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Thread: EWKearns - phosphates

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    EWKearns - phosphates

    Quote Originally Posted by Alloy25 View Post
    .....Pho (Phosphates) are above 1000 after drain refill. I read Pho aren't a problem until they reach over 1000 ppb.
    The question is raised, "How much above 1000ppb?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Alloy25 View Post
    Would you correct this or let it go?
    Personally, I'd want to test to find out how much phosphate is there. If you have used scale or stain products, I'd be particularly concerned. However, without good numbers, you don't know what to do....

    Again, you are going to have to make a decision on how much phosphate is OK.... in YOUR pool. I'd definitely be looking into, but some people don't care and don't test. If you never dip below the minimum level of FC, you are probably fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alloy25 View Post
    Is it worth testing for ammonia?
    Since you are reading significant levels of CYA, I see no need to test for ammonia.

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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Phosphate removers are for those who want to spend money on the removers and don't follow TFP guidelines. I have too many other toys that I want to waste my money on.
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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    I'll agree with ping on the Phosphate remover. Even if you have them, there is generally not much need in worrying about it. Once you have the Alage killed, they aren't there to utilize it as nutrient. The removers aren't completely without merit in some extenuating circumstances, but usually they aren't worth worrying over.

    As for Ammonia, you'll know you have it with extreme FC demand that is nearly impossible to satisfy up front. This circumstance is usually there as a good indicator, so there's not much point in putting the time, money and effort into an Ammonia test. The answer will still be the same in that the only way to overcome it is with lots, and lots of Chlorine. Are you seeing extreme demand on the FC at this point?
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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Quote Originally Posted by ping View Post
    Phosphate removers are for those who want to spend money on the removers and don't follow TFP guidelines. I have too many other toys that I want to waste my money on.
    Maybe somebody can set me straight. Why are Borates so acceptable that they are part of PoolMath and Pool School, yet Phosphates and Ammonia are the spawn of the devil? AFAIK, all of those items fall into that area where a lot of people don't test and don't care. It seems the prevailing notion is that, if one uses enough chlorine, sanitation is a moot point.

    I like to keep a number of tools in my tool box and know when and how to use them. Just my 2.

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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Quote Originally Posted by ewkearns View Post
    Maybe somebody can set me straight. Why are Borates so acceptable that they are part of PoolMath and Pool School, yet Phosphates and Ammonia are the spawn of the devil? AFAIK, all of those items fall into that area where a lot of people don't test and don't care. It seems the prevailing notion is that, if one uses enough chlorine, sanitation is a moot point.

    I like to keep a number of tools in my tool box and know when and how to use them. Just my 2.
    The whole purpose of TFP is to make pool care as simple as possible. I'm not sure I understand your comment:
    It seems the prevailing notion is that, if one uses enough chlorine, sanitation is a moot point.
    Chlorine is sanitation. The issue is that with the correct amount of chlorine phosphates are a moot point. I have never tested Phos and don't see any reason to start. It just complicates what I have found to be an easy way to keep my pool sparkling clear.

    Ammonia is also not an issue at TFP, it's just that we try to refrain form jumping to the conclusion that there is an ammonia issue with a pool unless we see the signs/symptoms.

    Even borates are seldom "recommended", but are one of those topics that are generally discussed only after folks get a good grip on their pool and it's needs.
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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Quote Originally Posted by tim5055 View Post
    The whole purpose of TFP is to make pool care as simple as possible.
    A Trouble Free Pool (at least, to me) is a pool free of "trouble." Trouble is algae, bacteria, and aggressive water. Trouble is not the acts of learning about "all things pool", testing, and maintaining water chemistry.

    I simply don't understand all of the angst generated by suggesting that one test for phosphates and take appropriate action, if deemed necessary and important.

    That's just my 2 and I'll end with that.......

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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.


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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Now that this thread has been moved because of a blatant hi-jack, I have several comments....

    1.
    The question is raised, "How much above 1000ppb?"
    Personally, I'd want to test to find out how much phosphate is there. If you have used scale or stain products, I'd be particularly concerned. However, without good numbers, you don't know what to do....

    Again, you are going to have to make a decision on how much phosphate is OK.... in YOUR pool. I'd definitely be looking into, but some people don't care and don't test. If you never dip below the minimum level of FC, you are probably fine.
    Honestly, I am not able to interpret this so how do we expect a newbie to understand? So, what if he tests and it's 1,406 or 3 or 10,000? What should he do? How can he decide on how much is OK?

    It is not clear to me what stain/scale products have to do with phosphates.....how do we expect this newbie to know?

    2.
    Why are Borates so acceptable that they are part of PoolMath and Pool School, yet Phosphates and Ammonia are the spawn of the devil?
    I see no correlation between borates, phosphates and ammonia.......Try as I might, I can't make that make sense, either. They are totally unrelated.It seems
    the prevailing notion is that, if one uses enough chlorine, sanitation is a moot point.
    Well, with some very minor exceptions, that is essentially correct. Are you saying it is not?
    I simply don't understand all of the angst generated by suggesting that one test for phosphates and take appropriate action, if deemed necessary and important.
    What is the appropriate action? What phosphate level triggers that action? I certainly don't know.

    3. It is important to understand that each can (and do) manage our pools in any manner we see fit. Elephant grease, peeled potatoes, etc. are all fine in someone's pool if that's what they choose to use.

    That said, TFP does not encourage members to suggest practices that seem unnecessary and even wasteful unless those practices can be scientifically defended.

    Phosphates have not, in the eyes of TFP, been defended at that level. TFP is an open forum and our policies can (and have been) modified but only after substantial evidence has been presented to leave little doubt. The "presence of phosphates" issue leaves a ton of doubt......particularly in lieu of the tens of thousands of pool owners that have never heard of it let alone try it
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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Quote Originally Posted by ewkearns View Post
    A Trouble Free Pool (at least, to me) is a pool free of "trouble." Trouble is algae, bacteria, and aggressive water. Trouble is not the acts of learning about "all things pool", testing, and maintaining water chemistry.

    I simply don't understand all of the angst generated by suggesting that one test for phosphates and take appropriate action, if deemed necessary and important.

    That's just my 2 and I'll end with that.......
    I think the angst you are speaking of, really comes more from letting a newbie wander down these trails before they have their feet on the ground with the basics. And about what the advice would be, if said new member comes back with a 3000 ppb Op04 level.
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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    What is the appropriate action? What phosphate level triggers that action? I certainly don't know.
    I'm anything but a newbie and feed my pool phosphates all day long and still don't know the answer to this question...if I ever find out, I'll let you know!

    I think the problem here is that the industry has co opted "phosphates" so much and vilified same that it is impossible for newbies to make a distinction between selling junk and necessary action -- its just too nuanced. So, if you have a salt cell, uber high phosphate levels can coat and damage the cell (this from a long discussion with chem geek about same) but even my exceptionally high phosphates from a steady diet of metal sequestrants (the ones we recommend here break down into phosphates as they're spent in MM and JMacgic) isn't likely high enough to cause a problem.

    At the same time, there have been at least two posters in the last few years who've had persistent stains that appeared to be related to my kind of level of phosphate plus well water. One guy that I recall had a tech suggest that his his phosphates were causing iron phosphate scaling. They did a commercial-level treatment with a phosphate floccing agent and sure enough the historic stains went away completely. (Which is what ChemGeek suggested I consider if I switch to salt this season or next.)

    Lastly, if you're going to run with high phosphates (those on well have few other options that are viable) and you close for winter, you want to be really sure you open early because its true you can turn fast with high phosphate levels if your FC doesn't last. I always luck out around 4 ppm residual...but with this warm winter, I'm thinking about moving my opening up a few weeks because of this.

    So while EK's comments make complete sense to me and to my mind come from an informed place, I've never figured out how quite to make an kind of succinct/easily digestible comment about phosphates management and explain how the industry has taken a grain of truth and blown it out of proportion in order to sell both the elixir AND keep people hooked on a tab system that frankly doesn't "sanitize" according to TFP cya:FC standard.

    In other words, the industry is in essence saying: if you're going to use tabs and have cya be a moving target, reduce your phosphates to retard the inevitable algae that will come from under-sanitizing your water so we can keep selling tabs...hi ho.

    Which is why TFP doesn't hold with the philosophy...but which also doesn't actually mean there's not "something" to the notion of controlling phosphates
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    Re: Supplemental testing strips, high phosphates > 1000, and DE grid question.

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    Now that this thread has been moved because of a blatant hi-jack, I have several comments....

    1. Honestly, I am not able to interpret this so how do we expect a newbie to understand? So, what if he tests and it's 1,406 or 3 or 10,000? What should he do? How can he decide on how much is OK?

    It is not clear to me what stain/scale products have to do with phosphates.....how do we expect this newbie to know?
    This doesn't seem difficult, to me, and I don't think we need to treat new pool owners as if they are intellectually challenged. I think this article makes it pretty clear. Hopefully, the newbie knows whether he/she has employed stain/scale products, if they haven't, why inject unnecessary concern? If they have used them, they can ask further questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    2. I see no correlation between borates, phosphates and ammonia.......Try as I might, I can't make that make sense, either. They are totally unrelated.It seems Well, with some very minor exceptions, that is essentially correct. Are you saying it is not? What is the appropriate action? What phosphate level triggers that action? I certainly don't know.
    The correlation (or reverse, thereof) is the emotional reaction to the word phosphates, which many deem to be unnecessary. That's fine... your pool, your decision. The point I was trying to make is that the introduction of borates is equally "unnecessary," but is so welcome at TFP that it has its own place in PoolMath and Pool School. Why are phosphates so evil?

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    3. It is important to understand that each can (and do) manage our pools in any manner we see fit. Elephant grease, peeled potatoes, etc. are all fine in someone's pool if that's what they choose to use.
    Isn't that characterization unnecessarily condescending?

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    That said, TFP does not encourage members to suggest practices that seem unnecessary and even wasteful unless those practices can be scientifically defended.
    I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    Phosphates have not, in the eyes of TFP, been defended at that level. TFP is an open forum and our policies can (and have been) modified but only after substantial evidence has been presented to leave little doubt. The "presence of phosphates" issue leaves a ton of doubt......particularly in lieu of the tens of thousands of pool owners that have never heard of it let alone try it
    " ....in the eyes of TFP....", begs the question of who is the keeper of the eyes.....

    I think there is plenty of scientific defense, remaining in this forum (and others), contributed by a person published in the area of pool chemistry and who holds a Doctorate in Chemistry.

    Testing and treating for phosphates and/or borates is nothing more than insurance. Some people buy insurance, some people don't. Those people that never bought insurance and never needed it, may well feel that those who did purchased it, wasted their money. However, once in a while, insurance saves the day.... and with stuff we dump in the pool, experiencing no problems, how would we know one way or the other?

    Just as an observation: In 2014, I retired, after almost 42 years as an educator. I taught in Industry, Public Schools, Colleges, and Universities. In all that time, I never saw a venue devoted to education, that was so resistant to divergent thinking, even among first semester freshmen. I don't know why this must be. Again, just my 2.

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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    I hope this helps

    I drank the TFP coolade and absolutely live by it.. I can tell you I have never tested nor worried about phosphates and could not tell you how or where to test them... I do know whenever I go to a pool store there are shelves of stuff saying this "product" will fix your pool by getting rid of phosphates... Maybe because I have never had any green in my pool I just don't know what or if there is a problem with phosphates.

    I do think it is a good thing to have conversations like this to find out "if" there is a need and what to do about it... It should come down to a set scenario like this

    If x amount of phosphates = this
    then use x amount of "this product" till x amount of phosphates is reached

    and this is the best method to test for phosphates "whatever method"

    and these reasons are why you would test "whatever reasons"

    if we can steer the conversation in this direction it would benefit the TFP community
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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    if we can steer the conversation in this direction it would benefit the TFP community
    I'd like to bring this thread back to this point as we risk sidetracking a very good discussion. If we can keep all discussions pertaining to phosphates then this thread will continue on and benefit TFP Users. If we continue to debate how the forum is ran then this thread will be closed and removed. Keep the discussions pertaining to pools and take all other concerns to PM.

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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    As for the testing method, I'm pretty much sold on Taylor test kits and reagents, so I use this one. I use, as a basis for test evaluation, this document. As for phosphate remover? I have no preference and buy what is available and least expensive, at the time, and use the amount called for on the label. I test for phosphates annually and find that treatment is called for every two years.

    Again.... is this necessary? NO, it is NOT. Could I throw in a little extra chlorine (to insure never going below the minimum) for good measure and forget it? Sure. Is it useful insurance, priced very reasonably? I think so.

    I got into this, quite out of curiosity. I bought a test kit and tested some 8 month old water..... expecting 0 ppb. I was amazed that I had at least 1000 ppb, since that was the limit of the test and I maxed out! Upon dosing, I discovered I had close to 2,000 ppb.

    Referring back to the article, I think we get phosphates, at an accelerated rate, because we have a river and a swamp, nearly in sight of the pool. We have a LOT of trees around us(not ours), deciduous, evergreen, and palm... and we get tons of leaves, needles, and pollen. I remove a lot of silt from the pool that is blown in from the swamp and banks of the river. There is a phosphate plant, on the Intercoastal Waterway, about 20 miles away. Does that contribute? I have no earthly idea.

    Point is, amortizing the cost of the test kit and the remover over two years, I'm spending roughly $1.60 per month for a little insurance. I've paid a lot more.

    Again, phosphate removal is NOT a requirement for pool care, nor did I ever imply that is was.

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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    Kearns, I say this respectfully. You're missing the point about addressing phosphates to a new user who asked about them only because he was informed he should be concerned about them. It is not something the vast majority of pools need to have addressed, and it's more often than not just another predatory ploy by the industry to pick the pockets of unknowing consumers.

    Can Phosphate removers help in certain circumstances? I believe they can, but these instances are extremely limited in number. Therefore, it's not warranted to raise this as a primary concern with a new user who's yet to establish a strong foundation of the basics. Nor when we have no indication it needs addressing before we really know what's going on in said pool. It's also an error to compare this to the option of borates. So what if they are in pool math? It's an option that many find beneficial and there as a bonus to help those who want to use it. We don't preach they need to be used, and if we are answering correctly, we discourage worrying about this until the pool is in control, and the user understands why it is before considering this option. Most of the TFP membership doesn't use borate, myself included. There is plenty of evidence they are more beneficial than P04 removers have a potential to be, but it's not TFP doctrine as you seem to infer.
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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    Generally speaking, the goal of pool water maintenance is to make the pool water inhospitable to biological growth but perfectly fine for humans to swim in. I could use high levels of arsenic, lead and cyanide in my pool water which would certainly achieve the goal of making the water hostile to biological life but I'd fail at making it something I can swim in. Chlorine, on the other hand, balances the two objectives fairly well.

    That said, there are many ways one can treat water to make biological growth difficult. One can simply maintain a proper chlorine level and call it quits there. Another method would be to use lower amounts of chlorine and supplement the water with biologically specific sanitizers - copper for algae, silver for bacteria and viruses, UV/Ozone for organics, boron for algae, Polyquat algaecides, Baquacil for broad spectrum anti-microbial activity, bromine for chlorine-resistant algae, etc, etc, etc. As well, one can also try to starve the environment of nutrients that some microbes need - phosphates, nitrates/nitrites, urea/ammonia, sunlight, oxygen, etc, etc.

    The FC/CYA ratio is not an objective, rigorously derived value. It is an observational quantity that comes from the subjective experiences of tens of thousands of pools. The 7.5% rule (target FC = 7.5% x CYA) produces an active chlorine level that seems to a minimum effective level necessary for killing algae, bacteria and viruses. You could say that it is a statistical quantity that is most effective for a pool that chooses to use chlorine as its primary source of disinfection. It assumes no other control methods are present.

    So, what do we make of all this? Well, if one chooses to only use chlorine in their pool, then the standard TFP charts hold. If you choose to add various other treatments to your pool water, then it is likely that you will not need to maintain such a high FC/CYA ratio. For example, in my pool with borates, the inhibition effects as well as the efficiency boost for the SWG cell have shown me that I can ride my chlorine levels on the low end and even dip below that and not really see any explosive algae growth or clouded water. I would expect better results (lower FC/CYA ratio) if I eliminated phosphates from my water (I'm probably a bit over 1000ppb at the moment). If I could find (which seems impossible) an aluminized bubble cover for my pool, I could probably control my UV a little better and operate at a different ratio. Everything has an additional cost associated with it so you have to do the individual analysis of determining if any of those added measures produces an incremental benefit that is worth the additional cost.

    The trick for TFP is how to educate those that come to the site and how to make it easy for them to understand. I can say from my pool experience that it has taken a while for me to get to a level of understanding that can allow me to "fiddle" with my pool. For a new visitor and the new pool owner it is impractical to have multiple target FC levels that are dependent on so many different variables ("FC is this for chlorine only, but it's that if you have algaecides, or it's still another value with borates, etc, etc."). Until one can easily quantify the effects of adding borates or lowering phosphates on FC levels, it would be too chaotic, in my opinion, to teach such advanced water management techniques early on.

    Topics that involve advanced techniques are best left to The Deep End sub-forum. I will happily share my results with borates and phosphate removal with anyone there. I always try to be very explicit that, for the beginner, the best method is to get the pool clean, clear and balanced by following the standard TFPC Method and then, with a season or two under their belts, we can talk about playing amateur pool chemist.

    Just my $0.02 opinion FWIW.

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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    ewkearns,

    I've read posts that some members have had issues with cloudy water after adding Phosphate removers that cleared up in a day or two. Have you ever experienced this???? If not, how did you add the remover??

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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    Most of us prefer not to add unnecessary chemicals to our pools. Less is more, more or less. Kind of like, if your vision is 20/20, you don't wear glasses.
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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    Isn't that characterization unnecessarily condescending?
    Not at all. It's demonstration by exaggeration. Each reader here is free to add ANYTHING to their pool.
    " ....in the eyes of TFP....", begs the question of who is the keeper of the eyes.....
    The guidelines have been established over 9 years and roughly 1 million posts...pretty convincing stuff.

    The objections to your post began with submitting discussions about advanced subjects to a newbie who didn't have the background to understand what you were saying. Since you are an educator, why do you want our first semester Freshmen (refer to post#1) to start in the middle of the book?
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    Re: EWKearns - phosphates

    every year many posters, new pool owners and longer term pool owners alike, complain of inadvertent algae growth and spend their valuable time, effort, and money combating it, sometimes with great difficulty. and then i'm sure (in my humble opinion) they all say to themselves, "i don't want to ever have to deal with this again if i don't have to." (i said this to myself once.)

    i imagine that every long-term member agrees that adequate chlorine is important in preventing algae (and bacteria) growth, and that newbies to this forum also quickly understand this. what all members don't agree on is the importance of trying to prevent algae growth in the event of inadvertent low chlorine "accidents" until chlorine levels and FC/CYA ratios gets back to adequate levels. i say "accident" because none of us intentionally let our chlorine levels get too low.

    there are some forum members who appreciate (recognize the worth of, are grateful for) the potential advantage that borates, polyquat, and phosphate removers and can provide in helping to prevent, delay, or reduce the amount of algae growth in the event of a low chlorine "accident". however, some forum members believe in simplicity to the point that they don't want or allow any discussion of this topic and in doing this drive off very valuable and long-term forum members.

    forum members are good observers. some members have observed that phosphate discussions are not treated in the same positive, accepting manner as other discussions (borate discussions easily come to mind). every member, in the appropriate areas of this forum, should be able to discuss this issue without fear of "dare mentioning it", especially now that we are a purely educational and nonprofit forum.

    i have (as many of us do) home, auto, life, disability, and even umbrella insurance polices in case of inadvertent "accidents", but as important as these products are none of them will actively prevent accidents from occurring. the pool products mentioned above can potentially and actively help prevent/delay/reduce algae "accidents", as the many past posts over the years discussing the potential advantage these products can have attest to.

    lastly, i agree with ewkearns that we don't need to treat newbies as intellectually challenged in this area. it doesn't take much time for an inexperienced pool owner to get the lay of the land regarding chemicals with the help of this forum's information and forum members helping them (this is exactly what happened with me when i joined). if they can get a handle on free chlorine, combined chlorine, total chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, and FC/CYA ratio, i believe they can get a handle on phosphates. even first semester freshmen can, and want to, soak up knowledge like a sponge and be the better for it, which is exactly they joined our 'college'.

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