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Thread: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

  1. #1
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    Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    My wife and I bought our new house last February, and have had a pool company do all of the maintenance/upkeep on it. My parents had a pool when I was growing up, and I was responsible for the brushing and vacuuming, but my dad and older brother always handled the chemical side of the upkeep. When we bought the house, I didn’t have a clue about how to do anything with the pool (I'm leaning thanks to the pool school here now), so I had my pool company come out and do a “pool school” for me. I mentioned that we were very “green” and wanted to use the least amount of chemicals we could, but still have safe water for our kids (3yr and 7 months now).

    The pool tech told us that he would highly recommend we put in an ozonator, as he said it would greatly cut down on the amount of chlorine we would need to keep in the pool. He recommended the Del Eclipse model, which I did a little bit of reading on, and decided to go ahead and put in. He eyeballed the pool and told us it was about a 13,000 gallon pool, so he recommended we get the Eclipse 1. I got the Eclipse 2, with the thought that double the ozone would cut down the pump time and increase the sanitation power of the unit (I believe in bigger is better for most things). The tech said we would save money on electricity with the reduced pump time, which would help cover the cost of the unit. He at first told me that we would need to run about 4 hours or so every day, and that with straight chlorine it would need to be about 8 hours a day.

    About two months later, he called me up and told me that the pool company was switching everyone they service to PoolRX mineral packs, and that using the mineral packs along with the ozonator we could cut out the chlorine completely. We didn’t have any chlorine in our pool for about four months, and had perfect looking crystal clear sparkling water. From what I’ve read here, I’m wondering if the water looked clean, but was not really sanitized. They have since discontinued using the mineral packs for everyone but us I believe, they say because of the cost.

    About July/August, when we were averaging upper 90s outside, we started getting some algae build up on the steps in the pool. Our weekly tech guy simply shocked the pool to get rid of it. Two days later… it was back. So the next week, another shock, then another shock, then another shock… I was getting a little bit annoyed at the algae coming back so quick, so I asked about it, and they told me that we did actually have to use chlorine in the pool (the guy sounded surprised when I told him we didn’t have any chlorine…), and they added a floater with pucks (not sure if trichlor or dichlor). They also told me I wasn’t running my pump nearly enough, and that I should be running at least 12+ hours a day!!! This was the same guy who told me I would only have to run 4 hours, and no chlorine (which I realize isn’t really an option now). To make matters even more interesting, when we would question the weekly tech (not the same guy who recommended the ozonator/minerals) he looked at us blankly and said that “he didn’t really know what he was doing” when it came to the ozonator, and it seems he’s treating the pool like any normal chlorine pool, keeping the chlorine at 3-5ppm each week.

    We have stuck with the Ozonator/Minerals/Chlorine combo, but it kind of seems like a bit of an overkill. The water still looks great, with no clarity or algae issues, but I have no idea what all they are dumping in the water each week when they come out. I’m not home when they are here doing the cleaning, and my wife is busy chasing the kiddos around and doesn’t really know what to ask.

    I’m thinking about dumping the pool company, and going at it alone. I ordered the TF100 test kit (XL) to compare to their test results that they leave for me each week. The kit should be here Tuesday, and I’ll post results when I get it.

    From what I’ve read, there are very strong feelings both for and against on the ozonators and on the mineral packs. It seems some people don’t feel the ozonators do anything since it isn’t standing water, and that there are concerns the mineral packs stain pools and can cause green hair (copper). I can tell you our ozonator is plumbed on the return, and that it has about 50-60 feet of straight pipe to get to the pool, which I assume gives it time to shock/sanitize the water flowing through that pipe. I’d assume that if I turn over the water each time I run the pump that I’m doing okay on killing whatever is in the water. I understand now that I need to have some residual chlorine in the water for when the pump isn’t running and ozone isn’t being generated.

    For the mineral packs, I’m not convinced one way or another that they do anything. It seems some people have said they aren’t compatible with ozonators, as the ozonators kill the minerals (?). I haven’t seen any staining at all, and it’s been about 9 months since we started using the minerals.

    So, long story short, do you think the ozone/minerals/chlorine is overkill? Are ozone and minerals really not compatible? If I got rid of the minerals, would I need to add some kind of an algacide, or increase my chlorine? What would a safe level of chlorine be if I took this over myself (0.5-1.0ppm is what I was thinking)? Any other suggestions or thoughts?
    13,000 Gallon IG Plaster Pool, Raised spa with spillover waterfall, Hayward 48sf DE Filter, Hayward Northstar Pump, Hayward 400k BTU Heater, Del Eclipse 2 Ozonator, Polaris 280 Cleaner, TF100 Test Kit, The Liquidator

  2. #2
    Senior Member dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    Welcome to TFP Congrats on the home purchase

    Unless this is an indoor pool, ozone is not worth the money. You do not need ozone, algaecide or any minerals in a properly chlorinated outdoor pool. But since you already have the ozone, it is a nice to have. Safe chlorine levels should not mean as low as possible, rather you need to keep chlorine levels high enough to ensure the water is sanitary and safe to swim in. Unsanitary water often causes that dreaded chlorine smell and burning eyes/iritated skin...not the chlorine itself. The level of FC require to maintain this state, depends on the level of CYA/aka stabilizer in you water.

    I use a saltwater chlorine generator to produce chlorine in our pool, and usually maintain an FC level of 4-5ppm and can barely smell the chlorine to the extent that when we have company over they say that salt pools are so much better than those smelly chlorine pools...they are later shocked to find out that a salt pool is a chlorine pool

    Take a read through pool school (button on upper right of the page) and ask us any specific question you may have
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

    Pool School, TFTestKits, Pool Calculator

  3. #3
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    There is a ton of misinformation around this subject.

    Firstly - you wont find a lot of debate on this site as to the use of mineral packs, algecides, and other pool store miracles. That's partially because a lot of us have been burned by these systems but more importantly the science presented in various posts on this site is very indepth.

    As to chlorine (hydrochlorous acid - HoCl). Yes it is a chemical. Yes HoCl is very reactive - that's why it works. HoCl is what keeps the cholera out of your drinking water. Virtually all the "problems" people associate with chlorine pools have to do with the improper use of chlorine.

    When chlorine reacts with organic compounds in your pool water it often times forms a "combined chloramine (CC)". These CC's are typically very smelly, can irritate the skin and eyes, and are responsible for chlorine's bad rap. As long as there is sufficient additional chlorine in the water these CC's combine with HoCl to form salt (basically). So poorly maintained pools dont have enough disinfectant in them.

    The other key point to wrap your head around - the relationship between CYA and Active HoCl in the water. CYA binds with HoCl and holds most of it in reserve. It's extemely useful in an outdoor pool as CYA protects your HoCl from the sun - which breaks the chlorine down. The ppm of Active chlorine we target for effective disinfection is somewhere around 0.04ppm.

    0.04ppm of Active Chlorine is certainly something we can all live with - yes? So a FC level of 5ppm with a CYA of 50ppm yields an active HoCl of 0.043ppm at a ph of 7.5

    If your pool company or store can't provide you with this level of detail on how their products work - maybe they dont really have your family's best interests in mind. Extremely detailed chlorine information can be found here http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-...stry-t628.html
    15500 Gal Gunite/Plaster circa 1960

  4. #4
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    For an outdoor residential pool, anything you can do with mineral packs and/or ozone you can do less expensively, more easily, with fewer risks of problems (ie staining) and more safely with chlorine alone. Most residential ozone and mineral pack systems don't actually do much of anything, even though they could help a little when done properly, and they always run some risks of their own, such as blond hair turning green, stains on the pool, and respiratory problems if you breathe in too much ozone.

    Chlorine is only a problem when you use it improperly, and even that is unlikely in an outdoor pool. Nearly all of the possible bad effects from chlorine only happen in indoor public pools that are improperly maintained. You have to use some chlorine anyway (or bromine or baqacil, but they have their own problems), you might as well spend a moment figuring out how to do it right, and then you won't have any problems.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    TFP Admin. Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  5. #5
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    So basically it seems like I need to forget everything I thought I knew (i.e. chlorine is bad), throw out the mineral pack that's sitting in my filter basket, and put a SWG in. I've read through the pool school twice, and will go through it again once I have my test kit Tuesday to really understand the chemistry. Now that I've been through it and am starting to understand things better, it seems stupid to keep paying as much as I am each month for the crappy service I've received and the questionable advice about maintaining the pool.

    If I go with a SWG, are there any that I should stay away from, or any I should focus on? I'd like to keep the ozonator, and run it in conjuncture with the SWG. I'm considering replacing my entire automated controls system, as the one I have is ancient and acts up on me pretty frequently. I've looked at the Hayward Pro Logic system, which seems to have a built in SWG and "total pool chemistry" option that adjusts the PH as well using CO2. Does anyone have any experience with this system?

    One more question, when installing the SWG, I'm concerned about where I could place it in my system. I have one horizontal pipe section between the heater and the return pipes that it would fit in, but the water goes through an automated actuator, then splits into vertical pipes for the water feature for the spa, spa jets, and the main pool jets. The line to the main pool jets also has the ozonator manifold plumbed in, and it is about 6 inches above the ground, so there is no way I could put the SWG below the ozonator. Would this be a problem? I thought I read somewhere on this site that the ozonator should go before the SWG. I'll try to take some pictures of the plumbing tomorrow to show you how it is setup.

    Thanks for all the advice, this website is a great resource.
    13,000 Gallon IG Plaster Pool, Raised spa with spillover waterfall, Hayward 48sf DE Filter, Hayward Northstar Pump, Hayward 400k BTU Heater, Del Eclipse 2 Ozonator, Polaris 280 Cleaner, TF100 Test Kit, The Liquidator

  6. #6
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    I like the Hayward automation system and their SWG, but I'm not so fond of the Pro system. PH automation can work very nicely, but ORP automation not so much, plus it is a fair bit of money, adds more equipment that needs regular maintenance, and you can usually balance the water so that PH drift is not much of a problem.

    To fit the SWG cell in you can add a vertical up and then down again run of pipe, and place the cell on the back down section. That will fit it into a very small horizontal space. With an automation system that also controls the SWG, you want to install the SWG before the split between pool and spa returns, but without automation you want the SWG after the split so it only goes to the pool and not the spa.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    TFP Admin. Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  7. #7
    Senior Member In the Industry

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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    PK,

    Welcome to the forum

    I am posting to reinforce what a GIANT leap you have made towards managing your own pool. Your willingness to toss out some of the mis-information you have been given and let your common sense take over is gonna' allow you to have a sparkling, sanitized pool from here on AND save you quite a bit of money.

    The BBB approach used on this forum is all about knowledge and understanding how to put that new found knowledge to practical use........it sure sounds like you are well on your way!
    Dave S.
    Site Owner 42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter, No SWG
    TFTestkits owner
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  8. #8
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    What Dave said. Rarely do we see someone do a 180 based on the advice of "strangers" rather then their friendly pool service guy. Good for you, you are well on your way to pool happiness.
    Jim

    Southern Frederick County, MD - Leisure Moroccan 38 Fiberglass Pool - 19,800 gallons
    Pentair 1.5 hp 2 speed pump - Cartridge filter - Dolphin robot - TF-100 Test Kit - SWCG

  9. #9
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    On my complete 180, quite frankly, I don't trust my pool company, and to say I was annoyed with them would be an understatement. When they "sold me" on the system, it sounded too good to be true, so now that I'm finding out it is, I'm not surprised at all.

    I've been doing more reading on the SWG systems, and am getting concerned about the stonework we have around the pool and the spillover from the hot tub. I've read some posts that you should seal the rock, but how do you seal the waterfall? I've posted pictures below of the pool, spillover, and our equipment, so you can see what I'm going to have to deal with on the plumbing. Ignore the current bypass of the heater. I blew a pipe in the freeze last month, and am having the header replaced next week. The bypass is just a temporary workaround to keep the pool running.

    Also, if you don't like the Hayward Pro systems, are there any other systems you would recommend? Jandy?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    13,000 Gallon IG Plaster Pool, Raised spa with spillover waterfall, Hayward 48sf DE Filter, Hayward Northstar Pump, Hayward 400k BTU Heater, Del Eclipse 2 Ozonator, Polaris 280 Cleaner, TF100 Test Kit, The Liquidator

  10. #10
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Help with Pool Setup/Sanitation options

    The regular, non-pro system from Hayward is a great choice. The disadvantages of ORP and PH automation are universal to all brands. PH automation can work quite well, it just isn't usually worth the extra money. ORP automation of chlorine levels rarely works right, and even if you get luck and it works for you, it isn't much of an improvement over a standard SWG.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    TFP Admin. Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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