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Pollen in Swimming Pool water

Pollen in Swimming Pools

There’s nothing better than spending hot summer days sitting poolside in your own backyard with a cold beverage in hand before cooling off in the crystal clear blue waters. Although your neighbor longingly looking over the fence at your perfect pool, comes in as a close second. However, pool owners will be quick to point out there’s time and effort that goes into producing those beautiful clear waters, and the weather and environment often just add to the action.

 

The Mississauga Climate

For pool owners, the weather can be like kryptonite, destroying all their hard work. One of the hardest things about owning a swimming pool is adjusting for the weather, climate and ensuring the pool remains swim-ready. Any local will tell you the weather in Mississauga can have a mind of its own. Remember 2013 when streets flooded and there was a record-breaking 126 mm of rainfall or when temperatures were over 30°C at the beginning of July 2021.
This year has brought many unique challenges, and one of them, for local pool owners, is pollen.
Pollen travels through the air and wreaks havoc on all those with allergies in the area but proves particularly soul-destroying to the local pool owners. They have the pool filter running overnight to ensure the pool is ready for the hot day ahead, only to wake up and discover the pool is covered in this fine powdery substance that is off-putting. Not only that, but the pool filter system does not fix the problem.
However, there’s no need to dig up the flower beds just yet, there are a few tips and tricks about pollen we have up our sleeves, that should see you through the summer months.

 

The Pollen Problem

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of pollen comes from the large mature trees, not flowers. It is a fine dust, which is often mistaken for algae and is likely to test the mettle of many Mississauga pool owners.

Pollen is a fine yellow dust produced by male plants. The pollination process ensures that the colorful array of flowers, plants, and fruit are there to mark spring each year. The pollen has to travel from the male plant to the female plant for this to happen, and while bees do a bit of the work, the weather and wind will pick up the slack and help distribute the pollen. The wind isn’t particular about where it drops the pollen, and that beautiful blue water in your backyard is often a good target.

This creates two main problems for pool owners.

  1. As organic matter, it consumes the pool’s chlorine at a faster than usual rate. This can cause the pool to go green and cloudy, preventing swimming.  Pool owners have to keep an eye on the situation and adjust their chlorination to cope with the influx of pollen.
  2. Pollen is very small, with some of the particles just 10 microns in diameter. This is about the same width as a human hair or a red blood cell. Ten microns is finer than the average pool filter system can handle. Even running the pool filter system 24 hours a day won’t make huge inroads into removing this nasty invader. 

This means that pool owners need some additional weapons in their arsenal if they are to overcome the problem, and we promise you it won’t cost you an arm and a leg nor will it result in hours of pool maintenance.

 

Pollen vs. Algae

Before you rush down to the local pool shop, its important to know exactly what you are dealing with so that the best solution can be recommended.

Pollen can often be mistaken for algae, so how does the average pool owner tell the difference without throwing the kids in to see if they come out resembling Gooey Gus the Slime Monster?

Algae is usually a green colour, while pollen is a dark yellow colour, but it can be hard to tell the difference between green and yellow, especially with water and light distorting their appearance. Further complicating this diagnostic method, algae may be present but not necessarily visible to the naked eye.

Algae will typically make the walls, pool ladder, and steps feel slimy when you pass your hand over them; even if the algae isn’t visible. This check is a pretty strong indicator that something is lurking in the water which needs to be dealt with by shocking and brushing so that the pool doesn’t start going green.

Pollen, on the other hand, doesn’t tend to make the pool feel slimy on its own. Remember that algae starts growing for a reason such as low chlorine levels, and you may have a pollen problem causing algae issues. In most circumstances, pollen will not stick to the walls of the pool below the waterline but it will be visible just above the waterline at the edge of the pool, where it has been deposited as the water ripples moving up and down along the pool wall.

Pollen typically settles in the low-lying areas of the pool, or the walls where the water level may have lowered ever so slightly because of evaporation, leaving pollen visible to the naked eye. These low-lying areas include liner seams, running down any slopes, or the flat areas of the pool floor, such as the deep end. When you disturb the water, or try to pick up the fine powdery substance, it tends to take on the characteristics of magic dust, disappearing from sight. The fine nature of pollen means that it can’t be picked up or captured by hand. If this sounds familiar, there’s a pretty good chance you have a pollen problem, which should be addressed to prevent a larger issue.

 

The Pollen Solution

Now that you have identified your pollen problem, what is the solution?

1. **Run the pump 24/7**. Running the filter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is advised and, can help to resolve the issue. Remember when you were a kid, and your mom used to tell you, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again,” well this is one of those instances. The more water you move, the more passes it will make through the filter, the more pollen can be picked up, even if the capture rate is low.

2. **Clean your pool frequently.** Capturing pollen in the filter means that you will clean the pool filter more regularly to keep it from clogging up. For sand filters, which usually capture particles between 20 and 40 microns, they need to be backwashed at least once a week, and to be honest, if you have this type of filter, the pollen capture rate is going to be pretty minimal. Cartridge filters, on the other hand, can capture particles down to 10 microns, so they are a lot more effective than a sand filter at cleaning up the pollen problem. Cleaning the cartridges every couple of weeks will be essential to getting rid of the pollen. It is important to keep an eye on the pressure gauge, and if it hits 18 psi or higher, it’s time to clean them. Clarifiers may be tempting, and may provide some assistance, but most have limited effectiveness against pollen.

3. **Use Scum Socks in the pool’s skimmer basket.** If you really want to solve the pollen problem, we recommend a Scum Sock. Don’t let the name put you off; these nylon socks are one of the best pollen solutions on the market today. Believe it or not, technology isn’t the answer to every problem. Scum socks will do a better job than the pool filter system ever could. They fit in the pool’s skimmer basket, and within a couple of hours, the results will be evident for all to see. After just a day or so the sock will be coated in pollen, so you can clean the scum sock and remove the pollen from the pool system.

Pollen may be small, but it can have a large impact on a pool and its chemistry if left unattended. Now that you know how to identify and remove pollen from your swimming pool you can stay one step ahead of any pollen problems and get back to the summer days by the pool (your neighbor longingly looking over the fence at your perfect pool).

If you have any questions, visit our store at 309 Lakeshore East in Mississauga or call (905) 891-8818, we’re happy to help. For other tips to keep the pool looking good, check out our other blog articles

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