Given the precise conditions, even the most carefully maintained pool can develop an occasional outbreak of algae. And service professionals know that there is no such thing as a magic pill in this fight. It takes conscientious work and a regimen that includes proper pool-water balancing, correct sanitizer levels and regular doses of shock and algaecide. Even then, when weather and environmental conditions are right, things are known to go wrong. The professional arsenal for confronting algae now includes six major types of specialty chemicals designed to kill or prevent an algae bloom. They include:
- Metallic Algicides, which normally contain either copper or silver and kill by blocking the algaes metabolism. That means they interfere with the plants ability to feed and breathe. Algae are simply a green plant that requires food and light to thrive. The light usually comes from the sun, which explains why algae grows better in warm, sunny climates. The food source is typically phosphates in the water that have escaped the kill normally provided by chlorine or bromine.
- Quats are short for quaternary ammonium compounds. They usually contain some form of ammonia and have a positive electrical charge. Because algae has a negative charge, they are attracted to the quats. The quat interferes with the plants cell membrane, causing the algae to suffocate.
- Polymers are huge molecules containing several repeating parts. Because they are also positively charged, they work in much the same way that quats do and suffocate the algae after attaching themselves onto the plants cell membrane.
Herbicides are organic compounds that work by being absorbed through the roots of the algae plant, then interfering with the plants ability to produce food through photosynthesis.
- Chlorine Enhancers work in concert with the chorine already present in the water, combining to create material that the algae thinks is a food source. Once the algae ingests the combined form, it is killed by it. The chlorine enhancer, then, is not really doing the killing. It is the chlorine itself. But the enhancer and chlorine are working together to make the chlorines job more effective.
- Phosphate Removers commonly use a chloride-based metallic salt, which combines with the dissolved phosphates in the water to form a solid material that can be filtered out through normal circulation processes. While phosphate removers are not algicides, they help rid the water of a valuable food source that allows algae to grow. Phosphates occur naturally from rivers, lakes, oceans or mined rock and are used in detergents, soaps; shampoos and even soda pop. They are also common in fertilizers, organic debris such as leaves and bark. And they are even used in some pool chemicals. While minimizing the amount of phosphates entering the pool is helpful and they can be removed with a flocculent, sometimes bigger guns are needed in the process