For those who can afford it, a swimming pool is one of the best ways for you and your family to cool off during the hot summer months. But that fun can be easily interrupted if there’s too much copper in your pool water, which can be very hazardous if left unchecked for both your family’s health as well as the pool.
So how to get copper out of pool water? Naturally, your first response to copper contamination in your pool would be to get it out of the water. Most new pool owners either don’t know how to do it properly or end up calling a pool specialist to take care of the job which costs extra money. To make things easy, here’s everything you need to know about copper in pool water, what causes it, and how to make sure it doesn’t come back!
- Copper contamination in pool water is unavoidable, it will happen sooner or later.
- There are multiple ways to reduce or eliminate copper from your pool water.
- Regular maintenance and checking of pool water can prevent copper contamination.
- If all else fails, you need to completely drain your pool and refill it with fresh water.
What is Copper Contamination in a Swimming Pool?
Copper contamination in pool water is a common phenomenon that usually happens when certain copper metals and/or copper compounds dissolve in it. These may include copper sulfate blocks, copper-based algaecides, or copper sanitizer. The last one is used in chlorine-free swimming pools. While green-colored water is usually considered the telltale sign of copper contamination, it can be teal and black as well depending on the level of contamination.
When copper contamination in a pool happens, it causes stain marks to appear on the bottom and the sides of the pool. Many pool owners mistake these marks for algae and unknowingly make the situation worse by trying to remove them with copper-based algae removal products.
Copper contamination in pool water can happen at any time during the year, but it gets more common during the winter. And unfortunately, that’s the one time of the year no one wants to go anywhere near water.
Common Causes for Copper Contamination in Swimming Pools
When a swimming pool has copper contamination, it can happen due to a multitude of reasons. These include:
- Copper sulfate: For standard swimming pools, chlorine is the chemical that’s used to keep the water clean. But when you opt for a chlorine-free pool, copper sulfate becomes the alternative.
- Copper-based algaecides: Most algaecides are copper-based, so when pool owners use too many algaecides to kill algae, it can result in copper contamination.
- Contaminated pool salt: Poor quality or contaminated pool salts can also be another major reason why your pool water can get contaminated.
Aside from these, decaying metal and plumbing fixtures of the pool can also cause copper contamination with age. This usually happens when the acidic content of the water gets too high, it oxidizes the metal parts, corroding the fixtures that leak the copper into the pool.
Sometimes the source water for the pool itself can also contain high levels of copper, especially in rural areas where the mineral levels in natural water are high. High pH levels in water are also a common reason for copper contamination in swimming pools.
Testing Copper Contamination in Pool Water
Copper contamination can be difficult to detect at the beginning of the contamination, and by the time you realize it, it may have already gone out of hand. Thankfully, there are pool water testing kits that can help you out in detecting and check pool water for copper contamination.
Test strips are the most common copper testing method for pool water and are very simple to use. All you have to do is submerge the strip in the pool water for a few seconds before shaking off the excess water. The color of the strip should have changed at this point, all you have to do is match it with the color manual provided with the strip to see whether your pool water has copper contamination or not.
How to Get Copper Out of Pool Water?
If the copper test for your pool water comes positive, then you need to immediately take steps to clear it out as soon as possible. There are several copper contamination treatment methods for pool water, which one you’re going to use depends on how contaminated your water is.
If the copper and iron levels in your swimming pool are high, then the most commonly used chemicals to reduce the contamination levels are chelating agents or sequestering agents. This chemical bonds the copper and iron particles in the water, creating floating lumps that can be removed with nets or a filter. But just using the agents is not enough- you need to retest the water again with testing strips to see whether the contamination level has gone down to zero.
If it hasn’t then it means that the copper contamination level is too high and you need to use more extensive methods to clean your pool water. One of the most popular methods for this is an ion exchange filter. These filters are designed specifically to clear metals from water.
Ion Exchange Filters
The working principle of these filters is very simple- they trap copper and iron particles, allowing the filtrated clean water to pass through. Depending on the size of your pool, you might need one or multiple filters to do the job properly. Before the filters are used the water needs to be shocked via low-voltage electricity to allow the metallic elements in the water to bond better.
Another smart way to keep your pool water free of copper is water clarifiers. With these nifty devices, you can magnetize copper and iron content in the water for better filtration. It works in combination with a sequestering agent for best results. You need to check the pH level of your pool water before using a water clarifier.
Removing copper from your pool water is fairly easy if you follow the above-mentioned procedures. If none of the above mentioned methods work, then you have to take the drastic measure of emptying your pool and refilling it with fresh copper-free water.
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Why Should You Worry About Copper in Your Pool Water?
You might be thinking, what’s wrong with a bit of copper in my pool water? As long as the water’s color doesn’t change, I should be fine, right? Wrong! Prolonged exposure to copper-contaminated pool water can result in a multitude of health problems which include:
- Skin Cancer
- Eye problems
- Lung problems
- Skin Irritation
The symptoms of these physical problems don’t manifest overnight, so by the time you realize what caused them it might already be too late. This is exactly why you need to monitor your pool water on a regular basis.
Aside from health problems, high copper content in pool water can literally give you a green tint after a dive which needs a shower to wash off. Many pool owners create copper contamination with their own hands when using algaecide for cleaning algae.
They often mistake the green tint of copper for algae and keep pouring more algaeecide into the water. Instead of making this blunder, you should use Algaecide the smart way.
First, put a little bit of algaecide in the pool water as per instructions and wait out a week. Take test strip readings of the water a week later and check the copper content level.
If it’s zero, then you can safely use the algaecide a second time and repeat the process until your pool is clear of algae. If the copper readings are high, then you should less algaecide next time or treat the pool water for copper contamination before using algaecide again.
Testing and Maintaining Pool Water for Preventing Water Contamination
The best way to prevent a situation where you find yourself asking how to get copper out of your pool water is to test and maintain the pool water on a regular basis. Testing and maintaining pool water isn’t as much of a hassle as you think, only requiring you to do so once a week.
As a pool owner, regularly checking the pH level of your pool water is vital to detect copper or iron contamination in your pool. There are several chemicals for pool water that help maintain water balance, but they only work up to a certain extent. The best solution is to change your pool water every few months to be safe.
While a lot of people hate chlorine, there is no denying that it’s one of the best ways to prevent copper and iron contamination in your swimming pool. It breaks down metallic components into small compounds that can be easily filtered. Not only that, but chlorine is also great at killing germs and bacteria as well.
1. Where can I buy swimming pool test strips?
You can easily find swimming pool test strips at your local superstore or order them online. Make sure you are getting the test strips that test for things like chlorine, copper, pH, alkalinity, etc.
2. How long does it take for copper contamination to clear from your swimming pool?
It depends on the size of your pool as well as what size filters and drainage pipes you have installed. Usually, it will take about 1 to 2 days for it to clear.
3. Do I need a professional to get water copper out of my pool water?
No, you don’t need a professional to remove copper from your pool water. With the help of some simple ingredients, you can easily get rid of copper from your pool water.
Having a swimming pool at home can be fun, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities and maintenance. As long as you’re willing to put up with them, you and your family can enjoy splashing around in your pool safely for years to come without worrying about health hazards. Hopefully, everything you learned in this article will help you do just that.
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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.