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Thread: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

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    Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    Greetings all. I'm a newbie, both here and to pools. I'll try to get all the information you guys need to give me some good advice.

    My basic pool specs are in my signature, as suggested. We purchased the house in December of 2010 and the pool looked beautiful. On closing day, the pump died. The company who owned the house hadn't put the little "hands" on to make the pool turn on and off, so we're guessing they burnt the motor out -- and the home warranty doesn't cover the pool! It took us about 4 months to get the pump repaired, so during that time, the pool wasn't running at all.

    Then our husband began to work the chems and get it swimmable. For a little while, things went well. Then suddenly, the pool was GREEN. You couldn't see the bottom, even in the shallow end. The more he tried, the worse it got. Until the pool began *bubbling*! He was dead-set to drain it -- and by now, the temps here in Arizona were hitting 100 daily. We contacted a couple places and they all said: DON'T DRAIN! We would risk cracking our pool, if we did so.

    We contacted the place who repaired our pump (pump? filter? the little motor to the side of the big sand "bell" thing). They had a guy come out and he worked for about a month, I want to say (maybe less) to get it back to swimmable. He noted we had a couple (three) stains remaining and said we'd probably want to drain this winter and consider some maintenance. And then we established service (the deluxe service) with them.

    This service was supposed to: manage chemicals, brush, backwash, skim and vacuum the pool weekly. We've had 4-5 visits by our "regular" guy. We noticed almost immediately there were "slimey spots". My wife and I would use sponges or scrub brushes to dive and scrub -- free diving, no masks, so short bursts of scrubbing. We typically swim towards dusk and in the late evening hours, so we can't always see the pool as we're getting in. Last week, we noticed the stained areas seemed to be growing larger. And the pool was taking on a green cast.

    We called the company on Thursday. They sent someone out on Friday, who looked but did nothing. We heard nothing all weekend. My wife called today to yell at them and they tried to blame the problems on (1) not enough returns in the pool and (2) the age of the pool -- neither problem having been mentioned after they cleaned up the first problem and agreed to service our pool. (It was mentioned that one return was not really enough by modern standards, but it was never said that would create a problem in their professional maintenance.) Verdict from them: we have Black Algae. We're looking at a minimum of 1, probably more like 2 weeks of not being able to swim in our pool. Our regular guy has been spending less than 10 minutes at our house each week. It takes us 10 minutes just to skim the pool! How is he testing, skimming, brushing, vacumming and backwashing in that time? My guess is: he isn't.

    So, my wife and I have decided to take on the pool ourselves (after the service cleans it up!). There's a *lot* online about Black Algae -- some of it contradictory. What should we expect these guys to be doing? Until we can get to the winter months to drain, scrub (and fix the surface, which is doubtful due to cost), how can we battle these blooms?

    Currently, our pump has been turned off and is not supposed to be turned on again until tomorrow AM. Our local Leslie's gal said that sometimes the sand filter can become a nest-bed for the algae. Is that true? Should we be doing *anything* to support the pool guys? Or will that alter how they think the pool is improving and/or their chems?

    What questions don't I know to ask? Oh -- and for when we're on our own -- can you point me to a good place in the forum which compares the various automatic/robotic cleaners and/or a place I can see reviews of these units?

    Thanks,

    Anne.
    Anne Kaelber
    Our Pool: 24,570 gallons, sand filter, IG plaster, 1 SHP Pentair Super Flo pump
    http://blog.annekaelber.com -- my blog
    http://www.diregiraffe.com -- Home of the SAWS+ Character Sheets!

  2. Back To Top    #2
    linen's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    Twin Cities, MN
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    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    Greetings all.
    Welcome TFP!
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    He noted we had a couple (three) stains remaining and said we'd probably want to drain this winter and consider some maintenance.
    Are these stains the suspected "black algae"?
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    Last week, we noticed the stained areas seemed to be growing larger. And the pool was taking on a green cast.
    You need to do the shocking process (link in my sig). Read it carefully, it is probably different then what you might have been told shocking is. This process works!
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    Verdict from them: we have Black Algae.
    Could you post a picture or describe the black algae?
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    Our regular guy has been spending less than 10 minutes at our house each week. It takes us 10 minutes just to skim the pool! How is he testing, skimming, brushing, vacumming and backwashing in that time? My guess is: he isn't.
    Without being close to the situation, sounds like you should move on from this service. We are more than willing to help you do it yourself! I wouldn't wait for the "service" to do it, it sounds like they have not done a good job up to now.
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    Currently, our pump has been turned off and is not supposed to be turned on again until tomorrow AM.
    Did they say why? When shocking a pool you want to run the pump 24/7.
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    Our local Leslie's gal said that sometimes the sand filter can become a nest-bed for the algae. Is that true?
    Not if you are chlorinating correctly.
    Quote Originally Posted by annekaelber
    What questions don't I know to ask? Oh -- and for when we're on our own -- can you point me to a good place in the forum which compares the various automatic/robotic cleaners and/or a place I can see reviews of these units?
    I know this sounds overwhelming, but we can help fix your pool water and learn how to keep it that way. You need to decide if you want to take control (of course with our help) or if you try and have the service/pool store do it. Trying to use both sources will not work.

    Read pool school and let us know if you have any questions!
    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.

  3. Back To Top    #3
    frogabog's Avatar
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    Portland, Oregon
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    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    What Linnen said ^^^^^^ above.

    If you do this yourself, chances are it won't be two weeks before you can swim. But you're going to need a FAS-DPD test kit. If you're going to fire the pool company, you'll need the test kit anyway so consider just getting it now even if you have them fix the pool. At least that way you'll know if they're doing it correctly (which they won't be... not the way we teach it here) and you can fire them sooner if you like :~}
    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.

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    You have come to the right place!

    Here is my first post:

    diving-in-to-bbb-t8581.html

    Here is my post after all the help I received from everyone on this board:

    whatever-happened-to-the-guy-who-drained-his-whole-pool-t9301.html

    The folks here know pools and they will help you fix your pool problem.

    Be sure to read carefully and take the good advice that is offered!

    "Whatever happened to the guy who drained his whole pool?"
    27,000 gal plaster in-ground
    Compupool 40k SWG from eBay - works great!
    Polaris 380
    Hayward DE
    1.4 HP Hayward Northstar pump
    Two FAFCO Solar Bear panels now heating the pool!

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    We are stunned by the overnight change in our pool -- from green to almost blue again. And there's NO black spots on the floor of the pool. The water is a little cloudy still and we've been told it's NOT swimmable. The pool guy is coming back tomorrow and we'll see where we are then.

    I'm really curious what he did to get such a dramatic result *overnight*!

    Sadly, we didn't photograph the pool in any of the worsening stages, so we have no images of the supposed black algae. I can say it was developing larger "slime-y" patches as we were swimming in the pool, so I guessed it was some form of algae.

    Anne.
    Anne Kaelber
    Our Pool: 24,570 gallons, sand filter, IG plaster, 1 SHP Pentair Super Flo pump
    http://blog.annekaelber.com -- my blog
    http://www.diregiraffe.com -- Home of the SAWS+ Character Sheets!

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    Wish you had a test kit so we could see what the water says he did.
    23,000 gallon in ground pool with rock waterfall and spillover spa, Aqualink control system, Polaris 380 cleaner, Purex Triton Clean&Clear Plus cartridge filter. Located in The Woodlands, Texas.

    Pool owner since Nov 2008, Trouble Free since April 2009. Happy to help when I can.

  7. Back To Top    #7
    frogabog's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    1,578

    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    Overnight results always mean too high chlorine. How high?... unknown. Like Anona said, wish you had a kit so you'd at least know if he over dosed the pool or not.

    So he just left you with that? And that's supposed to fix it for good? When/how will you know it's actually fixed? Did he bother to test the pool, and furthermore... did he bother to share the test results with you?

    See, the underlying problem here is that he dumped something (unknown) into your pool and walked away. That's not how we fix pools here. And as such, we're unable to troubleshoot it to help you much. Sorry :~{

    Edit: ok, I re-read your post and I see that he's coming back tomorrow. I'd ask him to tell you exactly what he put in, what he is going to put in, and why. AND... for him to give you test results that can show you what's happening in your pool. If he can't test, he can't possibly dose your pool and I would not let him do anything further. It's great that it's better looking, but like I said above such dramatic results are the result of far too high chlorine. It's a fake quick fix, the pool store way unfortunately.
    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.

  8. Back To Top    #8

    Re: Newbie + Black Algae = Unswimmable pool!

    When I attacked the black algae at my friends pool we dosed up to mustard algae shock levels briefly, kept it at shock level after and scrubbed for days. Given how hard we worked, I cannot imagine that happening overnight.
    23,000 gallon in ground pool with rock waterfall and spillover spa, Aqualink control system, Polaris 380 cleaner, Purex Triton Clean&Clear Plus cartridge filter. Located in The Woodlands, Texas.

    Pool owner since Nov 2008, Trouble Free since April 2009. Happy to help when I can.

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