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Thread: My experience with the Bicarb Start-up

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    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Dallas, Tx
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    128

    My experience with the Bicarb Start-up

    Following is a record of my experience with a bicarb start-up. It pretty much is a by the book bicarb start-up, with limitations being the specific amounts of water and calcium chloride the plasterer actually did use. He did indicate to me, prior to the day of the job, that based on the time of year they would be using .5-1% calcium chloride. Water was added via 5 gallon buckets that were dipped into a drum and slung into the mix. They used 5 buckets per batch (25 gallons), and according to onBalance recommendations they should use no more than 22 gallons. Discussing that with the plaster, he felt that due to the method used to add water (rapid dipping and slinging of the water bucket), they were losing at least 3 gallons per batch. If this is the case, both the calcium chloride and water ratios were within onBalance recommendations. I did notice some adding of water during troweling, via slinging of a wire brush dipped in a bucket of water. The finish is white plaster with added blue quartz. It is not a commercially prepared mix. No acid wash was done- in fact no acid was used at all, to my understanding and observation. The weather was sunny, low 80s, 15-20 mph winds at the time of plaster. This was a new build, not replaster.

    My delivery drum setup parts:



    I acquired a 55 gallon plastic drum off Craigslist for $15, open top with a lid. I found the lid not to be needed at all. I used 3 plastic fittings for my outgoing hoses attached to the barrel with JB Weld WaterWeld. The plastic fittings were from Lowes Plumbing department, male threaded on one side, grooved on the other. The JB Weld was easy to work with; it has a clay like consistency, knead with fingers to mix then smash around the fitting on the inside and outside of the barrel. First try and all were watertight. I had bought some clear tubing to attach to the inside of the fitting, intending for it to act as a nut, but found it unnecessary with the JB Weld. Although I did not think about it at the time, I now think itís probably important that you get all 3 of the holes drilled in line, level. More on that later.

    For the incoming line I purchased a black plastic female connector from the sprinkler dept. It's one of the fittings used for the drip irrigation systems. Turned out it was iron pipe thread so I needed a couple more fittings that then converted it to hose thread. Those are found in the Plumbing dept. Used the JB Weld to attach it to the barrel.



    I tested the barrel prior to plaster day, and itís a good thing I did. Although all fittings held with no leaks, and the barrel filled and drained in perfect ratio, I had initially purchased a cheap hose that I cut into 3 pieces and used hose menders for the ends. The cheap hoses collapse where they attach to the barrel (MarkPristine commented on this in the bicarb start-up thread, and I second his observation.) Although mine continued to drain, I only tested for a short period of time and I strongly doubt they would have made it through the full fill. Back to Home Depot where I bought 3 ďheavy duty hose remnantsĒ, that is what they were called, hose remnants. They were only 15 feet long, which was necessary as I discovered that the long hoses would not gravity drain as there was too much hose to keep everything in a downhill run. So, heavy duty hoses are needed, and either cut up a long one or buy 3 short ones. I have a 9' deep end, so if you have a shallow pool you will need even less hose. I found the 15' perfect for my pool.
    20k white plaster with blue quartz, IntelliFlo VS, Quad DE 100
    1000 gal spa with natural stone waterfall
    Beach entry with 2 bubblers. Pool built Spring 2013

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    Jul 2008
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    Dallas, Tx
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    Re: My experience with the Bicarb Start-up

    Plaster day. The plaster was hard enough for them to walk on and install the drains by 11:00 am. I used this as my 6 hour delay start time, and began filling at 5:00. The plasterers did not leave until around 1:00, so I wasnít sure when the clock should start, but was getting more nervous as the hours ticked on and most of the deep end had changed to the lighter color indicating it had reached a certain level of curing. The thicker areas of plaster around the drains were still the only areas still dark. The plasterers had done a good job of scaring me that the plaster would crack given my wait time, and I was a little worried that if I had a problem they would not step up to cover it so 5:00 was about as long as I could stomach the wait. There had been some talk of tarping the pool, but that was not done.



    The plasterer had requested that we run two hoses to fill the pool as quickly as possible. I started the fill with bicarb treated water only, and added ~2000 gallons before turning on the second hose which was direct from the tap. I stirred the barrel a few times to get a higher level of bicarbed water in the pool to account for the untreated tap water that would be going in. This seemed to work, as prior to turning on the untreated water I had a TA reading of 800. After a couple hours of running the tap the TA was down to 630. Lesson here: be careful about stirring up your bicarb in the barrel.



    I will say that I found comfort in knowing that if my barrel failed overnight the second hose would still provide a constant stream of water entering the pool. This also allowed me to take the barrel hoses out of the pool to fill the spa while the tap hose continued an uninterrupted fill of the pool. Rain was in the forecast and I wanted the spa full in case it rained (it didn't.)

    Obviously all this did take a fair amount of work and babysitting of the process. Since I didnít start filling until 5 pm, it was nearly 2am before I had everything to a place I was ready to turn in for the evening. Had we not been experiencing high winds with a chance of rain I probably would have left the spa for morning, which would have eliminated much of the late night work. Prior to going to bed the spa TA tested at 320.
    20k white plaster with blue quartz, IntelliFlo VS, Quad DE 100
    1000 gal spa with natural stone waterfall
    Beach entry with 2 bubblers. Pool built Spring 2013

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    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Dallas, Tx
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    128

    Re: My experience with the Bicarb Start-up

    The bicarb delivery system at work:





    20k white plaster with blue quartz, IntelliFlo VS, Quad DE 100
    1000 gal spa with natural stone waterfall
    Beach entry with 2 bubblers. Pool built Spring 2013

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    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Dallas, Tx
    Posts
    128

    Re: My experience with the Bicarb Start-up

    The next morning.



    In the daylight I can see that the spa is pretty clear, slightly cloudy, but I can see the main drains. There is a slight green tint, which is not uncommon for my tap water, Iíve noticed it in the bath tub before. Pool is still filling, slowly, with the same light green tint. Barrel and hoses have all held up overnight, no leaks, and equal fill/drain ratios. The untreated hose is still running full stream.



    Tap water test results:
    FC: .5
    CC: 2.0
    pH: 8.0
    TA: 110
    CH: 130

    First full results from spa:
    FC: .5
    CC: 2.5
    pH: 8.2
    TA: 270
    CH: 70

    I ran the CH test 2x off this sample, 70 is correct. I then ran the Tap water test as I had been expecting 130 based on previous tap water testing. Todayís tap water still tested CH 130. Then ran a TA and CH test on my drum water.

    Drum:
    TA: 325
    CH: 130

    So, I pulled a new sample from a different area in the spa, CH still 70. The spa is not circulating and has not been brushed. Where is the CH going? Can the plaster pull it out of the water and into the plaster? Does a high TA cause the CH to drop out and maybe settle on the bottom? Should I be concerned about this? I also noticed the TA dropped from last nightís reading of 320.

    Edit for pool results:
    FC: .5
    CC: 3
    pH: 8.2
    TA: 310
    CH: 120

    Even more baffled by the apparent loss of CH in the spa.
    20k white plaster with blue quartz, IntelliFlo VS, Quad DE 100
    1000 gal spa with natural stone waterfall
    Beach entry with 2 bubblers. Pool built Spring 2013

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    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Arizona & California
    Posts
    772

    Re: My experience with the Bicarb Start-up

    Very good pictures helping people understand the process and what is involved for a Bicarb Start-up. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Yes, don't stir the bicarb tank early in the process.

    The lowering of the CH means that some calcium precipitated out and is laying of the spa floor. Also, why the TA lowered too.
    Be sure to brush the spa vigously and filter the powder out. But should not be anything to worry about. A reduction in CH oftens happens when or if the pH goes above 8.4, which is what generally happens on other start-up programs. So again, should not be a problem.

    The green tinted water is normal, and should clear as soon as chlorine is added and filtered for a day or two. Be sure to brush the pool too.

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