The more we deal with swimming pools and pool problems, the more we realize that we're dealing with or treating symptoms rather than the root cause of the cloudy water, algae, scale build up, etc. Not to mention chlorine or sanitizer demand, excessive need for shocking and so on.
If you think your pool water is clean and sanitary just because it looks clear, think again. Yes, you may have shocked the water and added algaecide and even maintained a good chlorine, bromine, biguanide (Soft Swim or Baquacil) level, but you've only controlled about 1% of the bacteria in your swimming pool! That's right, just 1%. The other 99% is on every pool surface that you can or can not see. And most of those places are virtually impossible to reach. What now?
Whether it's cloudy water, algae, chlorine demand, scaling, pH & other water balancing issues, Biofilms are most likely the root cause.
Biofilms, left untreated, will lead to chlorine (and most other chemicals resistant) White Water Mold & Pink Slime.
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First, what is a biofilm? A biofilm is a film or large quantity of bacteria that is living in and as a vast colony in the microscopic world. In the "big" world, you could call a coral reef a "biofilm." A biofilm is self-perpetuating and difficult to remove. Worst of all, biofilm love virtually any surface, especially wet or damp. But beware, even after drying out, the biofilm will not necessarily be dead but simply dormant. Did we mention that biofilms are relatively resistant to chlorine, bromine or other sanitizers?
Second, how do biofilms form? As just mentioned, biofilms form on any surface. In your pool that means the liner or the pool walls, bottom, ladder rails, skimmer baskets, ladder treads, filter tank bodies, pump bodies and impellers, directional returns (eyeballs), heater plumbing, and especially the piping. There is a 5 steps process as to the formation of biofilms: Attachment, Colonization, Protection, Growth, and finally what I call Distribution.
Attachment is just that; the bacteria attaches to the surface. It wants a place to call home and grow. Bacteria want to be in relationships, so they want to find a nice surface to settle down and join up with a few of their closest friends.
After attaching to the pool surface with their friends, Colonization takes place as bacteria multiply and divide, growing in number. According to studies, it is at this crucial point that this attachment is "irreversible." The bacteria colony is there to stay unless purposefully removed. This stage is typically accomplished in a matter of minutes or hours at most.
In the Protection stage, the bacteria colony or biofilm begins protecting itself against invasion. Invasion from environmental factors, "lethal" chemicals (such as chlorine or bromine), predators, anything that want to destroy it. In technical terms, the bacteria begins to excrete a protective coating called an "exopolysaccharide" film. The film is sticky or slimy and very hearty. Now the biofilm is ready to experience explosive growth.
Growth of biofilms is like a coral reef, the biofilm gets bigger and tougher. Super colonies of biofilm are actually absorbing certain chemicals that were meant to destroy them.
Now we come full circle to Distribution where these broken parts begin to attach to other surfaces or different parts of the same surface. And the cycle begins anew.
By the way, biofilms are everywhere. Pools, spas, bathrooms, kitchens, the funky look to your patio furniture, on your teeth (plaque is a biofilm), wherever there is a surface that can be damp, you will find a biofilm.
What to do? Resistant to chlorine or bromine. Bonds with biguanides. Ionizers have no effect. You have to remove it. But how?
Biofilms can be removed mechanically, chemically or "naturally." Mechanical removal using vacuums, wall brushes, scrub brushes, filter cleaners, etcetera, physically remove the biofilm from visible places.
Visible places would be the filter cartridge itself, filter tank, vinyl liner, water line, ladder treads, skimmer baskets, etc. You can physically handle the object that needs to be cleaned. This is one of the reasons why we as Pool Professionals are so adamant about brushing the pool's surfaces on a regular, weekly basis. Brushing breaks up and lifts the biofilm off from its cozy environs enabling the chlorine to kill it and the filter to remove it. Be careful however to regularly clean & chemically clean the filter to remove the accumulations of "filtered" biofilms from the filter media - whether it be sand, DE or cartridge.
Aboveground pools with serious biofilm infestations should consider just changing the filter hoses. Typically, most aboveground pools have 2 - 9 ft. or shorter hoses as compared to well over 100 ft. of buried inground piping.
Keep in mind that biofilms are a direct contributor to chlorine demand, causing the pool to use significantly more chlorine, bromine or biguanides (such as Baquacil or SoftSwim) than if none were present. Remove the biofilm, remove an important component to chlorine demand.
In hard to reach places like pool plumbing lines & inside heaters, biofilms need to be removed Chemically. This is where so much biofilm (and about 99% of the bacteria) accumulates and thrives. Biofilm is left alone. It has all that it needs - a surface, moisture, and nutrients floating by. Keep in mind that biofilm doesn't need sunlight - it's not an algae so sunlight is not one of biofilm's needs. Biofilms do need "warm" water - 90 F or better for optimal growth, but as long as it's not cold, the biofilm will survive and grow just fine thank you.
Tried & true products such as natural enzymes (ActivNzyme Enzymatic Pool Clarifier) "eat up" much of the nutrients and other waste that contribute to biofilm growth thereby stunting it. But as biofilms become more resistant and proliferate, a new arsenal of products must be considered & used.
Newer products such as AquaFinesse Pool Water Care Tablets are added to the pool skimmer and quite rapidly remove the biofilm from the hidden surfaces. AquaFinesse products have been successfully used in the European market and in industrial applications for several years. As with the physical removal products, loosened & removed biofilm particles must be filtered out of the water then removed from the system entirely. After initial application, you will notice that the filter becomes rapidly clogged as the filter traps all of that used biofilm. Cartridge and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters must be chemically cleaned to restore the filter to a proper working condition.
If biofilm removal has never been done before, it may be necessary or even advantageous to replace the filter media (sand, cartridge or DE) - especially in older swimming pools. These products are completely compatible with all pool care chemical systems (chlorine, bromine, biguanides, ionizers. salt).
AquaFinesse works with ALL pool chemical care systems including chlorine, bromine, ionizer (Nature2® & Frog®) and salt systems as well as all biguanide products such as BioGuard® Soft Swim® or Arch Chemicals® Baquacil®. Other biofilm removal products are NOT compatible with biguanides.
The bottom line for the pool owner and customer is a longer life of the pool & pool equipment (filter, heater, rails, ladders, etc.) due to the removal of biofilms as well as biofilm scaling. Chemical consumption should and will show a marked decrease as chlorine, bromine & other sanitizers can concentrate on the 1% of planktonic bacteria present in the water. Easier water balance, less shocking, etc.
After years of "normal" maintenance, ugly biofilms grow turning white grout black or gray.
Using PoolSpaGuru's recommended treatment, after about 4 to 6 weeks with no additional scrubbing. Our products WORK!
PoolSpaGuru's basic recommended treatment includes AquaFinesse Pool Water Care Tablets and ActivNzyme Enzymatic Clarifier & Phosphate Remover.
This biofilm was a sticky, crusty film that had to be scraped off with a knife that had accumulated "naturally" over several years of regular pool use.
Using PoolSpaGuru's recommended treatment, the inside of the filter tank is "like new" and clean.
PoolSpaGuru's recommended treatment includes AquaFinesse Pool Water Care Tablets, ActivNzyme Enzymatic Clarifier & Phosphate Remover, and BioGuard Optimizer Plus.
White Water Mold (WWM) is a naturally occurring fungus (this is NOT a form of Algae; it is animal not vegetable), that has a white mucous or tissue paper-like substance (sometimes called "toilet paper syndrome").
WWM forms a heavy, protective coating providing the organism with an unusually high level of protection that is very resilient against halogen-based (chlorine, bromine) & non-halogen sanitizers or germicides. In other words, heavy shocking is not going to solve the problem.
White Water Mold or Pool Mold can remain a contaminant even after treatment exists on the surface of PVC plastics. It can re-contaminate long after it appears that it has been destroyed (includes pool toys, floats, ladders, steps, fountains, automatic pool cleaner parts, skimmer baskets, weirs, directional fittings, garden hoses, lights - as shown left, etc.)
Even small quantities of Water Mold can lead to a re-establishment of the problem WWM is typically caused by improper water & pool maintenance, environment, and poor circulation.
WWM is a "overgrowth" of naturally occurring Biofilms found on pool surfaces & hiding in areas that are not easily accessible to regular cleaning such as pipe lines, ladder & handrail tubing, underneath drop in steps, light niches, etc. Read more about Biofilms above.
White Water Mold is often found lurking in "dark" areas of the pool with poor circulation and sometimes with "Pink Slime".
PoolSpaGuru's recommended treatment using AquaFinesse along with ActivNzyme will continually removes the biofilms that grow on ALL pool surfaces leading to Pink Slime & White Water Mold. AquaFinesse & ActivNzyme are both 100% compatible with ALL pool water care systems.
White Water Mold IS NOT CAUSED BY USING BIGUANIDES (Soft Swim, Baquacil, Polyclear, etc.)! It is an environmental issue.
Pink Slime is a naturally occurring bacterium (of the newly formed genus Methylobacterium) (this is NOT a form of Algae, it is animal not vegetable). It is Pink-pigmented, forms a heavy, protective slime coating providing the organism with an unusually high level of protection, methanol consuming, oftentimes found WITH White Water Mold. Like WWM, Pink Slime is not pathogenic.
Pink Slime is very resilient against halogen-based (chlorine, bromine) as well as non-halogen sanitizers or germicides and can remain a contaminant even after treatment.
This is NOT a biguanide problem only! Pink slime can & does occur in chlorine & bromine pools as well. The Pink Slime bacterium has an affinity for the matrix that exists on the surface of PVC plastics (it likes it); it will attach itself to & inside of the matrix, allowing it to recontaminate long after it appears that it has been destroyed (includes pool toys, floats, ladders, steps, fountains, automatic pool cleaner parts, skimmer baskets, weirs, directional fittings, garden hoses, etc.). For example, when you're closing or winterizing your pool and you notice pinkish "stains" on various pool parts, you MUST thoroughly clean those parts. If you don't clean those parts, when they are re-installed the following spring, the Pink Slime will again flourish.
Small quantities of Pink Slime can lead to a re-establishment of the problem. It is generally caused by improper water & pool maintenance, environment, poor circulation.
Pink Slime prefers areas that are "dark" (not exposed to direct sunlight) & with "slow moving" water (poor circulation).
Consider using Slime Stop spray on ladder treads, skimmer baskets & weirs, eyeballs and other areas where Pink Slime likes to grow.
** In another industry, medical technology, this bacterium occurs regularly in laboratory tubing
Pink Slime & White Water Mold IS NOT CAUSED BY USING BIGUANIDES (Soft Swim, Baquacil, Polyclear, etc.)!
Pink Slime is an environmental issue. Keep in mind that Pink Slime CAN be physically removed (comes off with brush or fingers). If what you think is Pink Slime, but appears to be more PURPLE & isn't removed by brushing, you have another problem called Purple Cyanurate. Click here for the details.
Prevention: Prevention of White Water Mold" or Pink Slime is preferred over treatment. Follow these steps to help prevent WWM & PS:
Treatment: Treatment of White Water Mold or Pink Slime MUST BE QUICK AND TOTAL! DON'T SKIMP!
I hate to tell you, but because White Water Pool Mold & Pink Slime are environmental problems and not just swimming pool problems, we find these growths literally everywhere around us in our homes and work places.
Because they're intricately linked to biofilms, WWM & PS will dog you.
Once you begin treating, you MUST always treat. WWM & PS can be well controlled but unfortunately never eliminated. Ever.
Free brochures for you to download:
Biofilms, 5 Pillars 3 Foundations, ActivNzyme
How to use AquaFinesse in: small pools (up to about 5,000 gallons), pools up to 15,000 gallons (15K), pools up to 20,000 gallons (20k),
pools up to 30,000 gallons (30k), pools up to 40,000 gallons (35k)