Identifying Mystery Particulates in Your Pool

In Blog by TMI Sustainable Aquatics

You pull the cleaner out of your pool and to your surprise; there is some mystery particulate in the filter bag.

We’ve all been there, and there are a few steps you can take to determine what those particulates are, and where they came from.

The first thing that I do when I have a client call about mystery particulates in the pool or in the cleaner is to go back to the basics.

First, clean up the particulates. If they don’t come back, it could have just been a onetime chemical reaction either between multiple solution chemicals or a byproduct of a chemical doing its job (like phosphate removers).

Next, Check your balance levels (pH, TA, CH, TDS, Metals, Phosphates)
High TA, Calcium, metals and phosphate can combine into particulates that plate out of solution, and a high pH can lead to a scaling balance that can exacerbate the issue.

If you find any chemicals out of the proper range, correct them and watch for reappearance of the mystery particulates.

If all the balance chemicals are in range, the next thing I look at is what solution chemicals have been added?

Chemicals that work by coagulating the problem compound (e.g. Phosphate removers, Metal Removers, etc.) can have a time delay between dosing and visual confirmation that they are working (precipitation of coagulated compound). If solution chemicals have been added, I recommend cleaning the particulates up, hold off on further treatments and watch to see if they come back.

If the mystery particulates do come back, the next thing I will do is perform some basic tests to see if any solution chemicals will break them down.

To do this, I take a few buckets, fill them with pool water and toss a handful of the particulate in. In each bucket I’ll then add small amounts of one solution chemical to see if I get any results in breaking down the particulates (i.e. Algaecide, phosphate remover, metal remover, etc.) If one of these solutions works to break down the mystery particulate, then treat the pool with that chemical following the dosage guidelines. And watch for any reappearance of the particulate.

If none of the solution chemicals work to break down the particulates, I check to see if a mild acid solution will break them down, if not, you may have some piece of equipment breaking down leaving debris in your pool. A cursory inspection of your equipment (filter, heater, pump, chlorine generator, etc.) should reveal any worn out equipment. If you find something breaking down, take the appropriate action for repair/replacement.

If everything checks out, and ceasing to add solution chemicals to the water has not stopped the mystery particulates form coming back, the surest bet is to send a sample off to a lab and see if they can identify the compound. It may cost a few hundred dollars, but it will tell you if you have anything to worry about or not.