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Nothing beats coming home on a hot summer day and taking a dip in the pool to cool yourself off. Summer is the time of year for people to throw on their bikinis, swim suit and some suntan lotion to hang out by the pool, but a murky green pool can quickly change your plans.

Landlords take different approaches when it comes to pools. Some provide professional pool services while others rely on the tenant to take care of general pool maintenance. In either case, a green pools can be both the tenant’s and property owner’s nightmare.

So what causes a pool to turn that murky green color?

Pools require a specific chemical balance and water circulation in order to prevent bacteria, algae, and other organisms from developing. This is a simplistic explanation of how pools work, but it only takes one of those to ruin your weekend BBQ.

The biggest contributor to the greenish look is algae. Summer is usually the peak season for plant growth and algae is no different. A pool can turn green any time of year, but in the summer, the warmer temperatures and longer days gives algae a boost. If you had a windstorm roll through overnight, its very likely that plant debris from nearby trees ended up at the bottom of the pool. Most tenants will not clean up the debris right away but instead wait a couple days until either the weekend or just have the pool guy take care of it when they come next week. This plant debris counteracts the chemicals in the water and with enough debris, the chemical levels could become unbalanced thus resulting in algae growth.

Another big contributor to green pools is faulty pool equipment. A lot of the time, property owners are responsible for the pool equipment. Because of this, tenants do not pay close attention to the pool equipment and they might not notice that the pool pump isn’t running or there is a leak causing the equipment to loose pressure thus reducing circulation. Once the pool loses circulation, it becomes a cesspool. While there may be chemicals in the water, it’s not circulating and therefore debris that finds its way into the pool is not being filtered out. This buildup of debris in combination with the stagnant water creates a breeding ground for algae and other organisms.

During the cooler months, it can take a week maybe two for a pool to develop enough algae causing it to turn green. However, during the summer it can happen in a few days. Its crucial for landlords and property managers to go over the importance of pool maintenance with the tenant and recommend that they check the pool equipment every couple of days just to make sure its running or that there are no obvious leaks.

My pool is green, what do I do now?

The first step is to test the water in the pool to determine the total amount of dissolved solids (or plant debris) and the alkalinity. Testing for dissolved solids will tell you how much material has absorbed into the water while the alkalinity tells you how acidic the water is. Depending on these two levels, someone knowledgeable about pools can determine if the pool can be treated chemically or if it needs to be drained and cleaned. This all depends on how quickly the tenant notices the problem and how quickly the problem can be fixed if it was caused by faulty pool equipment.

If the landlord requires the tenant to maintain the pool, this may be a point where the owner or property manager may want to step in. Depending on local laws, the property owner may have an implied responsibility to ensure that the pool does not become a health hazard. More importantly, if it’s not done correctly, it can cause problems with the pool and pool equipment. Imagine funneling a thick green goo through your pool pump, clogging your filters which then causes the motor to burn out, or a tenant trying to acid wash the pool and they turn up the pressure washer too high causing the plaster to come apart. There is also the risk that the tenant could get acid on their skin or in their eyes which presents a liability to the property owner and manager.

Hiring someone to professionally treat the pool can be costly. Chemically treating the pool could cost a couple hundred dollars because chemicals are very expensive. If it has to be drained and cleaned, this becomes more labor intensive which can cost $500+ (prices do vary from one area to another). While it could cost a pretty penny to fix a green pool, it may well be worth the extra money to make sure it’s done right then to risk damaging the pool or the tenant injuring themselves.



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