Pool School 107 Phosphates



SeaKlear Phosphate Remover CR

I want to talk today about one of the most misunderstood and most abused items in pool care and that is phosphates in swimming pool water.  One of the most important concepts to keep in mind about phosphates is that phosphates in and of themselves do not cause algae growth.  There are a lot of misconceptions in the industry that you have to be phosphate free to be algae free this is just not true.  Although I am sure the chemical manufactures would not like to hear that, however it is a fact.  So lets get a little more in depth with phosphates (pun intended).

First lets define algae.  Algae is a plant life, just like the grass in your front yard, and just like the grass in your front yard if you want it to grow well you will want to feed the grass.  You feed your grass by putting down fertilizer.  Fertilizer is a combination of chemicals primarily Nitrates and Phosphates.  Ahhhh…Phosphates.  So if you want your grass to grow quickly and well you put down a specific fertilizer designed for your specific type of grass.  This fertilizer will have a specific blend of Nitrates and Phosphates.  Now remember algae is just like grass in your front yard and if it finds the right balance of Nitrates and Phosphates in your pool water it will grow so quickly and well that your sanitizing system will be overwhelmed with demand and you will come up with zero chlorine or very low chlorine!  The pool may be clear, there won’t be any visible algae but there also won’t be any chlorine in the pool water even though you have been maximizing the introduction of chlorine into the system, or you may have a green cloudy mess you cannot correct with the addition of large amounts of chlorine.

To solve this problem we need to remove the Nitrates and Phosphates from the pool water to take the food source from the algae.  If we remove the food source we will starve the algae.  The problem is we don’t currently have any way of removing Nitrates from pool water, so that leaves us with a method of removing phosphates.  We have any number of chemicals today for removing Phosphates from the pool water we even have chemicals that will help keep Phosphates out of the water with routine addition of the chemical.  But do you really need to do that?  The simple answer would be a qualified no.  I say qualified because most people don’t have a Phosphate / Nitrate issue every year, however that depends on your situation and you may have a chronic issue depending on the make up water you use in the pool.

I think we need to delve here into where phosphates come from in the first place.  Phosphates, like nitrates, are naturally occurring.  Phosphates are everywhere.  They are in your city water, they are frequently in the rainwater, they are in the sprays that your lawn care and pest control companies are spraying in your yard, the are in the decomposing organic matter (leafs) that fall in your pool and if you live in the country near farm land they are in the fertilizers that the farmers are spraying on their crops.  The fertilizers that the farmers are spraying with are seeping into the ground water that you are pumping out of your well.  If you are in the country near farmland and you are using well water to fill your pool you many want to consider a routine treatment of a phosphate remover.  Otherwise you may go years before your Nitrates / Phosphates become an issue.

If you suspect you have a Nitrate / Phosphate issue and want confirmation Aegean Pools can help.  We have one of the most sophisticated phosphate testing methods in all of Hampton Roads and read a test range of 0 to 10,000 ppb of Phosphates in the water.  Rarely do we see readings go over 10,000 ppb.  So bring a sample of your pool water to Aegean Pools for a free checkup of your pool water’s health today.


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