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Thread: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    So, longer story, it might help to fill in all the evidence. I do self maintenance, sometimes well, sometimes not so good. In the last 3 years the pool has gotten out of control much more often and I can't get it back.

    10 years ago I got new equipment installed, a Sta-Rite System:3 filter with 300 sq ft of cartridge filters. The cartridges are now 10 years old. Prior to that I had a DE filter.

    With the DE filter, when the pool got out of control, I could treat it all, clean the DE panels, etc. Then as a test I would empty the jacuzzi, return water to the jacuzzi, and it was crystal clear coming back. And so just continued to filter the pool.

    Now with the cartridges it doesn't come back clear. In the past 3 years I've drained it, replaced the water at least 3 times -- cheaper than buying hundreds of $ of Leslie's junk they want to sell me.

    So my main question is about the filter. Why doesn't it come back clear like with my old DE filter? I've added some DE to the cartridges, thinking that would help, but it doesn't. In the process of all of this, I've cleaned the cartridges about 3-4 times a year, no obvious holes, maybe I need to do a very detailed inspection. I am starting to be against the cartridges based on my good experiences with DE. My research has some people saying to replace the cartridges every 2-3 years, others claim they should last 7-10 years.

    So, I need a plan. I see a few different paths:
    1. Convert my Sta-Rite System:3 (model S7M120) to DE, parts are about $850-$950, plus some cutting to insert a backflow valve. There is conversion kit available (P/N 25021-1021) but I really don't want to do this work or spend that much. Then educate myself here on the forum about "real" pool care.
    2. Buy new cartridges, looks like about $400 - $500 (this is my big hiccup), every 2-3 years? Yikes! and then, self education here on the forum and get it cleaned up.
    3. Try to clean it up first (i.e. follow advice here to get proper test kit, reeducate on chemistry, etc.). The either get the new cartridges or convert to DE after it becomes mostly clear. I have no confidence it will clear up. (I can't kill everything, no problem, 3 bottles of bleach from the price club).
    4. Just drain / refill again, buy new cartridges and assume everything will be fine without finding the root cause of the problem. (potential $500-$600 expense without any assurance that it will be better). Draining is easy, we are on a hill, a few garden hoses for siphoning and then muck out the rest.)

    Bottom line question: if my old DE system would return clear water after cleaning, why don't my current cartridges return clear water even after adding some DE (and I haven't found a hole in the cartridges yet).

    Thanks!
    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

  2. Back To Top    #2
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Roland,

    First thing is stop going to Leslie's, You need to post chemistry numbers

    Example

    FC
    CC
    PH
    TA
    CH
    CYA

    What are you using for sanitizing?? Liquid or pucks??? Do not worry about your filter yet...

    Time to go to POOL SCHOOL!

  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    I would advise you to get a high quality test kit, such as a Taylor K2006 or a TF 100. The only way to successfully take control of your pool is to know the chemistry of your water. Pool store testing is inconsistent at best, and you will usually walk out the door with bulging bags and an empty wallet. 9 times out of 10 the stuff you just bought is not what you need to fix the pool. Once you have reliable results you will be able to maintain a clear pool regardless of what type of equipment you use.

    As long as the equipment is properly sized for the pool and in good repair it should do the job. Are your cartridges spent? I couldn't say. Cartridges are designed to catch a lot of fine debris just like a DE filter does. When you have a green, murky pool, that is a lot of fine debris to filter out and it may take a week or two to get everything out. Since most cartridges filters do not have a vacuum to waste option, it can take longer for the cartridges to catch everything. You have to stay on top of cleaning the cartridges until the pool is clear as well.

    Having looked up the cartridge filter you are currently using, I must say that is an interesting design. I am not familiar with a cartridge filter having nesting cartridges. The fact that there are DE conversion kits for it is interesting...

    First and foremost get a set of reliable test results and we can help you with the shock process once we have a starting point.
    TFP Moderator
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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    We love your pool, we love your pool...lol...you are not alone

    Welcome to TFP

    DE filters can do a pretty nice job cleaning green and dead algae and tend to do so quicker than cartridge or sand filters, but if I had to guess, your issue is low chlorine, and 3 bottles of bleach will not do much if your pool is green. 1 gal of 6% bleach will only raise your FC by about 2.5 ppm in a 25,000 gal pool...far from what's needed to shock.

    Get the tf100 from TFTestkits.net and once you get it take Bruce up on his offer from your other post.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Thanks everyone for the terrific advice.

    To answer a couple of questions, I have been using bottled bleach to shock, Costco has a 3 bottle item for about $9. I just dump all 3 in, then filter, it seems to kill everything. For maintenance chlorine I have a tab feeder, sits on the side with a couple of black hoses for inflow/outflow. I've been using 3" tabs, usually from Leslie's since the claim is that they are better or from the Home Depot (Leslie's claims their product has less filler/junk in the material). I adjust the control valve for the tab feeder as best I can to make sure the chlorine level stays about right (i.e. with my less capable test kit that it is "yellow enough"!). Also use bottled muratic acid as needed.

    In the past when I did this type of cleanup, sure there was no green left, but there were fine particles that remained. These particles made the water cloudy. If I stopped vacuuming for a few days (just filter with the skimmer) it would all settle to the bottom and the water became almost completely clear. And then with more vacuuming, apparently it doesn't get filtered out (by the filter) since the water became cloudy again -- therefore my suspicion that the cartridges do not work as well as the DE filter, since in the past with my old DE filter this "recycling" of of the particles didn't happen. The DE filter returned clear water.

    Can't be sure what it is, but I always figured

    I've settled on a plan. I am not going to drain it this time. I need to learn the proper chemistry and test methods, and I think the best way would be to do this in the current state of the pool, not with fresh water.
    1. Get the Taylor K2006 or a TF 100 test kit so I can do this maintenance the right away.
    2. Get all the chemistry properly balanced, shock etc. (hey I took enough biology and chemistry in college, maybe I have a shot at figuring it out )
    3. Vacuum / filter endless until it is clear, hose off cartridges as needed when the pressure gets up -- but I suspect I'll still be left with the particle problem.
    4. Based in the advice, and my gut feel, it will be better to diagnose any filter/cartridge problems with properly balanced pool water.
    5. Depending on the outcome, call Bruce. Hey, I may call Bruce anyway in all circumstances!

    Thanks everyone, so happy to have found this forum.

    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Hi all,

    So I had one more question, about the cartridges.

    Does anybody know the failure mode of the filtering material? Yes, I do understand they can get tears or holes, I suppose either in the filtering material itself, or in the plastic housing on the top or the bottom. I plan a detailed inspection of mine to see if that might be a problem.

    But the filtering material itself, is it:
    • a. The material gets clogged up with fine debris, that can't be removed with a spray cleaning, so that it doesn't pass as much water, or needs cleaning more often? -- It seems like this can't be the problem with my cartridges, since the cartridge should continue to filter, or maybe filter better if it starts getting clogged.
      or
      b. The material breaks down so that very fine holes develop and it no longer catches as much of the fine debris? Now the stretch question, what would be the size of these fine holes compared to the outside diameter of DE particles, would the DE pass through? Or would a bit of DE added to the degraded material help?
      or
      c. Some other failure mode?


    I've asked some people through the summer and nobody (including tech experts at pool shops) could provide a reasonable answer. I usually just got the solution: "You just have to replace them every 2-3 years".

    Thanks!
    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Quote Originally Posted by ItGetsGreen
    I've settled on a plan. I am not going to drain it this time. I need to learn the proper chemistry and test methods, and I think the best way would be to do this in the current state of the pool, not with fresh water.
    1. Get the Taylor K2006 or a TF 100 test kit so I can do this maintenance the right away.
    2. Get all the chemistry properly balanced, shock etc. (hey I took enough biology and chemistry in college, maybe I have a shot at figuring it out )
    3. Vacuum / filter endless until it is clear, hose off cartridges as needed when the pressure gets up -- but I suspect I'll still be left with the particle problem.
    4. Based in the advice, and my gut feel, it will be better to diagnose any filter/cartridge problems with properly balanced pool water.
    5. Depending on the outcome, call Bruce. Hey, I may call Bruce anyway in all circumstances!

    Thanks everyone, so happy to have found this forum.

    Roland
    That is a great plan! Even if you wind up having to drain or have R/O run on your pool you'll know exactly why you're doing it. The chemistry part is relatively easy once you've made your way through everything.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Both A & B can happen. If "A" happens you can usually soak it in TSP or dishwasher (not dishwashing detergent. You are correct that a dirty filter cleans better than a clean filter, to a point. The indication in this case is a pressure above normal even when clean.

    If "B" happens you could try to add DE to the filter but in all probability it's not going to work for very long as once the material starts failing it is going to progress exponentially. An indicator of this condition is a pressure at or below normal even when the filter appears extremely dirty.

    Then there's "C"! That most likely involves the sealing surfaces of the cartridge or filter. Sometimes they don't get installed correctly or the seal itself is comprimised allowing stuff to leak by.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Roland-Keep me posted on how the algae cleans up after the chlorine addition. Don't do anything with your Mod Media filter (great filter-same as on my pool-until I can look at it for you!) until the algae is gone. In fact, just keep the chlorine level up until the algae is gone and then we'll plan IF you need any component pieces after that

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Thanks Bruce, I'll write here on progress. heading out now to get the Chlorine, the plan is to shock, vacuum, brush, clean filters, and then repeat until I have grey hair. Oh wait a minute, I already have some, I must have cleaned the pool before!

    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Quote Originally Posted by ItGetsGreen
    the plan is to shock, vacuum, brush, clean filters, and then repeat until I have grey hair.

    Roland
    Oh, brag because you have hair Like Gallagher used to say, "at least grey hair is hair; you don't prune a dead tree, do you?!".

    Careful on how much chlorine you use or you might end up with a "shiny spot" up top like I am blessed to have

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Ok, so work this morning. Using the old non-approved test kit, added some acid, added 2 bottles of 12% liquid chlorine. Started vacuuming, lot of stuff to get out. Yes, I still have to do the correct water tests, the Taylor should be here in another 2 days or so.

    But... I can see a steady stream of material coming back into the pool! So, I am vacuuming it off of the bottom, and at the return pipes the return water is cloudier than the pool water itself. There has gotta be something wrong with the cartridges. The filter pressure is now higher, about 12-13 lbs. above the 10 lbs that is normally when fresh. I'll probably vacuum some more to get as much of the big stuff caught in the filter, then open it up, clean off the cartridges, check for holes / leaks. If there are no detectable holes, then maybe I should do the TSP soak like in the other thread.

    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    I called the company who install the filter along with the solar heating system 10 years ago. Again, my cartridges are 10.5 years old. Talked to the head service tech, he's been working with this filter for many years. Described the problem, that the return flow is dirty than the water itself. Bottom line, he agrees something wrong with the cartridges. He said typical lifetime is 6-7 years, and so he recommends to just replace them -- if I got 10 years, then I got my money's worth.

    I also asked about converting to a DE filter. He said it isn't more cost effective since the grids tend to break down and need replacing anyway. So, probably the plan is to get the new cartridges; there probably isn't a way to bring them back to life or repair them.

    Figure I'll probably drain the pool at this point. Looks like I can't clean the pool with the current cartridges, and wouldn't want to dirty up the new ones with all the crud. -- Comments appreciated!

    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    I think draining the pool is a waste of time and water. Just let the new carts do their job!
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Hi, Ok this got me thinking to see if I could quantify the tradeoff in cost and time.

    Some givens:
    - water costs $3.80 per 1,000 gallons (from my bill). So at 28,000 gallons a refill costs $106.
    - the pump draws 11.2 amps, and the electricity at the highest tier is $0.29 per kwh. So the pump costs $0.70 per hour in electricity.

    Assumptions:
    - it would take 10 days of continuous (day/night) filtering to clear up the water in it's current state.
    - Normally in the winter I might run the pump about 3 hours a day. Therefore the extra hours of running the pump (210 extra hours) costs $148.

    Cost to refill: $139.27
    - Water $106
    - acid ($8), chlorine ($10), cyuranic ($15)

    Cost to pump clean: $172.99
    - electricity $148
    - misc chemical to reshock, etc. $25.00

    Time to refill: 7 hours
    - set up siphon hoses / rinse on occasion: 3
    - final muck out: 2
    - cleanup / water setup: 2

    Time to filter it clean: 13 hours
    - brush every other day: 3 (6 times at 1/2 hour each time)
    - vacuum every other day: 6 (takes about an hour to hand vacuum, our automatic cleaner / vac just doesn't work well)
    - clean cartridges: 3 (once in the middle of cleaning, once at the end, takes me about 1.5 hrs each)
    - test / add chemicals: 1

    Subjective:
    - filtering it is an asymptotic function: every pass through the filter cleans it a bit, doesn't clean it fully. So therefore we don't know for sure how many passes the water will have to make through the filter to fully clean it, or how many days that would take.
    - everyone I have spoken to says the cartridges just don't clean as well as DE. yes I can add DE to the cart, but I don't have a real good feeling that the new carts will clean the water to a clear / new state.

    So, bottom line is refill looks less expensive and subjectively is lower risk
    - Refill: $140, 7 hours
    - Pump it clean: $173, 13 hours

    Please let me know where I don't understand something or have made some bad assumptions. I've attached my spreadsheet with calculations in case anybody is really interested in this subject!

    Roland
    Attached Files Attached Files
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    It may just make sense in your case...I think they key though is you have to figure out how you got in this mess to begin with. Sure a total drain and refill will clear the pool, but unless you fix either the filter issue or are able to stay on top of chemistry, if fear you'll just end up with the same issue down the road.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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  17. Back To Top    #17

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Yes, thank you! How did we get into this mess? What is the root cause? I see three.

    1. Nobody really cares anymore.
    - we've been in this house for 18 years, the glory days were wonderful, the kids would be in the pool multiple times a day all summer, I would go in with them almost every day after work, and weekends were multiple times in the pool. Now two of them are grown and gone, the last one now 19 is often with friends / school / other priorities and doesn't like to swim alone.
    - I've lost interest, maybe went in a few times this summer, busy with work and other interests. My wife went in once, more out of obligation than a real desire.
    - So these days I'll go out on the weekend to take a look and a brief test. Previously I was "checking the pulse" many times a week.

    2. The tab feeder is unreliable: http://www.lesliespool.com/browse/Ho...100090/I/81308
    - we live in a rural area, lots of wild land around and wind, therefore lots of debris always gets in the pool. So some of it gets into the tab feeder and plugs it up, therefore sometimes for many days there was no chlorine, and thus algae blooming. There is a ball check valve (backflow preventer) that I cut out of it, since it often plugged up with debris. One time the inlet hose got a seed stuck in it!

    3. Bad cartridges. I didn't know they need replacement. When I cleaned them, they looked good to me, no obvious holes or tears. So in the last year or two when I vacuumed algae, I was really broadcasting it all around the pool to regrow all over the place.

    My Taylor 2006 kit should be here any day now, I just gotta improve my attitude and stay on top of it now, or hire a pool guy I guess.

    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Best of luck Roland...the taylor kit will surely help you take control back...I have 4 of my own and can already see them having more important things to do than hang with mom and dad at the pool

    Time flies when you're having fun
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    Thanks for the best wishes! (I hate pools --- no, no, wrong attitude Roland, repeat after me: you love your pool!).

    Next problems:
    - The last 20 minutes have been reading TFP under the subject "paint". The plaster is in pretty bad shape, lots of worn spots (some from black algae digging in). So while it is empty, why not paint? Can't afford replaster. Oh well, I'll start another thread as needed.
    - Our pool sweep is a generation 1 Barracuda, as least 20 years old. Every 2 years I go to the local independent pool supply shop, he has been there forever, great guy, goes in the back and finds some used Barracuda parts and I rebuild it for $30-$40 instead of $400 for a new one.

    Ah, these projects, they do tend to grow, but they gotta be done right.

    Roland
    28,000 gals, In Ground / Plaster, spa, cartridge filter (STA-RITE System:3, 300 sq.ft., 100 GPM max flow rate), 2 HP pump motor

  20. Back To Top    #20
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    Re: Holy murky Batman, no clear return water!

    I'm on my ninth year with my cart's, Roland, and I know of those same filters that have 12+ years on them and have not needed replacement! I have a pretty good idea who you may have talked to (could it be MM from MP ), and I would really love to take a look at the inside of your filter before you go and do anything drastic (like buy new cart's!).

    The "damage" is done as to what the pool looks like now! We can fix it though, so hang in there! This is easy, and I know from experience......

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