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Thread: High phosphate levels

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    High phosphate levels

    My pool maintenance man said I have high levels of phosphates causing algae to form rapidly. What could be causing this? Inground pool, screened in in SE FL. Neighbors do not have this problem.
    baronvonwolfgang

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    Ohm_Boy's Avatar
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    Neighbors do not have this problem
    Yeah, and most likely, neither do you.

    You should get a reliable set of test numbers and post them here. I suspect strongly that your problem is more likely related to sanitizer - stabilizer/chlorine levels or pH.
    Also, what is your chlorine source?
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    The pool stores have been really pushing phosphates as a problem recently even though phosphates are (almost?) never the problem.

    Get a full set of tests. I suspect your CYA level is too high, or some other problem that testing will reveal.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Thank you for your reply. I am told that all other readings are perfect, however a greenish/yellow pool was present. Algae feeds off of phosphates?? so that is the reason for the algae development!?!? I am a complete novice when it comes to pools, thus a pool maintenance service. This is the second service I have had over the last 9 months. I will look into this further should it turn again.
    Alrod
    baronvonwolfgang

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Yes, algae feeds off of phosphates. However, if you maintain safe chlorine levels the algae won't get started in the first place, regardless of the phosphate level. Since you need to do the chlorine anyway, to protect against viruses and bacteria, there isn't much point in stopping the algae in other ways.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    In the Industry

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    Hi,

    Did the service guy test for phosphates?

    Because you just cant tell from a normal
    pool test. If they didnt test exactly for
    phosphates...they are only guessing.

    Get a phosphate test kit! lochlor give them
    away for free. Otherwise get someone else
    to test for the phosphates and see the numbers
    for yourself!

    I suspect other causes for your algae problems.
    But just because your neighbor doesnt have a
    problem does not mean that you wont.

    Phosphates can enter your pool from water
    running off your garden into your pool. Or your
    neighbor may have a cover.

    That being said...there is only one way to see
    if you have phosphates in your pool and that
    is to test for them.

    Take Care,

    Michael Silvester

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    Ohm_Boy's Avatar
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    Phosphates or no, you can't manage what you can't measure. You need reliable numbers for your pool. Without them, no one can make any reasonable suggestion as to what your pool needs.
    Many people in the pool industry believe that complex chemicals are necessary to manage a pool, but essentially it boils down to maintaining a proper sanitizer, and a pH range where the sanitizer, the swimmers, and the equipment can live comfortably.
    Chlorine is generally the best sanitizer/oxidizer. While it needs to be stabilized against UV loss, too much stabilizer 'locks away' more available sanitizer, and requires higher chlorine levels. Dichlor and trichlor are convenient forms of chlorine, but constantly add stabilizer. Cal-Hypo is another convenient source of chlorine, but adds calcium and can be hazardous if not stored and handled properly. If you maintain your pool using these forms of chlorine, over time (and less time than you think) your stabilizer and/or calcium levels will rise to a point where there are other problems. In the case of stabilizer, that problem often manifests itself as an algae bloom. When this happens, the pool guys will then point you to other chemicals to correct the problem, like algaecides with copper, and then you will need sequestering agents to manage the copper, then you need floculants to handle the sequestered metals.etc. It becomes much like the nursery ryhme about *the Old Woman who swallowed a Fly. These days, the magic bullet seems to be phosphate management. If they can't keep the algae at bay using their regular course of treatments, they'll go after the algae's food source.
    What they do not address is that the chlorine, at normal levels, is no longer capable of killing the algae because of the high stabilizer level. And if it cannot kill algae, how certain can you be that it can kill other nasties, like bacteria and viruses?

    The only reasonable source of chlorine which avoids these side effects is liquid chlorine - sodium hypochlorite - which is available as 'liquid shock', or more readily, plain old laundry bleach. Many pool stores will scoff at bleach, but most of them also sell liquid chlorine, and it's the same chemical.

    For us, the bottom line is that the bulk of the expensive pool store chemicals are simply not needed if you manage your pool with liquid chlorine and some simple pH adjusting chems like baking soda and muriatic acid.

    However, all that said, there is nothing we can tell you unless we know what the situation is in your pool, and that requires that we know the levels of chlorine, stabilizer (CYA), pH, and TA, what kind of sanitizer you are using, and anything notable about the water itself.

    Do yourself a big favor and get at least a small test kit at Wal-Mart, or even take a sample to a pool store for a reading, but get the numbers, and post them here.





    * An amusing children's rhyme about a lady who swallowed a fly, then a spider to get rid of the fly, then a bird to catch the spider, then a cat... well, you can find it here: http://www.poppyfields.net/poppy/songs/oldwoman.html or from a Google search.
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    gonefishin's Avatar
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    Hi there (and welcome to the forum )


    The fact that your neighbors pool doesn't have algae only means that he is keeping his water in balance. (As others have said) FIRST THING TO DO is get a full set of numbers (including FC (free chlorine), CC (combined chlorine), Ph, TA (total alkalinity), CYA (stabilizer). These are the big ones to check for.

    You can also check for phosphates...BUT a properly balanced pool will not have algae problems. The reason is because chlorine is what kills alga. Algae may "feed" on phosphates but a chlorine disinfected pool (with proper levels of chlorine) won't allow algae to grow in the first place. So proper chlorine levels will not let algae to take a start. If you let your chlorine levels fall then the algae will have a chance to grow. If it grows you will need to use higher levels chlorine to kill the outbreak of algae.

    Take a look at this thread for help fighting algae for newbies...also take a look at the information and numbers you could post to help others help you better.

    So what level of chlorine do you need to maintain in your pool? Well...we can't determine this UNTIL you post the size of your pool, gallons and CYA (stabilizer) level. The amount of chlorine that is need in your pool is directly related to each of these things. That's why we keep asking for them.


    Oh yeah...get the numbers and fight the urge to buy what the pool stores recommend you to get. Most of the time their training is masked as knowledge by a marketing department for a chemical comapany.

    good luck!
    dan
    21' Aqua-Leader AGP (10,200 gallons).
    Hayward cartridge filter and two speed pump.
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