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Thread: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

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    Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Hello! So, I purchased a home about two weeks ago that has a pool. The pool itself looked fine, but as they say, looks can be deceiving! So, I waited until I tested the pool, and the results were a bit disconcerting. Essentially, while my pH and TA appear to be alright (maybe a tiny bit low), my stabilizer and chlorine were off the charts. I was a bit stymied by this, and purchased a Taylor test kit as well. The Taylor kit essentially confirmed what I saw, as I got up to about 15 ppm in the free chlorine test before the water started losing its pink hue. For the stabilizer test, the black dot was invisible after barely any liquid was added to the tube. Essentially, I had confirmed what I hoped wasn't the case... I have too much chlorine and stabilizer. I've Googled the living daylights out of just about anything relating to pools, and from what I can tell, my only solution is to perform some partial drain and refills (it's a vinyl pool), but I've run into a bit of a snag. This is what my pump setup looks like, and I have absolutely no idea which valve handles what function (it looks like there used to be labels). My guess is that the left two represent the skimmer and the drain (I'd still have to figure out which is which), but I'm not too sure.

    As for what I've done to the pool since owning it, the majority of my work has just been keeping it clean (skimming, brush, empty skimmer, and using a cleaning robot). Over the two weeks, I had put in a single chlorine tablet (into an empty chlorinator) and half the amount of shock required for the pool size (1 bag rather than 2). Adding the chemicals really wasn't needed, but since nothing that I've done could've elevated the levels that high, I called the pool company that the previous owner used. I asked them why the levels were so high, but I never really got an answer.

    So, I guess to sum things up...
    • New-to-me pool has very high levels of FC and CYA.
    • Assume the best measure is to perform partial drain and refills.
    • Apart from the sand filter's spider valve, there are no markings on the pool valves.


    Thanks for any help that you can provide!

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    You are off to a wonderful start having a good test kit! Good job!

    Do you have anyone else around that can help you learn the pool? Once you tell many of each of the below you have we can go from there.

    How many skimmer do you have? Those are the things that have a basket and the water goes down through the basket to the filter.

    How many returns do you have? Those are the things that are round. They are where the water returns from the filter. They should be pushing water into the pool

    To drain your pool you will need to rent or buy a sub pump. Harbor Freight has them for pretty cheap.

    With your CYA so high you will need to drain and replace some of your water.

    Now to the fun part-----------homework!

    I am going to give you a couple of links at a time. The first couple is all about what we put in our pools and why.

    Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

    Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals

    This one will show you the levels your pool should be at. Print it out so you will have it as you do your tests

    Pool School - Recommended Levels

    This one is the fun one but can be kind of scary with all of the wonderful info. it provides. Make sure to play with it to learn how to use it.

    http://www.troublefreepool.com/calc.html

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    About your pool set-up pic, it looks like you have your pump & pump basket (w/ clear lid) on the far left. The 2 pipes that come-up from the ground into it are probably from your skimmer(s) and/or main drain. Those red handles allow you to adjust the flow (suction) of each coming from the pool. Just next to it appears to be another pump, but I can't see the back-side of it or any plumbing to make-out how it fits into the equation. Then you have that taller white item - that is your in-line chlorinator (for tablets/pucks). That was probably the source of your extraordinarily high CYA level. If it still has tablets in it, remove them ASAP. At the bottom of the in-line chlorinator, it splits into a "Y" which goes back to your pool. It probably takes water back to your return jets, spa, and/or water feature. Whatever you happen to have there. Like on the left side, the red handles allow you to adjust the flow of water back to those items. The pipe on the far right by itself coming out of the filter and going into the ground looks like it may be a separate line for filter backwash/drain.

    Kim has you hooked-up on everything else. Welcome to TFP!
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Welcome, Aikouka!
    Your filter looks like a sand filter to me, and it looks like you might have a multiport valve on top. Take a picture of the handle at the top of the filter so we can tell. Ask the former pool guy to tell you the makes/models of your equipment, nd add that to your signature,

    You may not need to rent a pump to do a partial drain...you would just close the skimmer valve with the main drain open and pump to waste.

    BUT you never want to completely drain an inground vinyl pool! If it turns out you need to drain, don't drain lower than a foot in the SHALLOW end at any one time...or even less if you have a high water table!

    However, before any of that, can you please post a proper test reading set with the Taylor...we don't really trust test strips

    PH
    FC
    CC
    TA
    CH
    CYA

    Further, your chlorine may in fact NOT be too high at all if your CYA is as high as it looks on the test strip.

    The TFP way is based on a ratio of cya:chlorine ... Click on the link in my signature to see. At the proper ratio, your pool is sanitized. If your FC is lower than its "min. For CYA" you can get algae or not sanitize even with a higher looking FC number.

    This is why its ideal to have -- and control -- a particular level of stabilizer/cya (eg 40ish) -- so that when you add chlorine (liquid bleach from super market or liquid chlorine from pool store) you are able to know that you're at the right level each day to avoid algae and sanitize your pool. Pucks and "shock" each add CYA (or calcium in the case of cal-hypo shock) which leads to too much stabilizer and creates a moving target.

    Please post back your test results. Its especially important to get the hang of the CYA test because your next steps will depend on that reading.

    Cheers to your new2you pool

    Hers a video on the CYA test. Testing Cyanuric Acid with the TF-100 - YouTube
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Texas Splash! I bet you got the equipment down! I did not comment on it as I was unsure what was what. That pipe on the right side had me fooled. I did not even think of it being the drain/backwash. THANKS! for the finish up!

    One thing you need to do is find where the water comes out when you do a backwash or drain. It might be just a pipe leading to nowhere or it might be to the sewer line or it might lead to the street.

    SW has you covered for the drain. I forgot about being able to drain that way!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Thanks for the responses! I'm going to try to glue all of them together in my response. Oh, and one thing that I wanted to mention... we've had a few heavy rainfalls over the past two weeks that I've lived here. Most of it was prior to testing with my Taylor kit, which is part of why I was surprised that the levels remained high. I figured that the rain was "nature's dilution" for my pool, and it might help a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    Do you have anyone else around that can help you learn the pool? Once you tell many of each of the below you have we can go from there.
    I do know some people that own pools, and they've tossed a few nuggets of advice at me. Although, the prevailing opinion that I get is that I should just let a pool company take care of it. However, I think biology has graciously granted me my father's stubbornness when it comes to not paying someone to do something that I can do! So, I don't really have much desire to hire a pool company... unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    How many skimmer do you have? Those are the things that have a basket and the water goes down through the basket to the filter.

    How many returns do you have? Those are the things that are round. They are where the water returns from the filter. They should be pushing water into the pool
    I have 3 returns (1 at the stairs, 1 at the shallow end, 1 at the deep end) and 1 skimmer.

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    Now to the fun part-----------homework!

    I am going to give you a couple of links at a time. The first couple is all about what we put in our pools and why.

    Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

    Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals

    This one will show you the levels your pool should be at. Print it out so you will have it as you do your tests

    Pool School - Recommended Levels
    I've stumbled across those articles in the past, and I had one problem with the chart. My problem is that the chart only goes up to 100 for the stabilizer, and my stabilizer is well beyond that. To give you an idea, the Taylor test kit can test up to 100. Using no dilution, I couldn't see the black dot before I even got to the "CYA" text (it was about 1/3 the way to the text). At least from what I can tell, I might have to use something like a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of pool:tap water dilution to be able to measure my stabilizer. I'd like to do this, but honestly... I'm not sure of a great method for measuring out these small values. I've been tempted to go back to my high school chemistry days and purchase some pipettes since their purpose is for measuring small amounts of liquid chemicals.


    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Splash View Post
    About your pool set-up pic, it looks like you have your pump & pump basket (w/ clear lid) on the far left. The 2 pipes that come-up from the ground into it are probably from your skimmer(s) and/or main drain. Those red handles allow you to adjust the flow (suction) of each coming from the pool. Just next to it appears to be another pump, but I can't see the back-side of it or any plumbing to make-out how it fits into the equation. Then you have that taller white item - that is your in-line chlorinator (for tablets/pucks). That was probably the source of your extraordinarily high CYA level. If it still has tablets in it, remove them ASAP. At the bottom of the in-line chlorinator, it splits into a "Y" which goes back to your pool. It probably takes water back to your return jets, spa, and/or water feature. Whatever you happen to have there. Like on the left side, the red handles allow you to adjust the flow of water back to those items. The pipe on the far right by itself coming out of the filter and going into the ground looks like it may be a separate line for filter backwash/drain.
    Yep, I think you've got the piping correct. Is it a correct assumption that the only way to figure out which inlet goes to which device (skimmer or drain) would be just to turn one off and see if the skimmer is turned off? Also, should the pump be turned off prior to messing with these flow valves? I can tell you that there's currently nothing in the chlorinator. I did put one puck in it back when I first moved, but I haven't done anything with it since. As for the second pump that's in the photo, I've been told that it doesn't work. Apparently, that's the one that they used for the pool cleaner, which isn't an issue for me because I ended up going with an electric pool cleaner (Maytronics Dolphin Nautilus). I've never actually tried it though (it has a separate switch).

    One thing that I'm also curious about is that I think I have a very slight leak in my piping. In the picture of my pool hardware, you'll see an area on the top-most pipe where it looks like they've tried to seal it (it's covered in dark gray gunk). Well, I see a very slow drip come from the area, so I'm guessing that the sealant that the put on the pipe probably isn't doing too well. In some research, it looks like I can use pipe cement to help fix the leak... is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    Your filter looks like a sand filter to me, and it looks like you might have a multiport valve on top. Take a picture of the handle at the top of the filter so we can tell.
    Fortunately, I already took a photo of the spider valve handle, so that's not a problem at all! However, I do have a question about pressure. The handle states that the operating pressure is 50 PSI, and I've read that you're supposed to backwash depending on the operating pressure vs. the current pressure. The current pressure of the system is far below 50 PSI, so is that number not really what I care about? One thing that I've read is that if you don't know your pressure, you could just backwash + rinse, and then note the pressure as your operating pressure. Would it be better to just do that?


    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    BUT you never want to completely drain an inground vinyl pool! If it turns out you need to drain, don't drain lower than a foot in the SHALLOW end at any one time...or even less if you have a high water table!
    Ah, I never knew that you were supposed to use the shallow end as your indicator. Would you say that the rule is that you shouldn't go past the tile?


    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    However, before any of that, can you please post a proper test reading set with the Taylor...we don't really trust test strips

    Further, your chlorine may in fact NOT be too high at all if your CYA is as high as it looks on the test strip.

    The TFP way is based on a ratio of cya:chlorine ... Click on the link in my signature to see. At the proper ratio, your pool is sanitized. If your FC is lower than its "min. For CYA" you can get algae or not sanitize even with a higher looking FC number.
    I did test using the Taylor kit, and my issue is that the numbers are so high that they're either hard or impossible to get without dilution. The Taylor kit only goes up to 100 for CYA, and my level is well beyond that. As for FC, I got up to 15ppm before my solution even began to change from pink to clear. My pH was about 7.4, but I think I read something about pH values not being as useful with high FC? Anyway, I mentioned it above, but my problem is that given how high my values are, I might need a rather extreme dilution (33% or 25% pool water), and I'm not sure what's a good way to try to get exact ratios.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    This is why its ideal to have -- and control -- a particular level of stabilizer/cya (eg 40ish) -- so that when you add chlorine (liquid bleach from super market or liquid chlorine from pool store) you are able to know that you're at the right level each day to avoid algae and sanitize your pool. Pucks and "shock" each add CYA (or calcium in the case of cal-hypo shock) which leads to too much stabilizer and creates a moving target.
    Yep! While I figured that my CYA and FC may be in a proper ratio for using the pool, they just aren't manageable using standard tests. As cringe-worthy as it is to drain an refill (apparently, I can call up the utility company to have them reduce the sewage cost), it's the only way that I'm going to get the pool to levels that I can easily manage.

    EDIT:

    As for my pump model, it's a Hayward Super Pump model C48K2N143B1 (SP2607X10) rated at 1 HP.

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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Get a measuring cup and a large cup. Add equal parts of tap water and pool water to the larger cup and stir. Now test the water in the cup as it it were pool water and multiply the CYA results by two. If still over 100 before multiplication, use two parts tap water and on part pool water and multiply CYA result by 3. I'd keep FC around 15 until you bring CYA below 100.
    17,100 Gal 27' x 52" AGP steel wall vinyl; 44gpm Cooper sand filter; Hayward 1hp sp1580 single-speed; 1.5" plumbing, 1 skimmer/jet, inline chlorinator.
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Good morning.
    Re:
    Ah, I never knew that you were supposed to use the shallow end as your indicator. Would you say that the rule is that you shouldn't go past the tile?
    I'm not sure what you mean by "tile". Generally, its safest to leave a foot of water in your shallow end when doing water changes, which I suspect are on order for you unfortunately. However, you will be able to do so easily by closing the skimmer valve, leaving the drain valve open, turning the handle to waste, and pumping out the water.

    When you say your FC was 15, did you mean it took 15 drops in a 10 ml sample for the water to clear? If so, that means your FC is 7.5, not 15, and 7.5 isn't especially high...and then your ph is accurate. Or did you mean it took 30 drops, which you divided by 2 to get an FC reading of 15?

    Once you get your cya in line, I suspect it will be smooth sailing, as you seem a quick study So cheers o an imminently trouble free pool.
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Good morning. Lots of info to re-cap, so let's see:
    - CYA. This will probably be your first chemical chore. Once it goes over 90-100, it's almost impossible to manage your chlorine properly. The only way to lower CYA is to do a partial drain. We never recommend a full drain, so you can try about 40-50% if possible. It's usually more efficient to do a large drain rather than several small ones, but if you have to do small ones , then that's better than nothing. But you need to drain some, then re-check CYA. You want that number down at least below 70. Ideal would probably be about 50% for your area (it's hot and lots of sun). So that needs to be job #1.
    - The piping, you want the pump running while you switch valves to adjust the flow with one exception ..... make sure you don't turn-off a valve that closes-off water completely to your pump or back to the pool. If I remember right from your pics before, I don't "think" that would be possible anyways because you had more than one pipe going to the pump and/or returning back to the pool via splitting "Y" pipes, so even if you closed one the other should still flow. But just be aware of that.
    - Small leak, for some reason I don't see the pics now, but basically any previous external repair job would probably be best served to take apart and repair correctly. Not terribly difficult, and perhaps not a pressing priority if it's just a small leak and there's no danger of the pump actually coming apart (i.e. a joint fitting), but that's what I would do.
    - Backwashing: As you get used to your system, you will learn what is a clean (starting) pressure, and what the pressure is when your system is dirty. The pressure reading right after backwashing (clean) has to do with the size of your pump relative to the dynamic head of your plumbing system. A larger pump will result in a higher starting psi reading. Smaller pipes, and/or longer pipes, and/or more fittings (right angle bends, heater, SWG, check valve, etc) will all result in a higher starting psi reading. Some people have a rather small pump, so they have a low starting psi reading. After that, most people will learn to backwash when their operating pressure if 8-10 psi over their initial "clean" pressure. (I..e you just backwashed and your pressure is 10 psi. A month later it's about 20 psi so it's time to backwash. You backwash till the water runs clear in the sight glass, plus a little just to be sure. Depending on the relative size of the pump and filter and how dirty the filter is that can be anything from a few seconds to several minutes.
    - FC testing: Remember that after you put the scoop of powder in the tube, it should turn pink (indicates the presence of chlorine). Then you mix and start counting R-0871 drops. If you count 30 drops, cut in half (times .5) and that's your FC = 15. Reference the Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart to see what your FC should be based on your CYA. We already know your CYA is through the roof, so do your partial drain first then adjust.

    Remember . Do the partial drain and all your numbers will make more sense and be better managed. When starting with a pool, take it one step at a time. You'll be fine. If you have another question, just post it. As you can tell, there are many of us just hanging-out ready to pounce on a new post.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Dealing With a New-to-Me Pool

    Yeah what they said! LOL They have you covered.

    I would LOVE for you to have a "see my pool party" when we get your pool balanced the TFP way. EVERYone that has told you to get a pool service will NOT believe how clear and jewel like your pool is. THEN you point to the bleach and test kit to show that that is ALL you need to get and keep a pool clear!

    You will be saving SO much money and your pool will be clear enough to read the heads/tails on a coin.

    When I was talking about having someone to help you learn your pool I was thinking more along the lines of "If I turn this valve to off what stops working" kind of thing to keep you from having to run back and forth.

    WE here at TFP will teach you how to take care of your pool!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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