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Thread: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

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    First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Hey guys, I looked around the web and this seemed like one of the best pool forums, so I just joined. I just bought a house with a pool, here in southern Arizona. I've never had a pool before. The house was vacant while on the market for like 6 months, so the pool needs some help. It looks like it was at least cleaned and chlorine tablets added during that time, so that is good. The water looks very clear and I see no green or algae or anything like that. There is some scale on the tile. I used some test stips (I'm just trying to get ballpark numbers, I'll use the liquid test kit afterward) and it looks like my pool's chemicals are pretty bad...???

    Setup:
    In ground pool. Plaster (I think?). House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. About 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter (I just installed a new cartridge). Pump works great.

    Chemical balance (according to test strips):
    Ph: ~7.8
    TA: ~240
    FC: ~10
    Stabalizer: ~300

    I know, in general, what those tests are, but I don't know what those numbers mean! Other than they are way off where they should be according to the chart...

    Thanks for any help you can give! My pool is 70 degrees and I want to swim!
    IGP, concrete and plaster. House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter. 1HP pump.

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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    With a stabilizer of 300 you will need to do a few partial refills to get that down.
    Read Pool School and get a good test kit, see my signature below.
    Welcome to the forum!
    18' x 42" Intex (4786 Gal @ 80% capacity) Intex 8110 SWCG, 2000 GPH cartridge filter.
    Full Sun, Well Water, Borates at approx. 50
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Welcome

    There are quite a few of us Southern AZ residents on the forum.

    The first thing I have to suggest is for you to get a good test kit (as you seem aware, the strips are not going to cut it). Recommended kits can be found HERE

    The second thing I have to suggest is that you read through Pool School (see the upper right of the web page) as many times as you can until you start to understand what is going on in your pool.

    It is good that your water is clear, but based on your numbers I am afraid that it may not stay that way for long. Assuming you do not have a Saltwater Chlorine Generator, you want the stabilizer level (CYA) around 50 ppm ... at ~300ppm (not sure any test actually reads this high though) there is no way you will keep enough FC in the pool to prevent algae from growing especially when the water heats up.

    So, where to start ...
    - I would have your water fully tested at a pool store just as another reference while you are waiting for your good kit to arrive in the mail.
    - If your CYA is really that high, you MUST start doing partial drains and refills OR find someone that will do a Reverse Osmosis Treatment on your pool (either of these options will also drop your calcium hardness which is also likely high).
    - And Read Read Read!!!

    Post up some pictures of your pool & equipment and add some details in your signature as a quick reference.

    If you have any specific questions, someone here will certainly have an answer.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Thanks guys. I have a regular test kit also, but my levels are so far off that when it says "keep adding drops until test sample changes color", I was using up half the bottle...

    I was afraid of the pool refill thing, since water here is big $$$ when you are talking 10,000 gallons or so... How much should/can I drain without messing up my pool? And there is no other way but to drain? (I'm guessing that is cheaper than having RO done? I've never heard of that for a pool...?). I was kind of hoping that the high FC would offset the high CYA... Doesn't work that way, huh?

    I have read through the pool school tutorial, it is very good stuff.

    Here is (an older version) of the strips I have:
    http://www.poolgeek.com/ProductImagesCu ... uctId=2947
    My tests show FC as dark purple, Ph as light orange, TA as dark green, and CYA as dark purple. I just want to make sure I am interpreting that right as having way high values...?

    Sorry guys, I'm just a bit overwhelmed with all this pool stuff... I didn't realize how much work they are.
    IGP, concrete and plaster. House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter. 1HP pump.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Well, once you get the levels where they are supposed to be ... the pool is not really that much work.

    Only way to reduce CYA and CH is through water change or RO ... no magic potion exists.

    I am not aware of RO options around here, but I have not looked for them. Here is a post about what the RO can do to a pool (not sure where this was):
    to-drain-or-not-to-drain-t41304-20.html#p340980

    If it is a plaster/pebble type pool and you are 100% sure that the local water table is below your pool, you can likely drain it completely (has been done to both pools I have had in Tucson). If you are not 100% certain, it is safer to only drain 50%-75% at a time. The problem is if you do a 50% drain your CYA will be halved, you will probably need to do this 2-3 times to get the CYA level in check. The more water you are able to replace at once, the faster the levels some down.

    You are correct that you can keep the FC high enough based on the CYA level ... for reference according to the poolcalulator.com ... at a CYA of 300ppm ... you have to maintain FC between 23 and 33 ppm and if you have to shock 58ppm

    I think I am just lucky that I actually have cheap water. So that filling my pool seems to be $30-$40. If you are on a sewer system, you should be able to call the water company and have you bill reduced so you are not charged sewer on the water going into your pool.

    Check out the Test Kit link in my signature and order one of those kits now. Very hard, if possible, to find locally. How old are your testing chemical and where where they stored (they may be bad).

    Keep reading and once you start "doing" things will start to make more sense.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Everyone is giving good advice. RO, drain and refill (partial and full) are the most common ways. Some folks here have tried some alternatives like drain and refill in place http://www.troublefreepool.com/refil...nt-t19800.html. Also, drain and refill with rain water. Richard320 documented his journey on doing this, but I can't seem to find the link.
    19,600 gal, Vinyl, Grecian L, StaRite Dura-Glas 1 HP pump, 3/4hp booster, Pentair Clean and Clear 420 Cartridge filter
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Good point about the drain in place idea, although not sure it is necessary in this case.

    Also not sure the rain water is going to be an option for at least another 4-5 months being in Southern AZ.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    My hesitation with draining the pool, even over the cost, is what to do with the water? I have tons of HUGE beautiful mesquite trees all around my yard, and I don't want to harm them with 20,000+ gallons of pool water with crazy-high chlorine, etc. levels. I live in the desert with a huge wash through my backyard, so otherwise it would be perfect. Maybe could I send the water into the sewer. Otherwise I guess I'll have to check into renting an RO machine... Anyone have any personal experience/advice with those?? Will that even help with my high of levels?
    IGP, concrete and plaster. House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter. 1HP pump.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Did you see the link in my last post with an example of the RO treatment results? Not sure it is something you rent. I think you have to hire a company to come out and do it for you.

    What sewer are your talking about putting the water into? Out at the street? If I did that it would just run over to the culvert and then come back in the wash along the back of my property.

    Odds are if you wait a day or 2, the FC level will be pretty low and not harmful to the trees ... if it is even currently harmful.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    About the RO... I just talked to a local company that does it and he said it was $300 the first day, and $10 per hour the second day, up to $200. With how bad my pool is, it is going to take well into the second day. $500! Screw that ****...

    So I guess I'm just going to pay for the fresh water, and pay for the sewer water (the sewer clean-out is in front of my house, I'd assume I could just drain into there), and pay to rent a pump, and pay to add all the chemicals to start over. Weak sauce... Haha, oh well. I'll get it all worked out sooner or later.

    Or maybe I'll just drain it dry and learn to skateboard...
    IGP, concrete and plaster. House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter. 1HP pump.

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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Drain it dry and you might end up with a boat
    18' x 42" Intex (4786 Gal @ 80% capacity) Intex 8110 SWCG, 2000 GPH cartridge filter.
    Full Sun, Well Water, Borates at approx. 50
    TFTestKit-100--The Pool Calculator--Pool School

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    You can rent the submersibles at HD or even buy one a Harbor Freight.

    There are a LOT of posts on here about using the pool water for irrigation (some even use it for their grass) ... I am pretty sure you could just pump it out into the wash with no ill effects or spread it around to all your trees.

    Be sure to check with the water company about not having to pay for the sewer if you are just filling your pool.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by George N
    Drain it dry and you might end up with a boat
    Well, here in Tucson the water table is like at 300+ feet, so I'm probably ok. But I will just do 50-70% changes just to make sure.
    IGP, concrete and plaster. House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter. 1HP pump.

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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Both of the pools I have had in Tucson were drained (once completely by accident and the other intentionally before I realized what could happen). I may not recommend it with a wash near the house during monsoon season ... but now I do not see a floater happening.

    Like I said before the more you can change at once, the faster the levels drop. Since you are replacing diluted chems in subsequent water changes requiring more water for the same affect.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    I'm still new at this but have a question in this case. How did anybody come up with a CYA level of 300? I'm sure his numbers are high, but dang that sounds out of the park high. Any chance that maybe the results are off some?

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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo
    I'm still new at this but have a question in this case. How did anybody come up with a CYA level of 300? I'm sure his numbers are high, but dang that sounds out of the park high. Any chance that maybe the results are off some?
    Yes, the op is using strips, so bet money on them being off.
    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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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    I agree I did not know any tests went that high ... that is why in my first post I suggested having a pool store test done to just confirm the OPs numbers were in the same ballpark. Although that may just come back with 100+

    big_g: What test did you use for the CYA? You should try to dillute your pool water with tap water (or distilled) and retest the CYA and see where it comes back ... may have to go to 33% or 25% pool water although the test looses accuracy doing this.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    WOW! I just saw the post for the strips (missed that the first time) and sure enough the test show's up to 300 on CYA and 1000 on the CH levels. Yet they only test up to 10 on the FC levels. Man......I'd LOVE to see just what products they're selling.

    I agree with jblizzle's statement. Have a second test tried before doing anything.

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    Re: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by big_g
    Thanks guys. I have a regular test kit also, but my levels are so far off that when it says "keep adding drops until test sample changes color", I was using up half the bottle...
    You were not doing a cya test if you were adding drops. Does this test kit have a CYA test? If it does, use it and tell us the number. If you have problems doing the test let us know that as well. If you do not have a good kit, do as jbliz said and get one (see link in my sig).
    Quote Originally Posted by big_g
    I was afraid of the pool refill thing, since water here is big $$$ when you are talking 10,000 gallons or so... How much should/can I drain without messing up my pool? And there is no other way but to drain? (I'm guessing that is cheaper than having RO done? I've never heard of that for a pool...?). I was kind of hoping that the high FC would offset the high CYA... Doesn't work that way, huh?
    If the 300 ppm CYA is true, a total drain and refill would probably be best. Since water is water is expensive and if you do not have a dry well and do not know your water table, then either RO or a " full pool with total water change (FPWTWC)" might be in order. Let us know if you want more info on the FPWTWC (I made that title up ).
    Quote Originally Posted by big_g
    Here is (an older version) of the strips I have:
    http://www.poolgeek.com/ProductImagesCu ... uctId=2947
    My tests show FC as dark purple, Ph as light orange, TA as dark green, and CYA as dark purple. I just want to make sure I am interpreting that right as having way high values...?
    I would ignore the strips for now since they are giving you pretty extreme values. Pool store numbers might and I stress might be better than the strips.
    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: First time pool owner and I want to swim, but...

    Thanks guys!! Honestly, the last time I used the liquid tests I have ZERO idea what I was doing, so I'll try again, specifically for the CYA. I also knew no better and bought my liquid test kit from Home Depot:
    http://www.homedepot.com/buy/outdoors-o ... 27256.html
    Which now that I look at, apparently does not test for CYA levels. So I'll buy a new kit, like the one you all recommend. In the meantime I suppose I will take a sample to the pool store. Either way, I'm sure the CYA levels are quite high even with the innacurate strips. I mean, unless they have a +-250ppm margin of error...

    I will try the 50/50 pool/fresh water test with the strips, take a sample to the store, and let you guys know.

    Right now I think I may just do a 70% drain into my sewer clean out in front of my house. Unless you all are certain that the water won't hurt my trees?
    IGP, concrete and plaster. House was built in 1982, pool appears to have been installed then. 15,000 gallons. Hayward C1200 filter. 1HP pump.

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