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Thread: Looking for some opinions

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Looking for some opinions

    Hi all!
    This is my 5th season with my pool; it's a 16x34 in-ground, vinyl lined pool, with a coverstar automatic cover. I have an in-line chlorine feeder that uses 3" trichlor tabs, and a hayward cartridge filter.

    The first year, the pool was a dream--it used almost no chlorine; I maintained 3-5 ppm with the feeder set to 1 or 1/2; pool was crystal clear. I had the installer close and reopen the next year, seemingly without incident. The following year it was also fine, but over a vacation I ran out of chlorine and came back to a cloudy pool. Managed to clear it, but had trouble keeping the FC level up. This is where things started to go bad. Pool co. closed the pool, I opened it in the spring, and immediately ran into the ammonia issue; Read about the problem here, and managed to get the pool back by superchlorinating with about maybe 12 gallons of 12% chlorine. Same thing next season, but required even more chlorine. Each year it has also gotten harder to maintain the PH at a high enough level; the pool likes to come down to 6.8 and it is a lot of constant effort getting it higher.

    This year has been the worst so far. On opening, I think because of an exceptionally mild winter, we had some green algae; ammonia was >8ppm, and pH was over 8. Since all I read told me to knock the pH down before superchlorinating, I got it down to about 7.6 with Muriatic Acid, then had to add ~50 gallons of 12% chlorine before I eliminated the ammonia and got the FC to hold. But that brought my pH back down to <6.6. Added 3 boxes of borax and and 10 lb of pH Up, and that has only brought me to about 6.9. My total Alk last I checked was ~180 so I am loathe to add anything else. I also had quite a bit of cloudiness (probably from dead algae) that seems to be (slowly) clearing up with addition of a clarifier. My only aeration options are running the slide and tilting my returns up to get some rippling, but that seems to do nothing for the pH. I understand that keeping the cover closed tends to keep the pH low, so I have been opening it more frequently, but that increases to need for Chlorine. Catch 22!

    So I am contemplating 2 things. Obviously, if I scrap the trichlor feeder and go with liquid chlorine and no CYA and keep the cover closed much of the time, I should be able to avoid the ammonia problem. Would switching to salt generation do the same thing? Seems like that would just be adding FC into the system without CYA either. The third option is the Liquidator, but I am not sure about having a liquid chlorine pump and having to keep a stockpile of liquid chlorine, especially with a 9-year-old boy in the house...And how will either method affect the pH problem I am having? Looks like total/monthly costs are comparable between the two systems.

    Lastly, would switching to either method necessitate draining and refilling the pool? I'd prefer not to as a)I have nowhere to drain to and b)I'd have to buy new water as my well water is hard and has iron in it.

    Any comments would be great!


  2. Back To Top    #2
    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: Looking for some opinions

    The presence of ammonia has nothing to do with how you add chlorine. Ammonia appears sometimes over the winter due to the breakdown of CYA caused by bacteria growing in the water over the winter. The only way to completely prevent that is to add chlorine over the winter, which can get problematic when the pool is winterized.

    You have to have some CYA in an outdoor pool, otherwise you lose all of your chlorine to sunlight very quickly each day. If you use a chlorine source other than trichlor and keep your cover on most of the time you can kept the CYA level fairly low.

    The PH constantly going down is a side effect of using trichlor tablets. They are fairly acidic. Using a cover prevents CO2 outgassing, which would otherwise help compensate for that.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: Looking for some opinions

    Hi, John,

    Build yourself a cheap fountain out of PVC and attach it to your returns...that'll take care of your aeration.

    Not sure why you are having the bouts with Ammonia.....are you loosing your CYA every year? That would explain it.

    Liquid Chlorine or bleach is simply the BEST way to chlorinate ANY pool....unfortunagtle, it's not the most convenient. Perhaps you could use a combination of tabs and liquid to manage the parameters of your pool.

    I am not a huge fan of the liquidator only because I had to clean mine too often.....others have had great success.

    There is no need to drain your water. It is perfect....all you have to do is get the things out of it that are not perfect. Seriously, you can fix whatever issues you have without draining.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Re: Looking for some opinions

    What I meant regarding the ammonia was that if I was not using the tabs for chlorination, I would have no (or low) CYA, and little for the bacteria to convert to ammonia. As for my CYA level, I NEVER get a reading above zero on test strips, and using the test kit in my testing set (the kit recommended here) it has always been quite low - 20 tops. Of course I find that test to be somewhat subjective.

    I keep the pool closed whenever it is not in use, to keep it clean and minimize chlorine loss. That seems to mean it also minimizes pH. But if I keep it closed but use liquid chlorine or a salt generation system and minimal CYA, perhaps I can keep the pH at a reasonable level? Since CYA-eating bacteria is a problem here, obviously, I'd like to keep my CYA at a minimal level. As for chlorinating through the winter, most years the pool freezes (I am in NY) in the winter. If it isn't frozen I suppose I can dose it with chlorine a few times through the winter, but without circulation, would that be a good idea?


  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Looking for some opinions

    Also, HUGE thanks to both of you--the Pool Calculator is an incredible help, and my TFT test kit has saved me many times. This site is the best! You were the only place that helped me diagnose and solve my ammonia problem the first time it happened (Thanks Chem Geek!)


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