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Thread: Recurring White Water Mold

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    Recurring White Water Mold

    I'm a new member and this is my first post. So let me start by saying hello and thank you. I've learned a tremendous amount already by reading posts here at TroubleFreePool over the last few months. It's an impressive community of very knowledgable and helpful people. Thank you!

    Next, a quick summary of my pool. I have an indoor Endless Pool swim spa. For anyone unfamiliar, this is a very small pool (7'x14' and 4' deep) with a propellor unit mounted in the front which creates a current in which to swim. When this propellor unit is on, water is cycled back to the unit through plastic benches that form channels around the perimeter of the pool. The pool is lined with vinyl and kept around 80 degrees F. Because it's indoor, there is no CYA in my pool. Thanks to what I've learned here at TFP, I've been manually maintaining good water balance testing daily via a Taylor K-2006C FAS-DPD test kit. I manage the FC with 6% Clorox bleach.

    Now for my problem description and questions.

    I've been battling white water mold. Using what I learned here, I did an extended shock, maintaining FC levels of >12 until there was no overnight loss in FC. Meanwhile, I brushed and vacuumed the pool daily. I also replaced the cartridge filters on a regular basis (discarding the used ones). And I placed a net in my skimmer basket to assist in collecting the debris during the shock process and regularly tossed and replaced this too.

    This process appeared to work. The debris finally subsided. Then I waited weeks for the chlorine levels to reduce to a swimmable level (remember there's no sun to help breakdown the chlorine in my pool). I got back in the pool to swim once the FC was near 3ppm. During my initial swims, there was some debris that I caught in a net. It looked distinctly different from the debris I had been capturing during the previous weeks while shocking. During the shock process, the debris was grey. However, the small amount of debris I found while swimming was bluish-white. In both cases, the stuff looked like white flecks floating around the pool and I couldn't determine color until pulling the flecks out of the water and examining them on a paper towel.

    Since there wasn't much of this new bluish debris, I continued to swim (I was desperate for this exercise after staying out of the pool for months while trying to diagnose and treat the problem). I maintained FC levels around 3ppm and removed any debris with a net whenever I noticed it.

    Recently I had friends over and their kids went swimming in my pool. While the kids were swimming I noticed significant debris in the pool. This again was the bluish stuff. The FC level after the kids got out was 2 ppm and I immediately added more chlorine and cleaned out all of the debris I could reach. The next day the net in my skimmer basket was completely filled with grey matter.

    So I assume this bluish stuff is more white water mold and it looks like it bloomed significantly with the increased pool activity. Should I assume the bluish-white color indicates live mold while the grey color indicates dead mold?

    In the last few days, the problem seems to be subsiding with FC levels around 5ppm. My water levels are currently as follows:
    FC = 5
    CC = 0
    PH = 7.4
    TA = 100
    CH = 190
    CYA = 0
    Temp = 80 degree F

    Was this most likely reintroduced via floaties/toys or was it not successfully killed with the initial shock? Do I need to do another high level (i.e. FC > 10ppm) extended shock? Is there an alternative way to attack this to ensure it goes for good this time?

    I've been reading about a product called Aquafinesse sold by Par Pools here in CT. Has anyone else used this, and if so, with what results? It's designed to clear up biofilms. From what I've been reading about WWM and bio films, it seems there could be many layers that would require multiple stages or rounds of treatment. Is this correct?

    Unfortunately, there are many places within the pool that I cannot reach to clean, mostly the insides of the benches used to return the water from the current to the propellor unit. I assume that circulation inside these benches is reduced. I make sure to run the propellor for at least 30 min daily even when I'm not swimming to get the water to circulate through the benches. And I run the propellor right after adding chlorine to get it to spread throughout the pool quickly. My filter runs continuously.

    My pool is only a year old. I got in to this mess because of my ignorance about water chemistry as a new pool owner. It's incredibly frustrating not being able to swim so I'm desperate for a solution. I'm wary, though, of throwing large amounts of chemicals at the pool if that's not necessary. Everything I've read here at TFP indicates that I should be able to resolve this with just chlorine. I'm not sure what I did wrong or if it's just typical to have to perform multiple rounds of shock treatment for this kind of problem.

    I'm eager for any advice! And thanks for your patience in reading through this long post.

    - Nancy
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    How confident are you that CYA is really zero? Have you tested CYA recently and if so how? White water mold is pretty much a non-issue with any plausible chlorine level. Even with benches interfering with water flow, it doesn't seem plausible that you could have white water mold at the FC levels you describe when CYA is really at zero.

    Biofilms can make things much more difficult to kill off. Normally brushing is used to disrupt the biofilm and make them susceptible to regular shock levels. Still high FC levels break down biofilms even without brushing given time. In some situations that can be a lot of time, but with FC levels as high as you describe the biofilms should have broken down.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Thanks for the quick response, JasonLion. It has been a while since I tested CYA, so to be sure I just now re-tested it. The test solution never gets even slightly cloudy, so filling the comparator tube all the way to the top I can still clearly make out the black dot on the bottom. This is using the Taylor K-2006C test kit which mixes 7ml of pool water with 7ml CYA reagent.

    I thought maybe a biofilm could exist under the benches where I can't brush or inside the filter line. But after maintaining FC levels > 10 for 3 full weeks in February (17 of those days it was actually > 12), I figured there couldn't possibly be anything still alive my my pool. I don't understand how that didn't resolve this problem.

    You can see why I'm so frustrated and confused as to what this debris is. Throughout this entire process, my pool water has been crystal clear (with the exception of this debris of course) and the vinyl walls squeak when rubbed with a finger. The only place I've ever found suspect material attached to a surface is inside the skimmer. Each morning I wipe out the inside of the skimmer housing and there is usually something on the ceiling of this plastic housing. Some mornings, what is wiped off onto a paper towel looks grey, and sometimes it's a white, slightly greenish scum. I wipe it clean, throw away the paper towel, and then check the skimmer basket each morning before testing the water.

    I assumed that the material I've been wiping out of the skimmer housing is a collection of whatever the debris is in my pool that just gathers in the skimmer and splashes onto the internal skimmer walls while the filter is running overnight.
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Very puzzling. The FC levels you indicate having maintained and 0 CYA would seem to make it incredibly difficult for anything organic to get a foot hold in your pool.

    Is it possible you have a source of contamination around the pool? (Something falling off the ceiling, etc.)

    My assumption is your water is close to crystal clear...correct?

    With 0 CYA, even 3-4ppm chlorine can sometimes deteriorate items around the pool. Any chance something is close or in the pool and shedding some debris?

    I am grasping around a bit because it really seems implausible that you have WWM.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    It took me a long time to diagnose the problem because when I first saw debris I was convinced there was a paper manual stuck under the benches somewhere that was finally breaking down and shredding. But isn't that how WWM got its name? It's described as shredded pieces of tissue paper floating around the pool.

    Dave - you're correct, my water has been crystal clear throughout. I do have to top up water every other week so that it stays at the right level with respect to the propellor unit. I do this with a garden hose. Since first reading about WWM, I make sure to run the hose for a while before adding the water to the pool. I wondered about other sources of contamination. The room the pool is in is a new construction. Generally the pool stays covered unless in use while swimming; but I left it uncovered through most of the shocking process. I have at times found bug parts in the skimmer basket, such as the leg of a cricket or water spider.

    Here are some pictures I posted on Flickr that show the pool environment as well as 2 pics of the debris at different stages.

    Pool: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27611627@N ... 714439265/

    Debris removed during shocking process: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27611627@N ... 714439265/

    Debris recently removed post-shock: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27611627@N ... 714439265/
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Is this an all in one assembly, kind of like a large standalone spa with all the plumbing built in? If it is, it is possible that is was wet tested at the factory, and that was the point the contamination got into the pipes. Or it could have happened later if the sanitizer level was allowed to be too low for too long. Once the contamination is in there and it forms a protective coating, it is hard to get rid of. In the first post of the chlorine use in a hot tub thread, there is a link to a thread that discuss a decontamination procedure for hot tubs. You may want to consider doing this.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    The pool was assembled in place with new PVC piping at the time of install. I don't know how this mold got introduced to my pool, but I'm fairly certain that it managed to take hold during periods of neglect while I was out of town. I didn't know enough at the time about water balance and maintenance and so the FC levels dropped to zero for at least a few days at a time.

    Over the last week while I've maintained FC levels near 5 ppm, the problem seems to be subsiding once again. The pool didn't lose any chlorine overnight with or without the cover on. The reason I mention no loss of FC overnight with the cover on is that I figured maybe if there was anything growing on the cover then I'd see a chlorine demand when the pool is closed overnight. Unfortunately it's hard for me to manually clean the underside of the cover. It's mounted on brackets which are recessed below a large piece of limestone coping. I'd need to hire professionals to help me remove the stone before I could access the cover roller.

    I've also been wiping out the inside of the skimmer with a Clorox soaked paper towel regularly which seems to be keeping the greenish scum at bay that sometimes collects there. I'll throw away the noodles that the kids were playing with during the last bloom of this mold. I guess I'll toss my kick board too unless anyone can recommend a good cleaning product which I can use instead.

    All of the debris I've removed the pool this past week was grey in color. It doesn't exactly dissolve when touched, but it does break up quite easily and the pieces are pretty small.

    I've been trying to closely examine the pool surroundings to see if anything could possibly float into the pool as a source of contamination. I thought maybe something could be blown into the room through the HVAC vents, but I haven't seen any unusual debris outside of the pool.

    Has anyone recognized the stuff in the pictures I included in my last post? I really appreciate everyone's help. And thanks in advance to anyone who can recommend a good cleaner so that I can hopefully avoid tossing my kick board and vacuum and skimmer nets.
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Here's a picture of some debris I just pulled out of my pool this morning.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/27611627@N ... 714439265/

    When I tried to wipe these off/out of the net they kind of smeared into it instead. (Usually the debris lifts off the net onto a paper towel, but these probably sat too long in the net while I grabbed my camera to take pics.) Now I'm having a hard time cleaning the net off. This stuff is maddening!
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Pool toys (like noodles) can deteriorate. I might try removing EVERYTHING from the pool for a while.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Nothing has been in the pool for a week now while I've kept the FC high. The noodles and other things like kick board and leg buoy are only ever in the pool while being directly used. For example, the kids were playing with the noodles when this white stuff seemed to surge and lots of debris re-materialized in the water.

    Should I throw everything out and buy new or is it worth trying to chemically clean some of these items (like the pole net)?
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Before throwing everything out I would examine them to see if they are falling apart. I know we never get more than 1 season out of noodles which just start to crumble into little pieces.
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Everything is just about a year old. The kick board and leg buoy appear to be in new condition. I don't always exercise with them. And sadly, b/c of this problem, I haven't exercised much in the pool at all over the last 6 months. The noodles look like they are in good shape too. It's not really a recreational pool, so in the past year they only got used on a few occasions (5-6 times at most).

    I'm mainly worried about ridding the water of this mold only to re-introduce it via one of these flotation objects or through the pole net or the vacuum that I've been using to clean up all of the debris while shocking. I would like to assume that the grey stuff I fished out of the pool is dead and poses no more risk. But if possible, I'd like to find a reliable way to clean the net before using it again to fish out any other debris, just to play it safe.
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    If there is a light in the swim spa you might try removing it from the niche and cleaning behind it. I have a salt water pool and if I don't clean behind my pool light fairly frequently I get water mold.
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Nancy,
    Have you considered contacting Endless Pool to see if they're familiar with the issue?
    6K gal., cartridge filter, AG
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Thanks for the suggestion, suep. There are lights in the pool, but no niches behind them. They just pop right through the steel walls and vinyl liner. I could potentially examine behind the lights by pulling out the skirting panel and viewing from the exterior of the pool. I'll do that later today. For what it's worth, there's no sign of mold or anything really around the 2 lights.

    Greta - The first call I made at the beginning of all of this was to Endless Pools. Unfortunately, they weren't that helpful. The first customer service rep I talked to had never heard of WWM. He recommended that I raise the FC level above 5ppm and hold it there for a week, which did not address the problem. That's when I found TFP and learned more about how to properly shock a pool. The second time I called, that rep seemed familiar with WWM and recommended that I attach a filtering bag to the return in order to catch any debris coming out of the filtration system during the shocking process. I didn't bother with this since by then the debris was reducing and I seemed to be doing ok with my vacuum and the bag I placed in the skimmer basket.

    I really thought I had kicked the problem after the first shock which lasted over a week and then took another 2-3 weeks for the FC to reduce to swimmable levels. It was so disappointing to see it recur recently. The FC hasn't dropped below 1ppm since that first shock and it only got that low the day after my friends' kids went swimming. Otherwise I had been keeping the FC as close to 3ppm as possible, adjusting daily.

    Right now the water is at 4.2 ppm FC (has been for a couple of days). I just brushed the pool and ran the propellor for a short while. There was one sizable flake that I scooped out with a net and it looks the same as the last pic I linked to yesterday. The skimmer had scum collected along the water line which again I cleaned and wiped down with a clorox-soaked paper towel as I do every morning. The bag in the skimmer basket only had a few dog hairs collected in it, but nothing else of note.

    Maybe a few rounds of shocking is what was needed to break through layers of mold/bio film? I feel like I'm being lulled again into thinking it's dead. I worry I'll need to brace myself for another surge once I finally get back in the pool (when the FC eventually gets below 3).
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    I found another Endless Pool owner online who had a problem with WWM in the past. He claims that he managed to get rid of it by using AquaFinesse. He said that while he used a hot tub product, the AF manufacturer was in the process of developing something for pools at the time. I did find an AquaFinesse product specifically for swim spas which must be what he was referring to.

    Assuming that I have some kind of bio film in my pipes or built up under the benches in my pool, would it make sense to try using AquaFinesse? My understanding is that AquaFinesse is designed to keep biofilms from attaching to pvc and other surfaces, but it's not intended to do any sanitizing so I would continue my regular Clorox regimen.

    Will this product add CYA to my pool? Will it affect any other aspects of water balance such as PH or TA?

    It's also kind of expensive. Is it just snake oil that I'm being tempted by out of desperation to kick this WWM?
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    It's not snake oil, but it's not needed except for unusual situations, but yours would seem to qualify. You can get the smallest Starter 8 Tab Pail. It's particularly helpful in getting rid of established biofilms while proper chlorine dosing prevents subsequent biofilm formation. For white water mold, it may help to dislodge it from piping which can then help chlorine break it down or the filter remove it. I believe the product is primarily composed of powerful surfactants that aid in dislodging and breaking up biofilm.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    You might also want to try a poly quant type of algaecide. I had a similar re-occurring problem. I corrected by doing three things: I back flush the air pipes in my spa jets with pool water several times a year, I keep my FC at or above the recommended maximum level for my CYA, and I add a poly quant algaecide. I noticed that when shocking, adding the algaecide caused the water to clear up much faster than without. After several years of doing the above, I no longer have these issues.
    7,500 gal, IG pool, L shape 22' x 15', 1.5 hp pump, cartridge filter, AquaPlus SWG/Controller, Pebble-Tec liner.

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    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    Thanks for the information, chem geek. I went to Par Pools this weekend and picked up a bottle of Aquafinesse swim spa tablets (http://www.parpools.com/page/poolcare/A ... m-Spa.html). I put the initial 2 tablet dose in my skimmer basket on Saturday. By this morning they have already completely dissolved.

    The owner, Ron Parrs, has seen many cases of white water mold apparently, and he didn't think that the samples of debris I brought to the store looked like WWM. Instead, he said it looks like some kind of build up in the pipes that was scaling and flaking off. He said I should expect to see more of this debris in the first week or two of using Aquafinesse, but so far there hasn't been any significant increase. The debris had been tapering off already over the past week. Perhaps the chlorine treatment I've used thus far has broken down most of whatever was growing in the pipes. I'm hopeful this product will help me clear the pipes for good.

    Thanks for the suggestion of the algaecide, dschlic1. I'll see how things go with Aquafinesse for now, but will keep your suggestion in mind.
    7'x14' indoor Endless Pool (2900 gal) w/ vinyl liner, cartridge filter

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: Recurring White Water Mold

    I've been reading the posts about the WWM in the Endless Pool. I'm having the same problem with my pool. Are there any updates? Has the AquaFinesse worked?

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