Pool Algaecide Treatments: a buyer’s guide

there are dozens of available algaecide treatments

There are thousands of types of pool algae, and dozens of products to choose from to kill and prevent pool algae blooms.

You can choose from various forms of pool algaecides, chlorine enhancers and phosphate removers. Some products are best at removing algae, some are best at preventing it.

Below are the weapons you can choose from to win the war against algae in your pool.

Metallic algaecides are usually copper based.  Copper is toxic to algae because it disrupts the photosynthesis process. The higher the percentage of copper the more effective it will be, but there may be an increased risk of staining your pool plaster or plastic pool steps, with a blue-green color.  Carefully follow dosing instructions to reduce this risk. If your pool is filled with well water and already has a high metal content, a copper based algaecide may cause some staining.

Copper algaecides are effective at treating all types of algae, green, yellow and black algae. Silver algaecides, although less common, can be effective in the treatment of black algae.

Non-metallic algaecides are usually either a polymer (“poly”) or quaternary ammonium compound (“quats”), or a combination thereof, “poly-quats”.  These types of algaecide disrupt the cell membranes of algae making it easier for chlorine to kill it. Quats lower the surface tension of the water and “wet” the cell walls of the algae organism. This wetting helps stop algae from sticking together, stopping it from progressing further.

Quats are a better choice for preventing algae than killing it. Quats can cause foaming and a chemical smell if they are over-used, so follow dosing instructions carefully.  Polymer algaecides are thought to be a better type of pool algaecide. Polymer algaecides, such as Poly 60, a 60% concentration, work by attaching to algae cells to weaken the outer shell and basically suffocate them. The polymer chains are long lasting and can be used to kill or prevent algae growth in pools.

Chlorine enhancers like Yellow Out, are very effective at eliminating algae, but they are not technically algaecides. As the name implies, these products are used in conjunction with chlorine shock; they work to increase the killing power of chlorine to quickly eliminate algae. Chlorine enhancers require that you raise your pH prior to treatment and run your filter for at least 24 hours after treatment.

Yellow Out is effective at treating green and yellow algae. For best results, brush vigorously after adding yellow out, and after 24 hours completely clean your filter media thoroughly. Follow up with an algaecide treatment program to prevent re-occurrence.

Phosphate removers like PhosFree work to “starve” algae by removing phosphates from the water. Phosphates are the main food source for pool algae, and removing them severely limits algae proliferation. Phosphate removers will not kill algae, so they are mainly used as a preventative measure.

Algae growth is uncommon in a properly balanced pool with sufficient sanitizer levels and no phosphates. If you seem to have reoccurring algae blooms every season, you likely have a phosphate contamination. Phosphates can be introduced to the pool water from many sources; including plant debris, fill water, rain water, fertilizers, some soaps and detergents, and even cheap metal stain removers.

Whenever you are treating an algae bloom it is very important to make sure your water is balanced, with proper Total Alkalinity, pH, Calcium and Stabilizer levels, and that you run your filter continuously until the algae clears up. Chlorine shock is going to be a necessary component to any algae treatment plan, as chlorine is what will completely kill algae. Our super pool shock would be most effective because it contains the most chlorine.

If algae is growing on the walls or floor, it is very helpful to brush the affected areas before and after treatment. Brushing is absolutely required for the treatment of black algae because it grows with a protective layer on the outside that brushing helps to remove so chemicals can have a greater effect. It may also be a good idea to thoroughly clean your filter after treating the pool because algae particles could be lodged in the filter and could cause the pool to be contaminated again. It’s just waiting for you to turn your head, and then it blooms anew.

In the end, prevention is the key to eliminating algae troubles for good. Sometimes it seems like you may be wasting your time and money by adding extra products to the pool when you don’t actively have an issue, but anyone who has fought to clear up a bad algae bloom would probably agree that lots of time, money and effort can be saved by carefully balancing your water and adding a weekly dose of algaecide and/or phosphate remover to prevent algae. Pay a little now, or a lot more later!

Still have questions about which algae products will work best for you? Please give us a call and speak to one of our Pool Algae Exterminators at 800-288-7946.

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Jackie Wolski
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


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