At some point or another, we may find ourselves with an algae bloom.  This is true for traditionally chlorinated swimming pools and saltwater sanitized swimming pools.  Let’s talk about what could have caused the algae and how to get rid of it.

Saltwater Pools

You may be surprised to know that a saltwater pool is still a chlorine pool.  Say what?  Yup.  As the water goes through your circulation system, it makes a pit stop through your salt cell.  Inside the salt cell, the salt is converted to chlorine in its most natural state.  This process is called electrolysis. Your salt system consists of a salt cell board, which is the “brain” of the system and a salt cell, which is where the magic happens.  

Because of the chlorine your salt cell produces being basic, meaning it has a high pH, we need to regularly add either dry or liquid acid to bring our pH levels down.  Always, always test your water before adding any chemicals.  We never want to assume what our swimming pool water needs.  Always follow the product’s instructions and wear the proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment.  Having our pH in range allows the chlorine produced to be more effective.  While anything between a 7.2 ppm and a 7.8 ppm being considered “in range”, we want to shoot for a 7.5 ppm.

How Did I Get Algae?

There are several ways one can get an algae bloom.  It can be one, or a combination, of things.  Some causes of algae are having our sanitizer too low.  We need at least a 2.0 ppm of chlorine at any given time.  Not running our circulation pump long enough is another culprit.  We need to accomplish what is known as a turnover every day.  A turnover is when the amount of water equal to the amount of water in the pool, passes through the swimming pool filter.  Moving water is happy water.

Pro Tip:  Think of a pond versus a river.  A pond is stagnant and therefore green.  A running stream is clear because it is constantly moving.

Another reason you may have gotten algae is because your filter is dirty.  This is especially true for yellow algae, which is most often circulation related.  Yellow algae is the only algae that can present in a well balanced pool.  We need to clean or backwash our filter when the pressure (PSI) gets to be 8-10 pounds per square inch (PSI) above your clean starting pressure.  Most pool owners can expect to clean their filter about every 6 months.

Pro Tip:  By the time algae is visible to the eye, it has already been growing for approximately four days.

Phosphates are anything organic in the water.  Leaves, flowers, pollen, etc.  Phosphates are food for algae and are only a problem if you get an algae bloom.  If your swimming pool has high phosphates, you basically have a Las Vegas buffet laid out for the algae.  I recommend to all of my customers to include a phosphate maintenance product in their regime.  I like Natural Chemistry’s “Pool Perfect Total” or “Perfect Weekly”, depending on where you shop.

How to Get Rid of the Algae

Whether green or yellow, this 24 hour process will work. First, make sure your pH is balanced to ensure the most efficiency from the chlorine we will be adding.  Next, make sure your filter has enough room to capture the algae.  You may have to do two filter cleans (One before and one after treatment).  Next , the pool pump needs to run the entire time.  Chemicals only mix and work when the water is moving.  Are you cringing at the thought of your electric bill?  If so, you may have an old fashioned single speed pump.  Upgrading to a variable speed pump isn’t as expensive as you may think.  You can get a quality, name brand, American made variable speed pump here. 

Make sure you thoroughly brush your swimming pool to get the algae free floating and susceptible to the treatment.  We should brush our swimming pools once a week to help prevent algae spores from taking a foothold.  Need a good brush that even gets corners?  Check these bad boys out. 

Since you own a saltwater swimming pool, we are going to use liquid chlorine.  Liquid chlorine has an available chlorine level of 10-12 percent.  Guess what the rest is?  Salt!  Add 1 gallon of liquid chlorine for every 10,000 gallons of water.  For example, if you have a 20,000 gallon pool you will need 2 gallons to start.  Also, we want to pair our chlorine with an algaecide.  I like Yellowtrine, which is sodium bromide based and works on yellow or green algae.  Add 3 capfuls for a 10,000-25,000 gallon pool.  Add one additional capful for larger swimming pools.

We add the chlorine and the algaecide at the same time because they work together to destroy the algae  from a cellular level.  Once added, run the pump for 24 hours.  After the 24 hours we will need to add another one gallon of liquid chlorine per 10,000 gallons of water to reestablish our chlorine reserve.  Balance the other chemicals as needed.  Don’t forget to test first!  

A filter clean is most certainly needed at this time because it will be full of algae.  Make sure to check your filter element for any rips or tears as we don’t want to put the filter back together and have junk returning to the pool.  If you have a sand filter, you either need to do a backwash or a sand change.  Only you can determine if it is time for a full sand change.

Congratulations!  You have just successfully gotten rid of your algae problem.  Try to identify why you got it in the first place and try not to let it happen again.  See you poolside!