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Thread: new pool owner - baptism by fire

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    new pool owner - baptism by fire

    I just bought a house in Mooresville, NC that came with a 13,000 gallon, 15'x30' in ground gunite pool. I've never taken care of a pool and like every other rookie, I have a few questions.

    It has a planter box waterfall, one skimmer, and two bottom drains. It also came with a Polaris robot vacuum that runs off a jet in the wall. I have a 1.5hp pump, and DEL 48 filter and also a 0.5hp booster pump I believe came with the Polaris.

    Last weekend, the very first day after buying the house I came home to find the pump surging from sucking in air and the pool had lost about 1 foot of water. I checked the skimmer and found enough leaves to block it up. The waterfall was no longer shooting out far enough to make it into the pool which is how I lost all that water. I immediately shut it down, cleaned the skimmer bucket, opened and cleaned the basket at the pump inlet and filled the pool back up with well water. In addition to the garden hose, it rained like crazy all week but once I got the water level back up to mid skimmer height, I turned it all back on and everything appears to be fine with no pump damage. I then decided to open up the filter and make sure there were no problems in there as the pressure gauge was pointing near the "dirty" mark. Got all the grids out, sprayed them off with a garden hose and put it back together, turned it on and everything is fine. I didn't add any DE powder yet, but I'm getting to that.

    As a result of this baptism by fire introduction to pool maintenance, I'm wondering:
    1) The Jandy MPV makes a quiet crackling sound, sort of like a small pebble bouncing around in the plastic. I backwashed and rinsed a few times and it still sounds that way and I'm afraid it might be cavitating which can be very distructive. Is that sound "normal," or any other thoughts?
    2) The Polaris robot will move around and clean fine without using the booster pump, will I hurt anything running it off the regular 1.5hp pump and maybe only turning the booster on if it appears to not be cleaning well enough?
    3) The previous owner gave me a (very, very) quick run through of things and he showed me how to backwash, but never mentioned putting DE powder in and of all the chemicals they left behind, that was the only thing missing. When I washed the grids everything looked ok, if they never used DE powder is there anything I need to look at other than damage to the grids? How much trouble am I asking for if I keep running it without DE?
    4) I have an automatic chlorine feeder that holds 10 or so puck size tablets and a dial that goes from 0-5 I think. Should I fill the thing full and any suggestions on a setting to get the right chlorine level? I have a test kit and can dial the chlorine in, but at this point I don't know how long it should take to see a change when I move the dial or how wild of a swing I might get.
    5) Because of my experience with the leaves in the skimmer making the waterfall pump water out of the pool, is there any reason I can't just turn the valve so that I don't use the waterfall when I'm not home? I don't want to over pressurize the lines but I want a worry free way to filter while I'm not home. The previous owners were retired and home all day to watch it.
    6) There are a ton of trees around and keeping the skimmer basket clear is a full time job. What can I do to help? I don't have a cover but was thinking about a mesh net or something similar. It is an irregular shaped pool so I might need a custom one.
    7) Is there usually some sort of liner inside the waterfall planter box? I was hoping to take a look inside without having to dig all the dirt out but didn't see anything obvious yet.
    8) The pre purchase pool inspector said the chemical balance was perfect when we bought it, but having all that rain and well water added its off now. I shocked it with 9 oz. of 73% hypo chlorite (sp?) according to the calculator but nothing else yet, probably went about a week with no chemical testing or added, here are my litmus paper style test results.

    TH 250
    TC 0-0.5
    TB 0-1
    FC 0
    pH 7.6-8
    TA 120
    CA 0-30
    Temp 52 F
    13000 gallons

    Sorry it was so long winded, thanks for your help!

  2. Back To Top    #2
    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    Welcome to TFP!

    Running a DE filter without DE will first clog and then ruin the grids. It also won't keep the water clean without DE. You really want to use DE with a DE filter. How long it is before there are serious problems with the grids will depend on how dirty your water is, dirty water will cause problems sooner.

    I strongly recommend that you get a top quality test kit. Test strips are often called guess strips because they don't have the precision you need to know what is going on with your water. I recommend a kit from TF Test Kits, see the link in my signature. The Taylor K-2006 is also good.

    You don't care about TB, which is total bromine. You only use that one when you are sanitizing with bromine.

    Turning off the waterfall valve should be fine.

    One way to deal with lots of leaves is a PoolSkim. That will catch most of the leaves without causing problems if it fills up.

    Your chlorine level is too low. You either need to put some pucks into the puck feeder or be manually adding chlorine at least once a day. Using pucks will slowly add CYA. Eventually your CYA level will get too high and cause problems. I recommend using bleach to add chlorine.

    I don't think I have answered all of your questions, hopefully someone else will be along to comment on the pump and polaris.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    Welcome to the forum! We North Carolinians are gaining on the Texans but we have a long way to go!

    Let's take a couple of your questions that I consider a priority....i.e. they need attention now.

    Get some chlorine in your pool. You should have enough in there to register 3-4ppm all the time. It will need constant replenishment because chlorine is consumed on a continual basis.....both from organics (leaves, algae, dirt, nasties) in your pool and the Sun.

    Second, I'm not a DE filter expert but I think running that filter without DE in it will eventually cause damage. Others will be along soon to verify if that's the case.

    Tell us how your water looks.

    Test strips are not very informative. Get a pool store to test accurately for you or, better yet, your own test kit will be a great investment. Be sure to get something that will test CYA as we'll all need to know that info before you can get your water completely in balance.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    I did throw 9 oz of 73% hypo chlorite (Super shock or something like that brand name) in yesterday afternoon based on the pool calculator and I also filled the automatic chlorine feeder with pucks yesterday and set it on "2" on the dial. For now, I will test it again with the test strips to see if it changed. I also found a test kit yesterday but haven't had a chance to see what kind it is or try it out, sounds like figuring that out and buying some DE are my priorities.

    As far as I can tell, the water looks fine, clear and blue...but I am new at this.

    Anyone know what that crackling sound in the MPV is?

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    SWSuburban Chicago, IL

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    Welcome. I can't chime in about the filter/pump but someone will, I can promise that.

    Keep in mind when using pucks to monitor your CYA and your PH routinely, as pucks are acidic and can lower your PH.

    Enjoy your pool!
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Coastalish 'down easter'

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    Please let me add my welcome to TFP!!

    You HAVE TO HAVE DE IN A DE FILTER the grids do ~ nothing to clean the water without DE on them (see this thread for what I've said on this). Without DE on the grids, you're better off just using the 'recirc' option on the multiport

    Jason and Dave have you covered on most of it

    However, just because the pump ran 'dry' for a short while is NO excuse for the missing water. I'm also unsure as to the 'rattling' sound in your multiport. I'd check the discharge (waste / backwash) line for leakage - with heavy rains or an auto-fill device, it's often hard to determine if there's a leak somewhere (in Pool School there is an article on leaks). Unfortunately, the lack of water coming into the pump may have caused cavitation (I don't think it's possible to have cavitation in the multi), which would show up as bubbles in the pump housing or a leak on the effluent side or under the pump.

    As long as there are no other problems with the multiport, I wouldn't worry about it - however, having a pebble pass through both the pump basket AND the filter is HIGHLY unlikely - perhaps you want to open it and inspect the unit. (I know I've got some instructions here, but have to go see the physical therapist soon, so don't have the time to find and link them )

    Sorry this is incomplete but others will answer as Jason, Dave and I have to get you to your 'Trouble Free Pool" ---- we're on your side, as opposed to the pool stores that just want your money
    Luv& Luk

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    I'll try to address all the helpful comments or questions everyone has posted. For what its worth I re-tested the water with the same test strips and it showed the total chlorine level back at the 3-5 level. I did not add any more shock today so I'm going to see if the auto chlorine thing set at '2' keeps it there. The test kit I found here is a "Guardex 4-in-1 Delux OTO" pool test kit and it says it will test pH, TC, TB, Acid Demand, and TA. Anyone know if its an OK kit?

    The pool definitely lost all that water by the pure volume coming out of the waterfall not reaching the pool. I watched it happen for a few seconds before shutting it off. I'm not saying there couldn't be some small leak as well, but in 5 days or so the level hasn't changed. As to why the pump head dropped so much I'm not as positive about. However all I really did was remove the leaves from the skimmer and start it back up once the water level was correct and everything appeared normal again.

    The pump itself is not cavitating and there are no bubbles visible in the clear lid of the pump basket. I agree it seems unlikely that the MPV would cavitate, and I messed around with changing the setting on the MPV today and the sound definitely changes. The more I listen the more it sounds like a pebble somehow. I'll open it up soon and see what I find.

    I read and book marked the DE filter cleaning link as I'm sure it will be helpful. Thanks for everyone's help, now if the water would only get warm enough to get in it.

    Last thing, can anyone suggest a good type and place for a pool cover?

  8. Back To Top    #8
    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    That is a fairly basic test kit. PH is useful. TC is total chlorine, better to know free chlorine, and it probably only goes up to 3 or 5, not high enough to test shock level. TB doesn't apply. Acid demand is not commonly needed. TA is useful. In addition to knowing FC and CC (combined chlorine) separately from TC, it is important to know CH (calcium) and CYA (stabilizer).
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  9. Back To Top    #9
    schrody's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Fort Worth, TX

    Re: new pool owner - baptism by fire

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Welcome to the forum! We North Carolinians are gaining on the Texans but we have a long way to go!
    12,000 gallons - IG - Vinyl
    IntelliFlo VF Pump
    Tagelus TA-60 Sand Filter

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