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Thread: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

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    Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    I've read for years on the BBB method, but I've had pretty good luck with a salt water generator pool. It does require a high use of acid, but it pretty much eliminates the need for storing chorine - which I really like. If I'm on it and watch things closely, I can get thru an entire year without an algae bloom or having to shock my pool.

    However, my salt water generator (now over 10 years old) has died. I've gone thru three salt cells, and repaired the generator once. I think it's time for a change. I'm thinking this would be a good time to switch over to the true-and-tried BBB method. I'm not sure if I'll use liquid chorine (from pool store or Home Depot) vs plain-old bleach from grocery store yet.

    So here's my two main concerns ....
    1) With a salt level of 3000 ppm to run a SWG, do I need to drain the entire pool to switch to BBB? Or can I just lower the level of salt to an acceptable maximum? What would that salt level be? I live in southern California, so the price of water out here is rather high. Furthermore, we don't "winterize" our pools, so it's pretty much an around-the-year full maintenance for our pools. I'm not complaining, but I'm thinking wintertime is more ideal to do this conversion since there's less UV rays and swimmer activity to burn up the chorine. Right?

    2) I have manufactured travertine as coping around our pool and over spa spillway. I've noticed the stone seems to "dissolve" holes and create pitting where salt water makes a lot of contact with it. Will the BBB method pretty much eliminate further disintegration of the stone? I was given an epoxy filler to repair the stone by a local stone servicing store. They showed me how to clean, acetone wash and fill the defects and then diamond polish the surface to make it look whole. But I didn't want to do this laborious task until I knew I could stop the process from reoccurring, if it is at all possible. Thoughts?

    Marc
    20,000 in-ground pebble-coat pool with 60sf Jandy DE filter, Pentair Variable-Flow pump, Goldline Aquarite SWG, Dolphin Premiere robot, passive solar heating.

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    The methods we teach around here can equally be applied to SWG use as well as BBB, therefore we are trying to get away from calling it BBB so we are trying to call it the TFPC method now (BBB can also be misleading as many people never use the second two B's), . Having said that your salt level should not be a problem if you want to switch to using bleach, however you may still need to replace a considerable amount of water depending on how high your CYA level is. In our experiences SWG pools can operate successfully at a much higher CYA level than manually dosed pools, and in fact we do generally suggest a higher CYA level for SWG pools to maximize the life expectancy of the SWG cells. However you decide to go I would suggest starting by reading the pool school link in the upper right, then take a break and read it again, most people get a lot more out of it the second or third time through.

    Ike
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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    TFPC (used to be BBB) is a methodology that applies to pool management......all pools.

    An SWG pool is a method to deliver chlorine to your pool that includes salt.

    If the salt is the problem, you must drain most all of it out and replace with fresh water without salt.

    In either case, you should practice TFPC.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    I appreciate the responses I have received thus far. Thank you.

    I guess what I am understanding is that I can immediately switch over to TFPC and simply disconnect my salt cell, even though my salt level is around 3000 ppm. Just as long as I get my CYA to within 30 and 50. I was keeping my CYA around 70 previously so I imagine it won't take much (I guess I do this by emptying the pool) to get it around 50, right? I've also thought the CYA test was a little more subjective since you watch for the dot to "disappear" thru the tube. I would always seem to read it more around 70 and 80 when my pool store people (yes, since I bought supplies from them, I would have them occasionally test my H2O) would consistently read it lower (like around 30 to 50). I was convinced they weren't reading it closely enough if I make sense here.

    I'm assuming the salt is the culprit with regards to the travertine coping, but not completely convinced here. I guess my only option is to drain the water and see if it is. So how much water would I need to drain to make the salt content negligible? And what is considered a negligible salt number since we all can have some degree of salt in our pools any ways because of the byproduct of chlorine manufacturing?

    Any thoughts about a liquid chlorine pump so I don't have to manually add chorine every time? Not that I'm lazy, but sometimes I'll be out of town for a while and won't be around to monitor the pool.
    20,000 in-ground pebble-coat pool with 60sf Jandy DE filter, Pentair Variable-Flow pump, Goldline Aquarite SWG, Dolphin Premiere robot, passive solar heating.

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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    I guess what I am understanding is that I can immediately switch over to TFPC and simply disconnect my salt cell, even though my salt level is around 3000 ppm.
    Not quite. Remember, TFPC is a methodology that you follow to take care of ANY pool....salt or otherwise. Your pool should be managed with TFPC methods whether you switch from salt or not. From the home page...
    TroubleFreePool.com exists to develop and promote a simple, inexpensive, and effective system of pool care.....Trouble Free Pool Care (TFPC).

    We provide a forum where pool owners can learn, develop and share their pool / spa knowledge.

    We believe that armed with the power of understanding, any pool owner can achieve and maintain crystal clear water without reliance on the often unproductive advice and unneeded expense from pool stores.

    We emphasize the importance of self management, self testing and a willingness to learn.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    Quote Originally Posted by mgianzero
    However, my salt water generator (now over 10 years old) has died. I've gone thru three salt cells, and repaired the generator once.
    Frequent replacing of a SWG cells can mean that there is a problem with the maintenance of the SWG cell or chemistry balance. I am going on my 9th year with the same SWG cell and it is still going strong. Also I live in an area with very high TA & CH fill water so scaling is always a possibility and keeping proper chemistry balance is very important to prevent it. Your pool is about the same size as mine so I would think your SWG cell should last at least as long as mine has.

    Did you find that you had to clean the cell frequently with acid?

    You mentioned using a lot of acid. Do you have high TA and CH fill water as well?

    What were the symptoms when the cells "failed"?
    Mark
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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    You can switch to manually dosing with chlorine without changing the salt level in your pool. [Edit to add: There is also no hurry to lower the CYA unless you have algae in the pool. You can manage a CYA of 70ish until later. Just make sure you maintain the right chlorine level based on this higher CYA. It won't be too hard to do this during the colder weather.] It sounds like you have another reason to want to lower the salt level--the travertine pitting. Salt can cause and/or speed up pitting of travertine. The TFPC method is compatible with a very low salt pool so that the pitting will not reoccur, or will happen with much less speed/frequency.

    Here's what I would suggest:
    - Switch to manually dosing bleach now. Your SWG is not working, so you have to do something different, and winter is a good time to practice because chlorine demand is low.
    - Based on the price of water during different seasons, when your water company monitors to set sewage rates, etc., pick the best time and way to drain out the heavier salt water and replace it with fresh.
    - Once your salt level is down, repair the travertine. Down by how much? As near as I can tell, nobody knows. Most non-SWG pools run with salt content of ~1000 ppm or lower. The lower you pull it down, the less risk there is to the travertine. However, as you stated, adding bleach will cause the salt content to increase slightly. It can build up over time. Continue to monitor and make sure the salt level doesn't rise too much. Rain dilution, back-washing, splash-out, etc. may or may not be enough to keep it in check depending on your climate.
    - Another option is to rinse off the travertine with tap water after swimming. This will dilute any of the splashed-out pool water and reduce the salt on the travertine by even more.

    If you find you liked the convenience of the SWG, you might want to try sealing the travertine, and rinsing after swimming. Or look into a chlorine pump or injection system.
    Outdoor 14,000 gallon IG plaster pool built in 2000 with spillover spa, 2 hp WhisperFlo pump with MagneTek motor, Sta-Rite cartridge pool filter with 300 ft2 filtration area and 0.33 gpm/ft2 filtration rate, Aquabot Rapids 4WD robotic pool cleaner, Raypak digital gas heater, and Intermatic mechanical timer located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex

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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    I'm jumping in a bit late but, no you don't have to drain your pool. Some people like the feel of the water with salt. All pools will build up some level of salt over time. It comes from the bleach/chlorine.

    The "secret" is to maintain the correct chlorine level (FC) for the amount of stabilizer (CYA). (Really oversimplified. )
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    Re: Must I drain my pool to switch from Salt to BBB method?

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Frequent replacing of a SWG cells can mean that there is a problem with the maintenance of the SWG cell or chemistry balance. I am going on my 9th year with the same SWG cell and it is still going strong. Also I live in an area with very high TA & CH fill water so scaling is always a possibility and keeping proper chemistry balance is very important to prevent it. Your pool is about the same size as mine so I would think your SWG cell should last at least as long as mine has.
    Actually, I wasn't clear about that. To be honest, I'm on my 12th year with my Aqualine salt system. My first cell lasted about 6 years and second one was just changed out. My understanding is 5-6 years is a good amount of use out of a salt cell. However, we have a solar heating system in southern California and so we have an extended season with lots of pool parties in summer so I think we put a high amount of demand on our salt system.

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Did you find that you had to clean the cell frequently with acid?
    I rarely had to acid soak my salt cell due to calcium buildup (although my CH level is naturally high at around 550-650). I guess I should check my tap water to see what it is as a check.


    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    You mentioned using a lot of acid. Do you have high TA and CH fill water as well?

    What were the symptoms when the cells "failed"?
    My TA levels have been low normal (60-80, never over 100).

    I know that my cells have failed in the past by having an analysis by an independent pool company which tests it in their closed system. Both cells that died failed to provide adequate chlorine levels so I know they were bad.

    What I mean by my system has failed is the actually circuit board. There is a current limiter that I changed once about 2 years ago (known to be a weak point in the board). I replaced it myself with just a bit of soldering. However, it has now failed again. I'm imagining these boards only last so long before they become ineffective. Although the board is in a closed box, the box is outside in the elements and not inside a shed - so imagine this can shorten its life a bit. Heck, I had to change out my Jandy control board once too as it went bad after 6 years.
    20,000 in-ground pebble-coat pool with 60sf Jandy DE filter, Pentair Variable-Flow pump, Goldline Aquarite SWG, Dolphin Premiere robot, passive solar heating.

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