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What are TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and Phosphates?

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LA Pool Guys perform an annual preventative maintenance water testing service that address outside agents that affect water quality issues that cannot be resolved through routine pool maintenance. Poor water quality affects the service technicians ability to maintain proper water chemistry. High TDS and/or Posphate Readings are a result of solid and organic materials introduced the water that contributes to cloudy water, algae growth, staining corrosion etc., High TDS & Phosphate levels cannot be prevented by standard weekly chlorine and acid balancing, they can only be corrected through drain (TDS), & or treatment (Phosphate), or mobile drainless treatment services.

What are Total Dissolved Solids?

TDS are all products dissolved in the water. All dissolved matter added to pool/spa water contributes to TDS, including salt, bather waste, algaecides, metal and stain control chemicals, clarifiers, de-foamers, enzymes, wind-borne debris, and water balance chemicals. This includes chemicals, debris entering the pool from the environment and swimmer waste products. When TDS levels increase

Chlorine effectiveness is reduced
Algae growth increases
Water becomes cloudy
Scaling increases
Galvanic Corrosion will occur
Staining of plaster increases

TDS will cause the water to look dull or “tired” and may exhibit a bad or salty taste. Hot water facilities such as spas or pools in hot weather climates develop high TDS as a result of evaporation, excessive bather load, and
chemical use.

It is commonly recommended that the TDS levels should not exceed 1,500 ppm In a non salt generating system. In the case of a salt system the TDS should not exceed 1,500 ppm higher than the recommended ppm of salt needed to operate the salt chlorine generation system. For salt systems you should consider draining your pool around 4500ppm.

TDS Levels (High): 

Greater than 1500 ppm above fill water TDS level = full or partial drain

1500 ppm is the lowest level of TDS for a recommended drain. LA Pool Guys notification and recommendation starts once your water passes this threshold.

Salt System Greater than 4500 ppm = full or partial drain

What are Phosphates? 

Below is a great excerpt from an article written in by poolcenter.com regarding phosphates in swimming pools

Phosphates Accumulate in Pools….

What’s true for lakes is also true for swimming pools. Phosphate is a natural component of most swimmer wastes. It is also present in rain water. Phosphate is persistent and does not break down naturally. Landscaper’s fertilizers, which may blow into the pool, have high phosphate content. For all of these reasons, pools can quickly build up high phosphate levels.This creates an abundant and tasty food source for all strains of algae, and can make controlling their growth difficult. Remove the food, and you have a strong weapon against algae.

When Phosphates are Present, Algae Grows….

Phosphate is the main ingredient in fertilizer. Phosphate is plant food, and algae are plants. If you have had persistant trouble with algae, every year – and it always seems to come back, you may have a phosphate problem in your pool. When excess phosphate is present in a swimming pool, the symptoms often include the following:

    • Cloudy, Green Water
    • Slippery and Slimy Surfaces
    • Mustard and Green Colored Debris
    • Excessive Chemical Consumption
    • Poor Water Quality

Remove the Phosphates and Solve the Problem….

The maximum level of phosphate in pool water should be 0.1 ppm. Once the phosphate climbs above this level, the water quality begins to decrease and slime deposits can begin.

Phosphate Levels: 

greater than 500 ppb to 5,000 ppb = Treatment.

Above 5,000 ppb (parts per billion) would be considered excessive and may need draining

A Phosphate treatment can significantly improve the clarity of your water, and keep algae at bay through the season since phosphates are a major contributor to algae growth.

Before Phosphate Treatment

After Phosphate Treatment

If a drain is required due to High TDS Levels  it will also remove phosphates and postpone the need for a phosphate treatment. This is why LA Pool Guys uses tests for both TDS & Phosphate simultaneously.  Both TDS and phospahtes are contributors to algae growth and several other water quality/balance issues.

Acid Wash

If it is time to drain your pool due to water quality, you might want to consider doing an acid wash at the same time. This is one way to take care of several water quality issues and pool aesthetics at the same time at a fraction of the cost of a re-plaster. No all pools can be acid washed due to plaster quality and results may vary depending on the staining of your pool. 


Acid Wash BeforeAcid Wash After

Drought Concerns & Drainless Treatment:

LA Pool Guys can also recommend a company who has a mobile filtering truck that can remove TDS & Phophates without draining. This is a technology that has been created to combat water usage do to high drought conditions in our area. The cost to do a drainless treatment can be significantly higher, however all water usage penalties in your area should be taken into consideration in making your decision.

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