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Thread: Borax questions

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    Borax questions

    Hi, Noob here to the BBB method but after a week I love it. I've managed to get my chlorine stabelized and am adding a little bit of bleach each morning to maintain a level of 4. Initially before starting this method we had a pool guy that hadn't checked the water in about a year. it was always crystal clear so we never thought to do it ourselfs until our eyes started burning and the copper pipes started to erode and spring leaks on our filtration system. After testing initially the ph was a yellow color similar to the chlorine reading and my test kit didnt go that low to get a number reading. I went to a pool store and bought a big bottle of ph-up dumped it all in and the water turned a milky blue. ph did not improve so I started researching and found the bbb method. since then I have added 9, 4lb boxes of 20 mule team borax (one a day) and the ph is slowly rising as of this morning it is registering a 6.8 on my test kit. I have a couple questions....

    Pool specs are: 19k gallons in ground D.E. filters and pool has a spray on fiberglass liner.

    1.) is adding that much borax harmful to the pool or filtration system and is it ok to swim in?
    2.) since yesterday I have been increasing the amount I am adding to two boxes a day, once in the AM and once in the PM is that ok or too much too fast?
    3.) the water is crystal clear as of this morning, but ever since I started increasing the ph I have been getting a blue residue on the bottom of the pool every day which I vacuum up each evening. I am adding the borax to a bucket of water, dissolving it completely, and dumping it into the spa which then goes through the filters and into the pool. so not sure what the blue residue is.
    4.) I cleaned my filters out yesterday and they had a layer of blue turquoise sludge covering them is that normal and how often should I be cleaning them while adding this much borax?

    BTW I am currently using the cheap walmart test kit so I ordered the BBB recommended test kit and am expecting it to arrive early next week

    any help or advice is much appreciated.

    Thanks
    adam
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

  2. Back To Top    #2
    frogabog's Avatar
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    Re: Borax questions

    Many of us add borax 50ppm (well 25ppm in two phases) at a time. Lucky you, you get to borate your pool without dealing with the ph rise issue! WOOT!

    In other words, not a problem for your pool or machinery/piping. Remember, the borax is going to raise your TA some so watch that while you're using it to raise pH. When I plug 9 boxes of borax into the pool calculator for your pool volume it says it will have raised pH by 3.99, borates to 31ppm, and TA by 71ppm so be sure to check TA. Also, it seems like that's a LOT of borax used and still you're seeing 6.8 for pH? WOW. You had an acid pool.

    Can you post a full set of results from your walmart kit? CYA and TA especially.
    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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    Butterfly's Avatar
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    Re: Borax questions

    As you know, pH of 6.8 is too low.

    What is the TA level? If TA is below 50, I suggest you use Baking Soda and raise it up to about 70. Then add enough borax to raise the pH to about 7.2.

    Don't swim until you get the pool balanced.

    Do you have other test results?

    blue turquoise sludge
    sounds like copper
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  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: Borax questions

    here are the two detailed tests i got from the pool store
    1st About two weeks ago before adding anything
    FAC 2
    TAC 2
    CH 420
    CYA 100
    TA 60
    PH 7 (TOO LOW TO REGISTER)
    BASE 45
    COPPER 5
    IRON 3
    TDS 700
    PHO 500

    2nd test done two days ago after adding 10lbs of phos-free, 6 boxes of borax, 2 bottles of liquid metal free, and converting to bleach

    FAC 2
    TAC 2
    PH 7.0 TOO LOW TO REGISTER
    TA 80
    CYA 100
    CH 240
    COPPER 3
    IRON .3
    PHO 1000

    unfortunately my walmart test kit only shows CH and pH cant wait for the new kit.

    thanks
    Adam
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Borax questions

    Are you using chlorine pucks now? Where you using chlorine pucks previously? If so what kind?

    Your CYA level may very well be much higher than the 100 ppm the store gave you. If it is at 100, then you FC levels need to be at 8 ppm minimum (that is high). Since you have a test kit on the way. Maybe get your FC level up to 8-10 ppm using chlorine/bleach and continue to raise ph with borax. I agree with Fly, I do not think I would swim until we know your TF-100 test results (Dave is typically quite fast on shipping). Most likely you will need to do a partial drain.

    Did you mean your walmart kit only shows TC (total chlorine) and ph (not CH and ph)?
    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: Borax questions

    We were using pool time 3" stabilized chlorinating pucks. But they dissolved about a week ago and I switched to bleach since then
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Borax questions

    Yes the kit shows total chlorine and ph also when you talk about ppm. How do I calculate that into the amount of bleach and borax I should add? Or is it built into the calculator? Also based on the test results from the pool store what would be the possible side effects of swimming? Just asking because my 9yr old is having a party this weekend and I don't want to get beat up by a bunch of kids if I tell them they can't swim.
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Borax questions

    I am not sure if I would let people swim in it. You will have to decide that for yourself. If you do allow swimmers, for sure get the FC (free chlorine) and PH up.

    FC is important to keep organisms (algae, bacteria, viruses, etc.) in check/dead. Since your CYA level appears to be high (we do not know how high), keep that FC at least above 8 ppm, I would shoot for around the high side of 13 ppm prior to swimming (i might let it drop towards 8 for swimming). You are only able to test for TC (Total Chlorine) with your kit, so you won't know if you have CC or not. You will probably have to dilute your water 2:1 with un-chlorinated water (distilled, etc.) to be able to measure with your walmart kit. 2:1 dilution would require you to multiple your resulting number by 3 to get the TC level.

    Low ph can cause eye irritation (can be severe), nose irritation, and dry skin/scalp. Byt the way, low ph is also tough on equipment.

    Copper in your water can cause blond hair to turn green.
    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: Borax questions

    ok i'll get the FC up to above 8. I'll pick up some distilled water to keep it at that level. Im also going to continue the two boxes of Borax a day to try and get the ph up. I should be fairly close because after the first test the pool guy informed me that i would need about 60 poulds of soda ash to get the ph back to 7.2 im already at 45 lbs Would adding 4 boxes a day help any? with a FC of 10 what are the side effects of people that swim ? will it bleach their clothes and or hair?

    sorry for all the questions I am still learning

    Thanks again
    Adam
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Optica's Avatar
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    Re: Borax questions

    This seems like one instance where the base demand test in the K-2006 actually could be useful to determine how far off the PH was. As far as the chlorine level you need to hold and worries about swimming, its your high CYA level that is holding a lot of that chlorine in "reserve" so the effective active chlorine in your pool is actually right at normal levels and would not cause any of the side effects (bleached hair or suits) you are worried about.
    ___________________________________________________
    12,000 Gal IGP, Gunite/Plaster, Pentair DE & Pump, Heliocol Solar, K-2006, BBB'd & Borated.

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Borax questions

    Quote Originally Posted by anomale
    I should be fairly close because after the first test the pool guy informed me that i would need about 60 poulds of soda ash to get the ph back to 7.2 im already at 45 lbs Would adding 4 boxes a day help any?
    I am a bit confused, are you putting soda ash or borax in to raise ph? Keep in mind that for every 10 ounces of soda ash, you will raise TA ~3.7 ppm. I would use Borax to raise your ph instead since it has much less effect on TA (10 ounces raises TA by ~1 ppm).

    Since we don't know how low you are, lets assume 7.0 and the first step we want is to 7.8 (still in the safe zone). poolcalculator.com gives me 136 ounces by weight, or 130 ounces by volume of borax. Let that mix for a couple of hours, then test again (if may still read 7 since you ph is probably low). Use pool calculator to adjust from the new tested level up to 7.8 again unless you are reading something higher than 7.0, then I would adjust to 7.6 or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by anomale
    with a FC of 10 what are the side effects of people that swim ? will it bleach their clothes and or hair?
    Assuming your CYA is at/above 100 ppm, there should be no side effects of 10 ppm FC. One note here, do not raise your FC level above 10 ppm until we get the ph up, (FC above 10 can cause a false high ph reading).
    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: Borax questions

    It's possible that your carbonate alkalinity was at, or near, zero. Since you haven't added any baking soda, you should add about 5 pounds to get some in the water. The first pool store TA reading of 60 ppm is probably inaccurate. The "Base" result of 45 would indicate a very low TA, certainly not 60 ppm. Also, the first TA reading is only 20 ppm lower than the second, which does not correspond to the amount of Borax that you have added.

    The calcium readings are also probably wrong due to the high copper levels. The calcium went from 420 ppm to 240 ppm, which isn't going to happen.

    The cyanuric acid is probably well above 100 ppm. You could make up two samples to have tested for calcium hardness and cyanuric acid.

    1) 50 % pool water and 50 % distilled water. Multiply the result by 2
    2) 25 % pool water and 75 % distilled water. Multiply the result by 4

    If the multiplied results are reasonably close, then they might be in the correct range.

    Do you have any idea of how many pounds of trichlor 3" tabs have been used?

    You have to be careful not to overshoot the pH target as you are at high risk for copper stains. You are probably already seeing copper borate precipitating out of solution (blue/green or turquoise). Copper cyanurate is also likely to precipitate out at high pH (copper cyanurate is purple, violet or amethyst).

    This is one of the situations where it might be worth draining and refilling if it could be done safely. The copper and cyanuric acid are way too high and will continue to cause you problems. Alternatively, if reverse osmosis is available, then that would probably be a good idea.

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    Re: Borax questions

    I'm using borax not soda ash. The first dosage was 10lbs of ph-up which I believe is soda ash then 9 boxes of borax.

    We have been using the tricolor tans for years. No idea how many pounds that is

    So should I get the ph up first then adjust the fc level?

    Should I deal with removing the copper before raising the ph to avoid staining?
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Borax questions

    The only way to remove copper is to drain and refill or use reverse osmosis. There are some products such as CuLator that claim to remove copper, but they remain unproven.

    I would probably want to drain and refill if it could be done safely, or use reverse osmosis if it is available. Otherwise, you are probably going to get copper stains, including in people's hair.

    Is the first set of test results before or after adding the pH up?

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    Re: Borax questions

    The first test results are about three days after adding the ph-up
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Borax questions

    Quote Originally Posted by anomale
    The first test results are about three days after adding the ph-up
    Then the first TA result could be accurate because 10 pounds of pH up would raise the TA by 60 ppm.

    I think that the copper and cyanuric acid are going to cause you problems. I think that draining and refilling would be best, if you can do it safely. If you have high ground water, then draining could risk floating the pool. [edit]There can also be some risk due to thermal expansion and contraction of the fiberglass, which might cause the fiberglass to delaminate if the fiberglass is not well bonded to the substrate or if the fiberglass expands or contracts too much relative to the substrate.[end edit]

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    Re: Borax questions

    I'm planning to drain it after winter but for now I'll look for some metal and if they are cheap enough I'll try them out I dont think our water table is that high to cause any issues. It's not that wet in the desert
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Borax questions

    I agree with what JamesW says about needing to drain and refill, but I would wait for your test kit before you do it. For now, my recommendation would be what I posted above.
    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.

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Borax questions

    Thanks for the help. I'll focus on the ph for now one question regarding staining. If in fact the copper does start staining the pool is there a way to easily remove the stains later?
    19,000 gal in ground pool / spa, fiberglass liner, DE filters, BBB, TF-100 test kit

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: Borax questions

    Quote Originally Posted by anomale
    Thanks for the help. I'll focus on the ph for now one question regarding staining. If in fact the copper does start staining the pool is there a way to easily remove the stains later?
    Copper stains can be particularly difficult to remove.

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