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Thread: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

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    N2ition's Avatar
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    HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    Bare with me as I am a first time pool owner who purchased a home with an existing pool, which of course means I know less than nothing about not only maintaining a pool but about the equipment as well! (I know that there are what appear to be 2 pumps as well as a "booster" pump (?) to this system and will include photos so that maybe someone can help me figure out the last few pieces of info needed in my signature.)

    I hired a service company to basically get me through the "off season" so I could unpack and deal with the countless other issue that go wrong when moving without completely screwing up the pool before I could learn how/what to do. That being said I have gotten a bit of grief from friends who have learned that I am paying someone to service my pool simply because I do everything else! I install appliances, build playhouses, rewire electronics, install new lighting...pretty much any kind of home improvement or DIY project out there I will do...and even some that most folks won't mess with. My only off limit item is messing with gas. So my friends can't see why I hired someone to do something as "easy" as dealing with a pool.

    All that being said...I am OVERWHELMED! I had the company give me a "pool school" but it just left my head spinning. Part of me wonders since it was the company I was going to use to maintain the pool they wanted to give me the least amount of information in the most confusing manner as possible so that I would keep using them instead of learning to do it myself. When they charged me $95 to replace a couple of O-rings that I know run about $10 it made me that much more determined to learn as much as I can.

    I went out last night and noticed that the level in my spa has dropped below the jets. The spa sits about 18 inches above the pool. I filled the spa directly from the hose instead of thru the fill valve in the pool skimmers as I couldn't figure out how to get the water to move back into the spa. A couple hours later the water level in the spa was back below the jets. I haven't observed any puddling anywhere around the pool and after reading the forums I am left thinking it is most likely the check valve. So here are a couple of questions. If it is the check valve that is the problem...is it something the pool service guy should have caught when he was hear last Friday? Also, how much should I expect to be charged for it to be replaced? Once I am more familiar with my system, is this something that I would be able to replace myself?

    I apologize in advance if these are stupid questions and am tremendously grateful for ANY help people are willing to provide. Also, just so y'all know I do read directions...I haven't run any tests on the water as the service company does that...so I don't have that info!
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    Complete pool newbie in Double Oak, Texas (part of D/FW Metroplex)

    40'x24', 32k gallon, DE, In-Ground, Plaster/Pebble, Hayward Pro-Grid DE7220 Filter, 2 - 2.5 hp Hayward pumps (one for filter one for waterfall) addition smaller pump to run robot cleaner, AquaLogic PS-8 SWCG, Spa

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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    I can't help with most of the stuff, but there is one thing I can tell you. Ignore everything the pool company told you, and read up on TFP's Pool School (top right). Read it multiple times, and you will know how to properly maintain your pool. Don't forget, the most important part it a good test kit. We recommend the TF-100, from tftestkits.net. As to your other questions, someone with more knowledge and experience will be around soon to help.
    John
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    First, don't panic. It's not nearly as overwhelming as it seems. Before next year, you will hardly count pool care as a chore if you stick around here.

    You could have a bad check valve. Not a big deal. Your equipment looks to be high-end stuff and well-installed. Judging by the valves they used, your check valve may be rebuildable.

    Your plumbing is fairly complex, which is indicative of a fairly complex pool. Are there labels on or near your valves?
    TFP Moderator
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    Looks like a lot of the pipes are labeled (although not readable in the picture), so that should help.

    I like to try to figure these out based on the pictures, so here are my guesses:

    - The pump on the right does not look to be filtered, so that set of 1 HUGE suction pipe and the 3 return pipes, are either for spa jets (I do see an air blower above the filter) or water features (waterfall, shear, deck jets, etc). So that pump is really a separate system than the rest.

    - The diagonal pipe in front / below the filter is the backwash line ... the dirty water will go through that when you clean the filter ... not sure where the water ends up (yard, sewer,?)

    - The 5 pipes (4 valves + the actuated valve) in front of the pump on the left is the main suction side. I bet the pipe on the left is the spa suction and the 4 pipes on the right are for 2 skimmers and 2 floor drains in the pool, or something like that

    - Water should come out of the top of the pump and into the filter, then likely through the heater (can not see in the pix) and to the actuated valve on the left. Guessing that the pipe to the left is the spa jets or the water goes to the right through the SWG to the 3-way valve witch adjusts how much water is returned to the pool (down) or to the spa through the check valve for a spill over effect.

    That check valve would be the first thing to check for the spa draining down. To test, you could close the black valve above it and see if the water in the spa still lowers when the pump is off.

    EDIT:
    Oh and the booster pump is sucking water from the pool return pipe (so it should only be on while in pool mode) and then returns to the pool to a dedicated return for a pressure side cleaner.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    Can you take some closeup pictures of the various junctions, valves etc? Especially if there are labels.

    In the meantime, be sure you checkout the Pool School here at TFP and get one of the recommended test kits. That will at least prevent you getting 'Pool Stored' with bad advice and unnecessary chemicals. This is an awesome community and you should be a pool master in no time.
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    You will get it figured out and the people here will help you. If you are able to DIY in other areas you'll figure this out too. I can relate... I can do pretty much every trade job in construction and was baffled by pool building. As I saw each step done it made more sense... but I'm still figuring out bits and parts of it. Ask questions here... I asked a bunch of basic question and got quick and accurate answers and guidance.
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    First off...THANK YOU! Y'all have no idea how much anxiety you helped to relieve reassuring me that this is not beyond my ability to take on.

    I will get out tomorrow and take some photos that better show the labels. Lucky for me I think all of the pipes have them so that should prevent a lot of guessing.

    JBlizzie, you certainly do know your equipment if you were able to figure out what does what just from the photo. For the most part I think you are right. Though I know that there are 3 skimmers and what appear to be 4 floor drains all lined up in a straight line in the "deep end".

    I called a new pool guy tonight who came highly recommended (he is actually the one that recommended this site to me a few weeks back!) and spoke with him about my lack of confidence in my current service. He also allayed some of my fears but it now appears that the check valve may not be the problem after all or at least not the only one.

    New guy was giving me instructions (over the phone) on how to test the check valve and had me put the equipment in service mode and then run the filter. The pump made a low loud buzzing noise for about 5 seconds then quit. He though it might need to be primed and said to "give it a minute". It made the noise two additional times over the next couple minutes and the filter never got any pressure. He told me to leave it in service mode and shut the filter off and he will come by tomorrow. We aren't expecting a hard freeze but since it is going to get below the point that the freeze guard would normally kick on he had me removed the pump cover so water could expand. I had to have the hubby do it when he got home as it was stuck pretty good. The pump showed condensation on the lid before it was removed, so I know it wasn't "full" and it gurgled for quite a while once it was off. The water that was in it drained out of it into the pipes and when I removed the basket I discovered that there were lots of very thin twigs lodged in the basket causing some pretty serious restriction in the water flow. It took me half an hour and a pair of needle nose tweezers to remove them! Needless to say I will be firing my existing service company since the door tags they leave clearly state they emptied the skimmer, cleaner bag, and PUMP BASKET. They may turn it upside down and let the leaves fall out but there is no way that it was "emptied" last friday and it became this clogged. We have a leaf cover on the pool that prevents most of this kind of stuff from getting in....and we put it on as soon as we closed on the house in December. So most of this stuff had to have been in it before we took over the pool which means they aren't doing what they are being paid for.

    Now my concern is if the pump has been ruined because of the restricted water flow. The water is still clean and clear so these problems I am hoping have been caught early but as I explained to the original service company when I hired them...I don't know what I don't know so they need to make sure they are doing a very thorough job and let me know the minute they see a concern...as I won't know if I should be concerned or not since I don't know what I'm doing.

    From what I can tell from reading the pump SHOULD be full of water and shouldn't gurgle...so anyone want to venture a guess as to what the problem is?
    Complete pool newbie in Double Oak, Texas (part of D/FW Metroplex)

    40'x24', 32k gallon, DE, In-Ground, Plaster/Pebble, Hayward Pro-Grid DE7220 Filter, 2 - 2.5 hp Hayward pumps (one for filter one for waterfall) addition smaller pump to run robot cleaner, AquaLogic PS-8 SWCG, Spa

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    It can take a bit of time to prime. Is the equipment very high above the pool water? Did you check the oring for the pump basket lid and make sure it was clean and well lubed after you opened it?

    Posted from my Droid with Tapatalk ... sorry if my response is short
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    N2ition's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    The equipment sits around the side of the house from the pool...but that part of the yard is actually a bit lower than the back so it shouldn't sit much higher than the pool level...maybe a few inches at most. I didn't do anything after I removed the lid on the pump since I don't know WHAT to do. Pool guy said to just leave the lid off so that if we do get a freeze tonight everything will be able to expand since the freeze-guard won't be able to run. He didn't say so...but I think he was concerned about the pump having more issues than could be diagnosed over the phone so better safe than sorry. He did mention a possible problem with the capacitor. I will post what he comes up with when he is finally able to get over.
    Complete pool newbie in Double Oak, Texas (part of D/FW Metroplex)

    40'x24', 32k gallon, DE, In-Ground, Plaster/Pebble, Hayward Pro-Grid DE7220 Filter, 2 - 2.5 hp Hayward pumps (one for filter one for waterfall) addition smaller pump to run robot cleaner, AquaLogic PS-8 SWCG, Spa

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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    N2ition, while you're waiting for the pool guy to come over and look things over, go order on of the TF-100 test kits. There is a link around here somewhere. Other than knowing how to use your equipment without hurting it or your swimmers, the next or maybe even more important step (especially with a new pool owner) is knowing chemistry. Believe me, it's not hard. Practice does ensure perfection. Most of it is nothing more than adding drops of chemicals into your pool water so you can count the number of drops added so you know EXACTLY what your chlorine levels are and so on. Plenty of videos around here and elsewhere (as in Taylor) to see and learn how to do it. I promise within a week you will be a pro.

    The pool school area with give you an idea of what to look for and what to do. The hardest math will be to figure out how much bleach you need to add. A small pool like I had last year it was (don't laugh) one cup at a time basically. You might need a gallon at a time to make it easy.

    I want to address one big mistake I made last year. Chemical and test kit storage. Don't leave your bleach or your test kit outside in the summmer, I know it gets even hotter down there than it does up here in Oklahoma City. Heat makes a new bottle of bleach turn into a very weak bottle of bleach, and quick. Keep it in the pantry or some other place in your home that isn't hot. Your test kit chemicals can also loose their effectiveness too when sitting out in the hot sun and/or outside. I keep my test kit in my semi airconditioned sunroom right off the patio. Any dry chemical is probably OK outside, but I would keep it in something that is out of the sun AND had a lock on it if you have kids or guests that might look about.

    Welcome to the forum. I was at "another" forum for a couple of years which was similar to this one, but I can tell you without reservation, this one is very, very active and has many, many people who love to share information, knowledge and pictures of their pools. When you are ready to expand your pool experience there are many threads with beautiful pools in which to get ideas from.

    Bob E.

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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    Don't leave your bleach or your test kit outside in the summmer
    Amen!
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    N2ition's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    Just a quick update: new (and fabulous) pool guy came and gave the system the once over. Turns out the problem wasn't the check valve but that the previous service company (that I fired) changed the settings on one of the valves. It apparently was intended to keep the fountain spray in the spa from shooting 30 feet in the air by adjusting the flow. However, it was also allowing the level of the spa to drop once everything turned off. I know I'm not explaining it nearly as well as he did and since I'm not good at remembering the names of various valves and levers yet I'm sure I've done more to confuse than answer questions. But long story short...everything is fine!

    He showed me last week how to backwash the system but since the pressure is running high He is coming today to teach me how to clean my gigantic filter! Wish me luck (Ha!)
    Complete pool newbie in Double Oak, Texas (part of D/FW Metroplex)

    40'x24', 32k gallon, DE, In-Ground, Plaster/Pebble, Hayward Pro-Grid DE7220 Filter, 2 - 2.5 hp Hayward pumps (one for filter one for waterfall) addition smaller pump to run robot cleaner, AquaLogic PS-8 SWCG, Spa

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    Re: HELP! Completely intimidated Newbie!

    Seems that a simple valve setting is good news (vs a leak or replacing a check valve). Seems that with a bit of help you are also moving beyond novice intimidation?

    For the valves I have I still need to ponder them and tell myself that the tab opposite the handle that says "OFF" is the valve port that is off. If the valve was adjusted so the tab is not pointing directly at a port, then it will reduce flow but it can also backflow - which it seems was your issue.

    Another thing that stumped me at first on automatic valves was how the manual switch worked. It's a 3 position switch and can be used to manually move a valve one way or the other or "off" which stops the valve where it is. Clearly if you leave the switch "off" you have disabled all automation. But what I did not realize was that the other two switch positions determine what valve position is considered "open" to the automation. If you flip the switch to move the valve, then don't flip it back... the logic of your automation is reversed.

    For cleaning a filter... easy after someone shows you how it comes out and goes back in. Remember to purge the air because a big air pocket will cut back on filter efficiency for sure. and... GOOD LUCK!
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
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