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Thread: New House - First Pool - The Pan Pool Project - Help!

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    New House - First Pool - The Pan Pool Project - Help!

    Hi everyone. We purchased a new house (Orlando,FL) and this is our first pool & spa. It is in rough rough shape. I'm wondering if anyone can take a look at these two pictures and answer some of my basic questions. As much as everyone is going to tell me to call a professional that's not in my nature. The Project Goal (PPPG): I WILL get this up and running myself. So it's a large challenge because I know nothing about pools.

    Pool/spa Image:
    Obviously its dark with allege floating on the top with critters living / jumping around. It has been unused for over a year. I assume the only way to get this back to normal health is to pump / wash / acid wash and refill. (No one has come to look at it, but I called two professionals. 1 said a drain and acid was is the way to go. The second said a drain and wash is not needed and a waste of money (in water for the refill).

    I'm wondering if someone can look at this picture and tell me what I have. I'm a very handy guy when it comes to anything from cars to computers to building, plumbing and electrical. I know nothing about pools. Obviously there is equipment here. But what do I have? what do I need. Again this is a pool and a spa. I would like the spa to be heated, I think the heater left with the old owners. This is the first post of many so lets get started...

    Any advice you can give is much appreciated.


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    Re: New House - First Pool - The Pan Pool Project - Help!

    I would like to followup on this post. After doing some reading in the 'Pool School' section it seems like an acid wash is just a waste and the chemical option is the better way to start. From what I'm gathering the first step is to have a working pump. Which brings me back to my 1st post. The equipment looks rough compared with other posts I have seen. A little help in understanding what I have would be nice.

    From what I have learned from a few friends with pools I would ultimately like to go with a salt system. If I am able to shock the pool long enough with chlorine, will this inhibit my switching to a salt system as soon as I have clear water?

    again thanks,

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    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: New House - First Pool - The Pan Pool Project - Help!

    Welcome to the forum. YOur pool is not in terribly bad shape. An acid wash should only be considered if you have mineral stains on the pool surface that are not removable any other way.

    Think of your project this way......The water in there is absolutely perfect.....all you have to do is kill the living organisms and then mechanically remove or filter out all the physical debris and your pool will be crystal clear. Seriously, it will.

    I suggest you start by removing all physical debris you can scoop out of the pool. You can buy a LARGE leaf net for this purpose. At the same time, you are correct about getting the pump and filter running and functional. You cannot get rid of the debris in the pool without them both operational.

    Once you have them going, you need to read ABC's of Pool water Chemistry in Pool School and prepare to shock your pool. This process will take a few days and will be sort of the last step to reclaiming your pool. All of us here will help you step by step....just ask questions and read Pool School.

    Nothing you do now will have any affect on your ability to run an SWG when the time comes.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Bedfordshire, UK

    Re: New House - First Pool - The Pan Pool Project - Help!

    The first of your photos has a pump at the left, with a couple of valves on the suction side of the pump in the left foreground. These two valves will select various options of skimmers and main drains to pull water from the pool and spa - it's a case of running the system and figuring out what is what. Make sure that something is open before you start the pump - the central position on each valve is probably closed, in which case you should ensure there is at least one valve not in the central position before starting the pump.

    The pump looks as if it may need some attention before you can run it - in particular it looks like there's a ring missing that should seal the clear cover firmly to the pump body (I believe IĀ*can see a thread where that ring should go, but no ring). If this ring is missing and you can lift the clear cover easily, you will need to buy that ring as a spare part, also the special spanner to loosen the ring, assuming that that, too, is missing.

    Of course, there is no point spending any money on the pump if it is unserviceable. If the body is cracked from freezing, it likely to need replacement - the same may well apply if the mechanism turns out to be completely seized, though that may just be bad bearings. You need to be careful about spending too much money on a pump with an unknown history - a new pump may be a better bet and you may be able to go for a more energy-efficient option. However, it is best not to replace anything until you know that the pool is not hiding any major problems that you can't afford to fix at present. It is far better to get what you have working for now.

    That clear cover goes over a basket that catches any garbage before it damages the pump. You need to clean out this basket periodically. Turn off the pump if it is running and close all the valves on the suction side before undoing the ring, removing the cover and lifting the basket out of the pump for cleaning. To reassemble, put the basket back in the pump, fill the chamber with water (it's such a small amount that you can use a garden hose or bucket - it can be any source of clean water and doesn't have to be pool water), then place the clear cover on the chamber, and hand tighten the ring. Many manufacturers tell you only to use the special spanner to loosen the ring - hand tight is usually enough. You can then open the suction side valves and turn on the pump. If the pump won't prime, close the suction side valves, refill the chamber with water, refit the cover and ring, open the suction side valves and try again.

    If you are in an area where the pool might freeze, it is possible that one or more of the lines has bungs fitted to keep water out as part of 'winterising' the pool. This is worth checking before you try the pump if possible, so as not to risk pulling the bung hard into the pipe. However, the thought of putting your hand into the green goop may put you off.

    The output side of the pump is connected to a multiport valve, which allows you to select various options to do with the filter. Normally, you have this valve set to 'Filter'. There are likely also settings for:
    • 'Backflush' - run water backwards through the filter and down the drain to clean out the garbage in the filter - there should be a sight glass or similar to see the waste water, which you should check is in place and sealed effectively by its O ring before running any water down the waste line, otherwise you may have an inadvertent geyser[/*:m:2yc96hyy]
    • 'Rinse' - runs water through the filter then to waste - you should always rinse after you backflush[/*:m:2yc96hyy]
    • 'Waste' - pump the water directly down the drain[/*:m:2yc96hyy]
    • 'Recirculate' (may or may not be present) - return the water to the pool without going through the filter (only usually used if you need to run the pump whilst the filter is unusable)[/*:m:2yc96hyy]
    • 'Closed' (may or may not be present) - stops any water flowing through the valve; do not run the pump in this setting![/*:m:2yc96hyy]

    There looks to be a waste line exiting the multiport valve under the inlet line - in the UK this would be connected directly to the foul drain (I believe the US term is 'sanitary sewer'), but I don't know what US practice is.

    What is harder to see is what is on the outlet side of the filter. The valve in the foreground at the right will select where the water is returned to - again, it is a question of running the system and figuring out what is what. The valves behind that select equipment that is hard to see on the photo - the vertical device appearing just to the right of the filter looks like a chlorinator to dispense stabilised chlorine pucks into the pool water. These pucks are not the recommended primary method to chlorinate your water on these forums as they add free chlorine and cyanuric acid together - see the Pool School for more details.

    The only item I can't identify is the large diameter vertical line with the corroded metal cover in the centre of the picture. This looks like some kind of line through which air is drawn, possibly by spa jets or similar. I'm not familiar with this type of equipment, however.

    I cannot see any sign of a heater. Beware of heating an outdoor pool or spa - it can be an expensive undertaking, especially if you can't cover the spa when it is not in use and/or you can't prevent spillover from the spa to the pool. The shape of your spa may make covering the spa rather awkward. In particular, it can be a mistake to fit a gas or electric heater without considering how much energy it is going to use. There are great 'alternative energy' options available, including solar and heat pumps, but you really need specialist advice as to advise on the best system for your pool. If you want to heat the spa but not the pool, you may ultimately land up needing a separate pump and filter for the spa to keep the heated spa water separate from the unheated pool water.

    As duraleigh says, there's no reason to dump the water just because it is swamp like. My indoor pool started off that way, as the fibreglass shell had to be weighted down with water before much of the concrete was poured, and it was weeks before the pump and filter could be commissioned. A drum of sodium hypochlorite bleach turned the water instantly clear. I then added salt and commissioned my SWCG.

    You need to get the pump and filter running, including making sure that the sight glass and O ring that I expect are on the waste output of the multiport valve are serviceable so that you can backflush the garbage in the filter down the drain without getting an unexpected shower. Once you get the pump and filter running, you should figure out what each valve does and label it. If you post photos of the plumbing to the right of your first shot from other angles, we may be able to help further in figuring it out.

    The other things you are going to need are a good test kit (follow the links in duraleigh's signature for some great options) and lots of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) to shock the water. Hopefully some of the Americans can suggest the cheapest sources of sodium hypochlorite. I'd avoid calcium hypochlorite, as the water may already be high in calcium hardness.

    Until the pool is remotely clear, it will be impossible to get most tests to read sensibly on a standard test kit - the FAS-DPD test that will help with the shocking process is a likely exception. That said, it may well be worth taking a sample of water in a bucket, adding bleach slowly whilst stirring until the water clears. You can then test for pH - if this is high, it may be worth adding acid as advised by the pool calculator in order to help the shocking process.

    It will help to work out the volume of the pool and spa in order to calculate the amounts of chemicals to add (the Pool Calculator web site is really helpful for this). The irregular shape isn't going to help, though a bit of measuring and simple maths should deliver a good approximation.

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    Re: New House - First Pool - The Pan Pool Project - Help!

    DavidJW and Duraleigh I cant thank you enough for the information you have provided. It will be about a week and a half before I will have some time to work on this. I will report back with my findings. Fastastic posts.


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