Does Your Pool Need a Phosphate Remover?  

by Pool Builders on 01-22-2014 in Articles

In recent years the use of phosphate removers in swimming pools has been a hot topic and the subject of much debate. Here's a little background on the subject. Phosphates are a biological building block that nourishes and promotes the growth of plants - including algae.
Phosphates are present in all natural water, which obviously includes the water in your swimming pool. The idea behind phosphate removal products is that less phosphates in the water will mean less algae. The question then becomes - do these products really work?

To be honest, the effectiveness of these products is debatable. There is one school of thought that says phosphates in pool water are not a concern unless they exceed 1000 parts per billion (ppb). The other side of the debate says that phosphate levels should be kept to a maximum of 125 parts per billion. Obviously, there is a huge difference between those two numbers.

My opinion on the matter is that using a phosphate removal product in your pool water is perfectly fine - as long as you follow the package directions and don't go overboard trying to get your levels way down.
However, I must say that I found the results of a recent study on this subject done by McGrayel Water Technologies to be quite interesting.
The study involved two one-quart glass jars of water. One jar was filled with distilled water (which contains zero phosphates). The other jar contained water with 1000 ppb phosphate added.

The jars were set out side by side in indirect sunlight for seven to eight days. In repeated tests, both jars of water grew the same amount of green algae.

The main disadvantage of this type of pool cleaner is not a poor design of the cleaner itself, but rather the poor design of the swimming pool main drain. Far too often I see pool installers who use the inexpensive method of plumbing the main drain to the skimmer and then a single line from the skimmer to the pump. This in turn makes the main drain nothing more than a siphon, rather than a suction device. So if you use a discharge type pool cleaner, the main drain wonâEUR(TM)t have the strength to move the dirt up to the skimmer. Check to see if you have a valve and two pipes coming into the suction side of your pump. If this is the case, it means the pool builder ran a direct line from the main drain to the pump and it is a true suction device. In this instance, a discharge type pool sweep should work well for your pool. If this is not the case, you are better off choosing another type of pool cleaner.

You can draw your own conclusions from this, but my opinion is that if your water contains less than 1000 ppb phosphates, you probably don't need a phosphate removal product. However, if you want to use these products there is no harm in doing so - other than the added expense.

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