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Thread: Need help with PH!

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    bschnur's Avatar
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    Need help with PH!

    Hello! First time post, recent "binge" reader - my apologies if a similar topic has been addressed!

    I opened my pool a few weeks ago and everything is running/looking great, the water is crystal clear. I decided to get a test kit (Taylor 2005 - I understand I may need to buy the additional components to bring it up to 2006 standards) and utilize it daily/weekly this year since I have failed to do so in the past and went by the "how does my water look, smell, feel" test. My PH must be VERY low! My water test indicated that it is low (yellow) and also my TA test turned RED (never went to GREEN) immediately. I've added around 8lbs (give or take) of Soda Ash over the last week or so and my PH level is still testing low. Should I continue to add Soda Ash? Or switch to something different.

    Thanks for all of your help in advance! As I mentioned above, I'm new to posting to the forum, but I've binge read this forum over the past week, so I'm relatively familiar with the TFP jargon! I'm currently at work but can post more detailed test results if need be this evening.

    Thanks!
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    You're doing what you need to do.

    If the TA was unreadable, that puts your pH somewhere in the 5s, most likely. The jump from 7 to 8 is ten times the jump from 6 to 7, so it will take large doses to push the pH up. Just keep plugging pH and TA into poolmath and dose it. You can brush to mix and let the pump run and retest and redose every half hour if you want. At some point, your pH color block will register somewhere above minimum. That's when you slow down and ensure everything is really well mixed and then you adjust TA if needed and then fine-tune the pH.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    bschnur's Avatar
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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Thanks for the reply! Just to make sure I'm hearing/thinking about it correctly...

    1. Keep adding large amounts of Soda Ash - based on the pool math calculator, I would need approximately 94 lbs to get the PH up to 7.5. Does that sound right? If so I'll plan to purchase a big bucket of it tonight and start adding large amounts. I've read that I shouldn't add more than 1lb per 10K gallons of Soda ash at a time - is that accurate?

    2. Once I start to register a change in color on my PH test, decrease the amount of Soda Ash added to prevent overshooting and creating a different problem.

    3. Once PH level is where it needs to be, make sure TA is at an OK level and fine tune from there.

    Does that sounds like appropriate next steps?
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    How are you adding chlorine to your pool? It is liquid, or trichlor tablets, or DiChlor? This may be affecting your pH.

    You see, I used to chlorinate with only DiChlor. My CYA was very high, which meant I also needed to add a lot of DiChlor. But, the DiChlor is also acidic, and lowered my pH. While using it, I was ALWAYS fighting to keep my pH up. I would add soda ash, or borax, to up it, but my addition of DiChlor was fighting with what I added. So, it could be something else you are adding, and that is affecting your pH.

    Read up on Pool School, and start following the BBB method. Now that I have switched away from DiChlor, and I'm just using liquid chlorine going forward, I don't plan on ever needing to raise my pH again.
    Bruce - (The SmartJack was an invention of mine, and became my nickname)
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    bschnur's Avatar
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    Re: Need help with PH!

    I have an offline chlorinator - I use 3" trichlor pucks. If I ever need to shock the pool then I use liquid chlorine.
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Well, that Trichlor will also lower your pH. How long have you been using it, how much do you go through to keep the pool clear, and have you ever checked your CYA?
    Bruce - (The SmartJack was an invention of mine, and became my nickname)
    Fox Pool 40x27 IG Vinyl, Lagoon Shape, 27,000 gallons, Hayward 300,000 BTU heater
    Hayward 1.5 HP, 2-Speed SuperPump, with Hayward C4025 Cartridge Filter
    Polaris C-310 ORP Controller, modified to pump Liquid Chlorine
    Hayward Phantom, and Aquabot Turbo T-Jet automatic pool cleaners, Taylor K-2006

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    bschnur's Avatar
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    Re: Need help with PH!

    I've been using it ever since the pool was built in 2011 - it's sort of all I know. When the folks who built the pool helped me open it the first season the conversation was "Here's where you put chlorine, here's how you clean your pool - if the water isn't clear, bring in a sample and we'll help." I've never had issues keeping the pool clear, but I'm just now getting into understanding the chemistry and trying to have a balanced pool.

    If I follow the BBB method, should I stop using the trichlor pucks and switch to liquid chlorine altogether? I'm ok with that, I just want to make sure that's the appropriate step!

    Also, following the BBB method I should use Borax to raise the PH, not Soda Ash, correct?

    I can check my CYA tonight.
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by bschnur View Post
    Thanks for the reply! Just to make sure I'm hearing/thinking about it correctly...

    1. Keep adding large amounts of Soda Ash - based on the pool math calculator, I would need approximately 94 lbs to get the PH up to 7.5. Does that sound right? If so I'll plan to purchase a big bucket of it tonight and start adding large amounts. I've read that I shouldn't add more than 1lb per 10K gallons of Soda ash at a time - is that accurate?
    NO! Effects of Adding Chemicals even has a disclaimer that the pH calculation is an estimation and large changes will be way off.
    2. Once I start to register a change in color on my PH test, decrease the amount of Soda Ash added to prevent overshooting and creating a different problem.

    3. Once PH level is where it needs to be, make sure TA is at an OK level and fine tune from there.

    Does that sounds like appropriate next steps?
    You read 6.8 pH and by now maybe 20 TA. Enter those numbers into poolmath. It says 37 ounces to get to 7.5. Add that. Wait for it to mix. Retest. It still says 6.8 and 20. Dose it again. TA will likely come up a little each time, so be sure to check it. Just keep entering what you read for pH and TA and target 7.5 pH. Soda Ash/Washing Soda is fine to use, especially if you already own some. You need the added TA anyway, that Borax doesn't have. And at some point you'll land on some color other than the bottom color of the comparator. It might be 7.5. WHo knows. If TA needs increasing, do that, and then lastly finish tweaking the pH.

    This is all contingent on the CYA reading. If it's astronomical, you'll be replacing water, so there's no way to predict what the pH will be until after the water's been replaced and it's all had time to mix and get tested.

    This thread might interest you: Maintain your chemicals correctly

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Ahh, makes sense. I see how I wasn't utilizing the calculator correctly. How can I know what the TA is if the test immediately turns to RED/PINK?
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by bschnur View Post
    Ahh, makes sense. I see where I was leaving the TA at 100 - which was giving incorrect suggestions because I wasn't utilizing the calculator correctly. How can I know what the TA is if the test immediately turns to RED?
    Add a drop of reagent. Did the color get brighter pink? If so, your TA is 10. If not, it's zero. Enter that.

    Soda Ash will add some TA to the water, so you should start seeing some changes in that. Assuming you don't have to replace water to reduce CYA.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Richard320,

    My CYA is over 100.

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by bschnur View Post
    Richard320,

    My CYA is over 100.
    Next step is the dilution test to see just how far over 100 it is.

    I started out close to 240 CYA, myself.

    Go raid the kitchen for a measuring cup or spoon. Mix equal amounts of pool water and tap water and run the CYA test using that blend as the pool water sample. Then double the result. That's your CYA. Then you can figure how much you need to replace to bring CYA down to something manageable.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Richard320,

    So for example, mix half a cup of tap water with half a cup of my pool water, NO solution from the kit of any type, then do the test in the comparator and multiply by 2?

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by bschnur View Post
    Richard320,

    So for example, mix half a cup of tap water with half a cup of my pool water, NO solution from the kit of any type, then do the test in the comparator and multiply by 2?
    No. You're diluting pool water 50-50 and testing that. Without the R-0013, it won't react. Mix half pool and half tap water, and pretend you just pulled that out of the pool and run the test normally. Tap water has zero CYA, so it dilutes the sample. After you test, double the result.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    bschnur's Avatar
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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Looks like CYA is around 200, it could even be a little more. My wife and I both tested with our eyes twice and it landed around 100 each, so I will say CYA is 200.

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    You need to do another dilution. Try 1 part pool water and 2 parts tap. Multiply by 3.

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    2 parts tap, 1 part pool water reads CYA at 225.

    I'm afraid to hear the solution -
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by bschnur View Post
    2 parts tap, 1 part pool water reads CYA at 225.

    I'm afraid to hear the solution -
    You already know it.

    You can rent a pump at Home Depot or a tool rental place that'll empty things in a couple hours. Leave at least a foot in the shallow end or your liner might shift or wrinkle.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    bschnur's Avatar
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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320 View Post
    You already know it.

    You can rent a pump at Home Depot or a tool rental place that'll empty things in a couple hours. Leave at least a foot in the shallow end or your liner might shift or wrinkle.
    What do you think about me using the pool pump to drain - just close the skimmer and bypass the filter and drain to waste? It may not be as fast, but I could save the cost of renting a tool.

    I'm also nervous to drain a lot of water since it's a vinyl liner...but I guess I don't have another option!

    Richard320 - you mentioned you started close to 240 CYA - I take it you drained most of yours? What was your experience like? Did you do it all at once, or smaller amounts at a time?
    21K Gallon, IG, Vinyl, Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo VS Pump, Diving rock/water feature, 18x32 Oblique

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    Re: Need help with PH!

    Quote Originally Posted by bschnur View Post
    What do you think about me using the pool pump to drain - just close the skimmer and bypass the filter and drain to waste? It may not be as fast, but I could save the cost of renting a tool.

    I'm also nervous to drain a lot of water since it's a vinyl liner...but I guess I don't have another option!

    Richard320 - you mentioned you started close to 240 CYA - I take it you drained most of yours? What was your experience like? Did you do it all at once, or smaller amounts at a time?
    I discovered that little surprise the previous owner left me when we were under severe water restrictions. Draining was not an option unless I wanted to pay huge fines and have a restrictor installed on my meter at my expense.

    So I maintained the FC up in the 20s and slowly exchanged water by using pool water on my lawn and captured as much rainwater as I could the next winter by diverting a downspout to the pool. Luckily, I never had any algae. Having been through that, I can tell you that I wish I'd dumped it all in one shot. It's so much easier having realistic CYA numbers.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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