Every pool owner is worried about losing the beauty of their clear, sparkling water. Algae infestation can be one factor that leads to the loss of this beauty.
Algae needs food. And what they predominantly feed on is phosphates. These phosphates fuel them, and if left unchecked, can lead to green and discolored waters. Hence, they must be taken seriously.
If you have excess phosphate in your pool, you can remove it with phosphate removers or calcium. You can also prevent or regulate it by skimming the water regularly, scrubbing the pool floor and walls, or even through filter maintenance.
This article will show you how you can reduce your phosphate levels to acceptable standards.
How do I lower phosphates in my pool?
I will be listing ways in which you can remove phosphates from your pool:
- By using phosphate removers: A very popular phosphate remover is Phosfree. It is formulated from a rare earth metal called lanthanum. Salts of this metal bind with soluble phosphates to form insoluble phosphate compounds. It is then easy to either filter or vacuum these insoluble compounds. The Phosfree is added to the skimmer and allowed to work. In less than a day, your phosphate levels will be lowered. For a phosphate level of around 900 parts per billion (ppb), it is recommended to use 1.5 liters of Phosfree per 10,000 gallons of water. Let’s look at the steps to take in applying the Phosfree correctly:
- Give your filter a backwash. This depends on the kind of filter you have. If it is a cartridge filter, you can take it apart and clean it. On the other hand, if it is a sand filter, just give it a good backwash.
- Test your pool: You must test the pool to know the phosphate level.
- Check for the right dosage: The amount of Phosfree you will add all depends on the phosphate level. There are indications in the back of the Phosfree bottle which give you how much you should add with regards to phosphate levels.
- Shake thoroughly and add the right dosage to the skimmer.
- Run your filter for as long as possible. 24-48 hours is adequate.
- After this, test your phosphate levels again. If necessary, carry out steps I to V again.
- Calcium: Choose this option if you want to increase the calcium levels in your pool. Calcium is a good binder to phosphate as it is a positive ion and the phosphate carries a negative charge. This way, you are actually killing two birds with one stone. You can use this method to raise the calcium levels in your pool to between 220 and 240 parts per million. When the calcium binds to the phosphates, it reduces their size. availability to the algae. However, you must exercise caution because an excess of calcium can cause water hardness.
- Skim your water regularly: Debris such as leaves and other organic matter that float are contributors to phosphate buildup. When this organic matter decomposes, it releases phosphates into the water. It is recommended that you skim the pool surface regularly to remove them.
- Scrub the floors and walls thoroughly: This applies to debris that sinks to the bottom of the pool. It is also recommended to vacuum the floors to eliminate these materials.
- Maintain your filter on a regular basis: Algae and other debris are commonly caught in filters. Clean your filter out to prevent phosphates from recirculating.
Does chlorine get rid of phosphates?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t interact with phosphates. As a result of this, it will be quite ineffective at lowering phosphate levels where algae is not the cause. What chlorine does is that it kills algae. So, in order to make this work, after shocking the pool, phosphate removers must be used. If not, dead algae will only decompose and release more phosphates.
When the salts of this react with phosphate, insoluble precipitates form. These precipitates do not dissolve, and hence cause cloudiness. The phosphate remover acts as a coagulant, which draws the phosphate to itself, forming clumps.
These clumps are what cause the water to be cloudy.
How do phosphates get into pool water?
Phosphates can get into your pool from a variety of sources. They include:
- Fertilizer run-off: If you have a garden or lawn nearby that drains into your pool, this could be a source. Fertilizers contain phosphates. If the drainage system of your garden is not properly set up, you run the risk of having phosphates run off into your pool.
- Pool cleaners containing phosphates are also culpable in this. Pool cleaners with phosphates are usually the best choice because they can get rid of metal stains on your pool walls well. As a result, phosphates begin to build up in the water.
- Organic matter: Organic matter such as algae, leaves, and human waste can contribute to phosphate buildup. The majority of these materials contain phosphate compounds. So when they decompose, they release these compounds into the pool. In this way, they raise the phosphate levels.
- Other sources of phosphates include bird droppings, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.
What is the normal phosphate level in a pool?
Phosphate levels should be between 100 and 125 parts per billion to be considered normal. When phosphate levels begin to reach 500 ppb, it might be time to start taking it seriously. At 900ppb and above, you must take steps to reduce it. If not, an algae infestation will be knocking on your door soon.
What causes high phosphates in a pool?
Of all the above sources of phosphates, pool cleaners might be the most major contributors. This is because they are highly concentrated in phosphates and you tend to use them more. Debris and leaves do not release such high concentrations of phosphates. Also, fertilizer runoff isn’t likely because most pool owners know to keep their garden’s water away from the pool.
Does peeing in the pool cause phosphates?
Urine contains a number of phosphate compounds, such as amorphous phosphates, calcium phosphates, and triple phosphates. So, it is not advisable to ever pee in the pool. Other compounds in the urine can react with chlorine, causing harmful chemical products.
How do you remove calcium phosphate scale?
Calcium phosphate scale can cause a big problem for pool owners. It is formed when chemicals containing calcium ions react with phosphate-containing compounds, especially orthophosphates. These orthophosphates are usually contained in scale remover products.
It is no surprise that using phosphate-containing pool cleaners ends up being the source of this problem.
One of the driving forces for this reaction is heat. So, in heated pools and spas, this can create a huge challenge.
The calcium phosphate formed is a very hard, insoluble white scale on pool surfaces and some equipment.
Due to this hardness, the most reliable way of removing it in most cases is through physical processes. This could involve chiseling, chipping it off with a jackhammer or grinding it. There are no reliable chemical ways to get rid of it that won’t hurt the water in your pool.
In all, prevention is the best in this case.
Should I worry about phosphates in my pool?
Having phosphates in the pool is something that cannot really be avoided. What you should be concerned about is the levels. Any phosphate level that is below 100 parts per billion is really nothing to worry about.
When you start getting worried about it, it is when the phosphate levels are going above 900 parts per billion.
Will high phosphates make the pool cloudy?
Phosphates by themselves are not responsible for cloudiness in pools. Phosphates act as food for algae. When algae feed on them, in the presence of light combined with some other factors, they multiply in number. This is called an algae bloom. It is this bloom that is responsible for the cloudiness and murkiness you see in your pool water.
Do phosphates eat chlorine?
No, they don’t.
As explained before, phosphates and chlorine do not interact. But what phosphates can do is create an increased chlorine demand. This is because they fuel algae and cause them to grow in multiple folds. Also, they are found in other organic matter like leaves and bacteria. When this happens, chlorine uses phosphates, hence the demand for more.
Is it safe to swim in a pool with high phosphate levels?
Swimming in a pool with a high phosphate level won’t bring up any major issues. The major issues are if it was to be in drinking or cooking water. This is where problems can develop. The truth is that you have most likely swum in phosphorus-rich waters. So, in essence, you will be fine.
Do phosphates cause algae growth?
Phosphates are one of the primary proponents of algae growth. Phosphates are basically food for these algae. Remember that algae are just like plants, only aquatic. Just as your favorite plants require nutrients to survive, so do algae. Sometimes you have to add fertilizer to enable these plants to get the nutrients.
This phosphate is also a component of those fertilizers. Their presence in the pool helps algae grow and spread, which leads to an algae infestation.