Hi Mike here from Harare Zimbabwe.
I have been reading this awesome site now for over 6 months, this is my first post. (sorry in advance for the length!!)
First of all my story is, I moved to zim about a year ago with my wife from the UK to live with my in-laws and try life the African way, so far so good!
One of the best things about moving (aside from the weather!) was having my first ever private swimming pool. Being the sort of DIY handyman guy I fancy myself as, I set about renovating and repairing the property that had been somewhat neglected (Pretty good fun seeing as we were used to a 2 bedroom top floor apartment that didn't really have much scope for such projects....) This included the pool which at the time had more problems then I can count.
As I started on the pool one thing led to another then to another etc. In the beginning all I wanted to do was get the Barracuda working I thought that would fix the green!! So far using the help from this site, to date I have completely replaced the leaky plumbing system with pvc, stripped and serviced the pump, disassembled and acid cleaned the filter as it was full of Algae, Cleaned the sand using the hose pipe method, Added the correct level of sand, the installers had only put in approx. 1/8th of the sand needed..., replaced the weir door, replaced the non existent pump and weir baskets etc etc I think you get the picture. Then that lead me to the chemistry side of things.
In the first month I was here I got pretty badly pool stored, which of course made things worse, but thankfully led me to the site. The main course of treatment on sale here is a pretty dodgy mix of powdered alum floc, zinc and copper. They claim with this treatment once a month for my size pool I only need to add 200g of cal-hypo a week . Im sure you can imagine how the pool would be green 90% of the time, cloudy etc . Then they sell you floc, clarifier, algaecide (no one here has even heard of polyquat 60....) you name it to rectify things. In the beginning even after the algae was gone I had to use crazy doses of sequestrate to clear the crystal light green pool because of the copper, (even the municipal water we fill with is undrinkable as also full of metal If its even treated at all…). At no point was CYA even mentioned, the temp here gets to at least 22 Celsius 365 days a year, even in the winter. The pool is in the sun all day. In the summer it gets to approx 36-38c daily. I know the actual temp does not affect chlorine loss but the sun is strong for a good 12 hours a day all year round. It was the typical merry-go-round of pool store advice you read about so often on here. When they do the "free water test" they only test the ph! Then from that somehow they work out you need all the products you can possibly carry. So that's the picture and as I say, not all bad as this lead me perfectly to TFP. I love this place I honestly do, my wife calls me obsessed!
So, to this point I have found everything I needed here to turn the green swamp I inherited to a sparkling oasis using purely BBB method. The bleach in the supermarkets here is horrendously expensive (500ml 3.5%= $5 USD) and often doesn't even tell you the %, as regulations leave somewhat to be desired. So I found a cleaning company that manufactures the stuff and I buy direct, according to the bleach cost calculator it’s a pretty good price. 25L 12.5% is 36USD. I also get my MA from them. My pool typically rises in ph over a month and requires half a jug to get things in check, even though I maintain my TA around 80. So I have been getting by using very strict calculations from the pool calc, and I think I may even have pool school committed to memory. To get my volume I took 100 measurements of the depth throughout the pool and used a water meter to work out the volume of the surface area by increasing the depth by 1”. A method I also found on here. Why so precise you might ask? Because there is no way I can get a FAS-DPD kit or CYA test. None. At least without paying $500+ USD to get it cleared through customs due to regulations etc. I am hoping to get a proper one when in-laws in the U.S. come to visit, but that will be in March next year. And the cost of getting one from family in the U.K. is almost as much as shipping here normally, and again they are not planning to visit until mid next year.
So in the meantime this brings me to my subject matter, is it possible to make my own test? There is a wealth of mining and chemical companies here that my line of business brings me into frequent contact with, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get the individual reagents made/ sourced for a reasonable price. At the moment I am relying on guesstimation with an OTO test (using the guide to extend the test to higher numbers), a DPD tablet test in the HTH 4 way drop kit ( TA, PH, Acid Demand and DPD tablet test), and test strips ( which I can confirm from my math’s are hugely unreliable-but at the time I didn’t know about the site when I bought them). If any one knows if this is possible I would be hugely appreciative. When I shocked for two weeks to clear the pool I had to use a ****load of bleach. I got it done but now things are just not economical and I have torn my hair out pretty much trying to get the numbers precise.
Trust me no one even knows what this test is here, let alone sells it. To give you an example of the limitations of stuff available here, in the entire country not one hardware or plumbing company I have talked with, has ever heard of PVC primer. I drive around all week visiting chemical plants mining companies and distributors for my Job so I have had plenty of scope to search. And I have found nothing. Hence now I am seeing if its possible to take a different approach and make one. But hey I have to be grateful there even pool stores in a 3rd world country right?
Something else I cannot source while on the topic is a CYA test. For this I had no idea on the level, but after 6 months of backwashing, evaporation, leaky pipes and splash out etc I figured it was safe to add pure stabilizer to bring to approx level of 40ppm. Ideally I don’t want to have to wait 6 months before I think its low enough again. I have read many stories of overdoing it here so have been extremely cautious with the stuff, luckily when I was pool stored I never used di-chlor or tri-chlor. I just worry about the use of floaters before I arrived, I know that they were using the copper treatment with no CYA exclusively for about a year before we moved, so I hope it was at 0 when I added. Ideally I want to maintain a level of 70-80 with the sun we have, but cannot do this safely at present. I have managed to acquire some tablets for the tablet based CYA test, but even in South Africa cannot source the testing tube. Is there a way to make my own one of these as well?
I know this is a big post that contains a few topics so sorry for that!! I hope you can see I have done my research and meticulously studied the site and pool school. I have searched the site the best I can and cannot find any post re making a FAS-DPD from scratch. As I say I don’t know if this is even possible so any help or advice is very much appreciated. I am sorry if this is posted in the wrong area, I thought as I have only just actually officially joined it seemed like the best place. My pool is sparkling, no problems other than using more bleach than I would like, and not being able to monitor CYA. I want to keep it this way hence asking these questions. It’s not realistic to keep going with BBB successfully and affordably without a proper test kit at this point, especially without the two tests I have mentioned.
Many Thanks in advance for you input in advance.