When one of the grossest-looking organisms in existence, mold, grows on your pool water, it's probably a sign that something is wrong. Mold can't harm humans per se but it does make for an unpleasant swimming experience when you're surrounded by floating white tissue paper-looking pieces that’s usually accompanied by an ugly residue called "pink slime."
If these things are present in your pool, then there's likely some problem with either the filtration system or the chlorine levels. So if you spot them, you’re probably ready to get it fixed ASAP!
What is Water Mold?
Water Mold- A White Substance That Looks Like Shredded Tissue Paper
Water mold is a pesky, white substance that floats around in water and has the appearance of shredded tissue paper. It's unsightly but harmless to humans; however it can clog up equipment like pipes or filters by getting into them with its long strands.
White mold is a common problem in pools and can grow in any hard-to-reach areas. It usually grows in places that have poor circulation like pool lights, ladders, skimmers or jets at the return end of your pool.
White mold likes plastic so it can also be found growing on your favorite toys for children such as rafts, and even on cleaners such as sponges. If left unchecked, white mold will spread quickly through the water system ruining all you might love about summertime fun by creating an unpleasant chlorine odor. YUCK!
Scientists used to classify Saprolegnia spp. (white water mold, for example) as a fungus. However, they later decided that they belong to the Oomycota class. This is actually a lot different from fungus.
They’ve also decided that it’s not really dangerous for swimmers since oxygen will dissolve it. In other words, the mold dies off as soon as you get out of the water and dry off.
The best way to get rid of this gross gunk is through prevention: keep your filter clean and your chlorine levels balanced so as not to let any more accumulated water spores develop.
If your pool has a water mold infestation, don't be afraid to call for professional help if you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself. These microscopic creatures are difficult to kill because of their chitin-enclosed cell walls that protect them from chlorine and other pool sanitizers.
But there is hope!
The strategy for exterminating the cells involves physically removing as much visible growth around your equipment before applying high levels of chlorine in order to suffocate this pesky invasion.
Why Do I Have Water Mold in My Pool?
While improperly balanced water does contribute to a mold situation, the real culprit is usually just a common side effect of garden hose (or tap) water.
And since it does love plastic, it naturally builds up on the inside of your garden hose. To cure this, you should always let your hose run for a few minutes before filling your pool. Also, use a simple garden hose filter to get rid of any annoying contaminants and make it easier to balance your chemicals.
Why is Water Mold a Problem?
If water mold isn’t harmful to humans, then why is it a problem? Well, the mold is actually not harmful...we wouldn’t lie to you. But the pink slime floating on top of it? That actually kinda is.
Of course, it’s also just gross and most people want it gone regardless, but the fact is that where there’s mold, bacteria is lurking closely behind. That’s where the pink slime comes in. It can cause stuff like UTIs (urinary tract infections), respiratory problems, and even pneumonia if not treated.
All this is to say that it’s definitely something you want to get rid of NOW!
How to Safely Get Rid of Water Mold in Your Pool
It's important to take care of any mold that has invaded your pool before you let swimmers back in. Most of the time, water mold is present in pools because it’s being released through your return jets, so it’s likely present throughout your entire filtration system.
Since that’s the case, the first thing to do is make sure the filter pump is operating like it’s supposed to and then jump right into fixing the problem by figuring out where the mold came from.
Also, test for bacteria levels in order to avoid illness or allergies, then find a solution through eliminating sources like leaky pipes or replacing filters if necessary--and finally get rid of all traces of it by following these simple steps.
To get rid of mold, skim it off the surface of the pool with a net and scrub down any hard-to-reach places, like the bottom of the pool and all the corners, nooks, and crannies. Remove your skimmer basket from its post to let it dry out in the sun, then clean around all jets or other parts that are under water. Disinfecting everything else, including pool toys and other accessories is also recommended.
Shock your pool at least 3 times by adding 3 to 4 pounds of Cal Hypo (calcium hypochlorite shock) per 10,000 gallons of water. But first, be sure that the pH is at a normal level (between 7.4 and 7.6) so it will not negatively affect chlorine levels in the water before they're able to fight off all the nasty bacteria.
Add chemicals, if necessary, to maintain the proper PH balance and then go ahead with triple- or quadruple-, even quintuple-, shocking away!
If you've neglected your filter, it's time to give the system another good run-through. Run the filtration unit for at least 24 hours and then manually clean filters or remove cartridges when possible. Always use a commercial chemical cleaner after this process in order to kill any organisms that have lodged themselves into those tiny fibers!
Keep at it! This is a process that will likely take you several days. Keep swimmers out while you continue to run your filtration system for another 3-5 days. Also, repeat the previous steps daily until you can no longer spot any traces of mold.
After you’ve completed these steps, test your water again to see if it’s in balance. This is usually a good indicator that the mold is gone, but it’s best to then take a sample to a professional for further testing. They can tell you positively if your water is still testing positive for mold. If it is, shock and clean your pool again.
Lastly, thoroughly scrub and vacuum the walls and bottom of the pool to remove any residue that might have settled during this process. Then, test and balance your pool chemicals again, waiting a few hours before allowing anyone to swim.
While white water mold is technically not a safety issue for swimmers, it can definitely carry some harmful bacteria with it. It’s not something you want to leave untreated for too long as it can be a clear sign that something’s wrong with your filtration system.
Follow these steps to eradicate it quickly or call on a professional for help as soon as you see any traces of this shredded tissue paper-looking junk.