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Thread: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

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    HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Hi There,

    We are completely new to pools and are desperate for help. I've been searching through countless forums, but I cannot find a post that matches our issue with instructions on how to fix.

    We have a Coleman 18x48 above ground power steel pool with a cartridge filter. It holds 6,000 gallons of water. We use HTH 6-way test strips to check water levels. We have been running the filter nearly 24x7, skim the top and clean the filter daily and have vacuumed a couple of times. We've only been able to swim in it a handful of times because of the imbalanced water. The pool is in full sun for the majority of the day.

    When we shocked the pool for the first time, it turned brown. We made the mistake of shocking it before going away for a weekend and shutting off the filter. We've cleared that up, but the water is just starting to turn cloudy and we cannot get the chemicals to the correct levels. Over the course of the last 4 weeks, we've added cyanuric acid, baking soda and algaecide and consistently keep chlorine tablets in a floating unit.

    We just shocked the pool 2 days ago. Here are our current readings:

    FC = 0
    PH = 8.4
    TA = 240
    TH = 200
    CYA = 100

    Please advise what we need to do (and in what order) to stabilize the chlorine and bring the PH and TA down to acceptable levels.

    Many thanks in advance,
    Colleen

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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    read "The ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry" up in Pool School. That's the basics of what we teach and you are starting with some misconceptions.

    First question is how much longer do you intend to swim? Fixing this pool will not be done overnight and I am trying to figure out if you want to put it away for the winter or swim in it still.
    Dave S.
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Welcome to TFP Colleen. Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

    Really depends on how much more swimming you think you're going to be doing.

    Can you please add you pool and equipment info to your signature as outlined here: Pool School - Getting Started

    We don't really trust test strips so you will need to purchase a good test kit like a TF100 or K2006. Link to TF100 in my signature.

    If you don't have a SWCG then you need to dump at least half the water out and refill to bring the CYA level down (30-40ppm). Once that is done you should use muratic acid to bring the pH down and then treat with bleach to get some FC in there. The level of desired FC will depend on where your CYA level is.

    If you've been using a powered shock and or chlorine pucks to sanitize the water that's the reason your CYA went crazy. Why were you adding CYA ??

    Then retest TA and CH to see where they are and if they need any attention.

    Please don't add any more algaecide to the pool. Depending on which product you're using it can really complicate things and introduce metal into the pool that can cause staining and hair color changes !!
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Hi Dave,

    We wanted to be able to get some more use out of it this year, but if it's going to take a significant amount of time to clear up, it may not be worth it. Being in MA, we probably have another month at best before we will need to close it.

    If it's better to shut everything down now and start anew next year, then that's what we'll have to to do.

    Thank you,
    Colleen
    Last edited by Colleenier; 08-21-2016 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Forgot to add signature
    6,000g, AG Coleman 18x48 Power Steel, Coleman Cartridge Filter (1500g), Installed 5 Weeks Ago, HTH 6-way Test Strips, Town Water Restriction

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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Hello Kiss4aFrog,

    Added my signature info, sorry about that. My eyes were a bit crossed by the time I posted and I'll admit that I didn't read the instructions correctly.

    I'll have to purchase a better testing kit, but for now, I can take the water back to the pool place we used and have them test it again.

    I would like to be able to swim in it again before the end of the season (probably have 4 weeks remaining). Dumping water is not really an option since we're on water restrictions. If that's what we really need to do, then I may just have to close the pool now.

    I thought we added CYA, but I'm reading the paperwork that we were given at the pool testing company and they had us add in 8lbs of powder mixed in a bucket with water (doesn't say what the chemical was) because the hardness was low. I could have sworn that we added a bottle of liquid as well (thought that was the acid - possibly muriatic now that I am reading everything again) but it's not written on the paperwork. They also instructed us to maintain 1/4 of a puck of chlorine in the floating dispenser. We added algaecide about 2 weeks later because the liner was turning green in spots. That cleared up the liner. I haven't added anything to the pool (besides chlorine pucks) since we shocked it two days ago.

    Water tested 7/28 - readings:
    Free Chlorine 0.7 ppm
    Total Chlorine 0.8 ppm
    Combined Chlorine 0.1 ppm
    pH 7.7
    Hardness 60 ppm
    Alkalinity (w/stabilizer correction) 247 ppm
    Cyanuric Acid 10 ppm
    Copper 0 ppm
    Iron 0 ppm

    Paperwork notes Sanitizer: Trichlor 2 and Shock: Sodium Hypochlorite Shock

    Water tested 8/2 readings:
    FC 0.0 ppm
    TC 0.0 ppm
    CC 0.0 ppm
    pH 7.9
    Hardness 220 ppm
    Alkalinity 259 ppm
    Cyanuric Acid 5 ppm
    Copper 0 ppm
    Iron 0 ppm

    Anything that we added (with the exception of baking soda and algaecide) was as instructed by and purchased at the pool place where the water was tested. My apologies if this is TMI, but I wanted to give you the full picture.

    Thanks again,
    Colleen
    6,000g, AG Coleman 18x48 Power Steel, Coleman Cartridge Filter (1500g), Installed 5 Weeks Ago, HTH 6-way Test Strips, Town Water Restriction

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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    So why are you going back there to get the water tested? Invest in the kit. It will still work next spring. You could replace half the water overnight and get the cya to a number that allows you to keep it chlorinated, but if there is algae (which is likely) it will be a rough few weeks.
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Hi Colleen and welcome
    You can see from your pool store testing above that things are not right with their testing. Your hardness cannot just rise like that and CYA is very difficult to measure under 25ppm. Not sure how they measured 10 or even 5 reliably, especially if you have added some as CYA only goes away with draining water

    This is one of the reasons we rely on our own testing and everyone is suggesting to get a reliable test kit.
    There is a HTH drop based test kit at Walmart for cheap, but it will not be able to test your chlorine as high as you need to fix your pool. That is why we recommend the TF100 (best value) or Taylor K2006C, but you have to order online and wait on shipping (TF 100 usually has the fastest shipping too)

    However it does have a ph test that would be useful. I am concerned that your ph is high and this could damage your pool. You really need to fix that asap. Its easy to do with muriatic acid, available at Lowes (I think??) in the paint area. The PH test will max out at 8.2 so calculate what you need to lower to 7.2 and repeat your doses until you get there. It may take 2 or three times. There are more detailed instructions available as Duraleigh pointed out

    NEVER ADD MURIATIC ACID AND BLEACH AT THE SAME TIME. Always wait half an hour between

    I would also get some bleach from walmart or the grocery store, plain bleach only, no scented or splashless. Pour 1 full jug in front of your return slowly, so it takes about 1-2 minutes to empty and then plan on adding half a jug per day (about 7 FC in your pool) until your test kit arrives. This will stop things getting any worse

    I suspect you may have metals due to the brown you noted at the beginning of your thread. I will ask one of the mods who is experienced in that to read your thread and offer advice

    If you get a test kit we can have you swimming safely, even if the water doesnt look pretty

    IMO if you get it clear before you close it will make opening in spring really easy

    HTH

    Oh I forgot to say, dont panic
    It is all easily fixable with the help from here
    Last edited by Caco; 08-21-2016 at 09:07 PM. Reason: please dont panic
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Water turning brown on shocking usually indicates iron, but if it filtered out, then focus on getting you water balanced with a proper kit and we can talk metal management later

    Keep your ph around 7.2 to avoid staining from metals in the mean time...chlorine works better at this level anyway.

    Also, if the pool store gave you a metal control product/sequestrant and then the water clouded...this is normal and usually filters out in about three days.
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    You should be able to swim in it even when the water isn't perfectly balanced or when it's lightly colored. For safety you shouldn't swim if you can't see the bottom. Think of what's in most local lakes and how that water looks. If your doing any kind of chlorinating and the water is fairly clear yours is likely much cleaner. If you are adding chlorine it's safe to swim in after adding bleach as long as you're not above the SLAM recommendation. For a CYA of 100 you would want to have a FC of 39 for a SLAM (shock). Anything 39 and below you're good to jump in. At a CYA of 100 you should be maintaining around 12ppm FC and not dropping below 7. See chart: Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart
    You'll go through more bleach but it's the only thing to do until you get the CYA down by dropping some water or in spring when you fill it again. The reason we recommend the test kit is the pool store can't test high enough to tell you where you're at.

    Since you're on restrictions and you only want a month you might wait to buy the test kit till next spring (TF100 on sale) and just go with the the pool store testing. You'll likely keep dipping below 7 but you can use "Pool Math" to keep bumping FC up to 12. No one here likes that idea as we have all seen the horror stories of what pool stores can do but if you keep a record and something changes drastically you forget that test. I had my CYA increase 40 points from one day to the next and hadn't added any stabilizer in a long time so I know first hand how it feels like they use a dart board.

    The tests don't show metals so I'd be reluctant to add anything for them. You water turning brown is one indication but for now I'm trying to think of the least you need to do just to try and enjoy it for a few more weeks.
    For now I'd lower the pH close to 7.2 and use a gallon of bleach and have that FC tested tomorrow to see how much is left. 128oz of 6.5% should take you from 0 to 11 ppm http://www.troublefreepool.com/calc.html
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Thanks so much for all of the responses, they've been very helpful! I ordered the testing kit same day, so hoping to have it soon. Purchased some muriatic acid last night and will add today. Used the calculator on this forum to figure out how much. Also purchased bleach, which we will add later this evening.

    As for the metals, I thought it was iron, but we were told that it wasn't. In any event, that was the first problem we encountered and we've since filtered out all of the brown. I did some research and we wrapped our cartridge filter with a microfiber cleaning towel and that helped speed up the process (along with cleaning the filter a few times per day). It took almost a week to clear, but it worked.

    We're already planning to add a skimmer next year and also a better filter.

    Many thanks again!
    Colleen
    6,000g, AG Coleman 18x48 Power Steel, Coleman Cartridge Filter (1500g), Installed 5 Weeks Ago, HTH 6-way Test Strips, Town Water Restriction

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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleenier View Post
    Thanks so much for all of the responses, they've been very helpful! I ordered the testing kit same day, so hoping to have it soon. Purchased some muriatic acid last night and will add today. Used the calculator on this forum to figure out how much. Also purchased bleach, which we will add later this evening.

    As for the metals, I thought it was iron, but we were told that it wasn't. In any event, that was the first problem we encountered and we've since filtered out all of the brown. I did some research and we wrapped our cartridge filter with a microfiber cleaning towel and that helped speed up the process (along with cleaning the filter a few times per day). It took almost a week to clear, but it worked.

    We're already planning to add a skimmer next year and also a better filter.

    Many thanks again!
    Colleen
    If they determined it was not not iron, what did they tell you they determined it to be?
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Can't wait to see your first test results!
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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    OK, so we got the kit in the mail. I just tested the pool water and am running into a bit of an issue with TA and CYA readings.

    TA, I did the test three times. On the initial instructions (multiple of 10, I was unable to get a color to change to red, pink, clear, yellow at 22 drops). I then read the instructions on this site to use if I suspect that TA is really high. At the multiple of 25, I was still unable to get a complete color change to red, pink, clear, yellow at 22 drops. The best I could get was a very pale blue. My TA must be very high?? I then tested a 3rd time with test strips (I know, they're not great, but I couldn't help but use it as a double check) and it reads at the very last line of 240.

    CYA test - Followed directions exactly and the water did not turn cloudy enough to hide the black dot, even with it at the very top of the cylinder. I watched the video online before performing the test, so I am pretty certain that I did it correctly.

    As for the rest of the readings, here they are:
    Chlorine = 0
    PH = 8.2
    FC = 1 ppm
    CC = 1 ppm

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by domct203 View Post
    If they determined it was not not iron, what did they tell you they determined it to be?
    To be honest, I cannot recall. It may have been algae???
    6,000g, AG Coleman 18x48 Power Steel, Coleman Cartridge Filter (1500g), Installed 5 Weeks Ago, HTH 6-way Test Strips, Town Water Restriction

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    Re: HELP! Zero FC, High PH, High TA. Cannot get water levels adjusted correctly.

    Disregard the TA for now. Your other parameters are more important.

    CYA - That test result means you have None, zero....add enough to get to 30 ppm.

    FC - is low. add enough to get to four ppm.

    pH is too high. add enough to get pH down to 7.5

    Report the numbers back
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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