Diagnose and treat
those pool problems
By Donald Lapa
IT WOULD BE NICE if every pool water problem could be prevented. But
even the most diligent adherence to routine maintenance programs can’t
eliminate every algae bloom, stain or odor. If you’re a pool owner, you’re
undoubtedly all too familiar with these problems and the products available
to treat them. Here is a guide to some of the most common obstacles to pool
owner happiness, and some solutions.
Before any problem can be treated, however, the water chemistry must
be checked, preferably by an experienced person who can diagnose, solve
and, hopefully, prevent future pool water problems.
The culprit is either water chemistry imbalance or insufficient filter
operation. Factors include algae, high levels of total dissolved solids, body
oils, insufficient sanitizer levels, high pH or hardness levels, channeling sand
(torn or damaged grids) or poor water circulation due to debris in a skimmer,
pump basket or elsewhere.
Solutions: One of the simplest ways to treat cloudiness is to drain about
a foot of water from the pool and replace it with fresh water.
Many clarifiers on the market remove particulate matter when a properly
operating filter just can’t catch it. These products—chelating agents, flocculants or sequestering agents—generally coagulate particles. Then the filter
can catch the larger clusters, or the clusters become heavy enough to fall to
the bottom of the pool, where they can easily be vacuumed.
“Shocking” the pool also helps clear water by oxidizing organics such
as algae and bacteria. When cloudiness is caused by algae blooms, there are
other factors to consider (see below).
Floating green algae is the most common, followed by yellow or mustard
algae and black algae. All forms of algae can eventually root in pool walls, but
the more common types generally don’t do so as quickly, or as stubbornly, as
black algae. Algae blooms can usually be blamed on inadequate sanitization
and too often greet pool owners at the beginning of the season.
Solutions: Different types of algae can be treated with particular specialty
products. Some algae treatments remove essential nutrients from the water,
thus starving the algae, and are called chlorine enhancers, not
algaecides. Chlorine also kills algae; therefore, chlorine shocks
are usual algae remedies.
One aspect of algae treatment is brushing. Some say
algae should always be brushed to expose as many cells
as possible. Others say only black algae requires brushing,
and then with a wire brush. Whatever brushing regimen and
algae-control product you choose, it’s important to make
sure the product is well circulated.