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Thread: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

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    Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    Hi, I am a newbie and I am using the 3 step bromine with bleach plan as outlined on this forum.

    This is the second time that after about 6 weeks of new water my water turns cloudy. The first time I thought it was because I let my bromine level drop too low and I never could get the water to clear up so I just emptied and started over.

    This time I have been more careful and it has been 6 weeks since that change and the water has been good until a few days ago. I noticed it started foaming more and then turned cloudy.

    I tested it after it turned cloudy:

    ph 6.8
    alk 20
    bromine 10
    temp 103
    (I've got to get a new calcium test so I don't have that reading...I'm on city water and it is usually less than 100 for the calcium)

    I added baking soda to bring up the ph & alk.
    now the readings are:
    ph 8.2
    alk 90

    Then I shocked with bleach which made the bromine (or chlorine?) go higher than my test will test for (more than bromine 10/chlorine 5)

    I just now increased my filter cylce to 2 four hour sessions instead of 2 two hour sessions.

    What are some of the causes of cloudy water or can someone give a possible specific reason based on my situation?

    I know the ph & alk were really low. I usually find I need to add baking soda once or twice a week when I test. I am not able to test but every 3 or 4 which is one of the reasons I went with the bromine/bleach method originally. The hot tub is typically used 5 times a week for about 45-60 min. each time. I usually put 1 1/2 c. of bleach every other time it is used. The tub is 425 gals with an ozonator. I plan on changing the water every 2 or 3 months but would like to make it past 6 weeks before needing to change. Once a week I have to siphon out dirt/leaves and top off with fresh water because it is low.

    Thanks for any help,

    Linda
    22,000 rectangle pool with custom inpool steps sand filter and new autopilot swg

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    1.5 cups of bleach would handle around 2.4 person-hours of soaking so adding it every other time means it handles around 1.2 person-hours for each soak. You say the tub is used 45-60 minutes each time, but is that for one or two people? With your ozonoator, I would expect a lower required bleach usage. Also, a functioning ozonator should be keeping your tub clear. So if it's just one person, then the chlorine demand in your tub is unusually high for some reason (if you weren't using the tub, then the ozonator can create a chlorine demand, but not that high).

    Are you clean when getting into the tub -- specifically, not having any lotions or other products that would get into the water?

    Usually cloudy water occurs because there isn't enough oxidizer being used or the active sanitizer level is too low (including getting low from a buildup of CYA as when using Dichlor-only).

    Did you create an initial sodium bromide bank adding such a product prior to using the bromine tabs in the floating feeder?

    Finally, and probably very important, have you cleaned your filter? Depending on tub usage, you may need to clean it every week or two unless it's an oversized filter. Also, was this a brand new tub? If so, then did you decontaminate it first either with high chlorine levels or using a product such as Spa System Flush?
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    The hot tub was new when we got it. We ran it for four weeks then emptied and started again as we were told to.

    I would say the average usuage is 3 people. There are 4 of us and 2 always go out. Sometimes a 3rd and occassionally a 4th. Hard to say...it varies so from time to time.

    I would think that lotion could be an issue for me but not the other 3. I use it alot because my skin is so dry I itch terribly (always have) without it.

    I just came in from cleaning the filter. It did not appear to be very dirty at all. I clean it every 2 or 3 weeks but it isn't ever that bad. When I change the water I soak the filter for 24 hours in filter cleaner (I have 2 fileters and alternate).

    I add 2 oz. of the bromime startup. I also add the reccommended dosage of metal remover.

    I did get a calcium test. It was almost 0. I just topped off with water that tests at 250. I will retest in a bit when it is mixed well.

    My bromine/cholorine test is always high when I test (over 8) and I was thinking I needed to actually bring it down a bit. I thouht maybe I was putting too much bleach in after use and that was part of why it was high so I was trying to use a bit less (every other time instead of every time).

    Thanks again,

    Linda
    22,000 rectangle pool with custom inpool steps sand filter and new autopilot swg

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    After topping off (probably added 40 gallons, I was really low) the tests are:

    ph 8.2
    alk 90
    ch - so low the test kit doesn't appear to work (the water should turn red then add drops til blue, but my water doesn't turn red but pale yellow and drops seem to be ineffective)
    bromine - still above 10
    temp 90 (from adding such cold water)

    Our water situation is extremely unusual and I'm trying to figure out what works best. We have no city water or well. For our house we filter water from a running creek across our property. The water is actually very good (we had it professionally tested) and easy to r/o and clean up for drinking. We have been purchasing city water for the spa and hauling it. I have a neighbor with a well which I have been getting 50 gallons from occasionally to top off the spa or somemtimes we get more city water.

    I haven't tried using the creek water before now because I was afraid to. The city water is very low in calcium. I am sure the well water is extremely high but I haven't tested it by itself. The creek water (today) was around 250 and so for the first time I decided to top off with it. The water runs through a sand filter, and 2 different 5 micron filters and then is cholrinated before coming out of the hose. (In the house it runs through and r/o but my r/o is not big enough to make water for the spa)

    It may be a mistake to try this water but my husband has been wanting to try it and it looks like I may be draining and starting over anyway so I decided to try it. It would be so much more convienant if we find we can use this water since we don't have to haul it manually.
    22,000 rectangle pool with custom inpool steps sand filter and new autopilot swg

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    Quote Originally Posted by shore_pk
    The hot tub was new when we got it. We ran it for four weeks then emptied and started again as we were told to.

    What is the age of the hot tub now? Have you ever let the sanitizer get to zero? I'm thinking bioslime. Even if not in piping maybe filters and filter chamber.

    I would say the average usuage is 3 people. There are 4 of us and 2 always go out. Sometimes a 3rd and occassionally a 4th. Hard to say...it varies so from time to time.

    I would think that lotion could be an issue for me but not the other 3. I use it alot because my skin is so dry I itch terribly (always have) without it.

    I just came in from cleaning the filter. It did not appear to be very dirty at all. I clean it every 2 or 3 weeks but it isn't ever that bad. When I change the water I soak the filter for 24 hours in filter cleaner (I have 2 fileters and alternate).

    Are you thoroughly rinsing the filter after you soak it in cleaner? Maybe a quick rinse with high force from hose before and after soaking filter, then a few dips in a bucket of fresh water. I don't use the store bought cleaner every time I switch one out (the one for normal quick cleaning), rather spray clean and soak in Clorox/water, then rinse. Then dipping it a bit in fresh water. I change filters once or twice a week or more with more than usual people hours. I have four filters to switch out because we have so many people hours a week. I do, though, use a deep soak, 24 hours, with a store bought product about once a month. But filters still get the Clorox/water soaking after that, too. Occasionally, when I don't have the long soak stuff I'll soak filters, for a few hours, in muriatic acid/water. Lots cheaper and gets lots of crud out.

    I add 2 oz. of the bromime startup. I also add the reccommended dosage of metal remover.

    I did get a calcium test. It was almost 0. I just topped off with water that tests at 250. I will retest in a bit when it is mixed well.

    My bromine/chlorine test is always high when I test (over 8) and I was thinking I needed to actually bring it down a bit. I thouht maybe I was putting too much bleach in after use and that was part of why it was high so I was trying to use a bit less (every other time instead of every time).

    I frequently get my bromine too high. This always affects the other test in a major way. One of the best things I purchased was a quart size bottle (it may come in smaller sizes) of granular chlorine/bromine neutralizer. It takes just a tiny bit to bring it down so a quart size bottle should last for years.

    Any organic matter is going to eat up the sanitizer including the leaves. Do you have a cover for spa? Another thing. Are you sure your ozonator is working? I had a new one put in last year but I'm beginning to think it is not working properly. I purchased an ozone test (the one that has a little glass tube you put in the line for a few minutes) but I broke mine installing it. I'm not sure if that is the only way to test for ozone; may be other ways. What I'm noticing is that the bubbles don't smell like they used to coming out of the ozonator return and it doesn't seem to be activating the starter bromine I put in when refilled.

    gg=alice


    Thanks again,

    Linda
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    I'm wondering, also, if some spa enzymes would help with breaking up the lotions and also changing the filter more often. More filter time might help a lot with your large amount of people time. My spa has a small pump for only filtering and, with our high number of people hours, we have to run it 24/7. It is separate from the jet pumps. It doesn't use very much electricity at all. Do you have a separate small pump just for circulation/filter? After switching to BBB and then Bromine, 3-step I haven't had any clouding at all, as long as I change out the filter often enough.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    OK, so your oxidizer demand is pretty high due to so many people using the tub and it does appear that the ozonator is helping out quite a bit so you probably don't need to be shocking with quite as much bleach as you are or you can turn down the bromine feeder setting. At least the sanitizer levels are explained. Of course, a lower sanitizer level is going to slow down oxidiation of bather waste somewhat so that's a bit of a catch-22.

    As Linda mentioned above, it's possible your ozonator isn't working, though I suspect it is but perhaps is just weak. See if you can check to see if it's working first since that would be the easiest way to resolve the cloudiness from high bather load.

    The low calcium is usually a cause for foaming, but maybe the cloudiness is related. You could certainly get the Calcium Hardness (CH) up to the 120 ppm level where it usually reduces foaming significantly. Try that first. Get your pH more into normal range as well -- 8.2 is high and would be more of a problem if/when you get the CH higher. If you find it difficult to control pH, you could consider adding 50 ppm Borates (added as boric acid from products such as ProTeam Gentle Spa or boric acid purchased directly).

    You have fairly high bather load and it might just be overwhelming your oxidizer. I know that in chlorine tubs they can usually handle this reasonably well, but you can use a filter aid (e.g. spa brite or sea klear) clarifier if you want more consistent or faster clearing of the water. Normally you don't add such extras, but very high bather load might need some help especially with bromine. Another option is an enzyme product, but I'm not sure there are any good ones for spas. But try the other items noted above first -- we try to avoid adding extra products to our spas and pool unless we really have no choice or at least understand the consequences.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    Thank you for the replies.

    The tub is 6 mos. old. I do have a cover and it is on all the time except when using the tub. The tub is outdoors on a patio with a large elm tree growing in the center. No matter what I do a few leaves get tracked in on feet or blow in from time to time. I try to keep the patio clean but live in the midst of a lot of dirt and trees and it is impossible. We keep a small aquarium fish net handy to get out any we can each time we get in.

    I am not aware of it if the sanitizer ever reached 0. I have changed the water at least every 2 months since I've had it and other than it was cloudy one other time it has always seemed ok just by looking.

    After topping off with new water yesterday, washing the filter, adding 1 1/2 c. bleach and running the filter an extra cycle the water is clear again. No one has been in the hot tub since it became cloudy. I think maybe I need to clean my filter more often.

    My water now tests:
    ph 8.3
    alk 100
    calcium - still undedectable...I will have to go buy what I need to raise this.
    bromine - greater than 10
    I just added muriatic acide to lower the ph. I will retest in a bit after it has time to mix in well.

    I do have a couple of things that I am confused about. I've read a lot on this forum but I still remain confused over chlorine/bromine testing and a bromide bank.

    How do I know or does it matter when I'm testing with a chlorine/bromine test which one I've got in the water or how much of each? I understand than when I add a starter pack it gives me a bromide bank of around 30 if I put in the correct amount. I read somewhere on this forum that when the bleach mixes with the bromines it also converts some of that to the bromide bank. Can the bromide bank become to high (like cya can in a pool?) Am I suppose to test for bromide? I do not have a test for this.

    Also, is the goal to set the floater so that I test around 6 for bromine normally and then I shock with the appropriate amount of bleach after each use which I assume will bring that up considerable for a few hours? I've cut my floater back from the 4.5 (for 450 gal) setting to around 4 and it is nearly empty but I'm waiting for the test to be lower to refill it. I did shock yesterday and I don't know if I would still be getting a high reading from that or if it is from the bromine in the water. This is where I get confused.

    Thank you,

    Linda
    22,000 rectangle pool with custom inpool steps sand filter and new autopilot swg

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    When you've got a bromide bank and you are using bromine tabs, then you are measuring bromine when you are using the test kit. You won't be measuring chlorine because any chlorine will get used up converting bromide to bromine. That's fine and the way it is supposed to work. You do not have to worry about the bromide bank getting too large -- bromide is a salt like chloride and rather innocuous until it gets to very high levels you won't see in your tub since you change the water every so many months.

    Having a target bromine reading of 6 (roughly corresponds to a chlorine reading of 2.6 ppm) is fine. The difficulty you are having isn't the sanitizer level, but that the bromine and the ozone from the ozonator are not able to get rid of the bather waste quickly enough to keep the water from turning cloudy. Though one can stop using the tub and shock it to accelerate such clearing, that doesn't sound practical if you are going to use the tub every day. If you had some days each week of not using the tub, then a weekly shock could help, but otherwise I think you need some supplemental oxidation.

    Supplemental oxidation is easiest from an ozonator, but I don't think you have any sort of control to turn that up. You could try using non-chlorine shock (MPS) as a shock to see if it does any better than chlorine, but I doubt it will since it will likely get used up making more bromine. As was mentioned earlier, use of clarifiers and more frequent filter cleaning can help. Enzymes could help as well as they accelerate the oxidation of bather waste.

    Having 1-2 people in a tub your size every day for up to an hour is probably reasonable to handle, but 3-4 is pushing it over the edge unless you have something to supplement handling this higher bather load.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    A few more questions about chlorine/bromine/bromide...

    Le me see if I understand - bromine tabs dissolve and contribute to my bromide bank, chlorine converts bromide from the bank back into bromine?

    So the reading I get when I test is bromine. Right now I test more than 10 for bromine. Is this staying/getting high because I put in chlorine and it is converting some of my bromide from my bromide bank into bromine?

    If chlorine converts bromide to bromine then am I depleting my bromide bank when I put it in after soaking?

    So to lower my bromine reading what should I do? Less release from my bromine dispenser? Less bleach after soaking?

    I normally run my ozone & filter 2 hours twice daily (4 hours total). If I understand your previous response it would seem that by increasing this to 4 hours twice daily (8 hours total, the next option on my system) it would be enough to deal with our high bather load.

    To reiterate though I do believe after this experience that it is possible I went too long without cleaning the filter. I'm not having the tub turn cloudy after each use, or even regularly. This is the first time on this batch of water (6 weeks old) and I had a similiar experience one other time which I believe I let the bromine get too low (if I remember right it was around 2).

    One last question - If our bather load averages 3 people, 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes how much bleach should I put in after soaking and should I do it after each use? Do I just keep cutting back my bromine dispenser amount until I am seeing around 6 ppm normally when I test?

    I appreciate your patience and kindess in helping me. I will get this figured out. I had a pool for 20 years and used the bleach method. It took me a season or two to really get the hang of it but I finally got where it seemed almost effortless.
    22,000 rectangle pool with custom inpool steps sand filter and new autopilot swg

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    I have a floater also and it took me weeks to get into a pattern where I would not have too much bromine when tested. The floater was either feeding too much or bromine would fall to 1-2 or so when I took it out for a day or so to lower the bromine. My feeder can't be dialed down enough. BTW.... What test are you using for bromine? If you are using the test strips forget about using them especially with the bromine so high. I was using some old (but still good) strips for quick test (like 5 or more times a day when struggling with adjustments) and they were mostly, totally inaccurate to a large degree. At the very least get a drops chlorine test from Wally World. The test result for chlorine should be multiplied by 2.5 (or 2.6) to give you your Bromine level. My Bromine was so high I was having to dilute the spa water for test with distilled water. That was one problem I was having. The bromine was so high (off the scale that tops out at 5 on drops test then multiplied by 2.5 (or 2.6) )all I knew was that my bromine was at the very least 12.5 but actually much higher (over 20 + when I diluted the test water with distilled water) because it was messing up the other tests. That's when I bought the bromine/chlorine neutralizer so I could bring the bromine down a bit to get the others tested correctly. Then go from there.

    When I take a reading for bromine, before getting in tub, and the bromine is too high, a small dose of neutralizer will bring it down to a comfortable level after about 30 minutes of circulation. I mean a tee nincey bit of neutralizer. Good instruction on bottle.

    My ph and bromine and alkalinity bounced around so much I was getting frustrated because I kept adjusting but every adjustment threw other things in a wild direction. Plus I did have way too much aeration which kept raising the pH really fast.

    The major thing I learned, when all of this was happening, a few weeks ago, was to make adjustments gradually and only partial quantities, very, very, slowly, with circulation between adding chems.

    Although my problem was different than yours by looking at my topic in link you can see the frustration I went through. There's also input and discussion from other members. Things are fine and dandy now but we haven't been using the spa as much as usual for a few weeks so that is helping the spa (but not us). I still haven't decided whether I'm going to stay with bromine. BBB was so much easier and more stable.

    BTW..... I have the super duper TF 100 kit and the FAS-DPD test (purchased from Duraleigh before I ordered the TF 100 kit recently), but still using up my pH drops from HD for the bromine testing and alkalinity test from Wally World kit. I also have some Taylor reagents (the same ones in the recommended test kits here) purchased at Leslie's prior to ordering the TF 100 kit I'm still using in pool and spa.

    Borax added to the spa is a nice addition and does help to stablize the pH.

    http://www.troublefreepool.com/switc...pa-t17937.html

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    The Bromine tabs actually add bromine (or a mixture of bromine and chlorine, but the chlorine ends up converting bromide to bromine so the net is bromine either way). The ozonator will also convert some bromide to bromine.

    When bromine gets used up oxidizing organics or ammonia from sweat and urine, it ends up as bromide so adds to the bromide bank. So there is a cycle of bromine to bromide to bromine, etc. Some bromine escapes through various means such as outgassing or possibly getting filtered out if attached to some organics that clump enough.

    So both the bromine tabs and the chlorine you add and the ozonator all contribute to high bromine levels. So lowering both the tab feeder setting and the amount of chlorine you add would be needed to lower your bromine level. Normally, you set the bromine feeder to be able to maintain a bromine level even when you do nothing else -- that is, no soaking and no addition of chlorine. The chlorine addition then is just extra to handle the incremental bather load above and beyond what the ozonator is able to handle.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  13. Back To Top    #13

    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    Could you try using strictly chlorine as a sanitizer to test the assumption that lack of a supplememntal oxidizer the the root cause of the cloudiness? (Less swings in other properties important to water balance and more precise to calculate required amts). Your bather load along with the you mentioning the water turns cloudy alittle over a month doesn't jive with me - especially with all the attention you are giving the sanitizer equation.
    Also, have you gotten your CH back up to a reasonable range?
    As suggested as well - I believe in adding enzymes to help oxidize the waste...which then increasing filtration time would make sense.
    Barry
    Sundance Hot Tub 365 gal, acrylic
    (2) 2.5 hp pumps
    ozonator
    Northwest Ohio resident

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Re: Causes for cloudy water in spa?

    Chemgeek, thank you for the bromine/bromide/chlorine explanation. I understand (finally!). The water seems to be ok since it cleared up (after the things I did that I mentioned above). I am testing daily right now to try to get the bromine down to 4-6. I did not understand that the cholorine was contributing to the bromine level and I was having trouble keeping the bromine level from going up and down too much. After years of a pool using the bleach method I didn't understand what was happening.

    I don't live near a major city and I can't get what I need to raise the calcium until Thursday when I make a trip to town but I will bring that up at that point.

    Linda
    22,000 rectangle pool with custom inpool steps sand filter and new autopilot swg

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