Come on in, the water’s… flulike. You might have been itching to take a dive into cool, fresh waters, but today you looked down into your pool to see a nasty layer of what looks like mucus floating in the pool and jamming up your pool walls and floors. That’s gross. It’s also something called white water mold.
While white water mold itself doesn’t cause harm to humans, this sick-looking substance indicates that the rest of your pool water might be sick-inducing. That’s because if you’ve got white water mold, the rest of your pool’s chemical balance is facing a serious problem.
I’ll explain what white water mold is, why it’s floating around in your pool, how you can prevent it, and step-by-step tutotial for how to get it right out of your pool, whether your pool’s sanitizer system involves chlorine or biguanide. Let’s send that gunk packing.
What Exactly is White Water Mold?
White water mold is a naturally-occuring fungus that sometimes forms in swimming pools. It looks like snotty mucus or like a big ol’ torn up tissue floating along in your water. As I’ve mentioned, the mold itself isn’t harmful to humans. But it looks nasty, can clog up your equipment, and indicates that your water probably isn’t safe for swimming.
This mold can also wreak havoc on your chemical balance by depleting the oxidizer levels of your pool, and that’s a problem, because all types of chlorine kill bacteria through the process of oxidation. It will also deplete the oxidizer you add to your pool if you have a biguanide pool. And what’s worse is that it can be highly resistant to both chlorine, bromine, and other sanitizing chemicals.
Because white water mold can be so resistant to certain chemicals, it could easily work its way back into the pool after you get it out. That’s why we’re going to make sure to do this the right way—even though there are a fair amount of steps involved.
If you have an indoor pool, it’s no coincidence or bad luck that you’re here. UV rays are known to be pretty effective in killing white water mold, so indoor pools are much more susceptible to developing this snotty annoyance. That being said, any outdoor pool corners that don’t get a lot of light can also be ripe breeding grounds for white water mold. Ick.
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Why Is There White Water Mold in Your Pool?
It’s not just shady shadows that allow white water mold in your pool. Since it’s a fungus, it’s often crops up on its own, without being introduced into your pool by any particular thing. But it’s much more likely to thrive (and become visible) in your pool when your pool isn’t clean, and your pool water isn’t properly balanced.
So what’s the difference between a clean pool and a balanced pool? That’s a common question. Cleaning a pool involves regularly skimming, brushing, and vacuuming the pool, while balancing a pool involves balancing its chemicals. In order to keep a clean, well-maintained pool, you’re going to have to nail both processes. As you’ll learn in the next section, this will do wonders for preventing white water mold in the future.
White water mold indicates that your pool isn’t clean and your pool water isn’t properly balanced. And if that’s the case, it’s time to pause swimming until it’s out of there, your pool is cleaned, and your water is rebalanced. That’s because having a dirty unbalanced pool means that your sanitizer isn’t working, and its job is to keep your water free of nasty bacteria, including the kind that can make you sick. So it’s best to put a pause on cannonballs until there’s no mold in your pool left—or even better, prevent white water mold in the first place.
How to Prevent White Water Mold
Getting white water mold out of your pool is a straightforward process, sure, but it is a pretty time-consuming one. The easiest, quickest way to deal with white water mold is to prevent it in the first place. You can stop this naturally-occuring fungus from occurring in a big way in your pool by routinely doing the following:
1. Every Week, Clean and Balance Your Water.
Brush your pool walls and floors with a brush that is sure to get every crevice, vacuum your floors with a powerful automatic cleaner, and balance your pool chemicals every single week. You should also be skimming the surface of your pool and cleaning out your skimmer baskets daily.
2. Soak Up the Sun
Just like humans, your pool and its accessories should be routinely exposed to the sun. If you use a cover most of the time, pull it back for some time every week to let UV rays into your water.
3. Stay on Top of Your Pool’s Pressure Gauge
Make sure that you’re cleaning your pool’s cartridge filter and backwashing sand and diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filters when the pressure gauge indicates that it’s time. If you have a cartridge filter, use the opportunity to give it a chemical wash to discourage fungus.
4. Clean Your Pool Tools
Remember, white water mold is resistant to your sanitizer. That means that it could easily make its way back into your water if you’re not super diligent about cleaning pool brushes, hoses, pool vacuums, and any other accessories, maintenance equipment, or toys.
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How to Get White Water Mold Out of a Chlorine Pool—In Ten Steps
Whoof. As I said, this is going to be quite a process, but it’s all steps that you’ve done a million times before. Although it will take some effort, you won’t need to do anything drastic like drain your pool to get the white water mold out. What we’re going to do together is simply a deep, deep clean.
1. Clean that Filter
First, you’ll want to clean your filter. That means backwashing your sand or D.E. filter, or giving your cartridge filter a chemical soak. This is the first step because if there’s mold in your pool, there’s probably mold in your filter, too. The last thing you want when you turn on your circulation system later is to have your filter send mold right back into your water.
2. Balance the Water
You want to give your pool all the resources it needs to fight off this mold. Rebalance your chemicals, but pay special attention to your pH, which should be 7.5, or between 7.4 and 7.6.
3. Shock the Pool
You’re not too surprised are you? Since white water mold is resistant to chlorine, it’s going to be helpful to give it a big, big dose of pool shock that it can resist no longer. Triple or quadruple the dose of shock you add to your water. That means 3 or 4 pounds for every 10,000 gallons of water your pool contains. Since you need to shock either at dusk or night, take a break and run your pump for 8 hours once you drop the shock. (That’s unless you have an indoor pool that gets no sun!)
4. Brush the Pool
Time for a big time brushing session. You’re going to want to get to every inch of your pool walls and floors. I recommend this patented pool brush bundle to make your job easier.
5. Run the Pump
Run the pump again for eight to twenty-four hours, so that your filter can catch what you’ve brushed up.
6. Brush the Pool
Whew. Elbow grease, part two. Brush every part of your pool again.
7. Vacuum the Pool
Because white water mold could potentially be reintroduced to your pool water, this is not the time for a powerful automatic cleaner that does the job for you (which is a total bummer). Manually vacuum your pool.
8. Clean the Filter Again
Using a filter cleaner, clean your filter again. This time’s for real.
9. Balance the Water Again
Now it’s time to rebalance the water using water test strips. This time, all the levels matter equally, but don’t overlook your free chlorine level—you want to make sure that your sanitizer has enough room to work to prevent this mold problem in the future.
10. Seal the Deal!
The best way to know if you succeeded is to simply wait and see. As you could tell by our repeating steps, mold is tough to get out of a pool. If you need to do this process again, you’ll start to see the same snotty fungus forming in your pool. If you eradicated your mold, your waters will stay as they should: clean, clear, and ready for a splash.
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How to Get White Water Mold Out of a Biguanide Pool
The process for getting white water mold out of a biguanide pool is similar to the process for a chlorine pool, but with just a few changes. Instead of shocking the pool during step 3, you’ll want to simply use an oxidizer. Just like pool shock, you need to triple or quadruple the dose of your oxidizer. That means 3 or 4 pounds for every 10,000 gallons of water.
Another change to the process for a biguanide pool comes at the very end: about a week after completing the cleaning process, add 4 ounces of biguanide algaecide for every 10,000 gallons of water in your pool. You can even add this amount of biguanide algaecide every week for white water mold prevention—it acts as an oxidizer to attack mold fast.
Give Your Pool a Flu Shot!
How time and work–intensive the process for getting white water mold out of your pool speaks to just how resistant that mold is, and how important prevention should be in your routine going forward. With a little bit of consistent work, you can keep white mold out of your water—along with other funguses like pink slime. For now, the worst is behind you. Enjoy.