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Thread: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

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    Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    I stopped by the home i am in contract to purchase next month this past weekend so the seller could show me how he shuts down various things for winter (pool,AC system, outdoor spigot, how to use the generator) When mentioning that he closed the pool and purged/vacuumed all the lines he said that he put antifreeze in the lines. He said "you can just use the stuff from the store" if i recall correctly, to which i said 'the green stuff?' (not being familiar with any specific pool antifreeze) and he said yes. (i was taking in a lot of information at the time so it didn't hit me immediately). I realized later that he was referring to automotive antifreeze (not RV or Pool antifreeze) which is ethylene glycol based and is toxic to humans and animals. I searched on google related to people using it for winterization of swimming pools and unsurprisingly it belongs nowhere near a swimming pool. I now have the following concerns:

    1. if he did indeed use ethylene glycol based antifreeze how do i deal with the situation in spring to avoid a toxic/health hazardous situation?
    2. is there a way to test for its presence in the water?
    3. if it is in the water, can it be filtered out/removed without draining the pool?
    4. will this damage the pool/plumbing itself?
    5. if he has used it in the past could it cause any damage?

    I appreciate any replies as i am quite concerned about this issue

    It its a 30k gallon concrete pool with a vinyl liner with a SWG installed in 2011. I will be taking possession of the house at the end of november so the pool will be closed until may.
    22,500 IG w/ Dark Vinyl Liner | Installed 2011 | Hayward Aqua-Rite SWG | Hayward Swimclear Cartridge Filter | Pentair Intelliflo 011018 | Polaris Booster Pump | Polaris Pressure side Robotic Cleaner | Hayward Titanium 110k BTU Heat exchanger (broken soon to be replaced with solar)

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    I can't believe he did that. I think it would ease your mind if you knew for sure. So It's pretty easy to open a plug in one of the skimmers and put a skinny 4' hose down it and before you pull it up, put your thumb over the other end and it will hold enough for you to check.

    And to add to the above, if you find out that it is auto antifreeze, check around to see what a pro would charge too get the stuff out, and present that at or before closing.
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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    If you don't go the pro route there are several threads on removing antifreeze all be it the good kind. I think the principals would be the same. in my non pro opinion I drain what you can by pulling any drain plugs use a wet dry vac to suck up what you can, disassemble the filter and pump(s) and clean by hand anything you can get to. Before starting any pumps I would get some tubing that will fit tight in a return plug the rest and pump the return water into a bucket or a safe place like down a sewer line (all though that might be a good idea for many reasons). Move the tube to each return in succession plugging the one you just purged till you are sure it's clean. Depending on the landscaping you could purge all the returns at once would just take more tubing and a safe place to purge to.

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Well, if you have to....you can start the filter up on Waste, and thus clear your skimmer and main drain. For the returns, unplug one and rig a hose to it some how, then start on Filter, discharge the water away from the pool, replug, do the same thing to the next one, and so on. None of that poison will ever see the inside of the pool.

    Maybe he just meant RV anti-freeze he bought at the auto parts store. Maybe.

    EDIT: Somebody beat me to it while I was typing.
    Current: 28,000G 18'x36' I/G AnthonySylvan Plaster; Waterway 60 sq.ft. DE Filter; 1.0hp x 1.65 SF Two-Speed (B2982) WhisperFlo; 2004-Present
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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Can you discuss this further with him? This article: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-96.pdf
    says that it biodegrades within a few weeks. (Wondering how it stays in our cars so long...???)

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Quote Originally Posted by samt View Post
    I can't believe he did that. I think it would ease your mind if you knew for sure. So It's pretty easy to open a plug in one of the skimmers and put a skinny 4' hose down it and before you pull it up, put your thumb over the other end and it will hold enough for you to check.

    And to add to the above, if you find out that it is auto antifreeze, check around to see what a pro would charge too get the stuff out, and present that at or before closing.
    That's a great idea, i will do that regardless once i gain access to the pool just so i know.

    Quote Originally Posted by atttech-2 View Post
    If you don't go the pro route there are several threads on removing antifreeze all be it the good kind. I think the principals would be the same. in my non pro opinion I drain what you can by pulling any drain plugs use a wet dry vac to suck up what you can, disassemble the filter and pump(s) and clean by hand anything you can get to. Before starting any pumps I would get some tubing that will fit tight in a return plug the rest and pump the return water into a bucket or a safe place like down a sewer line (all though that might be a good idea for many reasons). Move the tube to each return in succession plugging the one you just purged till you are sure it's clean. Depending on the landscaping you could purge all the returns at once would just take more tubing and a safe place to purge to.
    thanks. i appreciate the in depth description of how i can the system of it. i will look for the thread you're referring to and regardless of what kind of antifreeze he used it sounds like i should pump it all out this way anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by Durk View Post
    Well, if you have to....you can start the filter up on Waste, and thus clear your skimmer and main drain. For the returns, unplug one and rig a hose to it some how, then start on Filter, discharge the water away from the pool, replug, do the same thing to the next one, and so on. None of that poison will ever see the inside of the pool.

    Maybe he just meant RV anti-freeze he bought at the auto parts store. Maybe.

    EDIT: Somebody beat me to it while I was typing.
    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but will that contaminate the filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarianParoo View Post
    Can you discuss this further with him? This article: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-96.pdf
    says that it biodegrades within a few weeks. (Wondering how it stays in our cars so long...???)
    wow thats really interesting. so perhaps whatever contamination remains that i couldn't flush out with the above methods may take care of itself. i will do more research on this. I will reach out to him this week to confirm what he said. if he says that he indeed used automobile antifreeze i wonder if i should mention to him that it is toxic and make it a point of contention or simply say 'ok' and then mention it to my attorney. The whole sale process has been very smooth and i've managed to maintain a friendly relationship with the seller and the only reason i know about this is because he specifically mentioned it to me while going out of his way to show me things that he could have just let me figure out on my own. i would hate to sour the transaction but at the same time i'm obviously concerned about the pool being contaminated. If he indeed has always done it this way then perhaps its a good idea to do what i can to 'flush' whatever toxins may be in the pool regardless.
    22,500 IG w/ Dark Vinyl Liner | Installed 2011 | Hayward Aqua-Rite SWG | Hayward Swimclear Cartridge Filter | Pentair Intelliflo 011018 | Polaris Booster Pump | Polaris Pressure side Robotic Cleaner | Hayward Titanium 110k BTU Heat exchanger (broken soon to be replaced with solar)

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffblue View Post

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but will that contaminate the filter?

    No. Think about it. On WASTE, you by-pass the filter so all the stuff in the suction pipes gets sucked through the pump and sent on its way by the waste pipe. THEN you switch to FILTER when you are already sucking nice pure pool water and use that to push the nasty out the returns and on its way by those tubes you hook up.. The only thing that gets "contaminated" is the pump, but it immediately gets rinsed out. No biggie. Ethylene glycol is not THAT nasty. No terrorist is using Prestone.
    Current: 28,000G 18'x36' I/G AnthonySylvan Plaster; Waterway 60 sq.ft. DE Filter; 1.0hp x 1.65 SF Two-Speed (B2982) WhisperFlo; 2004-Present
    Previous: 40,000G 20'x40' I/G Koven unlined WWII salvage 5/8" marine steel; Lomart Stainless Sand Filter; 3/4hp Hayward SuperPump; 1946-2003 (managed by me from about 1964)
    Ancient Taylor K-2000, upgraded with Taylor CH, TA, and FAS-DPD, and TFT CYA tests.

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Ah yes sorry that makes complete sense. thanks for the explanation!
    Quote Originally Posted by Durk View Post
    No terrorist is using Prestone.
    lmao that was good.
    22,500 IG w/ Dark Vinyl Liner | Installed 2011 | Hayward Aqua-Rite SWG | Hayward Swimclear Cartridge Filter | Pentair Intelliflo 011018 | Polaris Booster Pump | Polaris Pressure side Robotic Cleaner | Hayward Titanium 110k BTU Heat exchanger (broken soon to be replaced with solar)

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Can you discuss this further with him? This article: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-96.pdf
    says that it biodegrades within a few weeks. (Wondering how it stays in our cars so long...???)
    I would guess that it is bio-degradable in soil (as the pamphlet states). Because the human boy is 96% water, this is a dangerous combination and does not really leave your system. I am guessing that because the car radiator, etc. is a closed system, this is the reason when mixed with water, the anti-freeze does not degrade over time.
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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    I don't recall the outcome but there were a couple of threads this year where there was a high chlorine demand in spring and suspicion both that some antifreeze got into the water and in one case, I think, the wrong kind. I think ChemGeek or someone even helped a person by having a sample water sent into a lab.

    From those threads I believe that intense oxidization, eg slamming the way you would for ammonia, fights and hopefully eradicates any trace amounts that get into the water on opening. If I can find the threads I will post them as there's likely good info buried in them

    I know in my pool the guys that close for me use 2 gal (rv, not automotive) and I've requested that this year they take more care on opening to not allow an to leak back into the pool and ergo reduce my chlorine demand (the RV stuff does degrade but seems to increase chlorine demand if some gets back into the pool on opening.)

    Re: telling former owner...I think after you ask if he confirms its automotive (hopefully not) that it does a good service to tell him from a health perspective, and kindly, that in his next pool he should use RV. Not in a deal-breaking way...just so he knows!


    This thread discusses general antifreeze in pool chemistry, but if you follow chemgeek's links there's an abundance of info there. I had lso posted a pic of "the right stuff" versus wrong stuff
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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Quote Originally Posted by Catanzaro View Post
    I would guess that it is bio-degradable in soil (as the pamphlet states). Because the human boy is 96% water, this is a dangerous combination and does not really leave your system. I am guessing that because the car radiator, etc. is a closed system, this is the reason when mixed with water, the anti-freeze does not degrade over time.
    good point, and yes like you said perhaps that is due to engine coolant system being completely sealed and pressurized unlike a pool which has a huge surface area exposed to air.
    22,500 IG w/ Dark Vinyl Liner | Installed 2011 | Hayward Aqua-Rite SWG | Hayward Swimclear Cartridge Filter | Pentair Intelliflo 011018 | Polaris Booster Pump | Polaris Pressure side Robotic Cleaner | Hayward Titanium 110k BTU Heat exchanger (broken soon to be replaced with solar)

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    So i got in touch with the homeowner and he said he used non-toxic pool antifreeze from the pool supply store not automotive antifreeze. I guess when he originally said 'you know the antifreeze you get from the store' i jsut assumed he meant automotive antifreeze because thats the only kind i've ever had familiarity with. so i apologize for my freak out, but it helped me realize what a great resource this forum is and i really appreciate all the replies. Based on a lot of the information provided here i will probably do what durk said and pump out as much as i can because it seems like even the 'good' antifreeze isn't the greatest thing to get in the pool.

    Thanks everyone!
    22,500 IG w/ Dark Vinyl Liner | Installed 2011 | Hayward Aqua-Rite SWG | Hayward Swimclear Cartridge Filter | Pentair Intelliflo 011018 | Polaris Booster Pump | Polaris Pressure side Robotic Cleaner | Hayward Titanium 110k BTU Heat exchanger (broken soon to be replaced with solar)

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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    This is the discussion about antifreeze referred to by Swampwoman. The basic take-away is that POOL antifreeze is fine (it is non-toxic) and, at most, will cause excess FC demand if you get it in the pool when you open. The problem with automotive antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is that it is POISONOUS to ingest (causes blindness, heart and kidney failure) and, since it would take time for chlorine to break it down, your pool water could essentially be toxic to swim in for a long time. As well, the by-products of chlorine oxidation are glycolic and oxalic acid, both of which are toxic.

    Hopefully the previous owner did the right thing, but, as the old Russian proverb goes - "doveryai no proveryai" (trust, but verify)
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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Quote Originally Posted by MarianParoo View Post
    Can you discuss this further with him? This article: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-96.pdf
    says that it biodegrades within a few weeks. (Wondering how it stays in our cars so long...???)
    You don't have soil bacteria in your radiator and you don't in pools either so it will not biodegrade there.

    You've been given the link on chlorine with propylene glycol but as for ethylene glycol (if that's what he put in), according to this link dermal absorption is expected to be slow and there is low volatility. So the main risk is from ingestion (i.e. swallowing pool water). The lethal dose is 1400-1600 mg/kg do roughly half as much as table salt. The oral Minimum Risk Level (MRL) is 0.8 mg/kg/day and includes factors of 10 or 100 uncertainty factors for inter-species and intra-species variations.

    Let's say that 10 gallons of anti-freeze was used in your 30,000 gallon pool. Based on this MSDS, the product is 80-96% pure so I'll assume worst-case 100% and the density is 1.12 g/ml so figure 42 kg in your roughly 114,000 liter pool. That's 0.37 g/L or 370 mg/L. For a 20 kg child (44 pound) they would reach the MRL if they swallowed 43 ml or 1-1/2 teaspoons per day. For a 60 kg (132 pound) adult, the MRL is 130 ml or 4.4 fluid ounces or a little more than half a cup per day. So while not good, it's not a disaster. If he truly made that mistake, perhaps he could pay for replacing the water.
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    Re: Previous homeowner closed pool and used Automobile antifreeze in the lines

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    You don't have soil bacteria in your radiator and you don't in pools either so it will not biodegrade there.

    You've been given the link on chlorine with propylene glycol but as for ethylene glycol (if that's what he put in), according to this link dermal absorption is expected to be slow and there is low volatility. So the main risk is from ingestion (i.e. swallowing pool water). The lethal dose is 1400-1600 mg/kg do roughly half as much as table salt. The oral Minimum Risk Level (MRL) is 0.8 mg/kg/day and includes factors of 10 or 100 uncertainty factors for inter-species and intra-species variations.

    Let's say that 10 gallons of anti-freeze was used in your 30,000 gallon pool. Based on this MSDS, the product is 80-96% pure so I'll assume worst-case 100% and the density is 1.12 g/ml so figure 42 kg in your roughly 114,000 liter pool. That's 0.37 g/L or 370 mg/L. For a 20 kg child (44 pound) they would reach the MRL if they swallowed 43 ml or 1-1/2 teaspoons per day. For a 60 kg (132 pound) adult, the MRL is 130 ml or 4.4 fluid ounces or a little more than half a cup per day. So while not good, it's not a disaster. If he truly made that mistake, perhaps he could pay for replacing the water.
    Thanks for that. given what you said, although it wouldn't be a disaster i would probably just want the pool professionally/properly drained and then re-filled. However after our conversation yesterday i should be in the clear thankfully.
    22,500 IG w/ Dark Vinyl Liner | Installed 2011 | Hayward Aqua-Rite SWG | Hayward Swimclear Cartridge Filter | Pentair Intelliflo 011018 | Polaris Booster Pump | Polaris Pressure side Robotic Cleaner | Hayward Titanium 110k BTU Heat exchanger (broken soon to be replaced with solar)

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