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Thread: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

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    Smartjack's Avatar
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    Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    This may sound stupid, but bear with me here.......

    I came to this site because I had a CYA over 400. I solved it with a drain, and am fine, but this question comes from all the reading I've done on this. Over and over, everyone says the only way to lower CYA is a drain. Yet, when someone has Ammonia in the pool, their FC and CYA go to zero, because of the Ammonia. So, could you force the pool to an Ammonia state, let it kill off the CYA, then SLAM to get your pool back to normal? I realize this will take a lot of Chlorine to kill off the Ammonia, but that may be more desirable than a drain for some people.

    So, what causes a pool to turn to Ammonia, and can it be forced?
    Bruce - (The SmartJack was an invention of mine, and became my nickname)
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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    It is a bacterial conversion that takes place. Which bacteria causes it I don't know. Its not the ammonia itself that breaks down the CYA, ammonia is a by-product of CYA breakdown. There are ammonia based treatments such as Green to Clean that are supposed to treat algae. They do an meh job on the algae and then it takes a ton of bleach to get rid of the left over ammonia. Having personally experienced the bacterial conversion twice, for me both times it happened when I ignored my pool over the winter and let it turn into a swamp.

    There is a company that put out a product they claim breaks down CYA using enzymes. Several of our members tried it and the results ranged from no change to minimal improvement. It also was not cost effective. Had it worked it would only make sense to use it in a drought situation.
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    Smartjack's Avatar
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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    Quote Originally Posted by zea3 View Post
    It is a bacterial conversion that takes place. Which bacteria causes it I don't know. Its not the ammonia itself that breaks down the CYA, ammonia is a by-product of CYA breakdown. There are ammonia based treatments such as Green to Clean that are supposed to treat algae. They do an meh job on the algae and then it takes a ton of bleach to get rid of the left over ammonia. Having personally experienced the bacterial conversion twice, for me both times it happened when I ignored my pool over the winter and let it turn into a swamp.

    There is a company that put out a product they claim breaks down CYA using enzymes. Several of our members tried it and the results ranged from no change to minimal improvement. It also was not cost effective. Had it worked it would only make sense to use it in a drought situation.
    I knew the enzyme product was a bust. I also know that this may seem like a weird idea. It makes more sense when you already are trying to open a green swamp like I was, and SLAMing a pool with a high CYA makes no sense. But, if you can push that swamp over the edge, and get that bacterial conversion to take place, then you eliminate the CYA, and can SLAM.

    Just wondering if it is possible to do as an option.
    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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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    If you could figure out how you would make a boatload of money. The big three that need to be removed, CYA, CH & metals. I removal tool would be wonderful.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    Even if it were possible, it would be completely impractical and not cost effective. Every 10ppm of CYA converts in ~3ppm ammonia. It then takes 10 times as much chlorine to neutralize the ammonia. So 100pm of CYA degraded would create 30ppm of ammonia which would take over 300ppm worth of chlorine to neutralize. That's roughly 62 gallons of 8.25% bleach in an 18,000 gallon swimming pool. At a cost of ~$3/gallon, you'd be looking at over $180 in bleach. Even for me, a desert dweller, it would be cheaper to dump half my pool water and refill and that's more money spent on bleach than most TFP'ers would spend in a single season.
    Matt
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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    Even if it were possible, it would be completely impractical and not cost effective. Every 10ppm of CYA converts in ~3ppm ammonia. It then takes 10 times as much chlorine to neutralize the ammonia. So 100pm of CYA degraded would create 30ppm of ammonia which would take over 300ppm worth of chlorine to neutralize. That's roughly 62 gallons of 8.25% bleach in an 18,000 gallon swimming pool. At a cost of ~$3/gallon, you'd be looking at over $180 in bleach. Even for me, a desert dweller, it would be cheaper to dump half my pool water and refill and that's more money spent on bleach than most TFP'ers would spend in a single season.

    The first time I encountered a pool with ammonia issues, it took me 26 jugs of liquid chlorine (5 gallons each at 12%). At $18 per jug, it came to $468 just to get the pool to hold a chlorine residual.

    The next year I had the same problem again with that same pool. This time it only took about half as much chlorine. After just two seasons fighting this problem, this customer could have installed a SWG with what they payed for chlorine.

    The moral of the story; STOP USING TABLETS AND GET A SWG!!! The investment will pay for itself in no time.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    Wow! That is lotsa bleach!
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    Re: Can you "force" a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    The only way it would be cost effective to force the CYA to ammonia conversion is if you could force it all the way (or most of the way) to outgassing as nitrogen. If you only forced it all to ammonia, you're still better off draining rather than burning all that bleach on the ammonia.
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    Re: Can you &quot;force&quot; a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    For what its worth, since I became aware of the conversion of CYA to Ammonia, I've seen a few pools every season where it has happened. It doesn't seem to be an issue in salt water pools running normal CYA levels. The pools that seem to have the problem are always pools using tablets and stabilized "shock" products. By the end of the season the CYA is well above 100 ppm (some over 200), and I'm usually using algaecides to keep them going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    Wow! That is lotsa bleach!
    It most certainly is. Its kind of amazing to watch as you add 20 gallons of liquid chlorine to a pool and watch it start to fizz, then test for FC only to find that it is still a big fat 0. I was pretty freaked out the first time I saw it happen.
    TreeFiter

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    Re: Can you &quot;force&quot; a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    Quote Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post
    For what its worth, since I became aware of the conversion of CYA to Ammonia, I've seen a few pools every season where it has happened. It doesn't seem to be an issue in salt water pools running normal CYA levels. The pools that seem to have the problem are always pools using tablets and stabilized "shock" products. By the end of the season the CYA is well above 100 ppm (some over 200), and I'm usually using algaecides to keep them going.

    - - - Updated - - -



    It most certainly is. Its kind of amazing to watch as you add 20 gallons of liquid chlorine to a pool and watch it start to fizz, then test for FC only to find that it is still a big fat 0. I was pretty freaked out the first time I saw it happen.
    That may have been your experience but it is not the only situation where it occurs. I have had it twice and both times my CYA was 50 or less, using only liquid chlorine to sanitize. Both times I had slacked off on maintenance and let the pool go green over the winter.
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    Re: Can you &quot;force&quot; a pool to turn to Ammonia??

    Quote Originally Posted by zea3 View Post
    That may have been your experience but it is not the only situation where it occurs. I have had it twice and both times my CYA was 50 or less, using only liquid chlorine to sanitize. Both times I had slacked off on maintenance and let the pool go green over the winter.
    You are absolutely right, it does happen in pools with lower CYA levels under the right conditions. A day or two after reading your post I ran into a pool that was opened and forgotten for about two weeks. This pool was a salt water pool in which the CYA had been maintained right around 60ppm all last season. Although it took a significant amount of chlorine to straighten it out, it was a drop in the bucket compared to the nightmares I see from pools using tablets.
    TreeFiter

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