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Thread: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

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    Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Greetings,
    As a first time pool owner, I'll appreciate patience with my ignorance, and stupid things I have/haven't done. Thanks for all the useful info on this site-- I've managed to read & re-read enough to feel utterly confused and overwhelmed by details, while losing a grip on the big picture.

    My newly purchased pool was filled with 5,000 gal. city water on July 15th. Pump & SWG installed/programmed as per mfr. instructions (2 hrs daily for SWG, 5 hrs daily for pump, both operating midday.) Occasionally run pump an extra hour or 2 in the evening. Added 120 lb. pool salt & HTH stabilizer/conditioner as directed on pkg. Did not add chlorine, as initial test strips showed OK, and I assumed the SWG would provide what was needed. pH tested off-the-scale high with test strips, so also added HTH pH Minus per directions, adding another lid full each day for a week as test strips still showed off-the high end red. Have added 2-3" of well water due to evaporation.

    Pool water lost its "sparkle" and turned faintly yellow around 5 days ago (prior to well water addition.) Not cloudy, just a bit dingy. Inside surfaces have become slippery. I was unhappy with inconsistent/difficult to interpret test strips, found this site, read up a bit, and purchased a Walmart HTH test kit yesterday.

    Results of testing yesterday evening, using HTH kit unless otherwise stated:

    FC- "total chlorine" less than 0.5 (no yellow color change in test water) FC reading at 0.2 using test strips
    pH- 7.5
    TA- 250 ppm using HTH kit, 150 ppm using test strips
    CYA- less than 30 ppm (black dot never disappeared) CYA reading 30-50 ppm using test strips
    CH- 360 ppm (as calcium carbonate) CH reading 400 ppm using test strips
    Salt- 2490 ppm, using test strip provided with SWG
    Copper- 0.2, using test strip provided with SWG
    Water temperature- 86F in the mornings, 90F by evening. (Beastly, abnormally hot weather here.)

    This morning, I added more salt, approximately 8 lbs. Have not yet retested salt level.

    I realize that the TA is way too high, and chlorine & CYA are too low. Confusion ensues in determining what to address first, and how much of which product to add to the water in what order. With absolutely no offense intended, I'm also unsure which goal numbers to strive for when the SWG owner's manual recommendations are at variance with the recommendations on this site. (Example: owner's manual calls for 30-50 ppm CYA, this site suggests 70-80.)

    So, what to do? Run a "boost" cycle on the SWG? Add store-bought shock treatment packets (and how much?) Liquid chlorine bleach?

    I don't have inexhaustible amounts of money to throw at this. Draining/replacing water is not financially feasible right now, so I'd prefer to err on the side of caution when adding anything. Also to not want to damage my SWG.

    Advice is greatly appreciated. Assume I know nothing, and you'll be about right.

    Thanks for your help.
    Intex 16'x48" 5000 gal metal frame vinyl AG, Intex 633T pump (2500/1900 gph, paper filter cartridge), Intex Krystal Clear SWG.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    The experts should be around soon, for now you should add some chlorine in the water as your SWG can not make enough chlorine at the moment. Adding a 182 oz. bottle of 6% of unscented bleach should bring your chlorine to slightly above shock level with a CYA reading of 40. I'm averaging your test strip reading since you did add some stabalizer.

    Your SWG will never be able to make enough chlorine to kill off algae once it is established and thriving. Your run times for your SWG are probably not enough either. With your short run times, I recommed having your SWG on whenever your pump is on.

    Read Pool School, learn how to use the Pool Calculator, and read as many other threads that you can.
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Colored dingy water and slippery surfaces indicate the start of an algae problem. You should shock the pool and start raising the CYA level up to around 50. Once you are done shocking, raise CYA up to around 70 to 80.

    Either way your TA level is too high. You don't need to worry about that right away, but long term you want to bring down the TA level. Likewise you will also want to raise the salt level long term, but there is no rush to do that right away.

    To shock the pool, see this article in Pool School. You will need to start shocking by adding chlorine manually.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    I'm no SWG expert..........but after you finish the shocking process............that run time for the SWG should go up considerably to maintain a decent FC level. This hot weather is killing your FC. Welcome!
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Yeah, shock the pool but be sure you follow the guidelines by reading How to "Shock your Pool" up in Pool School. Just for re-emphasis, do not try to chock with the SWG...it won't work....use Clorox....it's cheap.

    Definitely increase your pump run time to 24/7 until your pool is crystal and sparkling again.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Thanks, all, for your prompt replies. I'm off to buy some bleach. No doubt will have more dumb questions later. Appreciate your help.
    Intex 16'x48" 5000 gal metal frame vinyl AG, Intex 633T pump (2500/1900 gph, paper filter cartridge), Intex Krystal Clear SWG.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    This forum exists because people ask questions and want to learn about the rather different way we care for pools....common sense and knowledge instead of relying on frequently unreliable pool store advice.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Quote Originally Posted by woodwoman
    With absolutely no offense intended, I'm also unsure which goal numbers to strive for when the SWG owner's manual recommendations are at variance with the recommendations on this site. (Example: owner's manual calls for 30-50 ppm CYA, this site suggests 70-80.)

    So, what to do? Run a "boost" cycle on the SWG? Add store-bought shock treatment packets (and how much?) Liquid chlorine bleach?

    I don't have inexhaustible amounts of money to throw at this. Draining/replacing water is not financially feasible right now, so I'd prefer to err on the side of caution when adding anything. Also to not want to damage my SWG.
    Welcome to TFP woodwoman!

    I have the Intex SWG as well. Since you mentioned the boost on the SWG, I am assuming you have the one with copper. Make sure you unplug the cable to the copper electrode (it is the cable that connects closest to the output of the SWG).

    I have ben running my CYA ~75 ppm for a season and a half, and the swg is working great. I do agree with above comments that you probably need to run longer...my guess is about 6 hours a day with your pool...but many factors influence this and you will need to test (with a good kit) over time to determine what is needed.

    With all that said, when you are shocking (as it sounds you need to do) turn off the SWG and use bleach. Only use the SWG when trying to maintain normal levels as determined by the poolcalculator.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Followup to Linen:

    Thank you for the tips. I wondered whether to continue running the SWG while shocking. I have unplugged the power cord for now. Also appreciate your reassurance about running it at higher CYA levels.

    Regarding the copper electrode, should it be disconnected temporarily, or permanently... and why? I thought it was supposed to prevent/kill algae, which it seems I have. Is it not a Good Thing? (Much confusion, brain turned to mushy cream cheese.)

    Followup to anyone:

    Am attempting to follow the "shock your pool" instructions using bottled bleach, but do not have an overnight FC loss test kit. Are there any general guidelines to follow in the meantime, beyond what's on the pool shocking page?

    Thanks again.
    Intex 16'x48" 5000 gal metal frame vinyl AG, Intex 633T pump (2500/1900 gph, paper filter cartridge), Intex Krystal Clear SWG.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Copper is an algae killer but it brings some unwanted side effects. Usually noted by blondes hair turning green. Secondly by sometimes putting stains on pool surfaces that are virtually impossible to remove. So, the point is chlorine is a perfectly adequate sanitizer and will keep your pool sparkling clear. It is simply the best primarily because it has virtually no unwanted side effects. If your chlorine is adequate, you never need copper in the first place.

    The directions for the OCLT are in a separate article in the "How to" section of Pool School. However, that test can only be done correctly if you have an FAS/DPD chlorine test which is ONLY found in the expensive test kits.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Quote Originally Posted by woodwoman
    Followup to Linen:

    Thank you for the tips. I wondered whether to continue running the SWG while shocking. I have unplugged the power cord for now. Also appreciate your reassurance about running it at higher CYA levels.

    Regarding the copper electrode, should it be disconnected temporarily, or permanently... and why? I thought it was supposed to prevent/kill algae, which it seems I have. Is it not a Good Thing? (Much confusion, brain turned to mushy cream cheese.)
    I would at least disconnect the wire (and leave it disconnected permanently). If you just disconnect it, you at least will not be actively producing the copper ions. I actually removed the whole electrode, it comes right out and I replaced it with a rubber gasket and a plate of plastic and the same female connector that held in the electrode. I would guess it is not really important it is to totally remove the copper electrode, but I could, so I did. Maybe someone else has an opinion on that?

    I agree with Duraleigh that is not needed using Chlorine properly.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    [center:10m5ewwt]Your pool is about to turn green....


    I just love posting that[/center:10m5ewwt]
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    A quick followup:

    - Bud has been nipped. (Thanks for the smile, Richard 320.) Water looks great, slime gone from pool.

    - SWG is back on line today with copper electrode removed (a day later than planned, due to leaky fitting issue.) I've set the SWG to run 6 hrs daily from 12PM-6 PM, pump 8 hrs daily 11AM-7PM.

    Test results this morning, before SWG was turned on, using Walmart HTH dropper kit unless otherwise stated:

    FC- 3 using test strips (still don't have that expensive kit, sorry)
    TC- 5
    CYA- less than 30, but the water did get cloudy, so I'm guessing maybe 20-25. Test strip still shows in the 30-50 range.
    pH: 7.8 (off the scale high using test strips)
    TA- 190 (off the scale high using test strips)
    TH- 360 (400 using test strips)
    Salt- 2930 using test strip supplied with SWG

    - Added a bit more salt this morning (using pool calculator.) Plan to cautiously add CYA in a sock hanging near return later today (skimmer not installed on pool), then work on pH & TA. Will continue monitoring FC & TC.

    A couple more newbie questions:

    - Is it safe to swim while CYA is dissolving in pool?

    - If the SWG still can't keep up, and more chlorine is needed, will addition of modest amounts of liquid bleach (target level, not shock) damage the SWG? If not, should additions be made while it is running, or during off hours?

    If I'm doing something wrong (as is most likely) please let me know.

    I'm MOST grateful for all the prompt advice that helped avert an algae disaster. Thanks, everyone.
    Intex 16'x48" 5000 gal metal frame vinyl AG, Intex 633T pump (2500/1900 gph, paper filter cartridge), Intex Krystal Clear SWG.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Quote Originally Posted by woodwoman
    FC- 3 using test strips (still don't have that expensive kit, sorry)
    TC- 5
    CYA- less than 30, but the water did get cloudy, so I'm guessing maybe 20-25. Test strip still shows in the 30-50 range.
    How are you getting a total chlorine reading? The HTH kit tests for free chlorine only. Is there a pad on your test strips that actually says total chlorine?

    Strips are junk btw... especially for CYA readings. You're seeing the opposite of what many experience... known LOW CYA showing as 30-50ppm. Silly, and worthless. As you have probably noted, their result differs from yours and can not be trusted. Trust your results. However... depending on how long ago you added stabilizer, your result may not be 100% accurate although there are reports that the HTH brand stabilizer, which dissolves faster than other brands has shown accurate results within 24 hours (count me as one who has experienced this). Do you know how much stabilizer you have added? If you are sure of that amount, you should assume that is your CYA number and wait on more CYA testing. You may very well be out of CYA tests by now as well.

    OK, so back to the chlorine readings. Assuming you do have somewhat FT and TC numbers, you then would have 2ppm combined chlorine. This is 1.5ppm above the "ok" CC reading. You aren't done shocking, I'm afraid.

    It's time to stop using the strips and only use the HTH 6-way kit for all your tests. Off the chart "high" from strips doesn't give a number, even if the highest the strip box lists is the only number you can use. Use the OTO (yellow and red test block) for FC and PH and the green and blue bottles for CH and TA. There's a lot of reagent there, and the results will be far more accurate than the strips.

    Insofar as test kits, the HTH kit you have will be sufficient for most of your testing needs but NOT for testing for combined chlorine (TC - FC = CC). It is essential that you have a way to accurately test TC, above 5ppm and the DPD test is the only way to do that. You can chalk that 20 bux for the HTH kit up to error, and get a TF100 kit, or a slightly less expensive route would be to add the DPD kit for chlorine plus a CYA kit from TFTestkits. In the end you'll spend nearly as much as you would by going for the TF100 but not quite, and you'll still have a decent kit to use this season.

    The reason to buy the TF100 would be the cool storage box, the new Taylor CH and TA reagents (3 bottles ea, likely more accurate), and a Taylor OTO FC block in a cute blue box plus anything else you buy from TFTestkits will all be under the same shipping price (salt test, borates, extra reagents, etc.). You can also get a $10 discount on the TF100 by supporting this site with a lifetime membership. All in all a very good deal, and a much better/nicer kit than yours would be pieced together as described above although either route will work. Total cost either way, about the same excluding the price of the HTH kit you already bought, which is why I suggested just adding the DPD and CYA for now if that's all you can do.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
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    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    all of what frogabog said, and...
    Quote Originally Posted by woodwoman
    A couple more newbie questions:

    - Is it safe to swim while CYA is dissolving in pool? Yes, as long as FC is at or below shock levels.

    - If the SWG still can't keep up, and more chlorine is needed, will addition of modest amounts of liquid bleach (target level, not shock) damage the SWG? If not, should additions be made while it is running, or during off hours? Will not damage. You can go up to 12 hours on the timer. I run my swg during day and if I need to supplement chlorine, I do it at night. But...as long as you pour it slowly at the return (good practice for all chems poured), it shouldn't matter if the swg is on or not.

    If I'm doing something wrong (as is most likely) please let me know.

    I'm MOST grateful for all the prompt advice that helped avert an algae disaster. Thanks, everyone.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Thanks, linen and frogabog, for your quick replies.

    Regarding how I obtained the TC reading, perhaps I didn't explain clearly. I used the (yellow lid) HTH OTO drops, specifically described in the pkg. insert/instructions as "Total Chlorine/Total Bromine Test." Do they say "total" but mean "free"? I'm confused.

    The FC reading was obtained from junky test strips.

    About the CYA: it is the quick dissolving HTH Stabilizer/Conditioner, and was added on July 15 or 16. I didn't add it personally, so can't tell you the exact amount. It's a 4 lb. jug, and is still around 2/3 full. (Sorry, best I can do.)

    If/when I do add more CYA, should the pump run constantly until the crystals have dissolved?

    Appreciate the SWG advice. As it appears that I'm "not done shocking," I should ask if shock levels of liquid chlorine, added in the evening after it's turned off, will damage the SWG?

    (always more questions.....)

    I will order the DPD & CYA kits when I can, but appreciate your help as I limp along without them in the meantime.
    Intex 16'x48" 5000 gal metal frame vinyl AG, Intex 633T pump (2500/1900 gph, paper filter cartridge), Intex Krystal Clear SWG.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Quote Originally Posted by woodwoman
    Regarding how I obtained the TC reading, perhaps I didn't explain clearly. I used the (yellow lid) HTH OTO drops, specifically described in the pkg. insert/instructions as "Total Chlorine/Total Bromine Test." Do they say "total" but mean "free"? I'm confused.No
    TC (Total Chlorine) = FC (Free Chlorine) + CC (Combined Chlorine)


    The FC reading was obtained from junky test strips.I wouldn't trust this number since it is from a strip.

    About the CYA: it is the quick dissolving HTH Stabilizer/Conditioner, and was added on July 15 or 16. I didn't add it personally, so can't tell you the exact amount. It's a 4 lb. jug, and is still around 2/3 full. (Sorry, best I can do.)

    If/when I do add more CYA, should the pump run constantly until the crystals have dissolved?Pumping should speed up the process of the CYA going into solution, especially if you put it in a sock by the return.

    Appreciate the SWG advice. As it appears that I'm "not done shocking," I should ask if shock levels of liquid chlorine, added in the evening after it's turned off, will damage the SWG?While shocking, I would just leave the swg off (saves cell life), though the chlorine should not hurt it either way.

    (always more questions.....)

    I will order the DPD & CYA kits when I can, but appreciate your help as I limp along without them in the meantime.May save you money and time if you get the better test kit.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Thinking about this more:

    We do not know if you have CC right now since your are not able to determine your FC. If you do (as your unreliable numbers indicate...TC-FC= 2 CC...but again I would not believe them), then you need to continue shocking. You need a better test kit.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Oops, I am apparently mistaken on that. I suppose it is TC, all the OTO tests claim they are testing for total. I'm new to OTO testing this year w/the yellow (always used the old style red FC/TC taylor reagents prior). I don't prefer it, yellow isn't easy to read.

    So I suppose, since the strips do say FC... it's possible you're getting a slightly-almost-perhaps accurate idea of CC with those two. Not trustworthy, regardless. Experts correct me, please.

    If you add more CYA, do it the sock way. Works very well. Tie a sock to either the return or the ladder w/cya in it. Let it sit for an hour and then squish it to disperse. Do this till the sock is empty. HTH stabilizer is fairly soluble and dissolves fast this way. Don't trust the test strips for CYA at all. Just look away and base your CYA on what you know you have added. You can do a simple calculation on CYA by weighing or measuring the remaining powder. Or ask who did it how much they put in by volume and calculate it w/the pool calculator.

    I would also go measure your water level and run that through the bottom of the pool calculator to determine an accurate pool volume. What they say the volume is, may or may not be what your pool contains depending on where you keep the water level. It will help you calculate CYA and make your dosage results more accurate w/pool calculator.

    I have TWO of those 1000gph pumps on my pool, one simply does not do any good job at all and the paper filters are absolutely sub-standard for fines. I run both these pumps full time, they are never off unless I'm cleaning one. I do not recommend that you ever turn the filter/pump off no matter what you're doing to the pool, SWG or not.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Overwhelmed Newbie with yellow water

    Hello again everyone,

    I've postponed follow up in order to make sure the algae crisis is over, & the shocking process really, truly complete. Thanks to your help, my pool water is rainbows-on-the-floor sparkly, and the liner remains literally squeaky clean.

    I'm also using the acid/aeration method to lower TA. It's dropped from 250 to 190. Slow going, but progress, at least.

    Of course, now I have more questions.

    First, about lowering TA: I've been using dry acid pH Minus, but have the impression that muriatic acid is preferred with SWGs. I'm more comfortable handling the dry acid, and wonder if it's acceptable to continue using it. Is muriatic acid "better" only because it's less expensive, or is there a qualitative difference as well?

    Second, CYA levels: Approximately 2 cups/16oz. of HTH conditioner was added on July 16th, and another 2 cups/16 oz. on July 26th. Using the pool calculator, my CYA level *should* be @ 50, but it still tests at less than 30 (water becomes cloudy, but black dot doesn't quite disappear.) As I use an SWG, my goal is CYA around 70. Would it be prudent to add another 2 cups/16 oz. at this time? I'm out of test reagent, and wonder whether it's safe to wing it for this final addition of CYA.

    Third, regarding SWG usage: As I understand it, SWG run time is/should be a "percentage" of pump run time, but nowhere can I discover what that percentage is. The owner's manual has (I think) low recommendations for run times (2 hrs/day for the SWG, 4 hrs/day for pump) and some days I want to run the pump far longer (after adding chemicals, or just for more filtration.) Should the SWG also run longer at those times (i.e., if the pump runs 24 hrs, should the SWG run 12 hrs)? Is there a formula/method of determining optimal run time, or does one just experiment to find the minimum necessary to maintain decent chlorine levels and happy water? I realize that my FC level is lower than recommended, but the water has stayed wonderfully clear for 2 weeks, CC levels remain at or below .5, and the pool has a very low bather load.

    Oh, yeah, latest test results, using a Bioguard 1200V multi-test kit (HTH kit for the CYA & TH)

    FC- 1.5
    TC- 1.5
    pH- 7.4 (in mid-acid/aeration process-- pH creeps up if not amended)
    TA- 190
    CYA- less than 30
    Total Hardness- 360
    Salt- 3190 (using test strips)

    As always, I appreciate everyone's input. Thanks again.
    Intex 16'x48" 5000 gal metal frame vinyl AG, Intex 633T pump (2500/1900 gph, paper filter cartridge), Intex Krystal Clear SWG.

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