Preface: The following may be a bit anticlimatic compared to other stories I've since noticed on the forum, but, as I've already spent hours typing this one...
Greetings Pool Fans!
Because I have the time, here is a "brief" synopsis of my pool opening process this year.
But first, a little history...
In years past, I had a pretty good process of maintaining the pool. Basically, it was a modified SLAM process. Although, my process would be more appropriately called SALABR (pronounced "slobber") - The "Shock And Let Agea Bloom Repeat" process. It was very effective - at making me sick & tired of that freakin' hole in the ground! I don't even use the darn thing. But, everyone else does. At least 3 times a year. So, anyway, enough history...
Well, this winter, everyone was sayng how they couldn't wait to use the pool this year. So, the pressure was on to get it ready. But, since it'd been "closed" since last September, it needed a "bit" of cleaning first. And by "closed", I mean that I had shut the pump off & forgot about it (the back yard is never used, except for the pool). And by a "bit of cleaning", I mean, it needed filled in and paved over, re-dug, filled in & paved over again...
Anyway, this spring (April-ish), I went to start getting it ready. First, I fired up the pump. Unfortunately, water started pouring out of a big crack half way around the neck/collar of the sand filter where the multi-port valve (mpv) is attached. It had had a slow leak last year, but it otherwise worked ok, with not much water loss compared to evaporation. However, now, it would have drained way too much water with it's current leak rate.
So, I tried to fix it using epoxy & marine epoxy putty to fill & paste over the crack (from the inside & outside over very well prepped surfaces). If the crack had been on the side somewhere, that might have worked. However, on the neck/collar - no way, for as soon as the pump was turned on, the "upward" pressure on the mpv just pulled the crack back open.
Well, due to other pressing matters, it was a month or few before a new filter was obtained. And by mid June, it'd been hitting 90+ temps for weeks, not to mention the humidity, the rain, the humidity, some sunny days, the humidity, rain, 90+ temps, the humidity... (why is this called the "Sunshine State"???)
Anyway, once (mostly) installed, I did think things thru a bit before turning on the pump - I didn't want to feed "The Black Lagoon" thru my new filter & mpv. First, I used a flex hose directly out of the pump & directed the discharge off to the side yard. Besides the bottom of the (cess)pool, I figured the pipes themselves had accumulated some sediment. That was a good idea. Trust me, you don't want to know the sludgey-foulness that spewed forth. I wish I'd taken a video or pics. Be glad I didn't.
But, if you do, imagine... on second thought, no, just don't...
Anyway, for a while, it was: pump out sludge, let water settle a few moments, pump out sludge, let water settle... repeat as nauseum. It took, oh, I don't remember - a couple days probably - to get down to just "plain" brackish water coming out of the pump. At that point, I hooked the new filter up.
Side note - don't get side-tracked and forget to finish tightening the band-clamp holding down the mpv before turning on the pump. Unless you like getting drenched by the spray of "plain" water that will spew forth from collar of your new filter...
Well, anyway, after tightening the clamp, the spewing stopped, and filtering could begin. For a few minutes anyway. For the first several cycles, it only took minutes before the pressure built up & the filter required a backwash. It eventually got to 30 minutes; then a couple hours; then most of the day, before needing a backwash. This was over several days.
Oh, and I've left out the part about the mass eviction of all the aquatic wild-life that had taken up residence in the black swamp. That was actually a bit sad - hundreds and hundreds of tadpoles & baby frogs, and a few big frogs, a snake or two, (but no turtles), "liberated" to the edges of the lawn. That's all I want to talk about that...
Well, after a few days, and 10+ gallons of chlorine, and numerous backwashes, the water started to get "so so". Then, a bottle of floc & the time to scoop & vacuum out the sediment eventually got the water to a semi-not-so so-so state. I could now almost see the bottom of the deep end! But the water was still a little cloudy. Which is where TroubleFreePools comes in! You see, I spent a good deal of time researching how to clear up the water, and how to maintain it with as little work as possible, and this place seems to be the place to be for such info (but not nocking other sources that have also been useful).
Now, as recommended here and elsewhere, I had intended to order a TF-100 test kit, but various geo-political forces & circumstances pre-empted my acquisition, and a PoolMaster (PM) 5-way kit was obtained instead. It seems to work ok. I guess. I have no frame of reference, except for a bottle of test strips that was obtained first while looking for a good test kit.
Well, the strips & PM kit disagree to such a degree that one or both are amost worthless. Well, not completely. The strips seem to indicate a higher free chlorine (FC) level than the PM kit does. But, the strips indicate a much lower total alkalinity (TA) than the PM. Plus, while the strips have a "stabilizer" indicator, it usually indicates nearly "0", even tho I've added 2 or 3 pounds of CYA. Plus 4 tri-chlor tabs have been in the dispenser for about a week, and are almost dissolved now. And tri-chlor tabs have been used regularly in the past.
So. Now. Well. Anyway. Here we are today! After putting myself thru a crash course of "Pool School", days more of filtering/backwashing/testing, I think I've got a handle on the basics. The water is now crystal clear & feels good; there is a "fresh" - but not "chloriney" - smell in the backyard; and the vinyl liner feels squeaky clean. Below are a couple current pics. (As mentioned, no "before" pics. But, for reference, the "before" pics from the frog hatchery thread are perfect examples...)
So now, after all that, I thought I'd check with the experts for a "way to go" or "what on earth are you doing!", as appropriate...
PS: While a TF-100 is still on the agenda, I'm stuck with the PM kit for now. However, if you are still reading all this, and are a masochist for numbers, below is a brief history of test values from the PM kit & the Pool Time Test Strips. And in addition to the previously mentioned chlorine etc used for the opening process, I've added a total of about 1.5 boxes of borax and about 3.5 pounds of A&H baking soda (some of which is indicated below) to help bring the test numbers to their current state.
TH: Total Hardness (test strips only)Code:Date Time| TH | TC | FC | pH | TA | Stabilizer / notes ----------+----+----+----+-----+----+---------------------------------------- 7-20 6pm| | | 2+ | 7.2 | 70 | 7-21 7am| | | 2+ | 7.2 | 60 | 7-22 10am| | | 1 | 6.8 | 60 | / added 1g Cl, ~2.5lbs A&H baking soda. 7-22 3pm| | | 3 | 7.2 | 80 | 7-23 11am| | | 2 | 7.2 | 70 | / added 1/g Chlorine (Cl) 7-24 10am| | | 2 | 7.2 | 70 | / added 1/g Cl 2pm| | | 3 | 7.2 | 70 | / per PM kit *| 100| 5 | 3 | 7.2 | 40 | 0+, but <<50 / per strips* 7-26 9am| | | 1+ | 7.2 | 70 | / added 1g Cl 1pm| | | | | | / added ~2lbs baking soda 4pm| | | 2+ | 7.2 | 80 | *| 100| 5 | 4 | 6.8 | 40 | 0+, but <<50 / per strips* 7-27 10am| | | 2+ | 7.2 | 80 | *| 100| 4 | 2+ | 7.2-| 40 | 0+, but <<50 / per strips* 7-28 12pm| | | 2+ | 7.2 | 80 | / added 1.5g Cl & 2lbs borax *| 100| 1 | 1 | 7.2-| 40+| 0+, but <<50 / per strips* 7-29 10am| | | 2+ | 7.6 | 80 | *| 100| 5 | 3 | 7.2 | 40-| 0+ / per strips*, added 1/2g Cl
TC: Total Chlorine (test strips only)
FC: Free Chlorine
pH: "power (or potential) of Hydrogen" (Bet you didn't know that!) (I didn't 'till just now...)
TA: Total Alkalinity
Stabilizer: CYA, I think.
The PM kit alledgedly has a test for Combined Chlorine (CC), but it's been impossible to discern any difference from the FC test. (It's the same test, just waiting longer to compare water color to reference colors.)