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Thread: Phosphates...

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Phosphates...

    This is a a largely academic discussion because my phosphates test at zero....
    However that was not the case several months ago...(they were at 3500)
    I would like to understand some 'detail' behind this issue apart from the standard answer I see of of don't worry about it....because TFP doesn't consider it important.... I am not trying to start an argument, merely furthering my understanding....

    What causes phosphates in the water?
    My understanding is that it could be anything that infiltrates the pool... Fertilizer, large amounts of soil or mulch, or organics such as leaves and flowers, etc.... I have read some 'studies' that say none of these sources are significant and that large amounts must come from chemicals such as a stain remover. I have a hard time believing that is the only source as my pool has never had that and yet I was at 3500 parts per billion. I do not know what gets classified as 'large amounts'. Perhaps 3500 is not 'large amounts'?

    What do phosphates in the pool do?
    In *my* case they seemed to be consuming all of the chlorine as I couldn't keep any in the pool. One explanation perhaps is that I had clear algae ? And the phosphates were feeding that ? And until I got rid of the algae, I couldn't keep chlorine in there ? But by removing the phosphates I got rid of the algae without knowing what I was really treating and trying to kill?

    At what point should one treat a high level of phosphates?
    Now perhaps in the answer is never, and the reason is that phosphates are simply a food source and if you don't have anything that is actually eating it, then it doesn't matter if the food is there? And if you do have something eating the food source, you kill it and not the food source?

    Again, I'm simply curious about this issue, especially reading a number of posts which are 'dismissive' of the topic in general. Would simply like to be more educated so I understand the basis for not worrying about this particular issue.....

    Thank you in advance for reasoned responses...
    Central TX / 12K GAL / IG / SWG / DE filter / Pentair SVRS & 3 swim jet pumps / Spa bench and jets / Single body of water / No heater.

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    Phosphates...

    I am sure that many will come along and give very technical explanations as to why they are no big deal. Mine got out of control high a couple years ago. That is how I found the forum. I had just bought quite a supply of Phosfree after yet another treatment of phosphate remover and vacum to waste cycle. In the process of doing that several times I believe that I lowered my cya enough that it got to the 80 range and pool was easier to keep under control.
    That and the pool store had my wife dump in 10 gallons of 12.5% LC while I was in Europe for 2 weeks for work at the same time as the phosphate remover.

    I got home and saw the jugs and jugs of **** and knew there had to be a better way. So I found it here.

    I
    Now I will admit. I still do a maintence dose of PhosFree weekly when the pool is open. Mainly because I still have it and because my pool sits down in a valley surrounded by farm fields on two sides.


    30x20 vinyl IG, Hayward SD60 with Pentair Dynamo 340219 2HP pump, Compupool CPSC24 SWG, Hayward H200FDN heater. APC automatic pool cover.
    Central Illinois

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Phosphates...

    I got indoctrinated to phosphates when I was keeping a saltwater coral reef aquarium for several years. Phosphates in an aquarium are extremely important to control or you end up with ugly green algae which smothers everything in the aquarium and is a nightmare to be rid of without killing all of the reasons one has an aquarium to begin with.

    There are different types of phosphates, organic and inorganic, they have way too many forms to mention but they are contained within almost everything. They can enter the pool by being windblown, or by rainwater and sprinkler system runoff. Lawn and plant fertilizers contain high levels of phosphates (and nitrates) which often-times ends up in the pool. Biological materials such as grass and leaves and bugs organically breakdown and become prevelent sources of phosphates.

    Phosphates in many of its forms are nutrient rich plant food. In the context of a swimming pool or an aquarium, Phosphates=algae food.

    The reason whey TFP consider phosphates as negligible, is because we chlorinate our pools properly. If you maintain your FC properly, there will be no algae living in the pool to eat the algae food, so, it doesnt matter what the phosphate level is, if there is no algae to grow from it.

    The pool stores dont understand the CYA to FC relationship required to keep a pool algae free to begin with, so they promote all sorts of ineffective producst, such as phosphate removers to remove algae food. To me, the whole idea of removing alge food from a pool is exactly contrary to selling chlorine products on the same shelf. Phosphate remover is meant to starve the algae while a chlorine product is sold to prevent algae... its just silly.

    TPF provides a proven method of preventing an algae bloom from ever happening in the first place and phosphates are of no concern if the pool is maintained properly.

    In your case, I would ask what your water test results were then, when you couldnt keep chlorine, and now, and how to you maintain your FC levels?

    Algae in its infant state, before it becomes a full fledged bloom is invisible to the eye, so it is entirely possible that under the right conditions, that if your FC wasnt maintained relative to the CYA, that addition of phosphate remover may have played some role in your particular pool.
    I would suspect if this is the case though, then at the time, a CC test would produce a result of greater than .5 and your overnight chlorine loss test would have been greater than 2ppm.
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

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    Re: Phosphates...

    I appreciate the responses. I first signed up for this forum on a friends recommendation in 2012 when my pool was being built, but since I had a pool service taking care of it, I never did anything much beyond sign-up. I mean everyone knows that service companies know exactly what they're doing, right? (G)

    Fast forward a bit and some problems in the pool and pool service cluelessness (and irate at being questioned as did they really know what they were doing) and I took it over. Learning curve, did the PhosFree thing. Wasn't doing faithful testing at first nor did I inow about PoolPal and PoolMath so no logs or readings from then.

    Test results now have been posted on a number of threads. Learning curve again for winter care so letting pH be higher. *I* like using CSI as an overall indicator in addition to the individual parameters as it helps me to see their interrelationships. I am fully aware however that others do not buy into that 'need'.

    Maintaining proper glances and using the ranges of TFP has been extremely helpful. Issues have been reduced and/or eliminated and many of the things make a lot more sense now.

    I am however an engineer so when something gets dismissed as irrelevant, I tend to get inquisitive as to if it really is, and what makes it so. So I aks questions....which I also understand some may not like...

    The answers given have been reasoned and very good information and I appreciate your time and effort in replying.
    Central TX / 12K GAL / IG / SWG / DE filter / Pentair SVRS & 3 swim jet pumps / Spa bench and jets / Single body of water / No heater.

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Phosphates...

    Seems like some good explanations have been given. Removing phosphates will indeed lessen the chance that an algae bloom will occur if proper chlorine/CYA levels are not maintained. Pool stores love it for these reasons: First, they don't normally recommend proper balance of CYA and FC. Second, phosphate remover products are very high margin products and allows them to get away with the first reason. The logical conclusion is to just maintain proper chlorine/CYA levels and you'll never need to worry about, test for or treat for phosphates. It's also makes the most economic sense as you do less testing and purchase less chemicals. Removing phosphates can be a band-aid or insurance policy if the owner knows that they will not be diligent about FC/CYA levels or are worried about something going awry during a vacation, but there are less expensive ways to prevent algae.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Agreed. It's been good information and I have better insight now into the thinking of the forum on this topic. I appreciate the discussion topic.
    Central TX / 12K GAL / IG / SWG / DE filter / Pentair SVRS & 3 swim jet pumps / Spa bench and jets / Single body of water / No heater.

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Phosphate removers need to be seen in the same vein as algaecide products. They are like an insurance policy to inhibit algae growth if one is not diligent about maintaining a minimum FC/CYA ratio. They are not necessary, but when used they do have the pool be less "reactive" in terms of how quickly algae can grow if the active chorine level gets too low. Since they are extra cost and are not needed, we don't recommend them except as last resort usually for yellow/mustard algae that isn't completely eradicated since that algae otherwise requires higher active chlorine levels to keep away.
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Phosphates...

    My understanding is that phosphate removers only remove the inorganic type and not the organic type. I didnt see that mentioned. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here.
    18,000 Gallon Aboveground. Sand Filter with 2HP 2 speed Pump.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Phosphates...

    Hi eqbob,
    Im glad my explanation helped a bit.

    There are soooo many people that are valued TFPer's for exactly the same reason that brought you back.
    Ineffective care at a hefty price of our prized pools, by those who claim to know what they are doing and how to do it. Its unfortunate indeed.

    Its not that we believe a lot of the pool products are useless. Thats not the case. Many of them have very valuable uses, but the key is knowing when to use those products. We generally comment against adding anything to the pool that the pool doesnt need. Trying to keep it simple.

    Phosphate remover can be useful in certain situations, such as a plaster pool startup, where it isnt advised to add chrlorine right away.
    As others mentioned also, its a decent insurance policy if scheduling and time restrictions may keep us from being able to monitor our FC adequately... and so on.

    We hope you stay around this time and learn how truly simple it is to continuously realize crystal clear pool with minimal time and expense invested in water maintenace. We look forward to hopefully helping with any more questions you have. There are a lot of very smart people on this forum with a vast array of experience with swimming pools who like helping others! And the help is free too!



    Quote Originally Posted by eqbob View Post
    I appreciate the responses. I first signed up for this forum on a friends recommendation in 2012 when my pool was being built, but since I had a pool service taking care of it, I never did anything much beyond sign-up. I mean everyone knows that service companies know exactly what they're doing, right? (G)

    Fast forward a bit and some problems in the pool and pool service cluelessness (and irate at being questioned as did they really know what they were doing) and I took it over. Learning curve, did the PhosFree thing. Wasn't doing faithful testing at first nor did I inow about PoolPal and PoolMath so no logs or readings from then.

    Test results now have been posted on a number of threads. Learning curve again for winter care so letting pH be higher. *I* like using CSI as an overall indicator in addition to the individual parameters as it helps me to see their interrelationships. I am fully aware however that others do not buy into that 'need'.

    Maintaining proper glances and using the ranges of TFP has been extremely helpful. Issues have been reduced and/or eliminated and many of the things make a lot more sense now.

    I am however an engineer so when something gets dismissed as irrelevant, I tend to get inquisitive as to if it really is, and what makes it so. So I aks questions....which I also understand some may not like...

    The answers given have been reasoned and very good information and I appreciate your time and effort in replying.
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Quote Originally Posted by easttn View Post
    My understanding is that phosphate removers only remove the inorganic type and not the organic type. I didnt see that mentioned. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here.
    That is true. In practice, algae don't consume organic phosphates very quickly, but bacteria do and can convert them to inorganic phosphates as well so if a pool is "let go", then bacteria can convert the organic phosphates to inorganic phosphates and you can get a faster algae bloom.
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Dave,

    Have been on here fairly consistently since kicking out the maintenance companies and taking it on myself. Have learned a great deal and have gained valuable insights into many areas. I have no plans to go anywhere (probably to the chagrin of some..lol)
    Central TX / 12K GAL / IG / SWG / DE filter / Pentair SVRS & 3 swim jet pumps / Spa bench and jets / Single body of water / No heater.

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Can we see some pics of this pool?
    14K Freeform Gunite w/60% Blue Quartz plaster, Quad DE filter, Intelliflo VS Pump + Booster for Cleaner, Aquacal Heat Pump

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Central TX / 12K GAL / IG / SWG / DE filter / Pentair SVRS & 3 swim jet pumps / Spa bench and jets / Single body of water / No heater.

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Nice.
    14K Freeform Gunite w/60% Blue Quartz plaster, Quad DE filter, Intelliflo VS Pump + Booster for Cleaner, Aquacal Heat Pump

  15. Back To Top    #15

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    Re: Phosphates...

    Thank you. We (wife and I) had an image in our mind, conveyed it to PB and he brought it to life., No decking, leaving rest of the area for the dogs, low elevation profile, fit into the yard with landscaping, flagstone coping, etc... Landscaper carried that concept through to the pad area, stepping stones from patio to pool, TC...
    Had an awesome PB who would talk options, steps along the way, etc... We started off a bit 'rough' because I asked lots of questions (imagine that!) but figured each other out pretty quickly. Two years later, PB and I still stay in touch discuss chemistry, etc...
    Central TX / 12K GAL / IG / SWG / DE filter / Pentair SVRS & 3 swim jet pumps / Spa bench and jets / Single body of water / No heater.

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