We just bought a new house in November, and it came with the pool. We knew when we moved in that the filter had a small leak, and was pretty old. Now, after a few months of battling to keep the pool clean, I'm looking to replace the filter (possibly) and get an automated cleaner. I'm considering a lot of different things and don't really know which direction to go, so I'm looking for advice. I read the thread about getting started and about getting a green pool clean - so I'm trying to work through those steps - I think my main issue is my filter, so I'm looking to get it taken care of.
Just for good measure, my chem levels at last Measurement - [FC- 2] [TC- 2] [CC- 0] [PH- 7.3] [TA- 80] [CH~ 300] [CYA- 40-50]
I'm still messing with my in-line chlorine - right now I'm using Tri-Chlor tablets, I have the feeder full, but my chlorine is still low. I was lowering the PH from a bit over 800 and was shooting for about 7.2 as I thought I was going to need to shock, but then I didn't (yet). My calcium hardness was also pretty high, like 400, but through the process of vacuuming to waste that I've been going through mentioned below, I've lowered it. Any suggestions or advice here is certainly welcome.
For the Filter:
The current filter is an Atlas PA-48 DE filter, and I'm relatively certain that at least the filter grids need to be replaced. The pressure regularly runs pretty high, and the release valve is rusted off, so that would need replaced as well - I tried adding a bit of DE to it a few weeks ago through the skimmer, pouring slowly and making sure it all got sucked in through the pump... I ended up with DE clouding my pool from the returns. I was going to open it up to take a look, but with the pressure valve rusted off, I wasn't able to release the pressure and I'm not able to get the two halves of the casing open. Also, I don't necessarily trust the 3 different people from 2 different companies that have looked at my equipment in the past, as all 3 of them backwashed the filter during their process, yet never made any mention of adding DE, which I found during my research that you are supposed to rarely backwash DE filters, and add DE back to them afterwards... this on top of the 3 of them each giving different advice about the filter situation. As well... seems like none of them really wanted to open it up and take a look, even though I told all 3 that i thought it was having problems and wanted to find out what needed to be done about it - they all simply replaced vales etc outside the filter and wish-washed when asked about the filter itself.
My Question: Should I keep the DE filter and just continue replacing parts (up to about $250 at least for the parts I know about without opening it), or should I just replace it? If I replace it, I've heard that Sand filters are better if you have animals that would get hair in the pool - I have two 60lb dogs that don't go into the pool, but do shed, and the hair has a way of getting in there.
For the Cleaner:
Right now I'm battling with sediment and floating debris (leaves, dog hair, palm tree junk). I haven't actually seen any live algae despite my chlorine levels fluctuating while I was figuring things out, probably lucky with the cold weather. The sediment issue seems like if I don't vacuum the pool every weekend I get pretty high amounts of sediment on the pool floor - even when I am vacuuming it each weekend, I'm picking up a lot of stuff, and I've been having to vacuum to waste in order to actually get rid of it instead of just recycling it. I'm not sure if this is normal, probably partially because of the issue with my filter as well. Regardless, I'd like to get an automated cleaner to at least cut back on the neccessity to setup the array of hoses etc to vacuum every weekend. A store close by here is having a sale, and they have a Polaris 3900 for sale for $610, now that I found the reviews on Amazon... they look horrible. I notice a few that have good reviews, and some are actually less expensive as well - the Baracuda G3, Polaris Vac-Sweep 360, Baracuda MX8, etc - some of these have a separate bag and some don't... if there's no separate bag, that means large debri will end up in my pump skimmer, right? I'd rather avoid that.
My Question: Any suggestions or testimonials in regards to automatic cleaners? Are there good ones that don't require a booster pump?
I've seen and heard a lot about salt generators for handling chlorine, some people swear by them... and some people say they wear down parts and in the end aren't much better... I've also seen about UV systems to reduce the need for chlorine - http://www.spectralightuv.com - is there any credibility to these?