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Thread: Chlorine issues? Salt levels? - Image intensive

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    Chlorine issues? Salt levels? - Image intensive

    Posted on a competing website - but this seems like a much better place for it....

    I'm having issues with my salt water chlorination (Nature-Soft)

    I just bought this house and this is my first pool - so my apologies if this seems rather elementary.

    Instead of trying to explain everything, I figured I'd do it in pictures:

    Ok, last week I moved into this house. The pool was built in 2004 by Shasta Pools. It appears to be roughly 7,500-10,000 gallons (very rough estimate as there are no documents to support)



    I took a sample of the water to Shasta last Thursday to get a good idea of what I was looking at.



    Here is a test strip from the pool just a few moments ago:



    Ok - now that I've built the ground-work:

    Thursday, I noticed my nature-soft unit blinking Inspect Cell and No Flow - also, no green lights under chlorinating. I pulled a strip and saw some lousy results in the colors - so I threw a bag of weekly shock into the pool and waited 3 hours. I then called the 800 number on my nature-soft unit after resetting the unit. I was told to clean the generator, and given instructions on how to do it. I had acid handy so this was a breeze. I let it soak on both ends in the mixture for 10ish minutes then reloaded everything, got the air out of the system and then let it stabilize for a few minutes before again reseting the unit. I got a solid Check Cell light this time.

    I then decided to take a sample of the water to Shasta (see results above). The fella at the pool store said that the salt was a bit high, and that I should dump a couple inches of water to lower the salt numbers.

    I did that on Thursday and allowed the pool to fill back up all day Friday before I did anything further. Saturday came around and I'm getting similar results with a solid Check Cell light



    I'm now getting some (what looks like) red algae growing on the edges of the pool and hot tub?



    Also, the Jandy unit is showing salt levels at 1,900 ppm (which I think should be low and could account for my issues?





    Now, I need to get another sample over to the store for a better result - but since I'm here and they are closed, I figured that I'd ask you folks for advise. I don't want to just add salt to the pool relying on the figures I see from the Nature-Soft equipment - nor do I want to keep dumping water - but I do need to get control over this before my pool turns green.

    I understand another day won't hurt anything, and I'll get it tested first thing in the morning at the pool store.

    Your thoughts?[sub]

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    The displayed salt level is greatly influenced by the cell condition. Although you just cleaned the cell, it can be worn out and indicating the low salt. There should be an Aquarite test center that should allow you to bring in your cell and have them evaluate it. Call Hayward/Goldline to find out where their test centers are.

    Your water chemistry looks horrible and extremely scale forming. Scale on the blades will cause the cell to fail prematurely and is the worst condition for the cell.
    You can try dumping a few bags of salt and see the reaction of the cell. It should temporarily allow the system to work, but ultimately (I THINK) you will need to replace the cell. Once replaced, it should indicate that you have very high salt and will need to drain down the pool a foot or two!

    This would not be a bad idea anyway, as your chemical levels are all very high and needs dilution to lower anyway.

    Cya, Alkalinity and CH are all very high. Doing what I suggest will also create a much higher salt level.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
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    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
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    Ok, but what are your recommendations? Lets just assume for a second that everything is in good shape as replacing the unit might be a costly maneuver.

    Starting small and working bigger, what would be your first steps?

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    IF your CYA is truly at 218 ppm the first thing would be some drain and refill cycles to get it down to about 70-80 ppm. Then retest the water once the CYA is on target and get your Total alkalinity down to abut 70-80 ppm.
    Also, GET A GOOD TEST KIT!!!!!! Can;t stress this enough. Shasta tested your water with strips in a strip reader so I find their results suspect anyway. See if you can find a store that does drop based testing and get your water tested there.
    (If you are interested in how I know the total hardness test on your printout was the give away. Strips can only test total hardness and not calcium hardness. Total hardness is really not that useful for pools. Calcium harndess is what is important. This can only be tested with a drop based kit or a colormetric test using a meter and powdered or liquid reagents but the drop counting test is much more dependable.)

    While you are draining and refilling get your FC levels up to about 25 ppm. This is not shock level but is more high normal chlorination for a CYA above 200 ppm! I would recommend using either liquid chlorine or bleach for this. Let's go with about an 8000 gal volume for your pool so you will need about 1 1/2 gallons of liquid chlorine (10-12.5%) or about 3 gallons of ultra bleach (6%) or about 3 1/2 gallons of regular (5.25%) bleach. These numbers are not exact but they will get your FC up to about where it needs to be right now and takes into account the fact that you are not sure how big your pool is.

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    Phoenix,

    Waterbear is on the money. Those test strip results could be horribly bogus....except for the chlorine. There's no reason to suspect you have any so that's why he's saying get some in there right away....that'll make a start on eliminating that algae.......a start.

    Get some good test results from a drops based testing and I'll bet your numbers aren't quite as bad as they look.....still bad, but more workable than they are now.
    Dave S.
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    Listen to waterbear. You need to replace some water to get TA, CH, and CYA down before you will be able to make much progress. A top quality test kit would be a huge help as well and will save you money in the long run.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Thanks - working on this and will report back.

    FYI - those test strips came with the house. Shasta uses beakers and colorful liquids. Their results are probably the only thing that I have for accuracy at this moment.

    I'm draining out a bunch of water again today to get those levels down. After that, I'll dump in 3 gallons of 6% bleach that I just picked up. I'll let the system circulate tonight and run to Shasta for another chemical analysis in the morning.

    Thanks WaterBear! I'm sure this is much more rewarding than calling a "pool guy"!

    Todd

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    Todd,

    You need a second opinion. I would suggest you go to another pool store to compare results. Pool stores are infamous for being innaccurate and I think some of those numbers are off.

    It will do you little good to start the clearing process of your pool if you aren't at the correct starting line.

    Of course, both pool stores may be off but the comparison is usually invaluable.

    My biggest concern is how they got that 218ppm reading on CYA......I really question that accuracy.

    PS - when you put the chlorine in, brush those algae spots. That'll help expose them to the chlorine and get started killing them.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Thanks Dave. I will take water to two places on Monday just to see what the results are.

    On the CYA (now that I looked up what it means) - I did add some acid a few hours before the test as I was trying to get the PH levels a bit more under control (I think...) I'm sure that number would be a spike due to that. I'm sorry I didn't say that before - but now I know what you guys are talking about.

    I dumped about 3 inches of water out of the pool - any more than that and I would expose the plaster - and it's in the 90's today here. I'm filling it back up as I type. I put in the 3 gallons of bleach and scrubbed the red algae (it's all gone now). I'm going to let the pool run all night and then pull another sample in the morning - then see about getting my very own kit.

    Again, my apologies for not knowing the acronyms yet.

    Todd

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    Again, my apologies for not knowing the acronyms yet.
    No need. Each of us on this forum started from the same point.

    While you're having an adult beverage (or not), read thru the stickies, including "ABC's of pool chemistry"...it'll get you started.
    Dave S.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix
    Thanks Dave. I will take water to two places on Monday just to see what the results are.

    On the CYA (now that I looked up what it means) - I did add some acid a few hours before the test as I was trying to get the PH levels a bit more under control (I think...) I'm sure that number would be a spike due to that.
    Nope, that would have no effect.

    I'm sorry I didn't say that before - but now I know what you guys are talking about.

    I dumped about 3 inches of water out of the pool - any more than that and I would expose the plaster
    and the problem with that is? I thought you said this was an older pool.

    - and it's in the 90's today here. I'm filling it back up as I type. I put in the 3 gallons of bleach and scrubbed the red algae (it's all gone now). I'm going to let the pool run all night and then pull another sample in the morning - then see about getting my very own kit.

    Again, my apologies for not knowing the acronyms yet.

    Todd
    They might use beakers and colorful liquids but I suspect that they are using the Bioguard ALEX system (more than suspect in fact) and I would strongly suggest getting test result elsewhere!
    Draining 3 inches of water is not going to have any effect, You need to drain an refill a few feet and refill...and do this more than once!

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    I didn't say it was old or new, just said that it was created in 2004.

    If I need to dump more water than that - I might do it after dark then man the hose and ensure it's filled up before dawn. Am I correct in that the plaster cannot be exposed to heat? There is a rim of tile around the pool that I'm using as my safety buffer.

    How much of the water do you recommend that I dump?
    I'll see if I can find an "elsewhere" - I'm new to this whole thing.

    Would you recommend that I just get a pool company to do this? I still have no salt water generator as it's still saying that the salt is 1800 ppm and too low for it to generate chlorine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix
    I didn't say it was old or new, just said that it was created in 2004.
    Yes, so the plaster is fully cured It is not a new pool build.

    If I need to dump more water than that - I might do it after dark then man the hose and ensure it's filled up before dawn. Am I correct in that the plaster cannot be exposed to heat?


    Not sure where you heard that one but no. I f you want to do it at night that is your choice but you are going to have to replace approx 2/3 of the water in the pool if your CYA is actually as high as reported. I am curious how it got that high. If you just bought this house I suspect that the SWG has been non functional for a while and the previous owner has been using trichlor tablets or dichlor granules.

    There is a rim of tile around the pool that I'm using as my safety buffer.

    How much of the water do you recommend that I dump?
    Depends on how high your water table is but it's generally safe to drain a foot or two below the skimmer and then refill. Circulate for several hours and repeat. With each subsequent dilution you will bring your CYA down a bit more. The process goes faster the more water you drain out each time, obviously. Keep this up until it tests around 70-80 ppm if you plan on getting the SWG working again.

    I'll see if I can find an "elsewhere" - I'm new to this whole thing.
    Better yet, get yourself a good testkit and learn to test your own water. It's really not hard and it will save you a LOT of money in the long run. I recommend either the TF testkit and Aquachek salt strips (see the link in my signaure..) or a Taylor K-2006 and the Aquachek salt strips. Either one would be fine. The TF testkit gives you more 'bang for your buck',IMHO. It does use the Taylor reagents, btw.

    We were ALL new to this whole thing at one time. It's not rocket science and probably easier than baking a cake! (Especially if you ever saw any of the cakes I ever tried to bake!


    Would you recommend that I just get a pool company to do this?
    I work in the industry and I have seen more bad pool companies than good ones. My feeling is stick with us and let's see what we can get straightened out and then call the maintenance company for what you can't handle! You will end up better off and save a lot of money in the process. I suspect that once a few other things get straightened out you will need to have the SWG serviced but in the meantime you can maually chlorinate with liquid chlorine or bleach while you get your water balanced again.

    I still have no salt water generator as it's still saying that the salt is 1800 ppm and too low for it to generate chlorine.
    I suspect that the cell is either bad or needs to be acid cleaned. Do you have the manual for your unit? If you do it should tell you how to clean the cell. If not let us know, there are a lot of knowledgable folk on here ready to help.

    If I am not mistaken the Pebble Tec Nature Soft units are actually rebranded Goldline AquaRite SWGs ( good units) along with a magnet . that they claim helps prevent scaling. If you believe the hype about the pool magnet (those things have been around for yours and are pure junk science) I have a bridge I'd like to sell you in Brooklyn!

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    Ok, Monday is here and I've taken the water back to two different stores and found surprising (to me) results. I'm sure you all are saying "told you so..."

    Ok, Shasta pools ran the numbers and here are their results:



    Look at those CYA numbers!

    Took another sample over to Leslie's Pools and they use the Taylor testers (which I bought while I was there). Here are their results:



    Now, 100 CYA is a much better number than the 200+ that I was dealing with, right? So the recommendations from Leslie's Pools is to:
    1. Dump about 1' of water to drop the salt some and get the CYA number just a bit more comfortably into the range that I want it to be (50-100 per this site's recommendations).
    2. Add Muriatic Acid to the water tonight to lower the pH and TA numbers. The amount to add is is a pint a day for the next 5-6 days.
    3. Add Phos Free (just about a gallon) into the water over the next couple days. Be sure to back flush and do any maintenance before I add this stuff as none of this for a week while this stuff does it's job. Come back in 7 days to retest these numbers.
    4. Acid wash the salt generator again (with different instructions). If it still is inop, bring it in to their store as they can test the unit on site for me.

    So, before I make a move, I come back to you all to make sure these steps are legit.

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    1. Skip the phos-free treatment and return it....it's irrelevant

    2. Get your pH down sooner. Add 1 quart tonight and test your pH in an hour (run your pump 24/7...add the acid carefully in front of a return jet) continue to add 1 quart each time and test each hour until your pH goes to 7.4

    3. You'll need to drain more than a foot to have much effect on the CYA. If you drained 50%, your CYA would be 50 which is about perfect. I'm somewhat concerned you may have more than 100....that might have been the max they could test.

    4. While your getting your SWG fixed, plan on keeping your pool sanitized with chlorine.......stock up (10 gallons or so), you can always use it.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Thanks for the quick reply, Dave.

    On the CYA, what is my next step? If I'm going to start dumping water, I might as well start it now... How much needs to go?

    I'm cleaning the SWG now, and it's actually bubbling and steaming - so maybe it is dirty and I didn't follow the directions very well last time. Is it ok to re-use this acid/water mixture into the pool for the pH problem? There's about 2 gallons of mixture in that bucket - not that I want or need it all...

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    Keep your chlorine level up.

    Drain the pool to get your chem levels down prior to adding any adjustment chemicals because you will just be wasting $$$$.
    Why add chemicals to drain it and have to re-add it?

    Do you recall how they tested the CYA to 100ppm? Some (most) kits do not test higher than 100 ppm, and as such, the pool store will just record this as 100 ppm. Don't want you to have false hopes of the cya being ok.
    IF it is really 100 ppm, mixing the water sample with distilled water will result in 50 ppm. Make sense?
    So, if it's still higher than 100 ppm, then it's WAY over 100 ppm, and as I said, the test kit probably didn't test accurately.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

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    Ok, I did my own CYA test, and the black dot disappeared about 1/2 way to the 100 line. Taking into consideration the lines get closer together as the number goes up, it could very well be 200!

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    Poolsean or someone can help better with the SWG....I'm clueless.

    Diluting the CYA is simple. If you drain 50% of your water, your CYA drops 50%.

    I would suggest you drain no more than 50% at one time, so you'll have to do that twice.

    I understand that's a ton of water but you really have no alternative.
    Dave S.
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  20. Back To Top    #20
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    The Taylor CYA test is NOT accurate above 100 ppm so your CYA is probably much higher than that. My question is how did it get so high. I still suspect that your SWG has not been working for a while and the previous owners were using either trichlor or dichlor for sanitizing.

    If your cell is bubbling I would not pour the acid in the pool because it will contain quite a bit of calcium. Just dilute it and them neutralize it with a lot of baking soda until the baking soda does't bubble anymore.

    Don't worry about the phospates but you do need to get your TA down. There is a sticky on how to lower TA.
    I noticed that Leslies did not test for calcium hardness. We could really use that number.

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