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Thread: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

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    New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Hi All,

    I live in Phoenix, AZ, and just had my brand new pool filled up about 4 days ago. The guys came out to start it up, dumped ~500lbs of salt in there, and balanced all the chemicals. It's 4 days later, and I've not done anything other than add some muriatic acid. I got my TF-100 kit in the mail Saturday, and have been playing around to get familiar with the tests. The pool builder also gave me a 'Poolmaster' test kit that I've been using as well.

    Pool details in my sig. Cliff's notes: 25k gal total pool + spa, SWG, Hayward gear. Anyway, I think I have the test method down pretty well, and here are my first numbers. Water taken from pool @ 11pm, pool temp 66F, air temp 64F, water sample moved into house prior to testing. Numbers below are TF-100 based.

    FC - 6
    CC - 0.5
    pH - 7.5? (it's hard to tell. Anyone have any tips on this?)
    TA - 190
    CH - 200
    CYA - 40
    Salt - 3400

    Water itself looks clear enough, and there are no strange odors. Right off, the TA and CYA look pretty bad. Was also surprised at the CH since the water is notoriously hard out here in AZ. How bad is it to have TA so high? I even used the 'Poolmaster' test to confirm, and that test gave a reading of 160ppm. Any input? Do I need to start worrying about these numbers, and how should I go about bringing them inline?

    Thanks!

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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Welcome, and congrats on your new pool.
    I believe you will want to raise your cya to 70-80 with a salt water generator in order to optimize performance. Please refer to pool school's guide on swg.

    With a new start up, your TA is to me, unsurprising. I will let those more experienced with start ups guide you, but I believe over time and with controlling the ph you will be able to bring it down.

    Generally, TA is the last thing to tinker with

    I think for now, testing daily, ensuring your FC:cya ratio is correct for a swg (see link in my signature) and controlling the ph are your key objectives.
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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Probably our first bit of advice would be to check with your builder to ensure you have the freedom to start adjusting chemicals without voiding any of their work. That's #1. If so, then definitely keep this page handy: Pool School - Start-up New Plaster. Right behind that one will be this one: Pool School - Lower Total Alkalinity.

    So if the builder has no objections, then yes, CYA need to be raised. Normally it would be at least 70 ppm to protect your valuable SWG (FC) production, but your new SWG should not be exposed to plaster dust for the first 30 days, so consider only raising CYA to about 50 for now and treating your pool as a non-SWG pool until the SWG is operations in a bout a month. pH can be tricky with the shades. Just do the best you can. If you ever get low (i.e. 7.2) you'll see what orange or yellow really look like. Too high and it's bright red. Your FC is great, so make sure you keep it around that 5-6 range. CH ..... wow. Yes, that is great. You must be filling from the magic well in AZ. It will increase over time with fill water, so stay away from Cal-Hypo products that add CH. Keeping pH and TA within parameters will help balance-out CH later. All things considered, looks quite good. Just a couple adjustments for now. Just make sure your builder has no problems with them.
    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
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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    ^per the start up article, you might want to ask your builder why salt was added when normally its to be added after 30 days...I'd been wondering about that but wasn't sure pebbletec was the same as other plaster startups!
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Did you do your CYA test indoors? It's recommended to do it outside, back to the sun, waist level.
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    For the PH test I found holding a white plate (I got a plastic one from Dollar General just for testing) up behind the tube helps. I hold the tube in one hand and the plate in the other. I pull the PLATE back and forth until I see a good color match. I do this at my stove as my overhead hood has a very bright light to do it under. I hope this helps.

    Kim
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Quote Originally Posted by PAGirl View Post
    Did you do your CYA test indoors? It's recommended to do it outside, back to the sun, waist level.
    That is the same exact thing I noticed... I wouldn't trust that CYA reading until you can do it outside against the sun
    Christina
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Thanks for the responses, everyone. To answer some of the questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Splash View Post
    Probably our first bit of advice would be to check with your builder to ensure you have the freedom to start adjusting chemicals without voiding any of their work. That's #1. If so, then definitely keep this page handy: Pool School - Start-up New Plaster. Right behind that one will be this one: Pool School - Lower Total Alkalinity.

    So if the builder has no objections, then yes, CYA need to be raised to at least 70 ppm to protect your valuable SWG (FC) production. pH can be tricky with the shades. Just do the best you can. If you ever get low (i.e. 7.2) you'll see what orange or yellow really look like. Too high and it's bright red. Your FC is great, so make sure you keep it around that 5-6 range. CH ..... wow. Yes, that is great. You must be filling from the magic well in AZ. It will increase over time with fill water, so stay away from Cal-Hypo products that add CH. Keeping pH and TA within parameters will help balance-out CH later. All things considered, looks quite good. Just a couple adjustments for now. Just make sure your builder has no problems with them.
    Thanks for the links. I had not seen the new plaster document before. The pool builder told me it was OK to add acid to maintain pH (they even left me with 2 gallon of acid), but didn't specify anything else. I'll give them a call and see if I have free reign to move other levels around. They pretty much gave me the test kit, said "will you be maintaining it yourself", and then told me good luck, that I'd have to add a lot of acid early on, and to call if I had questions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    ^per the start up article, you might want to ask your builder why salt was added when normally its to be added after 30 days...I'd been wondering about that but wasn't sure pebbletec was the same as other plaster startups!
    I had read about people waiting to put the salt in, but these guys said they always dump the salt in during the orientation within the first few days. I'll ask them.


    Quote Originally Posted by PAGirl View Post
    Did you do your CYA test indoors? It's recommended to do it outside, back to the sun, waist level.
    Yeah, I sampled the water at 11pm, so it was dark outside. I did the test inside in my kitchen. Do you think the CYA level will be higher or lower if I do it in the outside?

    Sounds like TA isn't a huge issue? Is this level useful for anything other than pH buffering?

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Unfortunately, adding salt right away is the wrong thing to do as it interferes with proper plaster curing. Many PB/Plasterers do add salt right away even though the NPC (National Plasterers Council) states that they should wait 28 days. However, plasterers tend to be "old school" types who go by "what they know" rather than what the science tells them is correct. Either way, it's neither here nor there since you can't take the salt out once they added it.

    Your TA will be high with new plaster and it will come down over time as you add acid to control pH. You SHOULD NOT run your SWG for 30 days while the plaster is curing as plaster dust is not good for your pool equipment. You should run your pool as a "bleach" pool until such a time as you can be confident that the plaster dust has subsided, typically 30 days. So I would not increase your CYA at all or, only up to 50ppm. Right now the temperatures are still cool in AZ so it will not be too hard to maintain your FC.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    It's not uncommon at all to hear that the builder just kind of "bailed" on you after the install was complete. When it comes to water maintenance, that's very low on their priorities - that's if they even really understand the chemistry. So if you end-up getting the green light to manage on your own, which I think you will, just stick to the start-up page and our list of recommended chemicals (and levels) and you'll be fine. You'll actually be in a better position than many owners who don't learn about all of this until after months (or years) of pool store advice. Let us know if you have any more questions.

    Very good point by Matt about the SWG remaining off because of plaster dust. Adjust CYA as recommended there. I modified my earlier post #3 accordingly.
    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
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Thanks for the fast responses, this forum is really on the ball!

    They set the SWG to turn on, and it's already been running for a couple of days (that's the only source of chlorine in the pool).

    So you guys are saying I should shut this off and run as a bleach pool until the curing period is done, correct? Is this basically a problem with plaster dust affecting the longevity of the SWG cell, or is it some other issue?

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Quote Originally Posted by demento View Post
    Thanks for the fast responses, this forum is really on the ball!

    They set the SWG to turn on, and it's already been running for a couple of days (that's the only source of chlorine in the pool).

    So you guys are saying I should shut this off and run as a bleach pool until the curing period is done, correct? Is this basically a problem with plaster dust affecting the longevity of the SWG cell, or is it some other issue?
    Yes, plaster dust is not good for pool equipment. Some PBs (good ones, at least) will actually install a bypass loop on the heater and/or not install the heater until the plaster is done curing.

    Exposed-aggregate pools tend to have less plaster dust especially since most plasterers will use an acid-startup process. So it's up to you if you want to run your SWG or not. I advise against it, at least for 2 weeks, until you can get your pH and TA under control. The water chemistry inside an SWG cell is not at all like the general pool water, it has much higher pH levels due to the electrolytic chlorine generation process. So your potential to cause calcium scaling inside the scale greatly increases when your TA is high and there's lots of calcium in the water from the curing plaster.

    Just my personal opinion/preference mixed with what the science says about water chemistry at start-up....

    Good luck,
    Matt
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    Yes, plaster dust is not good for pool equipment. Some PBs (good ones, at least) will actually install a bypass loop on the heater and/or not install the heater until the plaster is done curing.

    Exposed-aggregate pools tend to have less plaster dust especially since most plasterers will use an acid-startup process. So it's up to you if you want to run your SWG or not. I advise against it, at least for 2 weeks, until you can get your pH and TA under control. The water chemistry inside an SWG cell is not at all like the general pool water, it has much higher pH levels due to the electrolytic chlorine generation process. So your potential to cause calcium scaling inside the scale greatly increases when your TA is high and there's lots of calcium in the water from the curing plaster.

    Just my personal opinion/preference mixed with what the science says about water chemistry at start-up....

    Good luck,
    Matt
    Thanks, Matt. My pool does not have a bypass on the heater, and everything is already plumbed together. How much plaster dust will get by the cartridge filter?

    The other thing is that my pool was acid washed prior to being filled. The guys came out with a gas powered tool that looked like a weed eater, but with a spinning disk on the end. They used that thing to splash acid all over the pool with high pressure water and them pumped that whole mess into the sewer. From what I've read, this is different than the acid startup process, correct? Do people do an acid wash AND an acid startup process? I've also noticed that since day 1 when I brush the pool, there is no dust other than dirt that's been blown in the pool. I noticed other people mentioning seeing plaster dust, but I don't have any of that. I've seen some larger chunks of plaster (and found some in the pump skim basket) though.

    edit: I also found this. Link is some Houston pool builder, but I also have a pebble finish

    Completion - There is no waiting time for plaster dust removal. Once the Pebble Tec®, Pebble Sheen® or Pebble Fina® pool finish installation process is complete, simply fill the pool with water, balance the water with chemicals and begin swimming.
    Pebble Tec Process - Modern Method Gunite - Houston Swimming Pool Services including Gunite, Pebble Tec, and Boulder Creation

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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Yup, that's the standard industry startup and blurb for P-Tek. Acid startup is just a high pressure acid wash (no matter what type of pressure washer they use) to reveal, or "expose", the underlying pebble aggregate. The acid dissolves the thin layer of hardened plaster all over the pool surface and leaves behind the aggregate with a layer of fresh plaster "creme" in between. It is that plaster cream which then cures. It will give off very little plaster dust but, as it cures, it will cause your water chemistry to change quite a bit over the initial cure time. Because you can easily have high pH during the initial startup phase, it is advisable to avoid using the SWG or Heater as you can cause calcium scale to form on the SWG plates or inside the heater core.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Thanks, Matt. Does the same concern of calcium scale apply to the heater even if it's never switched on and the water simply passes through it?

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    Re: New Pool Filled up 4 Days Ago - Chemistry is all off!

    Quote Originally Posted by demento View Post
    Thanks, Matt. Does the same concern of calcium scale apply to the heater even if it's never switched on and the water simply passes through it?
    Yes, your heater should be fine as long as you don't fire it up. Hot water increases the tendency of calcium to scale.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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