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Thread: New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Tecumseh, MI
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    New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

    First, thanks for having such a great site.
    Second, sorry for this being so lengthy - trying to be thorough since I see you guys frequently have to ask people for more info.
    Third, this is more about "general pool maintenance tips" rather than a "what's my problem" message like I see you get a lot of.

    Anything you guys can do to answer these questions would be a huge help. Thanks in advance:

    Here are the specs/details of my system:
    • Bought and moved into a house about a month ago and inherited a pool for the first time in my life.
    • 15x30 Oval, aluminum side, I “think” its water level is 48” (and not 54”…pretty sure on that), liner has a bit of a pebble texture to it. So it should be between 10,500 and 12,000 gallons.
    • The Filter (1-system but we have 2 filters that we swap out each Sunday) seems huge to me, I’ll have to post specs on them later as 1 has no info on it and the 1 WITH the info I just put into the system (gonna swap it again tomorrow as things are dirty from a rain – will post details then).
    • Waterway “ClearWater” Off-Line automatic Chlorinator (but it has no info on the dial so I’m only 90% sure I know which way is “on/off” and “more/less” but I think I got it).

    I’m doing my best to get educated, and TFP has been a great help. I’ve read through “Pool School” and many of the other links, and have a few questions that I could use some help on.

    Instructions I was given by the previous owners:
    • Run pump on hi 2-hrs/day and on low the rest of the time
    • I was told to keep 3 of the 3” tabs in it. I use the 3” Stabilized Tri-Chlor tabs from InTheSwim (saying “Tri-Chlor is about the extent of my vocab right now, so be careful not to talk over my head).
    • Was told the OTO 2-test kit is all I would need for such a small pool (and was told strips are unreliable, which it appears you guys agree with).
    • Told to keep Chlorine at 2.0 and pH btwn 7.2-7.6
    • Use Algaecide 1 time per week and brush down sides 1-time per week – they were using the standard “Aqua Chem Algaecide Liquid” with 10% Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride and 90% “other”.
    • They made NO mention of adding a shock product, although I did find a bag of the “AquaChem Shock Xtra Blue” in the trash.
    • Clean & Change filter once per week.
    It appears they took great care of it b/c it has been sparkling from the first day we looked at the house (until this weekend’s rain, while I’ll ask about in a moment).

    OK, questions I have:

    1) Do I need to use a chemical cleaning agent on those 2 filters (that rotate each week) more than twice per season?

    2) When people say “Backwash” your filter, is that as simple as gently power washing it with your hose shooting water from “outside-in” until all the debris and any discoloration are gone? Is it that simple?

    3) Do I need to add a shock product weekly, assuming regular use? (I live in Michigan and summers have gotten HOT & somewhat dry…I have 2 small children, not really a “pool party” host right now). Every other week? After major rain events?

    4) Am I good with just the 2-test OTO kit given the size of my pool and use/environment? If it matters, I top off the water level with clean city water. I previously read a thread here that said as long as the water is clear, no signs of algae and things seem OK, the simple 2-test kit is all I need. I also read elsewhere that the bigger test kits are really only a need for bigger pools (ours falls in the small category).

    5) If/When you do recommend using a shock product, if my chlorine tabs are “Tri-Chlor”, does it matter what chemical I use for shock? I know that I DO want to make sure it’s “professional strength” for AC (I know pool store or InTheSwim products are 65% AC, but the Walmart HTH stuff is more like 48%). But does it matter if it is Cal-Hypo (which I have some from a pool store and from InTheSwim) vs a Sodium Dichloro-s-triazinetrione that comes in that Aqua Chem product? Basically, I need to know if it is ok to use the Tri-chlor tabs while using Cal-Hypo shock products, or if the Tri-Chlor tabs mean I have to use a Di/Tri-chlor shock (IF you guys say I need shock – remember I haven’t read you answer to that yet).

    6) Side note, that “s” in the Dichlor-Triaz stands for “stabilized”, right? B/C I know that is really bad for shock products.

    7) Do you guys have a preference between Cal-Hypo vs Di/Tri-chlor for your shock products? Because I swear I have seen mixed opinions on this message board.

    8) If I am an idiot and once added Cal-Hypo shock and left my solar cover on, would that have led to the Cl reading staying REALLY high for several days?

    9) Algaecide – is the AquaChem product I mentioned in the descrption I gave at the beginning good for me with my pool size? Or do you recommend something stronger/better than that product. And/Or, what do you think about InTheSwim “Algaecide-50”, InTheSwim regular Algaecide , and InTheSwim “Algaecide-60 Plus”. I know you only recommend “Polyquats”, but I’m having a hard time telling if the InTheSwim products have it, though it appears this current AquaChem product does not.

    10) We have had a VERY VERY dry summer here, hadn’t had rain in WEEKS, and everything was burnt to a crisp in the yards. We just had 3 days of fall-type rain (some downpours, some long-steady drizzles, some wind, cool temps). I can see “sand”sitting on the bottom, very normal just from the yard and sand that surrounds the pool. But there also is a lighter substance on the bottom, mostly the 2-feet from the edges toward the middle all the way around, but NOT on the side walls of the pool, and really not in the center either. Is it most likely (given the dry summer) that this is just residue from “dirty rain” from all the dust and dryness, and that it is likely NOT an algae? We brushed the sides and bottom today (did NOT vacuum yet), and now it’s pretty cloudy (but not CRAZY Cloudy). This is the first shred of cloudiness since we moved in. I plan to add Shock tonight (remember as of this moment I don’t know your answer to #3).

    11) If it matters, I haven’t added any shock or restocked the tabs/chlorinator yet this week (there are still a little bit of the previous tabs left in the chlorinator), but even with the chlorinator on high, the Cl is sitting around .5 on the OTO. Normal b/c of the rain and a shock product (cal hypo) this evening will fix it?

    12) What can you tell me about filter pressure? When it’s on low, it’s pretty much zero, and when it’s on high it’s usually around 9 or 10.


    Again, thanks for such a great site and all your help.
    ~12,500 sqft above ground, 95 sq ft Sta-Rite Posi-Clear Cartridge filter, installed by previous owner in 2010?, Proud TF100 user!

  2. Back To Top    #2
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Silver Spring, MD
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    Re: New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

    Welcome to TFP!

    1) No, and best not to use an acid based cleaner at all. You only need to do more than rinse off the cartridges when the filter pressure no longer goes back to normal after cleaning.
    2) Right. Backwashing is really something you do with sand and DE filters, and not cartridges. Hosing off the cartridge is the equivalent.
    3) No, only if there is some specific reason to shock the pool.
    4) No, you really want a better test kit. For one thing, trichlor will be slowly raising your CYA level, and when it gets too high there will be problems. You can save yourself time and money by getting a better test kit.
    5) You can't use trichlor to shock, it dissolves too slowly. Avoid dichlor (Sodium Dichloro-s-triazinetrione) completely, it raises CYA way way too quickly. Cal-hypo is alright as long as your CH level is low, but we recommend using liquid chlorine (which is the same thing as bleach).
    6) Right.
    7) Where is there a mixed message? I can't think of any time you would ever want to use either dichlor or trichlor to shock.
    8) No. Calcium goes up slowly and does not go down except for splash out. High chlorine levels might wear out the solar cover more quickly, but they would need to be fairly high before that was an issue.
    9) We don't recommend using algaecide regularly. There are some times when it is handy, but mostly it is not needed.
    10) Right, just dirt. Vacuum it up.
    11) Maybe, it depends on your CYA level.
    12) That is normal. Use the high speed filter pressure to determine when to clean the filter. When it goes up 25% over the clean filter pressure, it is time to clean the filter.
    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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    Tecumseh, MI
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    Re: New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

    Thank you Jason, lots of help there for me. I do appreciate it and it will make me a dedicated user of the site.

    Regarding the #6 mixed message - it wasn't in a "article" of the site, it was part of a couple post-reply conversations I had seen over the last 2-3 weeks...not sure which ones they were at this point, sorry.

    Regarding #3, for a pool my size, with not tons of use, what would you consider to be a "specific reason" to shock the pool?

    Regarding #8, the only other time I used pool shock was 2 weeks ago. I (not knowing it was bad), left the solar cover on for a day...but the chlorine levels actually stayed HIGH for 3-4 days. I was curious if the cover staying on would have some how capped the chlorine from escaping, or if there was some other reason (which I know is hard to pinpoint without test data).

    Finally, given that I'm a novice, with my pool size and family size/usage, do you have a particular test kit that you think fits my needs best? Certainly I assume I need a CYA test since I'm using a stabilized tab. Do the kits that possess a CYA test generally always come with both FC and CC or at least FC and TC (or AC, whatever the 2 different chlorines are that I need to know). Do any of those kits (preferably those in the novice price range) show a clear aglae test result? pH seems to be in every kit. Any kit in particular seem geared towards someone like me?
    ~12,500 sqft above ground, 95 sq ft Sta-Rite Posi-Clear Cartridge filter, installed by previous owner in 2010?, Proud TF100 user!

  4. Back To Top    #4
    linen's Avatar
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    Re: New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiesman84
    Regarding the #6 mixed message - it wasn't in a "article" of the site, it was part of a couple post-reply conversations I had seen over the last 2-3 weeks...not sure which ones they were at this point, sorry.
    Sorry about that...we are redoubling our efforts to keep it simple here and that means doing the shocking process with bleach/liquid chlorine being our recommended approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiesman84
    Regarding #3, for a pool my size, with not tons of use, what would you consider to be a "specific reason" to shock the pool?
    If you have algae/organics. If you look at the shocking process, there are three criteria listed. If you fail any of those three criteria, then you need to do the shocking process, but if you pass all three, then no shocking process needed. What you are referring too...periodic maintenance shocking...is not recommend on here at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiesman84
    Regarding #8, the only other time I used pool shock was 2 weeks ago. I (not knowing it was bad), left the solar cover on for a day...but the chlorine levels actually stayed HIGH for 3-4 days. I was curious if the cover staying on would have some how capped the chlorine from escaping, or if there was some other reason (which I know is hard to pinpoint without test data).
    Yes, keeping the cover on can protect your chlorine from being broken down from the sun (depending on how opaque it is). However, it also prevents CC from being removed by the sun. It is possible that your high chlorine was actually partially CC (which measures as TC on the OTO chlorine test). CC is "the bad chlorine" and gives the pool that "chlorine" smell, you want this gone as quick as possible, therefore we recommend leaving the cover off when shocking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiesman84
    Any kit in particular seem geared towards someone like me?
    My pool is also 11000 gallons agp. I highly recommend the TF-100. It has all the tests you need and plenty of reagents.
    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.

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    SW Ohio
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    Re: New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

    The tf100 test kit from tftestkits.net is the best on the market it has plenty of reagents and is the best bang for your buck. I would also like to add that test kits are not designed for specific sized pools a great test kit will work for any size pool and the only way to PROPERLY maintain your pool is with a good quality test kit........Mike
    18x52 intex ultra frame pool 6981 gallons, 1 HP LL pump with 19 in sand filter,BBB method,borax 50ppm
    leslies DPD test kit + fas-dpd chlorine test kit + borates test strips
    thru wall skimmer,hard plumbed with 2 returns 1 1/2 sch 40 pvc
    1 large fountain 1 inch sch 40 pvc,shut off ball valves on all

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: New pool owner - looking for some clarifications

    Thanks to both of you - big helps. I really appreciate it.
    ~12,500 sqft above ground, 95 sq ft Sta-Rite Posi-Clear Cartridge filter, installed by previous owner in 2010?, Proud TF100 user!

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