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Getting a Grip on Algae

Tools and techniques to defeat a persistent problem

As any pool service technician knows, you can’t keep swimming pools pristine and sparkling with just a pole and debris net. It also takes consistent monitoring and maintenance, especially with the risk of algae formation. These naturally occurring organisms, generally green and yellow or stubborn black, feed on sunlight and the pool’s nutrient-rich environment, multiplying quickly on surfaces, cracks, crevices and other difficult-to-reach places, affecting the pool’s appearance and cleanliness.

Preventing algae buildup requires a host of techniques: regularly cleaning and brushing the pool, maintaining optimal pH levels, ensuring the efficiency of the circulation and filtration systems and regular shock treatments of chlorine or nonchlorine oxidizers. 

Despite these efforts, algae outbreaks can still occur due to bad weather, contaminated equipment and toys or swimmers’ bodies. 

For pros looking for another line of defense against algae, 

Val-Pak Products’ patented water pressure gun offers an option. The company produces two Algae Gun Water Pressure Cleaning Tools — one for green and yellow algae and one for black. Using a high-pressure water line in the backyard, these tools reach even largely inaccessible areas where stubborn algae flourish and a brush may not be able to reach, like around steps, lights or water features. 

The green algae gun sprays a fan to cover a wide area, while the black algae gun shoots a direct stream of water to target specific spots. Mike Solakian, CEO of Val-Pak Products, says the tools allow service providers to treat algae before the chemicals fully take effect, and he stresses the importance of using these tools in combination with chemicals to achieve comprehensive sanitization. 

“The algae gun disturbs the armor of the algae,” he says. “What’s behind it are the microscopic pores that live in the plaster. We want to disrupt that armor so the chemical can get in and kill the root.” 

The algae guns are manufactured specifically for concrete pools but according to Val-Pak, also work well for fiberglass or vinyl-lined pools. Solakian says the guns are useful for pebble or heavily textured finishes where brushing may be more difficult or inefficient.  

“They’re simple to use,” Solakian says. “You attach the gun to the nozzle of the garden hose, lock the hose on the pole and turn on the water.” 

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Pool pros like John Stankus, owner of Keep it Clean Pool Service in Cypress, California, appreciate the product’s ability to provide quick results in hard-to-reach spaces.

“The Val-Pak algae gun is a fast method to remove algae from your pool walls,” Stankus says. “We also often run into main drains that lack adequate suction, allowing mustard algae to grow. The gun easily clears algae hiding under the drain.”

Pete Paloalto, owner of Coachella Valley Pools in Coachella, California, says the Val-Pak algae gun stands out from other products he’s tried.

“I like the design, which makes it easy to handle and use for a long time without discomfort,” he says. “It’s a must-have for anyone serious about pool maintenance.” 

Pool brushes are another good option for fighting algae buildup.

Philip Datz, owner of Zippy Pool Care in Sarasota, Florida, likes the Spartan Skimlite Combination Brush, which has a mix of silicon carbide and polybutylene bristles suitable for both rough and soft surfaces.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” he says. 

The harder bristles are ideal for rougher surfaces like pebble and can tackle black algae without scratching the pool’s surface, while the softer side is perfect for general brushing. Datz says he avoids using metal brushes because their bristles can rust and stain concrete if they fall out. He notes that the appearance of black algae often indicates underlying issues such as insufficient chemicals or circulation. Scrubbing breaks the algae’s protective cover, allowing chlorine to penetrate effectively.

While prevention is ideal, it’s not possible 100% of the time. When problems arise, taking fast, targeted action is the best way to eliminate algae and prevent its return.

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