How to Get Rid of Swimming Pool Algae
Are you having a huge party and now your pool water is green? Or are you the kind of person who constantly has green pool water no matter what you do? Does it seem like there is no way to get rid of the algae in your pool?
Well you are in luck, cause we are about to explain...
Pool Algae: 3 Ways to Get Rid of it
First, let's learn a little bit about algae and how it's formed. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it's:
...a plant or plantlike organism of any of several phyla, divisions, or classes of chiefly aquatic usually chlorophyll-containing nonvascular organisms of polyphyletic origin that usually include the green, yellow-green, brown, and red algae in the eukaryotes and especially formerly the cyanobacteria in the prokaryote.
To simplify that, algae is small plant-like organism which grows in pool water. There are three common forms:
- Green or blue algae
- Yellow or mustard algae
- Black algae
Green Pool Algae
This is the most common of all the swimming pool algae because it grows due to lack of proper sanitation and filtration. Sometimes you’ll see this algae free floating in your swimming pool which can cause your entire pool to turn green.
You may also see this algae cling to the wall of your pool or at the bottom. It’s really easy to brush off and become free floating. The good thing about this type of algae is that it’s easy to get rid of. It may only show up in little spots in your pool that have poor circulation in which case a little sanitizer or algaecide will do the trick.
Yellow Pool Algae or Mustard Algae
A stingy type of algae that grows on the walls of your swimming pool in spots that don’t get a lot of sun. It’s the second most common algae you’ll find in swimming pools and sometimes can be mistaken for sand or pollen that can collect in your pool.
This algae is difficult to get rid off and won’t be killed off by any normal dose of sanitizer (such as chlorine) or an algaecide. You need to kill it by super shocking your swimming pool or else you’ll be battling with it all season long.
If you ever had yellow algae and thought that was tough, think again. Black algae are the stinginess of all the algae, although the good thing is it’s not very common. What makes this algae so hard to get rid of is the defense mechanism it processes and it’s strong roots. This algae looks like little dark black spots on your swimming pool wall.
The part that you can see has a protective layer on it to protect itself and the roots are strong and grow deep into the plaster of your pool walls. Just like yellow algae this strain can appear even if you are taking care of your pool normally and all your sanitation levels are correct. To kill it you will need a strong pool brush and lots of shock.
Check out these articles for more information on how to defend yourself and destroy mustard and black algae:
Why Do I Have Green Pool Water?
Where there's water, there's algae. Which is why swimming pools need to be treated with chemicals to ensure nasty bacteria and other growths don't get into our water.
The main reason why algae grows in your pool is because it hasn't be treated with a sanitizing chemical, like chlorine, or hasn't been treated enough. Also, when your pool is lacking sanitation, and the water is stagnate, you're gonna get algae. That's why it's important to keep the pool water moving with your filter and pump. It's hard for algae to grow when the water is moving.
Algae also loves dark places that don't get much water circulation including:
- under your ladder
- on your pool steps
- all corners, creases and crevices
These are all great spots for algae to feed and multiply.
So now that we have a general understanding of what pool algae is and why it forms, we must destroy it!
Method #1: Get Rid of Pool Algae by Superchlorination (Shock)
- Light green algae
- Dark green algae
- Black green algae
These are not different types of algae, it's just different amounts. The more algae in your pool water, the darker the green color will be. I've seen pools almost black with an algae infestation. Gross!
Light Green Pool Water
If you have a light green pool you need to double shock your pool in order to kill algae. 1 pound of shock treats up to 10,000 gallons of water. So, if you have a 10,000 gallon pool or less you will need to double shock it by adding 2 pounds of shock.
If you have a 20,000 gallon pool or less, you need to add 4 pound bags of shock. And if you have 30,000 gallons or less you need to add 6 pound bags, and so on.
Dark Green Pool Water
If you have a dark green pool you will need to triple shock it. So, if you have a 10,000 gallon pool or less you will need to add 3 pound bags of shock.
If you have a 20,000 gallon pool or less you need to add 6 pound bags of shock and if you have 30,000 gallons or less you need to add 9 pound bags, and so on.
Black Green Pool Water (Creature From The Black Lagoon)
If you have a, "Creature from the Black Lagoon" green pool you will need to quadruple shock it. So, if you have a 10,000 gallon pool or less you will need to add 4 pound bags of shock.
If you have a 20,000 gallon pool or less you need to add 8 pound bags of shock and if you have 30,000 gallons or less you need to add 12 pound bags, and so on.
Note: If you have a vinyl liner pool, you should dissolve each 1 lb. bag in its own bucket of water before putting it in the pool. This will prevent your liner from being bleached out by the shock. Also NEVER POUR SHOCK THROUGH THE SKIMMER IF YOU HAVE AN AUTOMATIC CHLORINATOR. We cannot stress this enough.Calcium Hypochlorite which is found in shock, mixed with trichlor, which is found in most chlorine tablets creates a deadly explosive green gas. And remember, always shock at night. Chlorine burns off 1 PPM (Part Per Million) every hour in direct sunlight causing the chlorine to drop below break-point oxidation required to kill algae.
Find out how many bags of shock it will take to kill the algae in your swimming pool:
Pool Algae Calculator
How To Shock Your Swimming Pool
Method #2: Floc Your Swimming Pool
Floc (or Flocculant) is a chemical which takes all small particles in your pool (like algae) and settles them to the bottom. After all the particles have settled to the bottom, it’s your job to vacuum them OUT of your swimming pool.
This method is more work and can be time consuming, but gets rid of algae fast, if done correctly.
Here is a step by step guide on floccing your swimming pool:
- If you have a multi-port valve on your filter, shut off your pump and turn the valve to “Recirculate” or “Recycle.” This will stop the water from flowing through your filter. All this does is spin the water around to help mix the chemical in.
- Add the recommended dosage of Flocculant to your pool. Floc comes in liquid and powder form. Make sure you check the directions for the right dosage for your size swimming pool.
- Circulate the water for about 2 hours to get the chemical fully mixed in, then shut off your pump and let it sit overnight. During this time, the chemical will start to bind the particles together and settle them to the bottom of the pool. In the morning you should wake up to a nice healthy particle cloud at the bottom of your pool.
- Hook up your manual vacuum cleaner. Before you turn your filter on, make sure you have your multi-port valve set to “Waste.” When you vacuum this thick cloud OUT of your pool, you don’t want that thick water going through your filter. You filter will not be powerful enough to clear the water that fast, so cloudy (or green) water will just shoot back into your pool through the return lines. You don’t want this. Also, make sure you hook up your backwash hose to the backwash/waste port and direct the hose where you want your dirty water to go.
- Add your garden hose to the pool and turn it on while you vacuum. Since you are vacuuming to “waste” which will dump a lot of water out of your pool, it’s best to have your garden hose replacing the water with clean water as you vacuum out the dirty stuff.
- SLOWLY vacuum the bottom of the pool. You’ll be sucking out this thick, dirty water from your pool, and as you move the vacuum across the pool floor, it’s gonna start to kick up debris. When it becomes to cloudy to see what you’re doing, shut off your pump and let it sit for a couple of hours to resettle. Then you can go back and continue vacuuming. You may have to to do this several times depending on how much debris you need to vacuum (I told you it would be hard work).
With just little bit of elbow grease, and this cheap chemical, you can have your pool cleared in one day, if you’re willing to do the work.
When you are done vacuuming the pool and everything looks good, I would suggest double shocking your pool to make sure ALL the algae has either been removed or destroyed.
How To Vacuum Your Swimming Pool
Method #3: Use Swimming Pool Algaecide
Normally algaecide, like pesticide, is only a preventive and should be used throughout the pool season. But there are some algaecides that contain b14 or metals, such as copper or silver, which can kill algae. These algaecides may have to be added in large doses depending on the brand, but mixed with shock, can do the trick just as effectively as just plain shock.
To be honest, I only recommend algaecide as a preventive. You can add a few ounces every week to prevent algae from growing in your swimming pool. The reason is, once you start talking about algaecides that can kill algae, the price starts going up. Also, you don’t want to add too many metals to your swimming pool. Metals in your water cause staining.
There are algaecides that are known as “poly quats.” These are great preventive algaecides that I recommend, but I would not use them in large doses to kill algae. They can cause excess foaming in your water.
To sum it up, some algaecides DO kill algae, but not all. Make sure you ask your local pool store which algaecides are the killing kind. Or make sure you read the specs carefully if you are buying an algaecide online.
Which Method Is The Best?
All of these methods work. In fact, you might visit three different pool stores or three different websites and they will usually just promote one way of doing it. This is why getting your pool care information from different places can cause confusion.
My recommendation is using Method 1. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it KILLS all the algae. I use Method 2 when I’m in a pinch, like a family party is happening THIS WEEKEND, oh no!