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Thread: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

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    Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Let me give you some background.... I have a friend who had a pool installed just under 4 years ago. The pool/equipment came with a 5 year warranty. The pool is a vinyl pool that is approx. 23,000 gallons. The pool has an attached spa with a booster pump. The filter is a sand filter. The spa/pool is heated with an electric heater. I tried my best to ask specific questions so I could better understand what has transpired, but he's slightly uncertain on certain items.

    Problems -

    1. My buddy opened the pool this year and the heater appears to have a leak in one of the coils. He contacted the pool builder who then in turn told him to call the subcontractor that installed the pool. He did and the builder came out and had the water sampled. The subcontractor claims the heater failed because the water has high copper levels??

    2. I got into the mix here and decided to come investigate and pull a sample using my TF kit. Here's what I found:

    pH - 6.8 (possibly even a tad lower)
    FC - 0 (slight algae present because he hasn't been able to get everything in working order at this point with the broken coil)
    CC - 0.5
    TA - 20
    CH - 1060 (yes 1060 - I tested it twice because I couldn't believe my eyes)
    CYA - 90

    Initially for the first two years I believe he used cal-hypo and probably triclor pucks. He has an injection system that uses pucks. I'm guessing this is what contributed to his high CH and high CYA (he didn't have anymore pucks to show me, so I can only assume this is what he used). Last year he used liquid chlorine solely (good move).

    I asked about his testing procedure and I believe he was adjusting PH as necessary and adding chlorine on a daily or weekly basis (would add 5 gallons of 12% chlorine over the course of 1 month - he didn't test for chlorine or he did very little testing and more or less did it by 'feel'). He did say the pool was always sparkling and he never had issues with algae out breaks.

    My questions...

    1. I recommended that he purchase the TF kit.
    2. I recommended he bring his pool up to shock levels according to the Chlorine/CYA chart and hold until the pool is clear.
    3. After he gets the pool clear, he needs to adjust the pH as necessary to target 7.2-7.5
    4. I suppose he could raise his TA slightly to target 70-90.
    5. He doesn't need to do anything for the CYA and CH shouldn't be of too much concern as it's a vinyl pool and there is no scaling.

    The big question is -

    6. What do you feel about the issue with the heater? I am under the impression that low pH or very very high levels of chlorine could cause a copper coil to deteriorate. Regardless, high copper levels would not cause a heater to fail. If the owner adjusted pH as needed, that should rule that out as a possibility. If he added 5 gallons of 12% chlorine over the course of a month, that seems about right for a pool of its size. Obviously testing would be more accurate, but the pool was always clear according to the owner. I really don't think his water chemistry has caused the pool heater to fail. I truly feel it could be a manufacturing defect.

    Let me know what you think. Thanks again.

    Doug

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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Chronic low pH causes copper heating coils to deteriorate, releasing copper in solution into the pool. That's probably what he was trying to say. High chlorine will not have that effect.

    In your recommendations, move #3 up to #1....get that pH into the 7's. all else is good.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Yes, low PH will damage the heater, and all heater warranties are conditional on you maintaining the PH appropriately. There are very few places copper can come from. In a pool the only two likely possibilities are a copper algaecide and from the heat exchange coil in the heater. If a copper algaecide hasn't been used, then the copper came out of the heater. Also, the PH is currently too low, which for me pretty much proves that the problem was caused by the PH going too low and damaging the heater.

    Who knows, there might have been a manufacturing defect. But it doesn't matter any more, the low PH voids the warranty and is a much more likely cause for the leak. The low PH will have also damaged the vinyl liner as well, shortening it's lifetime.

    Before doing anything else the TA and PH need to be raised back up into a reasonable range. The current PH is probably way below 6.8, so adjust, allow to mixing, and test again to see if you really got the PH back in range.

    Low CH is not a problem for a vinyl pool, but high CH is a problem for any kind of pool. The CH level needs to come down. The only reason there isn't calcium scaling is that the PH is way way too low. As you bring the PH back up, there will probably be calcium scaling. For now only raise PH to 7.2 and TA to 60. But one way or another, CH needs to come down.

    CYA is also too high. Lowering CH will also lower CYA, so not an immediate concern on it's own. Remember, the recommended FC level with CYA at 90 is between 7 and 12.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Appreciate your responses. I was also under the belief that if copper was truly present in the test that is was probably from the coil.

    Concerning the pH though, I understand the pH was low now, but it's been closed for the winter and the owner says he adjusted pH as necessary to maintain 7.2 - 7.5.

    Another 'piece of the pie' I just found out. I looked in the manual for his heater and in two places in BIG BOLD letters it states that if you have an automatic chlorinator piped downstream of the heater - which he does - there needs to be a check valve to prevent chemical drain back through the system. There is no check valve.

    Doug

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    If he's going to do a series of partial drains/refills obviously there will need to be a new set of tests with regard to the PH and TA before making any adjustments. But definitely adjust them first if they are still too low. Extremely low TA can cause wild drifts in the ph. So if they are still very low post back, you want to adjust the TA first with baking soda to about 50-60 then start targeting the PH with Borax. Or alternatively you can use Soda Ash/washing soda (if you can find it) which will raise both.

    But it doesn't make sense to me to spend money adjusting these levels or shocking the pool if the CH/CYA are that high - the drain/refill should come first, followed by a new set of tests before you form a gameplan.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    If the PH is low now, the PH was probably low in the past. PH and TA don't go down like that on their own over the winter. For there to be a measurable copper level from something other than algaecide, the PH needs to have been low for weeks while the pump was running.

    The check valve thing is no where near as big an issue as the PH. While leaving out that check valve can occasionally cause the exact same problem, it doesn't usually. People leave that check valve out fairly regularly and it is rare for something to go wrong as a result.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    I'm not going to necessarily disagree with you because you are probably right, but at the end of the season last year when I drained my pool prior to putting on the cover, my pH was 7.5. When I took my cover off this year, the pool was full. I tested my water and the pH was 6.8. My cover is solid but does have a mesh panel in the center for drainage. Therefore, I would say it is possible that the pH could substantially drop over the winter in that regard. As you suggested though, his issue could have been caused by low pH, although the owner stated he monitored pH regularly.

    Doug

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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Update -

    Owner got the pool balanced and it appears to be clear now. The pool installer (the sub-contractor) installed a new heater for which my buddy paid for. The pool company who subbed out the work is refusing to reimburse him for the cost of the heater claiming that my buddy did not pay for opening/closing of the pool through them (the pool company). No where in the warranty info or literature from the pool company does it state that they must use them to open/close the pool ($545 is their fee for each open/close!!). What's weird is that regardless if the company opened or closed the pool, no damage could be done anyway because the pool is closed and winterized!! The only other suggestion I gave to the owner was to try and call the manufacturer directly.

    Doug

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Who opens/closes the pool shouldn't have anything to do with the warranty. The problem with heater warranties is that it is nearly impossible to ever prove that PH was maintained correctly, and they will often use that to get out of providing warranty coverage. But claiming it had to do with who opened/closed the pool is crazy.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Friend's Pool - Need Help (Water balance/Heater Issue)

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    Who opens/closes the pool shouldn't have anything to do with the warranty. The problem with heater warranties is that it is nearly impossible to ever prove that PH was maintained correctly, and they will often use that to get out of providing warranty coverage. But claiming it had to do with who opened/closed the pool is crazy.
    I agree 100%. Opening/closing has nothing to do with the situation. And like you mentioned, the warranty issue is a hard one to prove or disprove. If anything, you would think the pool company would work with him on a 'good faith' type situation and at least give him the heater at a discount or something.

    Either way, the pool is up and operational right now.

    Doug

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