I have a Problem with Algae, Dirt & Debris in My Pool. What Can I Do?

Algae, Dirt & Debris

          The sub-links to the exact solutions, for specific problems, are at the very bottom of this page, but the prerequisites are going to be in this section, so please read this page first.

        If you just have problems with dirt or debris, and no problems with low Chlorine Readings, Algae or “Chlorine Smell”, Click: HERE!
Otherwise, go through this section first. 


 Step One: Test your






Note: Any test kit, or strips, that has been kept in storage at any temperature you would not be comfortable in has a shelf life of 3 months. Store your test strips or chemicals inside "where you are comfortable". Also, even at these temperatures, shelf life on test chemicals and strips is 1 year. If your testing materials are older than this, replace them.



Note2: If you have no test kit, get a clean jar, and get a water sample from at least a foot below the surface of the water, seal the jar, and take it to a pool/spa testing center within an hour of the time you took the sample.


What you are looking for:


1.)  Chlorine Stabilizer reading at 100 ppm: (Note: Some "guides" for what levels Chlorine Stabilizer should be kept at were made in different states. If you live anywhere near Phoenix, and you do not maintain the level indicated here, you are going to have a nightmare on your hands, a VERY EXPENSIVE nightmare on your hands.)  


        For Arizona, near Phoenix, (Yes, Flagstaff, Tucson, ... have different weather, water, ... and have different requirements) you need a Chlorine Stabilizer reading of 100 ppm in order to maintain any Chlorine reading past 24 hours.(To be honest though, I have talked to people around the world who have had troubles maintaining Chlorine readings, and, when they got their stabilizer readings to 100 ppm, those problems went away.)

 If your reading is less than 100 ppm, you will need to purchase and add enough stabilizer to get your reading to 100 ppm.

Note: a 5 lb. container of Chlorine Stabilizer will raise Stabilizer readings about 50 ppm in a normal play pool, and about 30 ppm in a normal diving pool.


Note 2: Chlorine Stabilizer should only need to be added right after draining and refilling, and should remain constant until the next drain or refill. If you cannot keep a good Stabilizer Reading, even after you add enough to get it where it needs to be, YOU HAVE A LEAK. For more information on "Leaks", click HERE!
Keep in mind that, with the water leveler off, normal evaporation in the Phoenix area, in the summer, is about 3-3 1/2" of water a week. or about 1/2" a day. (Evaporation  is about 1" a week in the winter.) f you aren't losing more water than this, you don't have a leak worth worrying about. 


Note 3: Chlorine Stabilizer is also known as “Isocyanuric Acid”. If you are in doubt  as to how much stabilizer you need, make sure you have the dimensions of your pool, shape of the pool, and the average depth, and bring that in to your pool/spa shop. They can do the calculations for you.



2.)  Free Available Chlorine:


        Once your stabilizer is squared away, you need to get your FREE AVAILABLE CHLORINE(Note: This is something completely different from "Total Chlorine") up over 5 ppm. and then keep it there for a couple of days.


Note: This is different from "total Chlorine".


        Total Chlorine includes the Chlorine that is tied up with waste products and is no longer available to sanitize your pool. You can have a total chlorine reading off the scale, and a “Zero” free chlorine reading. If you ever walked into a pool area where the chlorine smell was so strong as to make you gasp and want to flee(Asthmatic Reaction), and your eyes, nose, throat, ... started burning from the strong chlorine smell, you are familiar with a high “Total Chlorine Reading” and a “Zero” Free Chlorine reading. Chlorine in this form(that you can smell) is completely useless, and even harmful, because it is all tied up with waste products called chloramines. Almost all of the people who believe they have chlorine allergies misdiagnose themselves because of chloromines (Which everyone has a problem with) or low pH, (Again, which everyone has a problem with.) or both. Research suggests that only 1/2 of 1% OR LESS of all people have an actual Chlorine allergy.  


        Pools with these readings(0 free Chlorine, high total chlorine) (Or, in the absence of a test kit: Where you can "smell" the Chlorine) are completely unsanitary. They are sources for pink eye, asthmatic reactions, skin rashes and many other diseases, ...   Pools where you can smell the chlorine should be avoided. It's the CHLOROMINES that you smell, combined with the waste products, and not the chlorine itself. There isn't any “Free Available Chlorine” in the pool, and there is nothing left to sanitize, kill bacteria, ... at all. Once you get your "FREE AVAILABLE CHLORINE" above 5 ppm, and keep it there for a couple of days, all of that smell will go away because you will oxidize, or burn off, all of the waste products in your pool. So how do you do that?


       What you need:  First, Get a strong oxidizer. My preference is Calcium Hypochlorite. The kind I like is 68% Available Chlorine, one of the highest levels available. That's what you are looking for, a high percentage of available chlorine. Keep in mind that some products are only 35% Available Chlorine (Active Ingredients) you will need about twice as much of those products. Cheaper price per pound doesn't mean that you are getting the better price. $20 for 5 lbs. of 65% = 3.25 lbs. of chlorine for $20 or $5.48/lb. of Chlorine. $18 for 5 lbs. of 35% = 1.75 lbs. of chlorine for $18 = $10.29 per lb. of Chlorine. You are actually paying almost double for the "cheaper" product. You are paying to pack, ship and stock, filler.


So how do I know how much to add?
        Well, it will depend. How bad is your pool. You have seen the previous calculations as well. If it takes 15 lbs. of 65% Calcium Hypochlorite to get your free available chlorine to 5.0 ppm (or greater) it will probably take around 27 lbs. of 35% Cal. Hypo. to do the exact same thing.
        If you can't see your drain for the green water, and you have a play pool (About 15,000 gallons) I would start with 4 lbs.(65% Cal. Hypo.) carefully scattered around the pool (This stuff is a strong oxidizer, and if it gets on sweaty skin, it will cause burns and blisters. It will eat holes in all your clothes. Please be careful.). Normal Diving Pools will use 1 1/2 times this amount as a starter dose(6 lbs. 65% Cal. Hypo.). If you have algae on the floor, or tops of steps, let the "Shock" or granular Cal. Hypo. powder sit for 15 minutes or so directly on those surfaces. This should kill most of what is sitting there. Then, mix it in thoroughly (Equipment running, full brush of every inch of the pool, ...).


Once mixed thoroughly(Brush every inch of your pool), retest.


        If you are still below 5.0 on the free available chlorine test, I would again add 4 lbs. of (65%) Calcium Hypochlorite, mix thoroughly, retest, ... and repeat, over and over again, until you are at 5.0 or above.


       If your pool is really bad, I have added over 20lbs. to get this reading where it needs to be. If your pool is really bad from the start, I would buy at least 20lbs. of “shock” to start with. You can keep any extra in stock, as you should shock (2 lbs.) after every pool party, and once a month during the swim season, regardless. Buying in bulk is cheaper.


Once you get your free available chlorine above 5.0 …


Once you are at, or above, 5.0 free available chlorine, remember to verify this again 24 hours later. If you are low, add more shock in 2 lb. increments until you are back over that 5.0 ppm threshold. Again, retest. 24 hours later, again, retest, Repeat this process, until you come back 24 hours later and you still have over a 5.0 "Free Chlorine" reading.


Remember, "shocking" the pool is only “short term” chlorination. It is the Chlorine Stabilizer, in conjunction with Chlorine Tabs that are responsible for maintaining proper chlorine levels. Shocking, without proper adding of chlorine tabs and proper adjustment of chlorinator flow, will result in this problem occurring over and over again. (Note: If you do not have a proper chlorinator, you are aways going to struggle with this. Click HERE! for more.


      Finally: Go over the "PROPER WATER CHEMISTRY" section of this site as well(Click HERE!). Now continue on to the part of this site to deal with the rest of the specific issues you have, in the following categories:


They are:

1.) Problems With Debris on the Floor, Steps and/or Love Seat OTHER THAN SAND OR D.E. (Click HERE!)

2.) D.E. or Sand on Floor, Steps and/or Love Seat (Click HERE!)

3.) The Pool Surface (Including Walls, Steps or Love Seat) has Algae (Click HERE!)

4.) The Water itself is Green (Click HERE!)
5.) Cloudy Water (Click HERE!) (Note: The same causes and solutions are involved for green water as those for cloudy water.)


      These individual issues are dealt with on the sub-pages directly below.