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Thread: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

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    Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    Had these water results run by Leslie's (and are in process of adding more Chlorine as I type)
    FAC 0
    TAC 0
    CH 600
    CYA 99
    TA 110
    pH 7.7
    Copper 0
    Iron 0
    TDS 2800
    Pho 0

    Please note that we live in Phoenix, AZ and it is monsoon season (lots of dust, lots of heat, lots of rain and wind blowing **** into pool). We skim for leaves daily during windy weather, we run cleaning robot at least 1/wk, or immediately following any dust storm. Despite the hard weather conditions, the pool looks clear and smells neutral, but the water now makes your eyes sting really bad. The pool water didn't make our eyes sting earlier this summer, before monsoon season started.

    Leslie's told us we should empty pool, or at a large part of it, to deal with the high CH and TDS and that we needed to stop using the chlorine-free shock (just use regular shock) for maintenance during the summer because our usual chlorine tablet floater isn't going to keep up in the heat.

    My problems with the above advice are 1. what does high CH and TDS have to do with the burning eyes, is this really the problem causing it? 2. is emptying my pool really the only and/or best way to deal with high CH and TDS? 3. Won't using lots of regular shock in the summer just add to the eventual CH buildup, and 4. since AZ water is already known for being hard and even the dust during hoboobs known for having lots of salts and calcium will I just be back to having high CH and TDS in a year or two? ...Draining a pool every couple years seems so ridiculous in the desert!

    Please let me know if anyone has some guidance and advise for pool maintenance in the desert. Thanks!
    11k, IG pebbletec, sand filter, Dolphin cleaning robot in PHOENIX, AZ[/color]

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

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    TDS is completely irrelevant. High CH is a potential issue, though not anything really to do with your original problem (though the solution to one is probably the solution to the other as well).

    Your main problem is most likely the zero chlorine level (FAC, or FC as we call it), no doubt caused (indirectly) by your very high CYA level. With CYA that high it is very difficult to maintain a pool correctly. This is worse because most of the common CYA tests will report any CYA level much above 100 as something around 100, so your actual CYA level could be much higher still.

    I recommend replacing water to get your CYA level down to something reasonable (50 or 60). That will also have the pleasant side effect of lowering your CH level.
    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
    BoDarville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    DFW, Texas

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    Welcome to TFP!

    The first thing you need is one of the Recommended Test Kits. The second thing is to wean yourself off of pool store advice (we call it being "Pool Stored")
    Quote Originally Posted by alpha starz
    TDS 2800
    You can ignore TDS. It is completely irrelevant to managing a pool. It is made up of several components and without knowing the values of each component, it is a worthless indicator. The recommended test kits test the individual components that are important to managing pool water chemistry.

    As for the burning eyes, pH that is either too low or too high, combined chloramines (CC - a.k.a., a "strong chlorine smell"), and excess suntan lotions are the primary culprits of burning eyes. Without a good test kit, you will not be able to test for CC.

    The primary issue I see with your pool is low free chlorine (FC) combined with high CYA. This combination is a welcome mat for organic contamination. The only way to lower CYA is to drain & replace water. In your case, you are looking at a 50% drain & refill at the least. Reason I say "at the least" is because your test may only report CYA up to could be higher. Being in AZ, you want to aim for a CYA of about 50 ppm. Going forward, I would not use any of the shock products the pool store is recommending. Most will either add CYA and get you into the same predicament you are in now, or they will add CH which you already have enough of. For chlorine, we recommend liquid bleach, plain and unscented without any "special thickeners". You can get this virtually anywhere. It will add neither CYA or CH.

    Here are a couple of resources that explain the chlorine/CYA relationship in a little more detail: ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry and Chlorine CYA Chart.
    Gold Supporter, TFP Lifetime Supporter, 26,680 gal Plaster IGP 3.5 - 10' depth / Attached Waterfall Spa, Manually Chlorinated, Triton Sand Filter, 1.5 HP * 1.1 SF = 1.65 SFHP 1-speed Pentair WhisperFlo WF-26 Pump, 400K BTU NG Teledyne Laars Series One Heater, Polaris 360, Test Kit Comparison, Chlorine/CYA Chart, SLAMing Your Pool, OCLT
    A good test kit is an investment, not an expense.

  4. Back To Top    #4
    Richard320's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Dimas, CA (LA County)

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    600 is not high CH for where you live. That 99 for the CYA is pool store code for "off the scale." The high CYA and the low FC are probably what's behind the discomfort.

    You need your own test kit - pool store tests are notoriously inaccurate. With reliable test results, you can then decide how much water to replace to lower CYA. You're also in one of the few areas where reverse osmosis is available, which can remove Calcium, CYA, everything, really. There's also the option of capturing rainwater to dilute the pool - I divert a raingutter downspout into my pool to maximise that.

    Anyway, with your own test kit, Pool School, and us, you can get that pool shaped up so that the water is crystal clear and sparkling and people can swim around underwater with eyes open and no discomfort.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Donldson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    NW Ohio

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    Welcome to TFP!

    The big question is: Do you want to keep working with Leslie's or would you rather take control of your pool? Taking control of your pool involves some reading and learning, a few minutes of maintenance daily, and having a good test kit (see link in my signature). It also involves crystal clear water and much lower costs.

    So if the answer is the later, then we can certainly help you do that! Others have already said, TDS is meaningless (it's not how much stuff is in your water, it's what that stuff is) and your CH is probably not the problem. The real problem is that pool store test results are completely meaningless. I have seen too many people, especially lately, start adjustments based on pool store results. Then they get their kit and found out those numbers were completely wrong and they have been going the wrong way. So I won't give answers based off of them. Do you know anybody with a test kit that includes a CYA test that you could borrow and do your own test? If you are going to buy a new kit to get that test, please see my signature and consider the TF-100. Absolutely worth every penny!

    If, and only if your CYA actually is very high, I agree with Richard that your best options are either reverse osmosis (expensive but will remove CYA and CH) or water replacement. If you can divert rain water that will give you CH free water so it can bring it down more than replacing from the tap. Regarding your CH, if you continue to use calcium-hypochlorite (what you called regular shock) your CH will continue to rise. If you switch your chlorination to liquid chlorine you will only be adding small quantities of salt which actually makes the pool more comfortable, especially to your eyes.
    JD - 28' Round Above Ground Pool, 17,000 Gallons. Dual speed Jacuzzi pump with cartridge filter. Dual speed 1 HP pump, Hayward S210T sand filter
    Pool School - PoolMath - HIGHLY Recommended Test Kits

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    Thank you everyone for your initial responses. I am going to go troll this site until I find a good recommended test kit or two, then go out (TODAY!) and try to buy one locally so I can get it quick. I will post again when I have my own and more accurate test results. I posted to this board exactly because I thought the advice given by Leslie's didn't make logical sense or directly address my concern, I don't trust them one iota. Everything said by members here so far makes much more sense. We are new first-time home owners, not to mention first-time pool owners, and did not initially get an expensive test kit because we were on a very strict budget, but buying a bunch of unneeded chemicals isn't necessarily budget friendly either if the Leslie's free test is worthless/innacurate. We have had a very basic test kit that we used regularly and supplemented restuls from Leslie's, but our cheap-o test kit seems to have suspect results as well. (PS, my husband is a science teacher so he will geek out over me finally letting him get a cool, um, I mean comprehensive test kit!)
    11k, IG pebbletec, sand filter, Dolphin cleaning robot in PHOENIX, AZ[/color]

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    Alpha, look below at my signature - there is a link there to test kits. You can not buy a better test kit than the TF100. BELIEVE me, it is worth 2 or 3 days waiting! Between that and this forum, you'll have sparkley water all the time, at a fraction of the cost of pool store chemicals.

    Good luck!!
    Dallas Area, 16,000 gal IG, Easytouch 8 computer, Intelliflo 3HP Variable Speed pool pump, Pentair Smart Pump 4x160, Pentair 3/4 HP Booster Pump, FNS 60 DE 60, Mastertemp 400, Rainbow 320, Dual Timer w/ freeze protection, Intellichor SWG, TF100 Test Kit, POOL FILLED AUG 3, 2012, ORDER YOUR TF100 KIT FROM

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    Check the link in my signature to Pool School article for the test kits. There is a west coast distributor for the TF100 that will get it to you quicker and less shipping.

    You might be able to find the K2006 at a commercial supply house, a local Leslie's will not likely have the FAS-DPD which is the key. Problem is you will run out of the FAS-DPD and CYA reagents very quickly with the K2006.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    I have the TFP-100 and I will guess that the majority of the regular members here use it also. That means we are well versed in how to use it and can answer any questions about it. It has more of the tests you need to do the most and is the best value for your money.

    Since your husband is a chemistry teacher, do get the Speed Stir addition. Hold it back for Christmas or something if you must. It is even cooler to get after you've spent a few months NOT having it.
    23,000 gallon in ground pool with rock waterfall and spillover spa, Aqualink control system, Polaris 380 cleaner, Purex Triton Clean&Clear Plus cartridge filter. Located in The Woodlands, Texas.

    Pool owner since Nov 2008, Trouble Free since April 2009. Happy to help when I can.

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Newbie in Phoenix with burning eyes

    I also am struggling with burning eyes in my pool. The only number that is not ideal according to my TF-100 test is my CH, which is 430. It was 470 but I'm slowly reducing it with fill water.

    My pH is fine, my CC's are non-existent so I'm kind of at a loss. I know my water is too hard but I'm going to just enjoy my pool this summer and drain it 30% in the winter. My pool is new and my high calcium is from the new plaster. I guess I'll find out in the winter if it helps our burning eyes.
    17,000 inground gunite pool finished June 2013. Pentair variable speed something or another. Polaris cleaner, inline rainbow chlorinator. Using trichlor until CYA reaches 50-60.

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