phos. count is higher.
    If you are looking for a "forgiving pool" I have found that adding Borates can help accomplish that for You.
    With that being said a SWCG may be just what you need also!
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    What about the Phosphate free Pool Perfect care stuff that they push selling at Leslies Pool Supplies? Seems like everytime I go there they are trying to sell you the product.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    There is no good reason to consider a phosphate remover.

    Back to OP's subject, lack of chlorine is problematic. One way or another you will need to learn how to keep chlorine in your pool or plan on shocking it back to clear when you return. It's much cheaper to prevent algae than to cure the outbreak.

    Like threewide said, an swg or some other means of chlorination while you are away is your only solution.....phosphates are irrelevant.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    I haven't got a clue what my phosphate level is. Never tested it, never treated it. Phosphates are only "evil" in that they are a food source for algae. If you don't have algae, who cares? Think of phosphates as algae fuel. Wood is fuel for a fire, but if you don't have a flame, it just sits there.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Someone said that phosphates are to algae as timber is to fire. In the same way that if you aren't burning you don't need to get rid of all of your wood, If you properly maintain your pool chemistry, you do not need to be concerned about phosphates.
    (I'm too lazy to search it out and properly credit the analogy, so whomever will just need to chime in to claim it. )
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    I have a chlorine feeder with pucks since im lazy and dont want to add liquid chlorine everyday plus they add cya to the water for me. I was using the pool perfect phos free stuff you mentioned and of course it was recommended by one of the employees at Leslies. I haven't used it for a few weeks now and my phosphate level was 250 when I went and got it tested by the same guy that sold me the phos free. He told me that I needed to add 4 cap fulls of the phos free. The funny thing is I went today to get the water tested and the levels were at 300 except it was the other store employee and he said everything was fine.

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    We have members here who routinely have phosphates in the 3500 to 4000 ppb range and have no problems. Properly chlorinate and you'll never need to address phosphates. It's that simple really.

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Someone said that phosphates are to algae as timber is to fire. So if that's the case wouldnt having high phosphate levels make an algae problem that much worse. And wouldn't the high phosphate levels cause a problem faster than if there were lower levels.

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Algae is algae. The treatment is the same regardless of the amount of algae. Likewise, the cause of algae is the same across the board as well and none of it has to do with phosphates. Phosphates can be a problem in watersheds and reservoirs. They are however a non-issue in a swimming pool that one can add chlorine to in order to control organic growth.

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Raaron
    So if that's the case wouldnt having high phosphate levels make an algae problem that much worse. And wouldn't the high phosphate levels cause a problem faster than if there were lower levels.
    Yes, if algae gets a grip in your pool and you have laid on a feast (phosphates) then the growth will be much quicker and more severe. I used phosphate remover from time to time as the pools are in farming areas and crop spraying can be a problem but and I was surprised several of the members of TFP have levels way above what I have seen and maintain their pools using the TFP system BBB which is a learning curve you can pick up from "Pool School" (button top right) if you haven't been there before. I used it as an insurance policy for some of the more vulnerable pools where owners are not quite reliable enough or away when we suffer algae blooms which seem to be worse twice a year. If you are lazy (as you said) then unless you want a tough time with your pool either a SWG or chlorine dosing pump should be on you shopping list together with the pool school section. You'll soon learn not to listen to pool shops and the savings you'll make will pay for the equipment I just mentioned.

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by threewide
    Once algae starts it produces it's own phosphates, which is why during an algae outbreak your Phos. count is higher.
    Just for clarity, this isn't exactly what happens. Though dead algae that gets broken down can then release phosphates that were built into various organics, it isn't true that algae that grows produces it's own phosphates. Phosphates don't just spontaneously exist. What can happen, however, is that if the chlorine gets close to zero then bacteria can grow and they can efficiently convert any organic phosphates in the water into the inorganic phosphate (orthophosphate) that is what the phosphate test kits measure.

    Algae can also utilize organic phosphates, but its uptake is slower compared to orthophosphate. This is why one can measure near zero phosphate levels on the test kit and yet still get algae. It's because of organic phosphates that are in the water.

    Nevertheless, it is generally true that pools with high phosphate levels AND sufficient nitrate levels and sunlight and temperature can be very "reactive" in that the algae can grow near its limit (based on temperature and sunlight) which is roughly doubling in population every 3 to 8 hours. I am one of those who has had 3000+ ppb phosphates in my pool in the past and can say from experience that IF one lets the chlorine get too low for more than a day, then the pool can seemingly turn rather quickly in just a few days.

    So while we all say here that chlorine alone can prevent algae growth regardless of phosphate (and nitrate) levels and that this is technically true, IF you don't believe you can consistently maintain a chlorine level then you have several options you should look at. One is to automate your chlorine dosing via The Liquidator or a peristaltic pump or using a saltwater chlorine generator (options that teapot mentioned). Another is to spend more money on supplemental products as "insurance" against algae growth. The two "insurance" approaches with the least side effects are to use PolyQuat 60 weekly or to have 50 ppm Borates in the water (or both if you want extra protection). These are not foolproof, but they will slow down algae growth probably long enough for you to deal with any issues. The next best choice would be to use a phosphate remover, but as I noted above it may not work well if you have a lot of organic phosphates, but should be seen in the same vein as using a weekly algaecide though can get very expensive if you already have high phosphate levels. The other options aren't so good, like using a copper-based algaecide, since this can lead to staining unless you are very careful with dosages and pH control.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    chem geek,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to explain about this subject!
    We do appreciate your insight (incredible knowledge) and we will pass it on for the future.


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    Re: Phosphate questions

    As someone who had the now terminated lawn-care company routinely get fertilizer and other **** onto our pool deck and probably also directly into the water, my phosphates were high (>1500). I had resistant mustard algae and did EVERYTHING by the book. When I went to maintenance FC levels, it always came back. Fought this before closing last season and for a month after start up. I spent $$ on extra bleach to hold at mustard algae level 3 separate times and reagents (more than what the price of a darn bottle of phosphate remover cost - $19). So, I went against the advice here and used the phosphate remover. Then once that cloudiness cleared up which took 2 days, I went after the mustard algae and added Yellow Klear. I can now say that I am able to maintain my FC at the minimum levels consistently w/o algae recurrence. I have also been able to reduce pump/filter run time. I have been consistent in using the polyquat60 weekly. My pool water looks great and silkier than ever. Everyone mentions how great my water is. The best it's ever been I believe.

    Off on a tangent time. This experience reminds me of all the advice I received when I was a new mother and breastfeeding. My lactician and initial pediatrian subscribed to what I have now come to regard as the 'Nazi LeLeche Breastfeeding Mentality' that believed an infant would become nipple confused if a bottle was introduced too early or even at all, and never again latch onto the breast. Being a highly educated woman, I believed them. When I returned to working weekends 5 months later, that little kid refused to take a bottle of breastmilk! And wouldn't for days. It took several weeks to get my darling baby to seemlessly transition between breast and bottle. I was a wreck as was the whole household. MY POINT: there is sometimes more than one way of working a situation, and to stridently follow one philosophy may have its own consequences. Never say never.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    As stated in this post the yellow/mustard algae was kept away at the higher FC level (15% of the CYA level) needed to prevent that more chlorine-resistant algae from growing so the principle of chlorine being able to prevent algae growth regardless of nutrient level still holds even though it may become impractical with yellow/mustard algae. However, with yellow/mustard algae, if it's not completely killed, including from shady places it likes to hang out such as behind light niches, under ladders, inside poles, etc. then it will come back at the lower maintenance FC level used to prevent green algae. If all else fails, then using the other alternatives are a last resort, which is what you did. (SeaKlear® Yellow Klear is 99% sodium bromide.)

    Green algae is far more common and is fortunately more easily killed and has a lower maintenance level of chlorine needed to prevent its growth (roughly an FC that is 7.5% of the CYA level; 5% in saltwater chlorine generator pools).
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    before I switched to salt, I was using liquid bleach, per the advice of this board, and fought algae constantly, even though all my chem levels were daily maintained. the dude at leslies said that the problem was that I was "feeding" the algae phosphates from the liquid bleach. Comments?

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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Don't buy that you were" feeding" the phosphates from liquid bleach...hahaha..not laughing at you, laughing at the pool store employee who even suggested this. I DO NOT have a salt water generator and have used NOTHING but liquid chlorine and bleach for 2 years and I have NEVER had on outbreak of algae or any kind of problems.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sjlarson
    before I switched to salt, I was using liquid bleach, per the advice of this board, and fought algae constantly, even though all my chem levels were daily maintained. the dude at leslies said that the problem was that I was "feeding" the algae phosphates from the liquid bleach. Comments?
    Welcome to TFP!

    Since this is your first post, why didn't you report in when you were "using liquid bleach, per the advice of this board, and fought algae constantly"? Did you shock to the levels shown in the chlorine / CYA chart since you may have not killed off nascent algae when you were having trouble? Was it yellow/mustard algae that you were battling and if so, did you get behind light niches and under removable ladders, etc.? Are you sure it was algae and not pollen (sometimes yellow pollen on blue vinyl looks green)?

    As for "phosphates from the liquid bleach", there are NO phosphates in chlorinating liquid or bleach. This post gives further details about the actual ingredients in many grocery/hardware store chemicals used for pools.
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    Re: Phosphate questions

    Since comments were asked for... I shall comment.

    Did you ever shock the pool exactly as pool school and this board recommends?

    Do you have a FAS-DPD test kit?

    What is/was the CYA level and shock level you used while battling algae? How many times did you pass the 3 requirements and algae returned regardless?

    Those are questions, sorry... Not comments. Comments apparently come later after the questions are answered. I guess I can't comment really.
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