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Thread: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    <<photos sent to poolforum acct.>>

    Last year I had a localized stain (about 6'x3') downstream of the outflow where I put most of my chemicals in. I thought I had stained it by some undissolved chem's settling on the bottom, but now (this year) I have the same color ring around the top of the pool, and a couple more small areas of a similar stain. I've tried to brush it and it doesn't change appearance at all (someone mentioned Mustard would initially come off, but return the next day...this stuff doesn't change at all after brushing).

    Original stain doesn't seem to be "growing" per-se, just appearing in different areas.

    Any ideas? My one checmistry issue is high stabilizer (CYA about 90), so I know my shock level needs to be higher. Using Ben's best guess pool chart, I shock at around 25, and was able to maintain this level for many days this season (I had to open the pool early due to some yard construction, and it was way too cold to swim, so I let it stay in shock mode for quite awhile).

    Water is otherwise clear, virtually no CC.

    Typical day's measurements:
    FC 8-10
    CC < .5
    TA 40-50
    CH ??
    CYA 90
    PH 7.4-7.6 (keeps dropping maybe due to Acidic NJ rain?) Also trying to elevate the TA to settle the swings.

    I use mostly BBB method, but use trichlor tabs for maintenance since I'm out of town a lot.

    Vinyl liner
    30x15 above ground
    Swim pro sand filter
    Hayward 1.5 HP power flo matrix pump
    Using the recommended test kit
    above-ground 15'x30'x3.5' oval -- Hayward 1.5hp Power-flo matrix, Vari-Flo XL -- Swim Pro 3.2 sft sand filter, 250# of sand

  2. #2
    swimdaddy is offline *Removed User* Weir Watcher swimdaddy 0
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    If it doesn't come off, than you may have some type of metal in your pool staining your liner. Its a pretty common problem. Is your pool water municipal or from a well? Ground water tends to have more minerals in it and can stain you pool. My in-laws, bless their hearts, use a copper based sanitation system in their pool and they get similar stains along the water line. Can't convince them to switch to BBB.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Can't see the photos, of course. If that's important, consider putting them on imgur or another photo site and give the link.

    swimdaddy may be right if the make up water is coming from a well or if the pH has been much lower in the past and there is copper to be had (heater?)

    But I would guess algae, species undetermined. If it's mustard algae, you'll be in a world of sorrow trying to contain it with CYA of 90 or more. That's nearly unmanageable-- you'll be carting in bleach by the truck load to fix it. Better to to get that CYA down by several controlled partial drains of the pool -- I have a gunite pool and do 20% drain and refill but you'll have to determine what is safe for your pool.

    Yup, trichlor is convenient but that's what got you here! I'd recommend trying to reconfigure your schedule so you can start dosing with bleach and reserve the trichlor for very long trips. There's no calcium in the pool? I'd definitely get the alkalinity up to 70-80 ppm or so, you need some pH buffering.

    The trichlor is likely contributing to pH decline. What are you using to get it back into range? Sodium carbonate? Borax?
    16'x29' free-form 14K gal IG gunite pool; SWCG & sodium hypochlorite 8.25%; Hayward SwimClear C4025 cartridge filter; Hayward SP3202VSP TriStar Variable Speed Pool Pump; custom test kit based on Taylor K-2006C; city; PF:8.6

  4. #4
    swimdaddy is offline *Removed User* Weir Watcher swimdaddy 0
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Agreed, seems like the 2 most common causes of algae blooms are sanitizer to low or stabilizer to high.

    Forgive me for my ignorance, I am still learning, but if it were mustard algae, wouldn't it scrub off, or scrape off with a fingernail?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Quote Originally Posted by swimdaddy View Post
    Agreed, seems like the 2 most common causes of algae blooms are sanitizer to low or stabilizer to high.

    Forgive me for my ignorance, I am still learning, but if it were mustard algae, wouldn't it scrub off, or scrape off with a fingernail?
    Hi swimdaddy,

    Yes, I thought as much but I've seen black algae so embedded in a wall that not even a metal brush can dislodge it. Also read accounts of mustard algae, often described as powdery and easily scattered like a cloud of dust but keeps coming back. I can only share my very recent experience which may or may not be relevant. (This is a slow forum, so why not?)

    Nine years of pool ownership and I thought I would never see an algae outbreak in my pool ... but it happened for the first time this year. I'm not an expert on types of algae but I'm fairly practiced in its eradication (in other people's pools, of course. ) When you see pool water that is not as reflective as usual or has a slight green or greenish-blue cast, or a surface (skimmer wier or pump basket, a shallow step or return jet) that feels a bit slippery to the touch, then the diagnosis is easy. Some type of green algae is spreading rapidly. But other forms are less obvious in their approach.

    My 9-year boast came to an end last month for many of the same reasons other pool owners get into trouble: a combination of factors that included the encroachment of large trees that littered the pool with insects, a dirty cartridge filter, extended periods of low chlorine, and general neglect that extended to failing to brush the pool as frequently as I had in the past, and the gradual aging of equipment (rough surfaces, loose fittings). I knew chlorine demand had been increasing over the months but I didn't take any corrective action.

    First sign was how annoyingly difficult it was to keep the spa clean. Then I had to acknowledge that the marcite plaster wasn't as vanilla-frosting white as it had been. Soon after I recognized black algae (spots) in the crevices of the tile in a few locations around the pool... challenging but doable with a SS brush.

    I tried to remove a very slight "stain" (it looked like rubbed-in yellow brown dirt) that on closer inspection seemed to be everywhere but was most apparent in the deep end (shaded area). Lots of scrubbing and bleach and it didn't even fade much less disappear. It comes close enough to the description of mustard algae—it could be a different species, I don't know, but it motivated me to action.

    Increased chlorine demand, coupled with perfectly clear water and a growing generalized discoloring of the walls and floor that wasn't a metallic stain. Hanging over the side of the pool, I could see that if I focused on a tiny area I could just manage to clear a spot with great effort and a tri-chlor tab.

    Anyway, this wasn't meant to become the novel that it has become. Since then, I have done all the things I should I have done earlier this year: cut back the trees, cleaned the filter, brushed the pool, increased filter time 25%, experimented with shock regimens—low pH ~7.2 to 7.5 with large and frequent applications of fresh (date-selected) 10% sodium hypochlorite works as advertised! I think I was up to 70% of CYA for a while. At CYA of 35-40, I'll swim when FC is less than 12 ppm so that's my new target maintenance level.

    I waited far too long. I'm actually replacing the plastic fittings that can't be made right after soaking in a bucket of 5% bleach all day and then scrubbed. Main pump filter basket, two eyeball returns and a float for the automatic pool sweep, so far. I haven't yet pulled out the light niches but that's next. Just hope that judicious applications of chlorine will disarm anything growing inside the PVC pipes. But the pool looks almost like it did when I first filled it in 2007. 🙂

    --------

    I think everyone who owns or is responsible for a pool is still learning. There are just too many fields of knowledge required for any one individual to know everything... plumbing and hydraulics, electrical, chemistry, materials science, etc.
    16'x29' free-form 14K gal IG gunite pool; SWCG & sodium hypochlorite 8.25%; Hayward SwimClear C4025 cartridge filter; Hayward SP3202VSP TriStar Variable Speed Pool Pump; custom test kit based on Taylor K-2006C; city; PF:8.6

  6. #6
    swimdaddy is offline *Removed User* Weir Watcher swimdaddy 0
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Thanks, I think that helps, shared testimonials are very helpful!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Please let me know if you can view this.

    above-ground 15'x30'x3.5' oval -- Hayward 1.5hp Power-flo matrix, Vari-Flo XL -- Swim Pro 3.2 sft sand filter, 250# of sand

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    above-ground 15'x30'x3.5' oval -- Hayward 1.5hp Power-flo matrix, Vari-Flo XL -- Swim Pro 3.2 sft sand filter, 250# of sand

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Thanks for the replies--

    To answer the questions, municipal water source, and I don't know about calcium. Can't even remember if theres a test for that in the great blue bucket.

    No heater either.

    I've tried scrubbing with a plastic scrub brush, and green scrub pads with no noticeable difference.

    I'll suffer through the controlled drainings to knock down the CYA. Seems like when I drain over the winter, it would help that out, but I guess not enough!!
    above-ground 15'x30'x3.5' oval -- Hayward 1.5hp Power-flo matrix, Vari-Flo XL -- Swim Pro 3.2 sft sand filter, 250# of sand

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Mustard Algae? Or chemical stain?

    Hi Vtattebury,

    Sorry for your troubles. I'd strongly suggest that you "suffer through" whatever you have to do to reduce CYA before you attempt to shock. I just noticed from your initial post that you have an AG pool... how about half the water, all at once? Be sure to test CYA so you'll know if you're done draining. 30-40 ppm is probably good but no higher.

    Then, increase TA by adding baking soda up to 70-80 ppm. Set pH somewhere between 7 and 7.5. The sweet spot is just a little lower than what you reported: 7.2-7.4

    Find the most economical price you can for liquid chorine or plain bleach. I'd been using grocery store bleach 8.25% but lately switched to Wall Mart "Pool Essentials Chlorinating Liquid" because it has a prominent date code (fresh is best) and contains 10% sodium hypochlorite.

    You will need a lot! You can use Ben's Best Guess chart or an on-line calculator (poolcalculator dot com) to figure out how much to start with. I recommend using the suggested level for Shock Mustard Algae. There are instructions somewhere on this site and also at the place I love to hate: TFP (they use the term 'slamming' instead of 'shocking').

    I think the pool calculator recommended FC 22 ppm for the amount of CYA I had in my pool so I dumped in enough chlorine to get it to 25-28 ppm and kept it above 22 ppm for several days. Brushed, doubled the run time on my filter pump, did every thing I could think of ... added bleach usually at night to reduce the amount sacrificed to the sun. After a few days the mustard/brown color had faded significantly. Then I allowed the chlorine to come down so I could swim.

    Thanks for posting the links to the pictures.

    For what it's worth, it looks exactly like the algae that affected my pool earlier this summer. The brushing was only marginally helpful with the algae in my pool but I would still recommend that you do it once a day while shocking. I've kept my FC level quite high (20-30% of CYA) since shocking for three days last month. I'm still not finished and there is residual algae baked into the strangest places! When it gets a bit cooler I will resume shocking and finish the job.

    I visit this forum only every couple of days or so but if you need help I know there are others who can assist. Good luck to you.
    16'x29' free-form 14K gal IG gunite pool; SWCG & sodium hypochlorite 8.25%; Hayward SwimClear C4025 cartridge filter; Hayward SP3202VSP TriStar Variable Speed Pool Pump; custom test kit based on Taylor K-2006C; city; PF:8.6

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