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Algaecide : The Complete Guide for Pool Owners

What is Algaecide?

As a pool owner, have you woken up in the morning to find that your beautifully clean pool has turned a murky or dusky color? This color mostly comes from algae growth. There are a number of reasons why algae grows, sometimes it is because you have excess phosphates in your pool, it might also be because of high pH and low chlorine levels, there are a number of factors involved. Whatever the case may be, sometimes it is necessary to use an algaecide product, but this is not always the best course of action. In this article, we are going to talk about algaecides, what is it? How does it work? Is it necessary to use them? 

When you hear the name algaecide, you instantly think that it will magically get rid of or clear algae growth. This is actually not true, it does serve some purpose however, and it is best to use algaecide products to prevent algae from growing in the first place as opposed to removing it from your pool. It is often something that is used as part of an ongoing routine to prevent algae growth as opposed to a fix-all solution for existing algae growth. 

How Does Algaecide Actually Work? 

Algaecides mostly contain copper, they will often contain copper sulfate as well as or chopper chelates. These are chemical components that contain metals. There are lots of algaecides out there to choose from and some contain other chemicals such as endothall which is a herbicide, as well as sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate. 
The chemicals in the algaecides interrupt the cell growth in algae, making it difficult for them to survive or populate. Using algaecides facilitates prevention but it does not necessarily wipe out the problem if they already exist in the pool. They do play a role however, in the algae elimination process, but it can never be the sole product that you use to get rid of algae if you are experiencing an outbreak. 
Caution: Take note of the area you live in, some areas have lots of metal in the water. This type of water can oxidize and stain the surfaces of your swimming pool. Using an algaecide that is copper-based will just make this worse. This is why it is important to check the type of water that you have in your area. Instead of using a copper-based algaecide, opt for one that does not contain copper or other metals. 
There are plenty of different types of algae however, in the states for example, there are only a few types out there. For example, red tide algae is a terrible type of algae to deal with. It is highly poisonous and can have a detrimental effect on wildlife. 
Algae is an uncategorized organism and is often referred to as protists. This is a category that is often used for organisms that cannot be properly classified. 

There are a few types of algae that you need to think about when you are trying to prevent or treat swimming pool algae. Here are the main types that you should be aware of:
Green Algae: This is the most popular type of algae out there. It usually grows when you wear the same swimming costume after swimming in the sea or ocean and you don’t wash it. 
Yellow Algae: This is not so popular but it does exist and it can be found growing in some swimming pools.
Black Algae: This type of algae is very difficult to remove, it often requires lots of scrubbing and brushing as well as pool shocking and sanitizing to remove it. 
Pink Algae: This is actually not really an algae, it is actually a type of bacteria but mostly people think it is algae because of the way it looks and its texture. 

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How to Kill Algae 

If you were to ask a novice how to kill or get rid of algae, they would tell you to use an algaecide product to treat the problem. However, this is not actually the best way of getting rid of algae. The best way to deal with algae is to use chlorine. So before you run out and go and purchase a huge bottle of algaecide, consider the fact that chlorine can clean, sanitize and kill algae. 
You might think it is a lost cause because your water is murky and the algae looks like it is impossible to remove but this is certainly not the case. You can totally kill algae by using chlorine because it acts as an oxidizer against bacteria and single-celled algae. Chlorine effectively inhibits cell growth in algae, essentially killing it and preventing them from populating. 
The most important thing to remember when it comes to preventing algae growth or getting rid of it is to keep your pool chemistry balanced. Here is the science: 
Keep your chemical measurements at 3 parts per million (chlorine) and about 4 parts per million of bromine. Also you can consider 30 parts per million or 50 parts per million (biguanide) You also need to consider the pH of the pool water. When your chlorine levels and the pH level of the pool is right, you really don’t need to think too much about algae growing in your swimming pool. Also, you don’t have to consider using algaecide to get rid of it. 

Shock Your Swimming Pool 

If your swimming pool gets infested by algae at some point, one thing you can try is shocking the pool, this is where you can think about using algaecide. Shock the pool by adding large amounts of chlorine, usually 10 times your usual amount of chlorine. If the algae that you are dealing with is yellow algae, chlorine alone will not work, because yellow algae resists chlorine therefore for this, you would have to utilize algaecide. You would have to use this and chlorine at the same time to see any results at all. 

Prevent Instead of Treating 

If you have already experienced an outbreak of algae and you have treated it, your main focus is to prevent another outbreak so you don’t have to spend time trying to treat it again. The most important thing is ensuring that you maintain your pool on a regular basis. The main thing is keeping the chemicals at the right level in the pool water. Also, try and prevent contamination from other sources. For example, swimming costumes that do not get washed after being used in a lake or ocean. Make sure you always clean your swimming costume and dry it before you use it in your swimming pool. 

Swimming costumes are not the only culprits, you also need to strongly consider your swimming pool equipment such pool noodles and floats. Make sure you wash them properly after use and before you use them again. Unwashed pool equipment often breeds germs and bacteria. Therefore, it is vital that you sanitize anything that is going to enter the pool. Also, make sure you and anyone else that is going to use the pool takes a shower before entering the pool. 

Consider this, if your house is close to a lake or stream, you should probably think about using algaecide once in a while, it is better to be safe than sorry. If the sun is out and it is warm or hot, pour some algaecide in to prevent algae from growing. 

Protecting Your Pool When You Are Not Using it 

When you are not using your swimming pool, this is a good time to use algaecide in your swimming pool water. If you are not going to be using the swimming pool then you will most likely cover it to prevent insects, frogs and other creatures. When you are not using your pool, make sure you treat it with algaecide to prevent an outbreak of algae growth. 


To Conclude

At some point in the life of your swimming pool, you might experience some algae growth, whether it be a large outbreak or just a small growth algaecide is not really a necessary product. Your main focus should really be preventing an algae outbreak instead of thinking about the things you can do to treat it, consider putting all your effort into carrying out regular maintenance on your swimming pool. For example, scrub and brush your pool a couple of times a week. Also, regularly test the pH levels and chlorine levels to ensure they are balanced. An imbalance in chemical levels and a high pH level can encourage algae growth. 

Algaecide treatment is not a necessary part of your pool maintenance however, you might need to use it when your swimming pool is not being used. For example, if your pool is covered during the winter or if you are on vacation, you should certainly treat it with algaecide to reduce the risk of an algae growth outbreak. Also, you could consider using algaecide if you experience an intense algae outbreak, then you should use the algaecide alongside chlorine. 

Generally speaking, algaecide should not be an imperative part of your swimming pool maintenance routine. 

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