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Thread: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

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    Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Hello all,

    Long time lurker, finally a poster! Used BBB last year to a trouble free, clear pool last season. First time openers this year, as we have had a company open and close in years past. Have had 4 summers in the pool, and battled high CYA every year. Closed last year with a CYA balancing between 80-90 (despite multiple drain and refills), wasn't there to witness how the pool was closed (how well it was shocked), and had a very mild Ohio winter. Opened the pool this past weekend, and was slightly cloudy with greenish tint. Visibility fine in shallow end, more cloudy in deep end. Pool drain somewhat visible in deep end. Opening values were:

    5/29 late afternoon:

    FC 0
    CC 5
    pH 7.5
    TA 150
    CH 250
    CYA 50

    Assumed CC was due to algae bloom so started SLAM method, brushing, vacuuming. That's when it all started to go haywire. Gallons and gallons of bleach were raising FC to 2, and CC were raising dramatically. Continued slamming to bed time and woke up next morning to

    5/30:
    FC 2
    CC 22
    CYA 30
    Other readings stayed the same.

    At this point I start freaking out, and doing research on TFP forum, while adding enough bleach to maintain some FC level. Came across some articles about CYA degrading and releasing ammonia, ammonia feeds algae. So basically come to conclusion that I probably have the mysterious CYA eating organism in my pool, and am now dealing with ammonia AND mustard algae. Grab an ammonia kit from Walmart late 5/30, and sure enough test reads danger zone (dark green). Also bought 18 gallons (in addition to the 20 gallons 8.25% bleach I bought in anticipation of opening and Slamming) 10% liquid chlorine from Walmart in order to hit it hard.

    Start 5/31: no improvement in water color and clarity
    FC 3
    CC 25
    CYA between 20-30, closer to 30
    Ammonia danger (dark green)

    Started process during high cloud cover. Brushed numerous times and vacuumed today.

    1:45 pm added 5 gallons shock
    2:40 FC 11 CC 30+ added 1 gallon shock
    4:07 FC 9 CC 40+ added 1 gallon shock
    5:13 FC 6 (stopped testing CC when noticing dark pink color after adding 5 drop reagent. don't feel the need to waste reagent when knowing it's sky high) Added 2 gallon shock (ammonia test seems to be lighter green, maybe my hopeful imagination)
    7:45 FC 9 CC still bright pink added 2 gallons shock
    9:17 FC 5.5 CC still bright pink added 2 gallons shock
    10:30 pm FC 6 CC still bright pink (ammonia test back to danger, dark green) added 3 gallons shock
    11:50 pm FC 7 CC still bright pink

    At this point, hopeful that some FC is holding, but concerned that it seems I am getting greater FC loss in darkness considering the increase in shock usage. Note FC of 7 to see what loss is there in morning. Husband also bought additional 15 gallons of 10% shock from walmart.

    Which leads me to today. Greenish tint is gone, and water looks clearer. Can easily see center drain in deep end.

    6/1

    8:30 am readings
    FC 3
    CC 25
    Ammonia Danger (dark green)
    CYA between 20-30, closer to 20 (so still losing CYA)
    added 4 gallons shock

    9:30 am FC 3 added 3 gallons shock
    10:30 am FC 2 CC 25 added 4 gallons shock
    11:30 am FC 2 CC still bright pink

    Start to have anxiety attack, which is where I am now! I have already added 11 gallons of 10% shock in three hours and am just maintaining (not raising) FC, no real difference in CC, and no change to ammonia levels. With such a low CYA level and full bright sun, I feel like I'm just throwing my hard earned (quickly dwindling) money down the pool drain. I feel like adding CYA to help stabilize chlorine loss is only going to add literal fuel to the flame by creating more for the mystery bacteria to eat. However, money is becoming a concern and I can't keep putting 25+ bottles of shock into the pool a day.

    So, my lengthy post leads me to this: What would you recommend?

    Some of my thoughts:
    1. Would a partial drain and refill at this point help the exorbitant chlorine cost, or would the only option be to completely drain and refill (once again, not sure cost would allow that as our water is expensive)?
    2. Would it make better sense to add chlorine to maintain during the harsh daylight hours, and try to shock during dusk and dawn? Or would that just allow things to get more out of hand during the day?

    Obviously I am more than a little overwhelmed at the cost of chlorine thus far, and what it may cost to completely rid this pool (or a drain/refill). The one bright spot is that I feel pretty confident that with the constant brushing and steady above 5 FC levels yesterday have helped clear the algae problem. Looking for any bright spot I can find!

    Thanks in advance if you stuck around this far, and for your help. I felt like too much detail was better than too little, but sure you probably still have questions. Look forward to hearing back!

    Ashley
    33,000 gallon lazy L vinyl liner in ground pool. Hayward EC75 DE filter. Hayward 1.5 pump. Using T-100 kit to test water.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Funny you should post this today as we had just talked about this last night...............With your ammonia level that high you ARE better off doing a drain. Leave about 1 foot of water in your shallow end (enough to cover the bottom step".

    Do NOT put any CYA aka ammonia food into the pool at this point.

    -drain
    -refill
    -run filter for about an hour to mix water good.
    -retest for ammonia
    Let us know the results.

    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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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    You have two choices:
    1 - A partial drain to "help" reduce ammonia levels; although you will still need to treat and SLAM as such
    2 - Perform the ammonia drill which requires strict 10-min interval testing as follows:

    1. Begin a SLAM and dose FC up to SLAM level. If your CYA test is showing as zero (perhaps already converted to ammonia), use a SLAM/Shock FC of 10. Do not add additional CYA at this point.
    2. Retest FC at 10-minute intervals.
    a. If FC loss is greater than 50%, add FC to bring back up to SLAM level and continue retesting FC @ 10-minute intervals.
    b. IF FC loss is 50% or less, add FC to bring back up to SLAM level. Go to Step 3.
    3. If CYA is below 30 ppm, add enough CYA to bring level up to 30 ppm.
    4. Continue SLAM as directed in the SLAM article until the SLAM Criteria of Done are met. Test as directed in the SLAM article - no longer need to test FC at 10 minute increments at this point.

    It's critical to test and adjust every 10 minutes. Once you break the ammonia-conversion cycle, it will work. But you will go through some bleach. What you were doing before was just spread-out too far apart. Let us know if you still have questions.
    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
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    I hope you meant that you were adding "bleach" instead of pool store "shock" when you listed your regimen.

    I've had ammonia every opening except for this year. The key to test FC within 10 to 15 minutes after each addition. Having someone else help dump each batch of bleach helps speed it up, too. Waiting too long will just increase the ammonia as it continues to consume the CYA.

    Have you tested your CYA to determine how much is left to get converted?

    Make sure to check the batch date of the bleach you are adding. Usually the dates are based on the Julian calendar, day of the year.
    Karen
    33K IG w spa plaster, Pentair 1HP Whisperflo, DE Filter, SWG CircuPool RJ-60, Dolphin Triton Plus, Raypak Dig 336K BTU, TF-100.
    Pool Math Chlorine / CYA Chart SLAM - Shock Level And Maintain
    2017 replaster/retile

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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Splash View Post
    You have two choices:
    1 - A partial drain to "help" reduce ammonia levels; although you will still need to treat and SLAM as such
    2 - Perform the ammonia drill which requires strict 10-min interval testing as follows:

    1. Begin a SLAM and dose FC up to SLAM level. If your CYA test is showing as zero (perhaps already converted to ammonia), use a SLAM/Shock FC of 10. Do not add additional CYA at this point.
    2. Retest FC at 10-minute intervals.
    a. If FC loss is greater than 50%, add FC to bring back up to SLAM level and continue retesting FC @ 10-minute intervals.
    b. IF FC loss is 50% or less, add FC to bring back up to SLAM level. Go to Step 3.
    3. If CYA is below 30 ppm, add enough CYA to bring level up to 30 ppm.
    4. Continue SLAM as directed in the SLAM article until the SLAM Criteria of Done are met. Test as directed in the SLAM article - no longer need to test FC at 10 minute increments at this point.

    It's critical to test and adjust every 10 minutes. Once you break the ammonia-conversion cycle, it will work. But you will go through some bleach. What you were doing before was just spread-out too far apart. Let us know if you still have questions.
    I know that no one can see into the future, but any idea how long this can take (ie an afternoon, days, etc), and if i stop to sleep does that set everything back? I'm trying to weight the effort and cost of chlorine versus just draining and refilling.

    I am assuming that even if I drain and refill, there will still be some level of ammonia that I am still going to have to fight, just on a lesser degree, correct?

    ETA: Also, is there any danger to adding that much chlorine to my vinyl liner pool? Is FC what eats at the liner, or is it TC? I just don't want to set myself up for a liner replacement!!!!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by kcindc View Post
    I hope you meant that you were adding "bleach" instead of pool store "shock" when you listed your regimen.

    I've had ammonia every opening except for this year. The key to test FC within 10 to 15 minutes after each addition. Having someone else help dump each batch of bleach helps speed it up, too. Waiting too long will just increase the ammonia as it continues to consume the CYA.

    Have you tested your CYA to determine how much is left to get converted?

    Make sure to check the batch date of the bleach you are adding. Usually the dates are based on the Julian calendar, day of the year.
    Thanks for all the replies!

    I was adding liquid chlorine that I bought at Walmart. It is labeled as chlorinating liquid for pools, but the active ingredient is the same, Sodium Hypochlorite. The difference is the %. They were running a sale, and one bottle of 10% cost the same as one bottle of 8% bleach, so I thought I was getting a better percentage for the same price. If this was wrong please let me know, as I certainly don't want to confound any more problems!

    My current level of CYA is between 20-30, closer to the 20 line than the 30 line.
    Last edited by aam9; 06-01-2016 at 01:44 PM. Reason: forgot to ask a question
    33,000 gallon lazy L vinyl liner in ground pool. Hayward EC75 DE filter. Hayward 1.5 pump. Using T-100 kit to test water.

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    Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    The Wal-Mart 10% is fine. As for the time to break the ammonia cycle, just depends. If I had to throw a number out there, I'd say I've seen them go a quick as 30 minutes to up to 4-5 hours. Depends on the amount of active ammonia in the water and available CYA which the ammonia is trying to feed-off of. Because you can almost never do a 100% drain, there will be some residual stuff in the water, but the treatment would go much faster in that respect. We just want you to understand there are two options available. You have a large pool at 33K, so either way is not necessarily quick or easy. Either way, we'll be watching to answer any questions you may have.
    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
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Well I performed the ammonia drill, and came out victorious! It only took 2 hours and 22 bottles of 10% liquid chlorine ! Was shocking to 12, and FC kept riding at 2, but CC slowly dropped until I finally hit FC 6 and CC 0. Ammonia test came back yellow and in ideal range! Currently shocking back to 12 to OLT, but haven't hit less than 8, so that is a MAJOR improvement. I will keep dosing until I pass the OLT, and then will shock to mustard algae level until that holds for 24 hours.

    My question at this time is that my CYA is still hanging in between 20-30. The instructions for the ammonia test say once less than 50% loss is maintained to raise CYA to 30. I have been shocking to 30 CYA levels as I just rounded up based on my current CYA measurement. Can you raise CYA in increments if you are in between measurements? I would love to eventually get it to 40 for stability reasons. Could I do that now, or am I better trying to raise to 30 and hold, and then raise again to 40?

    Thank you all so much for your help with my issues, and the site in general.
    33,000 gallon lazy L vinyl liner in ground pool. Hayward EC75 DE filter. Hayward 1.5 pump. Using T-100 kit to test water.

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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Don't raise your cya until you pass the oclt. Always round the cya level to the next highest mark. So a test result between 20 and 30 rounds up to 30.

    Karen
    33K IG w spa plaster, Pentair 1HP Whisperflo, DE Filter, SWG CircuPool RJ-60, Dolphin Triton Plus, Raypak Dig 336K BTU, TF-100.
    Pool Math Chlorine / CYA Chart SLAM - Shock Level And Maintain
    2017 replaster/retile

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Raising CYA to 40 is fine just raise your FC level accordingly, Chlorine CYA Chart
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Argh, ammonia! Can't hold FC, high CC, dropping CYA.

    Good for you....I hated doing that last year, but its the only way...the help on here is tremendous!
    38,000 gallon vinyl liner, True "L", Sand Filter, Hayward Heater, Diving Board

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