What are phosphates?

Phosphates are organic material that naturally occur in your pool. They come from dead leaves, lawn fertilizer, and anything else organic in or around your pool. They are the biggest food source for algae and highly affect chlorine consumption if left alone in the pool. It is unlikely that you will be able to remove every bit of phosphate from your pool as they are essentially in the air but doing some preventative maintenance can really help!

How to measure and identify phosphates?

Phosphates can’t really be “seen” by the naked eye. They do give the water a cloudy green tinge, however. You will also begin to see major algae blooms when phosphates are present in the water. The best way to identify them is to do a monthly test for them. There are many phosphate test kits on the market that you can use to identify them. Head on over to your local pool shop and grab a test kit and some phosphate remover.

How to get rid of them?

Phosphates can be managed with a weekly dose of phosphate remover. Phosphate remover can interact with the chemicals in the pool so be very cautious how much you add. If you measure over 500ppb phosphates, then you will need to do a larger phosphate treatment and that should include a filter clean as well. Please reference your phosphate treatment chemical as that will give you instructions on a weekly maintenance dose and for a larger dose. Phosphates can live on the grids or cartridges of your filter so it’s very important that you open the filter and clean that as well when doing any more than a maintenance treatment.

Trust the process.

Maintaining and controlling phosphates can be done with time and proper chemicals. The first step in controlling them is to measure for them. Once you have identified the phosphates in your water you need to treat for the phosphates with a phosphate remover. After you treat the pool for phosphates raise the chlorine level and run the filter for an extended period. After a full 24 hours of circulation, it is time to open up the filter and clean that as well. Wash the filter grids off with water and chlorine to make sure all phosphates are removed. Put the filter back together and balance the water chemistry.

Are they dangerous?

The short answer is no. In limited amounts, phosphates are harmless. However, when phosphate counts reach near 1000ppb you need to consider immediate treatment as they can become food to more than just algae in the pool water. This is when contaminants and other pathogens may also start to become present.

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