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Thread: Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    San Rafael, CA

    Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

    Hi All -

    First of all...outstanding forum. Wow! Reminds me of BITOG from a few years ago (fact based!)Glad I found it.

    I haven't been around pools in about 15 years, but was around them all the time back in the day - so I am not a complete NooB - just a little outdated and don't remember all the details - but this site is helping!

    My wife and I recently purchased a 100+ y/o home with 20+ yrs of deferred maintenance. One of those items is a pool that was 'permitted' in the early 60's (but is likely older than that).

    Pool stats : See Signature
    Other Details: Single skimmer, two returns in the shallow end(sub-optimal), and a deep end drain.

    Water Quality: Cloudy, Greenish tint - still relatively clear however. Mustard Algae on Walls, on check valve.Water smells like mildew (might be just the stuff on the coping while splashing around)

    Quirks: Kreepy Krauly and other plastic items (like skimmer) feel 'slimy'

    Plaster condition: Surprisingly good...but not great. Extensive staining on bottom 'looks' like dirt (don't see any rust spots) in deep end. Some evidence of cracking that was repaired. Not sure if it is original plaster or not. Other parts 'look dingy'. Deep end stains respond to rubbing soap stone (don't want to do this). I'll try to take a better picture tomorrow morning. Don't think it is black algae.

    Last weekend, I rewired/repaired the pool pump system - let's just say that using the pool was not a good idea. The pumps were loud - amperage while still below FLA, was above normal for these motor ratings. Voltage at the pumps was a full 15V below the panel! After the repairs, the pumps are quiet and are running smoother and the amperage is where I would expect it to be.

    Note on the filter says last time it was cleaned was in 2011. Pressure on the StaRite 3 pump was 17PSI and climbing by the day (was 15PSI 2 days prior to the cleaning). After getting the electrical issues straightened out, the pressure spiked to 22 PSI. I cleaned out the Sta Rite 3 filter - wow it was really disgusting. Soaked it in Cascade. Will soak in Cascade & acid wash once I get rid of the algae. Cartridges appears to be in surprisingly good condition. Post cleaning filter pressure is 5 PSI...I'd say it was a little past due.

    Onto the chemistry...

    Pools store tested (said it was the Taylor kit). (TFT kit ordered).
    TC/FC 4 (sheet does not specify it)
    CYA 100
    TA 160
    CH 400
    PH 8.1
    TDS 1300+
    Phosphates 1000+
    (3 different stores have roughly the same figures as above).

    In the pool store: One guy wanted me to use 2 x 5oz of Yellow Treat (Sodium Bromide, 88%) followed by 2 Gallons of Chlorine. Another wanted me to use Asorbic Acid to treat the stains and kill the algae. I didn't like the idea of bromine in the pool and didn't want to bother with the Ascorbic Acid until the other items were under control.

    I have ordered a TFT kit and it should be coming soon - so reliable results coming.

    Previous owner likely used nothing but TriChlor tabs and DiChlor/Trichlor shock to regulate chemistry, although I did find 3 gallons of 12% chlorine (still sealed, but sun bleached) - questionable strength - dumped it all in at the same time I restarted the newly cleaned filter. Water did clear a little bit (less green) - and the algae looked a little whiter - and was still a little cloudy.

    Now: where to start? (once I have reliable numbers that is)...

    Do I lower PH, TA, etc prior to SLAM'in? Best way w/o draining?
    I have started stockpiling bleach (18 gallons of it) & picked up 8 gallons of chlorine from pool store. I think it makes sense to SLAM the pool prior to 'closing' it.

    I would like to add borates to the pool too...but not until I have it all stabilized.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    21K gal Plaster I/G | 1/2 HP Sta Rite main pump |StaRite 3 300 sqft cartridge |
    Ancient Kreepy Krauly Legend | 3/4 HP A.O. Smith Century Pressure Pump|Solar Pool Cover

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Houston, Texas

    Re: Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

    Hi, welcome to TFP! The only way to lower the CYA and CH is to drain and replace some of the water. How much you need to drain depends on how high the CYA really is. Given the extensive use of trichlor/dichlor products odds are the CYA is much higher. The test maxes out at 100 ppm, so actual CYA levels of 200-300 are not unheard of. Test the CYA again by mixing 1 part pool water with 1 part tap water, then use that as a sample to test. Read the result and double it. It should only take a few days for the test kit to be delivered so wait and perform the tests with your own kit. Once you have the new test results post them here and we will guide you through the next steps.
    TFP Moderator
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  3. Back To Top    #3
    Swampwoman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Grand Rapids, MI

    Re: Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

    (Cross posted, sorry)
    Welcome to the forum. I am outta my depth, so to speak, on a plaster pool, but did rehab a foreclosure nightmare two seasons ago, so I'm chiming in mostly for moral support.

    I would lower the Ph, which is quick and easy with muriatic acid, just to avoid any more staining in the event you do have any metals. You can't reliably test ph once you're slamming/shocking and same tends to cause it to rise. You'll also want it lower when/if you treat with AA, so it might not hurt to get it down to the 7.2ish neighborhood before you start. It's a quick easy step. (don't worry about TA at all right now...dead last in terms of priority while rehabbing )

    If you have a bit of time available and would like to save on your slam/chlorine costs, you might want to consider first undertaking a few partial drains to reduce the CYA once you know for certain via your own test whether its 100 or maintain the pool more easily and with a lower amount of chlorine, you'd want that cya at 50 or below (unless using a saltwater generator, in which case maybe 70).

    Cya tests are tricky, and if a pool store reading is 100, you may find via dilution when you test that it is actually even twice that.

    For example, with cya at 100 or more, your chlorine level at 4 ppm is not effective to kill algae. Since its a ratio of chlorine ppm to cya level, you'll be hitting it with considerably more chlorine to slam it if you don't first reduce the cya...and the only way to reduce cya is via partial draining. (See chlorine/cya chart in pool school or plug your numbers into the pool calculator to see what I mean.)

    Since you don't yet know the water table and whatnot, the conservative approach is a series of partial drains. In the mean time, though, I'd bring the chlorine level up at least to the range fr cya of 100 just to prevent or slow down further algae growth while draining/refilling at the very least.

    Alternately, if you don't mind the crazy high slam levels you'll need, you could just slam first, then drain in spring on re opening, since when its closed and if you close near shock level, the high cya will help maintain the chlorine level.

    With the staining, you'll have a better idea after slamming which stains are organic and which might require extra remediation or be metal. After slamming and balancing, check any remaining stains by holding a vitamin c tablet against them...if they lighten, then Ascorbic Acid treatment should work. You don't have to pay pool store prices for ascorbic acid...can buy it on eBay or from chemistry suppliers a good deal cheaper in bulk. (Same is true with boric acid...but I used and like proteam. btw, don spend the money on borates until you've done the water changes.)

    Others more familiar with plaster will chime in....there's a chance you'd be a candidate for an acid wash, but I think the conservative course would be to see how well you can clean it up first. I think for older plaster you want to take care when it comes to acid washes...kind of like how brightening actually can erode enamel on teeth...but again, outta my depth.

    Good luck and enjoy your new home. You're in for a treat next summer!
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  4. Back To Top    #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    San Rafael, CA

    Re: Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

    Thanks for the responses! These are quite helpful...we will likely wait till spring to do a drain/fill after the weather warms up a bit - and hope that mother nature will give us lots of water over the winter. (Water costs here are astronomical! Likely $600-700 to drain/refill the pool from the tap).

    Update on the water chem ... post TFT Kit Purchase....

    FC 10.5
    CC 0
    TA 160
    CH 380
    PH >8.2 (hard to tell exact number since it was off the scale)
    CYA : Had to dilute. 10 Mils Tap, 5 Mils Pool (Think that makes it 2:1)
    ~42 was the reading - so does that mean my CYA is 126?

    Also, I have copper pipes. Does that mean I have copper in the water and re-run the CYA with the 'copper in the water' instructions?

    Recall: Yellow algae is present on the side walls. Staining is present on the pool bottom.

    I have 18 bottles 121Oz of 8.25% bleach and 8 Gallons of 12.5% Chlorine ready to go. I also have about 1 lb of 'PH Down' - age TBD from the previous owner.

    Best course of action?
    1. Get PH Down
    2. Get TA Down
    3. SLAM?
    4. 'Close' Pool (aka not use it since it is so cold - here in Marin County/San Francisco Bay Area, I think we will just buy a cover for it and call it done?)
    21K gal Plaster I/G | 1/2 HP Sta Rite main pump |StaRite 3 300 sqft cartridge |
    Ancient Kreepy Krauly Legend | 3/4 HP A.O. Smith Century Pressure Pump|Solar Pool Cover

  5. Back To Top    #5
    Isaac-1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    SW Louisiana

    Re: Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

    Best course of action would be

    1. Get PH Down (priority) thankfully you only need cheap muriatic acid for this

    2. replace at least half your water, this will get you down an more manageable 60ish ppm CYA, still a bit high, but manageable

    3. SLAM

    4, Decide if you want to formally cover and close or continue operating at a minimal level through the winter, in areas where the ground does not freeze, you have time below freezing (less than 24 hours in a row), yet the water gets too cold to swim year round many people do not formally cover and close, note chlorine consumption is much lower when water temperature is below about 60 degrees. In my area where we do get a number of nights below freezing each year, some years we may have lows in the teens and rarely go over 24 hours with below freezing temperatures I would say about 1/3 of pool owners cover and close, about 1/3 shut down and abandon their pools for the winter (and open up to a swamp in the spring) and about 1/3 maintain low level semi-dormant operation.

    Personally I feel attempting to SLAM prior to lowering CYA by water replacement is a waste, it will not only cost a lot, but there is a fair chance that you will have another algae bloom and be back where you started before the water is warm enough to swim in the spring. Maybe if your CYA was 70 or 80, but at 120 it is likely just a matter of time before another algae bloom unless your really stay on top of it every day.

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  6. Back To Top    #6
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: Neglected Pool...lots of issues...newly purchased home

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    Are you sure about that water cost? That is over $27 / 1k gallons which is about 5 times what seems to be the average across the country.
    Anyway, you are not really going to be able to SLAM properly with the CYA around 125ppm and certainly would struggle to maintain the pool with that high level.

    1. Replace 50-75% of the water.
    2. Lower pH
    3. SLAM

    If you are not going to replace water, then just lower the pH and start the SLAM process with a target FC level of about 40ppm. Once you pass the 3 criteria to stop, then you will need to maintain the FC level above 10ppm at all times to prevent algae ... which presents another issue in that the pH test is not valid when the FC > 10ppm.

    TA is not important at this point.
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