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Thread: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

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    SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Hello everybody. I am brand new to this pool thing. I have moved into a house with a pool, which is now so green that we can't tell if there is a sweeper on the bottom or not. A pool maintenance person whom I know and trust recommends draining the pool rather than shocking and cleaning. He's also recommending getting an energy efficient pump to save $$$ in the long run, and maybe replacing the dual Hayward Star Clear filters, since he's seen many problems with them in the past and a new STA-Rite System 3 400 sq ft unit would require less frequent cleaning.

    My main question is this: I would like to get a SWG unit because I like the feel of the water. He recommends against it because he feels the higher ph associated with it means it does not adequately kill disease causing bacteria. I have seen nothing in this forum which addresses this issue. It seems everyone assumes that if no algae is growing, the pool is healthy. So what do you all think?

    Thanks in advance for any input you have on any of what I've said so far.
    18,000 gallon IG gunite freeform pool
    Intelliflo VS pump; Hayward SwimClear-C4030 425 sq ft filter; 4x suction PoolCleaner

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Welcome to TFP!

    The green pool would have to be in absolutely horrific shape to need to do any sort of drain/refill. It's far more likely that you could get it cleaned up by simply following the procedure in the Pool School (main link in upper right corner of this page) called Defeating Algae or in more detail with a more difficult situation the article Turning Your Green Swamp Back into a Sparkling Oasis. Nevertheless, it is important to physically remove as much debris as possible from the pool since that makes the later chlorine and filtration/cleaning work much more quickly.

    An energy efficient pump, such as a variable speed/flow pump or at least a 2-speed pump, can save money but perhaps not a lot unless you pay a lot for electricity. As for the filters, I don't know enough about the different models to comment except to say that for cartridge filters getting a larger oversized filter does mean less frequent cleaning, but they are a PITA to clean. I have such a 4-cart filter with 340 square feet of surface area for my 16,000 gallon pool and fortunately I only need to clean it once a year, but I have a pool cover that keeps the pool reasonably clean.

    As for sanitation with an SWG, it is perfectly fine. There are several incorrect assumptions your pool maintenance person is making. First, he assumes that the pH will be very high with an SWG. It is true that the pH tends to rise more with an SWG, but with the techniques described in Water Balance for SWGs you can keep the pH reasonable and in the 7.5 to 7.8 range. Another incorrect assumption is that higher pH significantly reduces the active chlorine level when Cyanuric Acid (CYA aka stabilizer or conditioner) is present which is not true. When there is no CYA in the water, then the active chlorine (hypochlorous acid) level drops by 50% from a pH of 7.5 to 8.0, but with CYA in the water it drops by only around 15% because CYA acts as an active chlorine buffer (more technical details about this are in this post). The final incorrect assumption is that pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa (though not their cysts) are hard to kill or inactivate which is generally not true. When the chlorine level is high enough to kill algae, it kills most pathogens very, very quickly. When the FC level is roughly 10% of the CYA level, most bacteria (including fecal bacteria) have a 3-log reduction (99.9% killed) in 1 minute or less (some selected kill times are in this post that compared chlorine vs. copper and silver metal ions).
    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: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Thanks Chem Geek! I appreciate the help.

    Please define "absolutely horrific". I'm not sure if our pool falls into that category or not.

    The links you gave were very helpful, even if it is way more information than I could possibly absorb, especially at midnight. While I would much prefer to nurse my pool back to health rather than drain and refill (if for no other reason than to save water), there are a few obstacles I am facing:
    -I do not yet know if the filters are working (the maintenance guy said he's test them after the pool is drained and refilled).
    -I do not yet know how to clean the filters (though I'm sure I can find instructions online somewhere).
    -One of the two skimmer baskets is broken and I don't yet have a test kit, skimmer net, or brush (easily remedied).
    -The booster motor for the sweeper is not working, so even if we find the sweeper is in the pool, he is recommending I get a suction sweeper using the existing 1 1/2" lines and replumb the pipes (to get rid of the dead motor? cap the pressure line?), which he says is better/easier to do when the pool is drained.

    All this adds up to my lazy side saying pay the guy $450 (not to mention the cost of the water) to get the pool clean and chemically balanced plus $80 to clean/test the filters. I'm afraid if I try to clean it up myself, I may end up spinning my wheels if the filters are not working. Then again I don't know that they are NOT working. How much would it cost in stabilizer and bleach to clean it up?
    18,000 gallon IG gunite freeform pool
    Intelliflo VS pump; Hayward SwimClear-C4030 425 sq ft filter; 4x suction PoolCleaner

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    It most certainly won't cost anywhere near $450 in chlorine and startup chemicals to get the pool into shape chemically, but exactly how much depends on the size of the pool (how large is it in gallons?) and how many organics there are in it after you've physically removed what you can. Probably somewhere between $30 and $100 for chlorine shocking and for startup chemicals (for CYA, CH). However, it sounds like you've got a bunch of other mechanical issues so I'll let others comment on that. If water isn't expensive in your area and you trust your pool guy whose going to be making other repairs, it isn't bad to do a water replacement -- it's just not the only way to go. If it's an inground pool, just make sure the water table isn't high when replacing the water or else the pool can pop up or get damaged.
    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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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Take a few pictures of the equipment and post them. That will help us figure out what you have and ho to proceed. If the water level is high enough in the skimmer, and the equipment is hooked up, you can fill the pump basket with water and turn the pump on. That will quickly tell you what works and what doesn't.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    In my opinion, I would wait and research what you have and how it works before going and spending a bunch of money on it. It is already as green as it's going to get it sound like. So if you are not in a big rush to spend money or to get into the pool take the time to figure out what is going on. Write down what you have and go get the manuals. Get familiar with your equipment. Come back here and ask questions about what you found out. Read pool school and get familiar with how to properly take care of the swamp but more importantly how to take care of the pool in the long run. While you order your test kit run out and get the pool equipment you need including the skimmer basket. After you do all of this you will feel empowered to take care of your own pool and feel better about it. If you spend the money right now and let someone take care of it you will not have the satisfaction of knowing that it is done properly because you did it.
    Carlos
    Pool: 28,000 gallons IG; IC 40 SWG; Pentair 120 gpm cartridge filter; Marble finish; Pentair Wisperflow 1.5 hp; Polaris 360
    Spa: 350 gallon; Bromine
    How to shock your pool

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Draining a pool NEVER has any effect on getting rid of algae. It grows back immediately.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Thanks everybody- you all are awesome! I will buy a test kit (which one?), some baskets, a brush, leaf skimmer and search the internet for how to work the equipment I have. Looking forward to swimming this summer!
    18,000 gallon IG gunite freeform pool
    Intelliflo VS pump; Hayward SwimClear-C4030 425 sq ft filter; 4x suction PoolCleaner

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    ...oh, and keep learning from Pool School here!

    BTW- what's the best way to figure out how exactly to work with my pool equipment? Everything from which valves do what to where the fill water source is? (I looked, but I can't find it- could it be that I need to use a hose?)
    18,000 gallon IG gunite freeform pool
    Intelliflo VS pump; Hayward SwimClear-C4030 425 sq ft filter; 4x suction PoolCleaner

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Quote Originally Posted by tigerucla
    I will buy a test kit (which one?)
    The TF-100 from http://www.tftestkits.net of course!

    If you decide to try and find one at a store make absolutely sure that it has the FAS-DPD chlorine test and not just the DPD test. Lots of people get told by the PS that they are the same but they're not! Of course, if you order from Tftestkits that won't be a problem.

    To figure out your equipment, post some pics here and we'll help you figure it all out.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    if you don't see a water supply hose/pipe, then the garden hose is your fill water; even if you do have a fill pipe (auto control, or manual) your water source is still the same as your garden hose. If you have a water filter/softener, your outside water may bypass it, so not the same as your kitchen, but it is almost always the same as your garden hose!
    24ft x 52in AGP 18000 gal
    sand filter, 200#,1.5 hp single speed pump
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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    OK, so I've ordered a test kit (TF-100 with XL add on) and figured out we have a 2.0 HP Hayward pump with two Hayward C-1500 Star Clear filters (150 sq. ft. each). The pump works and the filters are each reading ~18-19 psi. I have calculated that our pool is approx. 18,500 gallons.

    The booster motor does not work (Century Pool and Spa Motor?), but the maintenance guy has recommended that we get “The Pool Cleaner”, 4 wheel drive, from Poolvernugen rather than buy a new booster motor and pressure sweeper.

    I have taken some photos, but cannot figure out how to post them. I tried attaching the files (.jpeg), but get a message that it is an invalid file type. Photos I took three months ago when we first looked at the house show the water to be green, but you could still see the bottom. Now you can barely make out the top step on a sunny day.

    So if I'm reading right, the next steps are:
    -buy skimmer baskets, a brush, and leaf skimmer (any recommendations?)
    -Buy a ton of bleach (where's the best place to buy large amounts cheap?), CYA, and muriatic acid (and borax if I need to raise pH?)
    -clean the filters (I'm assuming they're working)
    -test CYA level; adjust to at least 20 ppm (but can't test for 7 days?)
    -adjust pH to 7.2-7.4
    -remove as much solid material as I can from the surface and the bottom
    -shock, brush, test, repeat (cleaning the filters as necessary) while running the pump 24/7.

    Am I missing anything?
    18,000 gallon IG gunite freeform pool
    Intelliflo VS pump; Hayward SwimClear-C4030 425 sq ft filter; 4x suction PoolCleaner

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Wow! You have been busy. You have really gotten a handle on things in just a couple of days.
    The order appears to be right but I would not go out and buy a lot of chemicals until you get your test kit. Once you get your test kit and get the first set of test results you can then figure out exactly where you are and what you will need. If you are itching to get started you can take a sample of the water to the pool store to get the test results. Just don't rely on them too much because pool store test results tend to vary for numorous reasons. Once you get the results you can enter them in the Pool Calculator (see this link). It will tell you exactly how much of each chemical you will need to start with. You will need a lot more bleach than it says because during the shocking process the Free Chlorine (FC) will drop rapidly, because of the algae, and you will need to keep adding.
    At the pool store you can pick up the skimmer baskets, the brush, and leaf skimmer. As far as a recommendation, these items are not much different. Just don't buy something too expensive. They wear out with some frequency so buying an expensive set will not get you much.
    Make sure you read this link on how to defeat algae before you get started. Shocking is a process not an event. If not done correctly you end up spending more money on bleach than you need to.
    Carlos
    Pool: 28,000 gallons IG; IC 40 SWG; Pentair 120 gpm cartridge filter; Marble finish; Pentair Wisperflow 1.5 hp; Polaris 360
    Spa: 350 gallon; Bromine
    How to shock your pool

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    >> .. have taken some photos, but cannot figure out how to post them.

    simplest method is tinypic.com and copy and paste the 2nd line which already has the img tags around address ... no online account needed to use tinypic.

    as to poolvergnuegen, good pick and be sure to price compare as they sell for below 400 in various online stores and ebay.

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    You can also use a Photobucket, etc. account to link the pics here with.

    The best place I've found to buy bleach is Sams club or Costco. They have 3-182oz bottles for a little over $7. If your local pool store sells liquid chlorine at a decent price that's sometimes cheaper than bleach when you figure price and percentage.

    I'd pic up a few boxes or gallons to start with. It's common for it to take 15 gallons to properly shock a pool.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Great advice thus far...I'll just add another Welcome to TFP You'll love the XL
    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: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Getting a handle on your pool situation right now will go along way towards educating you on how to keep it properly maintained in the future. All you have to do is take the initial plunge.
    35K IG Vinyl 20 x 40 self built pool, Hayward Pro Series High-Rate Sand Filter 31" 98gal/min, Hayward TriStar 1.85hp, Hayward 400btu heater, BBB method w/Hypo, Jazz light w/matching fiber optic rope lighting around coping w/syncronized color wheels. Concrete Paver deck.

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    Here are the photos (thanks susa for the tiop on TinyPic):











    The first two are what the pool looked like 3 months ago when we first looked at the house. The second two are what it looks like now. The last one is the booster pump, which does not currently work.

    I'm thinking of using the current pump and filters to start the shock process. Once the water is clear enough to see the return water, I will put some DE
    into the skimmer and see if the filters are not filtering. If not, I plan to replace with a 400 sq ft filter (per pool guys recommendation) and replace the pump with a Pentair Intelliflo VS (or would a VF be better?).

    Looking ahead, I would love to have an automated chlorine dispenser so we could go away for a week and not come back to a green pool. I like salt water pools, but I've heard you can simply put salt in the pool and don't have to splurge for a SWG. I understand the cost over the long run for a SWG is about the same as using bleach. But the maintenance guy is really lobbying against one (unless we really splurge for a fully automated system) due to the tendancy for pH to rise and, in his opinion, make the FC less effective. I've read differing opinions about the Liquidator. Or maybe it would be worth using trichlor for the few times we go away and hope the CYA doesn't go up too much. What do you all think would be the least expensive way to automate chlorine?
    18,000 gallon IG gunite freeform pool
    Intelliflo VS pump; Hayward SwimClear-C4030 425 sq ft filter; 4x suction PoolCleaner

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    That's a sweet pool. Honestly it doesn't look all that bad - just needs some chlorine to clean it up.

    Chlorine - a lot of smaller independent pool stores will do cases of 12.5% liquid chlorine. They come 4 gallons to the case and the bottles get refilled. $7 for 3 182oz Clorox at Costco is roughly equivalent to $13 for a 4 gallon case of 12.5%.

    Pump - with a 2hp pump in Sac you're definitely going to save money on a new pump. If $ is the only criteria then a properly sized 2 speed is probably going to be the best value. If you want to spend a little more on the variable - I'd go for the VS. I bought a VF and if I had to do it over I'd switch it out. I love the variable speed - but if you like to tinker with stuff the VF just gets annoying. It does a lot of thinking for you which sometimes is more trouble then it is worth.

    Liquidator/SWG - I have a liquidator and really like it. I'm down to testing my pool once or twice a week. BUT it's not a silver bullet. It does require a bit of maintenance once a month or so (clearing calcium build up from various parts) which could be similar to the SWG - and you have to buy chlorine regularly. If you are only out of town a couple times a year for a week to 10 days you could use tabs for those few trips - but a full 2 week vacation might be pushing it.

    Pool Cleaner - I have a Poly Nuv and like it. Get a 4 wheel with a kidney shape. My 2 wheel has a tendency to fall backwards.

    Filters - Do your filters look newer than everything else? They appear that way in the pic - but maybe they are just clean. If your filters work then they would be last on my replace list. Once you get through the big clean up filters become kinda no big deal. They do their thing and you clean them 2 to 3 times a year - assuming you dont get a ton of tree **** in the pool all the time.

    Your mysterious Pool Man - He seems like a nice guy but you might take his advice with a grain of salt. There is a TON of crazy misinformation out there about pools. His strange avoidance of SWGs is a good example. Salt water Generators create chlorine - the same chlorine that comes in a tab or bottle. SWGs also create a bit of CO2 outgassing which tends to push PH up over time. This PH drift is easily mitigated by lowering your TA. Incidentally using liquid chlorine also tends to have a slight PH up drift - which can be managed in a similar way.
    16K Gal Plaster | Compupool SWG | Intelliflow VF | TF-100

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    Re: SWG lower FC levels bad for health?

    the thing about an IntelliFlow VF is, that while it will try to figure out things automatically, you can override just about everything and make it do whatever you want. in my case, I lie, about the size of the pool, about turnovers and I also use Feature(s) to override Filter programming. this way it is simple to make the pump run normal speed and multiple other schedules for slow speed just for filtering. I run two main programs 4 days a week, one at 5 hours for the poolvergnuegen and SWCG and another 5 hours for just filtering (cleaner is stopped and SWCG is Off) and 3 days a week @ 24 hours @ ultraslow speeds where just the pump and filter are engaged, all other systems are off.

    as to pH rise with SWCG, Jason has posted some detailed replies previously where he's absolutely spot on in pointing out that using borates and keeping TA deliberately low, allows for very slow rise in pH and almost nil use of MA. in my case, using a Simpool system, the automation takes care of everything but I have dropped my TA (..and upped boric acid..) and MA injections are greatly diminished.

    [edit: my frogs would like to come for a visit... ]

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