Why Your Pool Stays Green After Opening and Why You Need to Worry About Chemistry.

Had a customer who continues to have problems with a green pool right after opening and obviously isn't too pleased.  This was the case last year as well and he asked why is this case again this year?
In short, the answer is "high stabilizer" or cyanuric acid which in his pool was over 200ppm.  That's excessive.  Very excessive. 

Cyanuric acid helps to reduce the chlorine loss by protecting the free chlorine in the pool from the sun’s ultraviolet rays which will slowly dissipate it over time. Areas exposed to high levels of sunlight should maintain 60 – 80 ppm. When you have levels of cyanuric acid above that, it binds the chlorine making it less effective as a disinfectant and thus slower acting to kill bacteria/micro-organisms or prevent algae. It will also increase cloudiness in the pool water and make your water more acidic. Because of all of this, commercial pools are closed by the city when the level goes above 80 ppm

The difficulties he is having with algae are indicative of high stabilizer because quite simply his chlorine is locked up to such an extent that it is practically ineffective.  Industry rule of thumb is that you need a chlorine level of 7.5%-15% of your stabilizer level for the chlorine to be effective. For a stabilizer of 200 ppm, this would mean keeping the chlorine at 14-28 ppm which is extremely high.  Clearly we don't recommend this.  But, if he runs his chlorine at a typical 3-5 ppm, he will be falling behind as it just won't be enough.  And as the algae blooms, it will clog up his DE filter very quickly, causing even more problems.  To make matters worse, the local big box store recommended using a copper-based algaecides as the quick fix but after time that too will cause problems as the copper builds up in the water to such a level that it reacts with the chlorine and ironically turns the pool green.  

At the root of his challenge are chlorine tabs.  The customer used them all last season and apparently at an excessive rate.  Each tab he put in contained stabilizer and over the season his level grew and got out of hand.  And in shocking his pool, it is unclear whether he used a shock that did not contain stabilizer.  Given the levels he has, I would expect he used trichlor or dichlor based shock as well only making the problem worse.  

So what should he do now.

First, At this point, it would be recommended that a portion of the pool water be replaced with fresh water, because the only way to lower the level is through dilution.   But he can also take some other steps to reduce the chances that this happens again.  Such as:

  • Vac to waste whenever vacuuming the pool  Simply put a running hose in at the same time to replace the waster water with fresh water.  
  • Use pool bleach (12% Sodium Hypochlorite) which is a "pure" chlorine (no stabilizer) and stronger than regular supermarket bleach.  It's easy to use, won't cloud up the pool and will help to get your stabilizer down over time simply because you aren't adding anymore with tabs.  Simply pour the bleach in and mix it like you would your coffee.  If push comes to shove, you can use regular supermarket bleach (no perfumes or scents, just plain bleach) but make sure it is at least 8.5% Sodium Hypochlorite (dollar store bleach is much weaker).  
  • Make sure the shock does not contain stabilizer.  Look for “Cal-Hypo” and stay away from any shock that contains “Trichlor” or “Dichlor”.   Yes, it’s usually cheaper but it leads to this problem.  
  • Reduce the number of tabs.  Tabs are not meant to simply replaced en masse on a weekly basis.  You need to find the right level for your pool that maintains the proper levels of chlorine without spiking your stabilizer.  

Chemistry matters.  

Pool Maintenance - Keeping Water Balanced

great neck pools pool maintenance

Encountered a customer who did not choose to balance their pool water but instead opted to only monitor and add chlorine as needed.  

Water balance is extremely important as it provides the proper conditions for your chlorine to work most effectively and  provides an environment that is NOT conducive cloudiness or algae growth.  For instance, a low pH can cause your sanitizer (chlorine) to deplete quick not only making it less effective but costing you money in using more.  Further, it can make swimming not as enjoyable by irritating you and your loved ones while they swim.  No one wants to swim in an acid bath.

And that goes for your liner and equipment as well.  Having a low pH in your pool will start to corrode your liner, ladders, handrails, PV, pump fitting, etc.  Basically, everything.  In fact, most equipment manufacturer's warranties do not cover damage due to low pH. Alternatively, a high pH can cause scaling which will leave a film around your pipe, heater elements and your liner.  While this is simply unpleasant from an aesthetic point of view for the liner, it can damage your heater.  

Bottom line, you need to keep your pool balanced for the sake of your equipment and the well being of your family when they swim.  Good news is that we can help.  Great Neck Pools always provides free water testing and we will gladly talk you through what you need to add to keep your pool looking great and safe to swim in.  Or, we can even come out and balance it for you with weekly service plans starting at $70 per week with chemicals included.

We stand ready to help you enjoy your pool.




My Pool Smells Like Too Much Chlorine

A client comments "I don't need to add chlorine to my pool, because I can already smell the chlorine."

That's actually a common misconception.  A properly balanced and disinfected pool will have no strong smell of chemicals.  In fact, the odor that many people associate with chlorine is actually comes from chloramines which are the byproducts of the chlorine's reaction to contaminants in the pool.  This includes such things as perspiration, body oils, cosmetics and even urine.  (And no, there is no magic chemical that turns blue when urine is introduced to the pool.)  So actually, the smell of chloramines is actually a good indication that the chlorine in the pool is not high enough to meet the contaminant load.  Further, the red and itchy eyes that sometimes affects swimmers is also caused by those same chloramines.  

So bottom line, keeping the pool properly chlorinated will remove any unwanted odors, be easier on your eyes and safe for you to swim in.  And we can help with that here at Great Neck Pools but either having our professional staff come out and clean and balance your pool on a regular basis or with our free in-store testing.  All you have to do is ask.  



Copper Based Algaecides

A customer asks:
"I used an algaecide that contained copper and it really seemed to do the trick.  Why do you advise against them?"

Every so often, we encounter this question.  Seems that in response to a pool with algae growth, our customer with either add a copper-based algaecide or their pool service will treat their pool with it to solve the problem.  And indeed it does work.  But that's only part of the story.

Once you introduce copper or any other metals to your pool, the only way to get them out is to use a sequestrant agent to bind them, trap them in your filter and then backwash.  So why is this an issue?  Well, once you get too high a level of copper in your pool, the chlorine will begin to oxidize it and turn the water green, possibly stain your pool and this is actually the cause of green hair among swimmers.  It's not the chlorine.  It's the copper being oxidized by the chlorine.  Think "Statue of Liberty".  

That's why we avoid quick fix gimmicks like this in treating pools that are brought to us with algae problems.  Sure, it's a quick fix but it comes at a price.  The only real solution is to get the pool balanced properly and a sustained treatment with chlorine to get it back to a clear condition.