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Thread: Returning to Pool Ownership

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    triptyx's Avatar
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    Returning to Pool Ownership

    Figured I'd start up a thread to document my first attempt to personally manage a pool.

    TLDR; I need help figuring out if broken off retaining screws in the spa drain cover receptacle can be fixed by myself, and advice on draining a plaster pool when the air temp is already in the high 80's/low 90's.

    We had a pool when I was growing up in the 80's/90's. No pool store advice. Testing kit? Well, we had one of those cheapie two cylinder kits for...Chlorine and Ph I think it was, but we never used it. We just threw pucks into the strainer basket every week, the sand filter and kreepy krauly generally took care of the leaves and debris (leaf rake? hah!), and of course we had massive breakouts of algae, followed by single dose shocking and a little bit of brushing. It's probably a wonder I didn't get a brain eating amoeba (or maybe that's what's wrong with me these days).

    Fast forward to the month before last, and at my wife's urging, I purchased a home (my second home) with a pool (my first pool since growing up). The inspector (and my subsequent fiddling) proved that almost all of the pool equipment worked well. The home has been a rental since it was built in 1998, and has had a pool service for the duration. Plaster is in good shape, a couple of dings in the entry steps area, and there are almost no stains (a few small rust stains on the middle step). The two main issues are a non-functioning pool light, and the spa is missing its drain cover. The pool was installed by the builder, and the guy I hired specifically to inspect the pool said they plumbed it and set it up extremely well, he was impressed that they didn't seem to take any real lazy shortcuts.

    Of course, given my extensive pool maintenance experience (sarcasm there), I purchased a bucket of pucks (the pool already had some in a floater) and a can of FC/Ph/TA/CYA test strips. I also took a water sample down to Leslies and had them run it. The result was very high CYA (200), extremely high CH (1000). They told me to refill the pool. I didn't trust that advice, and turned down a few half hearted offers to buy things (actually, the particular Leslie's near my house doesn't seem to harass you about needing to buy stuff - they seem to at least be moderately respectful of using what you need - they didn't even bat an eye when I asked for a price on liquid chlorine, just gave me the price and asked how much I'd like). While I was there, my wife heard them tell just about everyone coming in for a test that they needed to drain their pool, so I immediately decided to do some research online before taking any corrective steps.

    That's when I found you lovely people here at TFP. I quickly yanked the remainder of the pucks from the pool, bought some bleach, and ordered a Tf-100. While waiting for the kit, I've brought the FC up to above 10 (that's as high as the strips I currently have go, using pool math for the initial dosage to push it to 16, and ASSuming about a 2ppm loss per day for the daily dose) to help ensure I don't have an algae breakout as the water warms up here. Since Ph is likely skewed (it's currently reading high end of "normal") I'm holding all other adjustments until my Taylor kit arrives and I can get some solid, accurate measurements. I test daily with the strips to make sure the chlorine is at least above 10 so I can watch for an FC crash and avoid it.

    The missing spa drain cover is giving me heartburn. I was able to see clearly enough without going in the water that I'm 99% sure that both retaining screws for the cover were broken off and are blocking the screw holes. The water temperature is finally to the point I won't have to break out my wetsuit to take a closer look - which I plan to do this weekend once I'm sure my FC level is safe to enter the water. I'm a certified diver with my own gear, so with a tank rental, I could happily sit on the bottom for an hour or more to fix it (I already have a universal, law compliant drain cover kit in hand and ready to go), but I'm worried that if I mess with it too much I'll damage the receptacle and make an already potentially expensive repair even more expensive. Any thoughts y'all have on that would be welcome. The pool inspector said a repair would run about $500 if they had to drain the spa and drill out the screws. Obviously I can't use the spa safely without a cover so it's a must fix in short order.

    So my current pool ToDo list is:
    • Get my Tf-100 and use it to make sure my FC is at an appropriate level for my out of control CYA. It was supposed to be here today, but I think all the mess in the south delayed it, now shows delivery tomorrow.
    • Drain the pool per PoolMath to get my CYA/CH more under control (this effort will likely be multi-season). It's already hot here - I plan to start the drain with a submersible pump in the late afternoon - possibly using a hose to spray the plaster and keep it cool while the sun is still up, and then refill overnight to minimize the amount of direct sun and heat the plaster gets, once again using a hose if necessary the following morning to keep the plaster cool and damp. I'm concerned about screwing up and getting an algae breakout with the CYA so high and being unable to get/keep FC high enough to SLAM this summer.
    • Coordinate with a repair person to do my CYA/CH adjusting pool drain at the same time they're fixing the spa drain cover - unless someone here was any insight on getting those broken screws out. A tank rental is $20, I'd prefer that over a $500 repair.
    • SLAM and then balance the refilled pool per pool math.
    • Pull the pool light fixture and see if the issue is with the bulb. I can do this myself and will also use the opportunity to make sure I don't have any gunk in the recess.


    It's a journey, but being a professional software developer and systems architect, the act of measuring and balancing things is exciting to me, so I'm embracing the pool school and TFP method and I'm looking forward to seeing it work on my pool.

    Thanks to everyone for this great resource.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    What a GREAT post, you have been studying

    you get an A+ for a plan... I wish I could help on the cover but I think you are correct, until you can get in there and see exactly whats going on your flying blind.. if you use a grass sprinkler on the pool/plaster you should be good on draining.. I don't think your water level there is something to worry about, I don't hear of to many pools popping out of the ground in AZ

    As for your CYA test, use 1 cup/part pool water and 1 cup/part tap water and do the test x2, so if you come up with 60 CYA you would be about 120 or so....
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
    links: pool school * Recommended-Levels * SLAM * CYA chart * Test kits * How To Post Pictures * Poolmath * OCLT ** Support your website if we helped you :) **

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Excellent that you already ordered the TF-100 kit! It will be important to get your CYA and CH down. Once your testkit arrives, test your fill water to get an idea of the PH, CH and TA. Don't bother testing fill water for CYA as it won't have any.

    You should be able to pump the entire contents of the spa into the pool using your pool pump. That will allow you to get in the spa without getting wet to determine how you might wish to proceed with the drain cover repair. There may be enough of the screw sticking up to grab with a small vise-grip or pliers - or possibly remove with an easy-out (screw extractor). And if your worried about the spa surface getting too dry in the heat, just spray it with a little water. After your done looking and/or fixing, just pump water back into the spa from the pool. You can easily do this multiple times if needed - in case you need to run to the store to get a tool/part or while waiting for a repair guy to arrive.

    If you are unsure of exactly how to drain the spa into the pool or how to proceed after you are able to better see the drain cover situation after the spa is empty, post pictures here of your pool equipment setup and/or the drain area and we can help you out. Many use Photobucket to upload pics and then post the "IMG" code into a post (direct upload space here is limited).

    And ask all the questions you like. Someone will be along to answer.......
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Thanks Casey and Proavia. '

    I have my valves figured out well enough (they were labeled quite well and the pool inspector spent a half hour with me showing me how it all worked) to turn off the spa returns and set the spa drain to 11 (it's one more than 10 ). Monitoring it closely to not suck air should do the trick. Since I haven't seen any evidence of back fill valves in my stack, I assume my final step once drained is to ensure all spa related intakes/returns are turned off to avoid the spa refilling from the pool which will be at a higher water level.

    From what I can see right now, the screw remnants are either flush or recessed in the receptacle holes. I'll take a closer look with some goggles this weekend to get a better idea of what I'm dealing with. I don't want to leave the spa empty while trying to coordinate a professional repair, and I don't want to waste the water only to drain it again for CYA/CH correction.

    Any recommendation on a good removal tool that doesn't require me to use a regular drill bit on the remnant to get it purchase?
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    What I mean is setting the valves to suck water from the spa and return it to the pool - thus emptying the spa without actually wasting any water. Once you turn off the spa return and fully open the spa drain, all water from spa will go to the pool. Then you can get in the spa to closely see the screws situation. If they are flush, you may be able to use a drill to drill a hole in the existing screw and then use an easy-out to remove the screw.

    Since you have a cartridge filter, there probably isn't a backwash valve. Based on your equipment setup, you may be able to drain using your pool pump though - but may need to use a sump pump (buy one at Harbor Freight or rent one from pool store or HD). That was another reason I suggested to post a pic of your equipment area. We may be able to suggest an easy plumping addition/fix to allow you to send water to drain using your existing equipment too.

    It shouldn't hurt to leave the spa empty while you attempt this - and you can always spray a little water on it during this time. When you are done, just pump pool water back into the spa.

    If the spa sits higher than the pool, i assume there is a spillway into the pool. Is that correct? If so, you may not need to suck any water from the spa during normal filtering and pump operation. Sending a bit of water back into the spa should allow enough circulation and spillway overflow into the pool to satisfy the chemical needs of the spa.
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    hmm....do you think the pool would support that much water? I'm definitely not good with calculating volumes so I'm not sure. There is a spillway from the spa to the pool - the pool's water level wouldn't be able to go up much before the water starting pouring back into the spa through the spillway. That said, based on a veteran member's suggestion, I have zero spa suction right now, 20% flow to the spa returns, which pushes water down the spillway and exchanges water/refreshes chemicals in the spa during normal pump operation. I currently use the spa drain only temporarily to send crud on the steps/bottom to the filter once a week (or when needed due to wind, etc).

    There is a regular hose sized spigot that allows me to jettison water prior to it entering the filter. Obviously it's not getting all of it, but it helps for bringing down water levels. It's just too small to use to try and do a real draining of the pool. Long term I'd like to change that output to something the size of the pipe, but for now it's what I have (and I'm grateful to have it after seeing so many posts from cartridge owners that do not have any decent option to remove water from the pool at all).

    There is a photo of the valve setup here (the valve settings as shown are not my current running configuration): http://wiredstar.com/images/Sabino/2...424226_iOS.jpg
    The unlabeled suction pipe on the far right is the spa drain.

    Here is a shot of the spa drain as it is now: http://wiredstar.com/images/Sabino/2...205099_iOS.jpg
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    How much the pool level will rise is based on the size and capacity of the spa - and the pool surface area. If it's about 8' across at the top and round, it may raise the water in the pool 2-3 inches - I'm guessing here and assume you have a 12,500 gallon play pool. You could always try is when you have 10-20 minutes. Just pump out spa and observe pool level, then pump it back to spa.

    Yes, there are a few relatively easy way to alter your plumbing to allow a more robust drain to replace the hose spigot. Nice that they plumbed in that spigot to allow small water drains, as you said.
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    What an awesome post! I hope you stick around for a while! We could use more like you!

    My husband said to get something like these:

    Shop Kobalt Screw Extractor Set at Lowes.com

    Use patience and go slow and you should be able to get them out according to him. Look up videos if you have never used them. He says they are easy.

    Kim

    - - - Updated - - -

    After seeing the picture of the spy drain I have another idea IF the tools above do not work............Just drill new holes off set from the old one! That should be REAL easy to do!

    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: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Thanks Pro!

    And thanks Kim. I had considered doing that last night, but I didn't want to mess anything up. If there's no issue with drilling new holes, I'll look into that as a backup option. Either way, I'd really like to avoid spending $500 on this. There are so many other things (like my mortgage) I'd prefer to move that money into.

    I plan to stick around, no worries there. Having such a great resource at hand is great. Once finances free up I'll have to look into becoming a supporter too.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    A short status update to keep the "story" alive.

    My TF-100 arrived the day before the movers showed up:
    FC 21
    CC 0
    TC 21
    TA 260
    Ph 7.5
    CH 2000+ (I gave up as wasting reagents - it never turned "blue" - went "white" instead, but I might have messed up the test. I'll try again this weekend)
    CYA 250

    We moved over the weekend, now it's box city. I'm currently figuring out a good weekend to do a drain/refill and attempt repairs on my spa drain cover.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    I've never dealt with this situation, but with some of those numbers it really looks like there needs to be significant water replacement....
    20000 gallon vinyl liner in ground pool
    16' X 34' rectangular diving pool
    Hayward Pro Grid DE Filter
    Hayward 1 hp Super Pump
    TF-100 Test Kit Stenner 45MPHP10

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    I don't think the pool has been drained in years (it was a rental with a pool "service"). We have extremely hard water coming out of the taps here - combine that with very hot and arid weather from May to October, and you have massive amount of evaporation with high CH being added to the water daily.

    I fully expect to do a large scale water replacement as soon as I can get my ducks in a row.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Trip! How are your shoulders and back feeling?? I HATE moving! BUT it is so worth it when you have a nice pool to fall into.

    You are doing a good job of keeping your FC up with such high CYA. For right now do what needs to be done inside the house. The pool will still be there when you are ready to tackle the water.

    Some ideas on the draining. We want the plaster to stay safe while you drain and refill. You do NOT want the plaster to go too long with out water in your sun.

    -Plan on a couple to few drains. It will take more water BUT the plaster stay safe.

    -Some people have done a drain with heavy tarps separating the old and new water. I am not sure how this works but IF you are interested in this idea we can find it.

    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: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Agreed on the plaster not being allowed to dry out or heat up, that's always a consideration.

    I know from reading here that higher levels of FC can cause Ph to read incorrectly. Does anyone have a chart or an idea of how I can ensure that my Ph readings aren't "bad"?
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Hummmmmmm just thinking out loud here.........Test your fill water. What is the PH in it?

    Cut your sample of pool water with your tap water and see what the PH is then?? You might have to cut it two times. Distilled water? Does it have a PH reading?

    Just throwing ideas out there to see what sticks!

    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: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Honestly, I've had a few folks mention that pH readings are thrown off by high FC levels. So with that said, I'm not even sure how to read pH "accurately" if I cut the pool sample with tap water. I found a reference somewhere that said "professionals" have a table of some sort that allows you to adjust the pH reading based on FC levels, but I've struck out with Google trying to find those actual tables.

    I was hoping one of the awesome folks here would be able to reassure me that my pH isn't at damaging levels while I'm getting my act together to get my CYA lowered.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    I'm excited today. The weather is looking to be unseasonably cool next weekend (or thereabouts) so I'm planning to do a 70-80% water replacement then. The current plan is to get a submersible pump from Home Depot, empty it over about 3 hours or so in the late afternoon, and then fill overnight. The weather is supposed to be in the mid 70's the next day, so that should leave me plenty of time to refill overnight and provide a minimum of heat/drying problems for the plaster (I'll also keep it as damp as possible once the sun is up). I'm well above the valley floor, and it's the desert, so I don't think there are groundwater issues to contend with.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    That sounds like a great plan, maybe just a sprinkler will do to keep it watered down
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
    links: pool school * Recommended-Levels * SLAM * CYA chart * Test kits * How To Post Pictures * Poolmath * OCLT ** Support your website if we helped you :) **

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Casey, that was my same thought---use a sprinkler to wet the walls down AND add water.

    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: Returning to Pool Ownership

    Never thought I'd be so happy to see clouds in Arizona. I'll be starting the drain early so as to take maximum advantage of "less" sunny days and lower temperatures for the next few days. Looks like this will be the last chance before we head for 100+ (and perfect pool weather).

    Figure I'll head over to Home Depot right after dropping my son off at school. I work from home, so it will be easy to monitor the pump and spray down the plaster from time to time. I'll also attempt to fix the missing spa drain cover today. Wish me luck! An unrelated trip to Home Depot a couple of days ago revealed a sale they were having on 10% liquid chlorine for the same price as I can normally find 8.25% in the stores (and the Julian date was pretty recent), so I grabbed 8 gallons.
    8,500gal plaster in-ground with attached spa, two floor drains, one skimmer. Chlorine, City Water.
    Pentair WhisperFlo 1hp Pump, MagnaTek Midcentury EPlus motor, Pentair CleanNClear 200SF Cartridge filter, Purex Triton MiniMax 250 Gas Heater, Pentair SunLite, AutoFill.
    Kreepy Krauly Cruiser, TF-100 with SpeedStir. :D

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