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Thread: CYA and Borates

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    CYA and Borates

    Hi,

    I just finished getting the algae out of my pool and would like to take the next step and add borates. It seems like a pretty straightforward process, but I am having a small problem with low CYA levels and want to make sure I'm not going to cause some kind of conflict.

    So, the first question is, do I need to postpone the borate treatment until I get CYA under control? Obviously, some things are harder to move once you've borated, but I don't recall seeing anything about CYA, so I am guessing it doesn't matter, but it can't hurt to ask, eh?

    The second question is just looking for guidance on why the CYA levels are so low.

    We've had the AG pool for three years. The whole time it has been chlorinated with a Nature2 cartridge system using tablets and a second mineral cartridge. The pool has (predictably) been shocked quite a bit. I don't usually pay close attention to the shock I use. While there are some that claim not to affect stabilization levels, I'm willing to bet I've used some that had CYA, as well. And, I have an empty bottle of CYA that has been added over the course of the three years, so there SHOULD be some CYA in the pool...perhaps quite a lot.

    In the latest go round with algae, I came across this site and am just starting out with the whole BBB philosophy. I ordered the TF-100 kit, went through the swamp/oasis process and seem to be in good shape. Prior to getting the test kit, I tested 0 CYA on a test strip, but it was a test strip and the pool was loaded with algae. I added enough CYA to give me probably a level of 10, just to keep chlorine from burning away completely, in case it really was 0. Once the test kit arrived, it still showed 0, so I added enough CYA to bring it up 10 more points. The test kit still shows nothing...well, I think 20 is the lowest it goes, but I should easily have 20 and it doesn't look like I'm in danger of having the black dot disappear any time soon....so, it might as well be 0.

    Granted, it has only been three days since I did the most recent addition of CYA, so it may need a couple more days to register, but I'd still expect to see some from my history of chlorine tablets and shock, not to mention the inital dosing of CYA a week ago.

    The pool has never had significant draining. Yeah, we empty some extra out over the course of the winter, but it is typically a couple inches. Overall, I doubt 1/3 of the water has ever come out of the pool.

    Any idea where to go from here? My test values are:

    FC = 10 (still a bit high after passing my final overnight FAS-DPD test last night)
    CC = 0
    CYA = 0
    TA = 100
    PH = 7.2 (a little low, but I'll throw in a box of borax without the MA as I start the borate process)
    CH = 170

    thanks,
    sf
    21' AG, 10,000 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter, 2 HP Pump

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    You don't need to wait to add Borates till you get your CYA level where you want it. You can adjust it later.

    There have many instances of CYA disappearing over the winter, especially in pools that have gone swamp. So, you could truly have zero CYA. Don't worry about testing your CYA for a week after adding granules. It takes a while for it to show up on the test.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    sdf8,

    While bama is completely correct, I would consider the addition of borates as something to do after EVERYTHING else is completely in balance........especially the CYA.

    You may or may not find borates a great benefit.....it is completely optional.

    CYA, on the other hand, is mandatory for proper pool care management and I would put borates on the back shelf until I had a handle on managing the CYA......you're not there yet.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    Well, I agree I need to get the CYA situation resolved, but my concern is that it takes a week to get a good test and if it still isn't right it may be another week, or more, if something else is going on.

    During that whole time, my FC levels are going to be suspect Well, not the levels themselves, but rather the levels for the FC to be effective given the unknown amount of CYA. This, of course, is an opportunity for algae to sneak back in. So, I was thinking that if I got some borates in the pool, that might help inhibit algae while I resolved the CYA...

    That said, I imagine I can keep the FC up around 7 which should be high enough to be effective even if I have more CYA than I thought (within reason), but low enough to still allow us to swim in the pool.

    Any further thoughts would be appreciated.

    sf
    21' AG, 10,000 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter, 2 HP Pump

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    svenpup's Avatar
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    You are correct; once you add the CYA you should assume your are at the target CYA level as far as your target FC is concerned.
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    During that whole time, my FC levels are going to be suspect Well, not the levels themselves, but rather the levels for the FC to be effective given the unknown amount of CYA. This, of course, is an opportunity for algae to sneak back in. So, I was thinking that if I got some borates in the pool, that might help inhibit algae while I resolved the CYA...
    Yes, I hear what you're saying and it makes some sense but it brings up my key objection to borates......

    It is too easy to read too much into borates. It is too easy to make the leap of faith that borax is the one "magic bullet" that will solve much of the previous pool troubles.

    I have no doubt borates is a nice option that can help many pools perform better but it should never be considered as something that will take the place of good pool management and, importantly, that it can in any way make up for a lack of chlorine management.

    sdf8, it may sound like I'm picking on you...please don't assume that. My problem is that I read many, many posts similar to yours every week where the OP assumes that the addition of borates solves past problems. It doesn't work like that.

    Pool water needs to be managed (through careful testing and knowing what to do with the results) into an acceptable balance first and then you may consider borates to make it easier to keep your parameters in balance.......in short, I don't believe borates should ever be considered to fix a pool......it can make a pool easier to stay fixed but not to fix it.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    all that being said, i'd like to ask duraleigh, do you maintain a borate level in
    your pool?
    24,000 gallon ig fiberglass pool
    1 hp hayward pump
    hayward sand filter (250 lb)
    madisonville, ky

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    Good point. I do not. My pool stays pretty clear and feels pretty good just using chlorine. [attachment=0:34ibne8g]DSC00048.JPG[/attachment:34ibne8g]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    well if duraleigh don't need it, then neither do i.
    24,000 gallon ig fiberglass pool
    1 hp hayward pump
    hayward sand filter (250 lb)
    madisonville, ky

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh

    sdf8, it may sound like I'm picking on you...please don't assume that. My problem is that I read many, many posts similar to yours every week where the OP assumes that the addition of borates solves past problems. It doesn't work like that.

    Pool water needs to be managed (through careful testing and knowing what to do with the results) into an acceptable balance first and then you may consider borates to make it easier to keep your parameters in balance.......in short, I don't believe borates should ever be considered to fix a pool......it can make a pool easier to stay fixed but not to fix it.
    I don't feel picked on, but I'm still a little confused. Certainly if I were trying to use borates as a substitute for balancing the pool that would be problematic. However, I've already added CYA and am now just biding my time, waiting for it to take effect so I can test again and make further adjustments.

    Whether the borates will provide any benefits seems a topic still under discussion. However, if the borates *might* provide some "algaestatic properties" while I wait for the CYA process to play out, it seems like cheap insurance. And, if adding borates does not interfere with balancing CYA, then I am having trouble seeing the harm of working on them simultaneously.

    sf
    21' AG, 10,000 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter, 2 HP Pump

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    There isn't any harm in trying out borates, as long as you don't have unrealistic expectations. Most people are very happy they added borates, though there are a few who end up deciding it was a waste of time.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    There are organics that love to eat CYA. I have also found them to be somewhat resistant to chlorine. In order to get rid of them you will have to shock at the upper part of the recommended levels until the overnight drop is less than0.5 ppm. Only at this point should you add more CYA. If you add it before, you are just giving them more food.
    7,500 gal, IG pool, L shape 22' x 15', 1.5 hp pump, cartridge filter, AquaPlus SWG/Controller, Pebble-Tec liner.

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    There are organics that love to eat CYA.
    Well, I don't remember any posts stating that about disappearing CYA in an active pool. You may be thinking of what appears to be a bacteria that develops in pools that are dormant (and normally sludgy) over the winter.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: CYA and Borates

    I poked around a little and found an older thread from Chemgeek that mentioned something about ammonia that might consume CYA, as well. Based on what I read, it shouldn't still be happening now that things appear to be under control, but if all my CYA was consumed and even a little bit of what I added (about 10 ppm very early in the process and another 10 ppm later on), I might still be under 20 ppm. And, since the test kind of tapers off at 20, the CYA might be there and just not showing up on the test. I assumed I had *some* CYA and was trying to be conservative.

    At this point, I need to wait until Monday to see where I stand before adding more CYA. Assuming I'm at or below 20, I'll probably add another 20 ppm to see if that starts to register by the following Monday. So, there probably won't be much news here for awhile, but I'll try to update the thread with any results.

    thanks,
    sf
    21' AG, 10,000 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter, 2 HP Pump

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    Ammonia doesn't consume CYA. When CYA breaks down (or is consumed) it turns into ammonia.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    If you tested the CYA on your kit and get less than 20, then go ahead and add enough to raise it by 20. No reason to wait until Monday, cuz it sounds like you are testing accurately. Whatever may have happened to the CYA you might of had, it doesn't sound like you had any. As long as your FC levels are holding overnight, you'll be fine.

    Incidentially, I don't use Borates either. Since switching to BBB I don't have to shock, never have CCs, open the pool in the spring to crystal clear water with FC still in it from the fall closing. Borates are totally optional, some folks love em, others don't miss them.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
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  17. Back To Top    #17

    Re: CYA and Borates

    Quote Originally Posted by frustratedpoolmom
    If you tested the CYA on your kit and get less than 20, then go ahead and add enough to raise it by 20. No reason to wait until Monday, cuz it sounds like you are testing accurately.
    Sounds like a good idea. I went ahead and added just 10, though. Since the testing doesn't seem accurate below 20, it seems like I could have had up to that much in there originally and just couldn't tell. I've now added 10+10+10 total, so I should be at the suggested minimum, and could theoretically have as much as 50. I suspect it is closer to 30 than 50, but I'd rather not overshoot it and have to drain.

    Since I'm theoretically in the required range for CYA, I'll probably go ahead and add the borates tomorrow. Optional though they may be, a one time expense (cartridge filter, no leaks, minimal splashout) of $45 seems like an easy choice. If it does nothing, I've easily saved that much money converting to BBB and wasted considerably more at the pool store on chemicals that do less.

    thanks,
    sf
    21' AG, 10,000 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter, 2 HP Pump

  18. Back To Top    #18
    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: CYA and Borates

    True, very true
    and even if you were at or slightly above 50 you wouldn't necessarily have to drain. My first summer with BBB I got my overstabilized pool down to 70 and kept it there all summer. Guess what I had to add the last two summers? yup...CYA. It will slowly drop down over time. In some very sunny locales a CYA of 60 is actually a good thing...
    Good luck with the Borates, let us know how it goes...
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
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  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: CYA and Borates

    Quote Originally Posted by frustratedpoolmom
    Good luck with the Borates, let us know how it goes...
    Well, everything went, er...swimmingly. I added the borates last weekend. Don't know if they are helping, but they certainly aren't hurting. The CYA finally climbed to 30 (after giving it a week and a bit longer than 30 seconds during the test to cloud up) which is the amount that I've added this year. The pool is crystal clear and all the chemistry is within the recommended ranges. I'll probably bump the CYA a bit more since I'm on the low end of recommendation, but otherwise our pool is as clear as it has been in a long time.

    sf
    21' AG, 10,000 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter, 2 HP Pump

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