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Thread: ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

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    ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Hello all....I'm new here and I hope it is not too tacky of me to introduce myself and then pour over my pool issues. Pool details are in sig...

    I live in Minneapolis, MN and was a first time pool owner last summer. We got through it, learned some expensive lessons but still had a great season nonetheless and was thinking we'd have a much easier start to this season....WRONG! We've been having nothing but trouble getting open and keeping chlorine so obviously, there's something still alive in the water. Test results are posted below along with the advice I was given with each test. My dilemma is that I am hundreds of dollars in checmicals thus far and have made no head-way but I also realize that I cannot stop now. The water itself looks great, the skimmers and pool itself are both dead animal and debris-free. The filter cartridges are brand new last August.

    Sunday, 5/18 - initial opening first test of year
    FC - 0.0
    TC - 1.6
    pH - 6.9
    TA - 180
    CH - 225
    CYA - 40

    Advice was to add 24lbs of pH down to drop alkalinity....wait 2 hours....add 3lbs pH up to bring pH back up, wait 6 hours, add 16 gallons liquid shock (pro-clor)c

    Monday, 5/19 - 24hrs later
    FC - 0.0
    TC - 1.4
    pH - 7.6
    TA - 125
    CH - 250
    CYA - 55

    Advice was to just shock with another 8 gallons of liquid Pro-Clor

    Tuesday, 5/20 - 24hrs later
    FC - 0.3 (yay, a baby step)
    TC - 1.9
    pH - 6.4 (woah, what happened there?)
    TA - 140
    CH - 150
    CYA - 20
    NEW TEST - Ammonia - off the charts, estimated at 15ppm

    Advice was to add 35lbs granular chlorine (56% chlorine) and 4lbs pH up to make the chlorine do it's job.

    I did the pH up about 7:30 last night and then the chlorine treatment at 10pm. Before leaving for work, a quick dip-strip test at 7am this morning showed 0 chlorine. I plan on heading back to the store tonight for another test but seriously...do I need to be doing something different? 35 POUNDS of chlorine gone in 9 hours?

    Thanks for reading and thank you in advance for your advice. I realize I am not the first to have an issue like this and probably far from the worst, but I just want to get it right!
    Last edited by Miles Family; 05-22-2014 at 12:00 PM. Reason: update
    Matt Miles

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Welcome to TFP!

    Absolutely under no circumstances add 35 lbs of granular chlorine!!!!! That would put your CYA level through the roof and lead to having to replace a good percentage of your water.

    Also, adding PH Down and then PH Up in sequence???? That is just crazy and serves no purpose other then getting your money into the hands of the pool store. That procedure will not lower TA, it will raise TA just a little.

    Also, I don't trust their test results. CYA went up and then down sharply? It is nearly impossible for that to be true. Far more likely it is some kind of testing error. That makes me wonder about the PH result, which doesn't make sense, so again I suspect testing error.

    Chances are that you do need a lot of chlorine, and granular is not the way to do it. But before you deal with that, you need to get reliable test results. By far the best way to do that is to get your own top quality test kit. That will cost a little right now, but it will save you a great deal in the long run.
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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Welcome aboard, fellow Minnesotan!

    First step is to take control of your testing. Do you have your own test kit? Getting one is necessary to get consistent, accurate results. If you're getting water tested at the pool store, it's mostly a waste of time. The wild variability of your CYA and CH dropping without draining/replacing water are BIG red flags that the tests are no good. CYA and CH never drop without replacing water (or rarish winterized issues). See recommended test kits here: Test Kits Comparison I'd recommend the TF-100, which I use.

    Read lots of Pool School at the tab at the top.

    Ask lots of questions. There's great folks here who will bend over backward to help you out FOR FREE.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Welcome, Matt!

    You've been pool-stored. Add that word to your vocabulary.

    You're wising up. Stop and look at those results for a minute.... I can see CYA going up from 40 to 55 if the pool store sold you buckets and bags of powdered "shock", but how did it abruptly drop to 20? Did you drain out 2/3 of your water? They had you add pH down and then pH up. You could have raised pH by simply aerating last Sunday - point the returns up or something - and eliminated both those chemicals. Is the pool store testing with strips? After adding 24 gallons of liquid shock, you ought to see something! Test strips can bleach out with high FC, which will make all the test results suspicious.

    The point I'm trying to make is: you can't rely on the pool store tests. You need your own proper test kit. Are you in a hurry? I'll spare you some reading. Go to http://tftestkits.net/TFTestkits-TF-100-p4.html and get a TF100 with the XL option. What it costs is less than what you've already wasted, and it should see you through this whole season and probably halfway into next year, too. You will know what's in your water. You will be in control. You will know what you need. You will no longer be blindly buying whatever they tell you to buy.

    You could have a particular type of bacteria that converted your CYA into ammonia over the winter, which could account for your difficulties. The pool store might have been getting a clue when they added the ammonia test. But again, I don't trust the test results. If they haven't loaded you up with phos-free, be grateful. That savings alone will pay for the test kit.

    I suppose you want an immediate solution. I can't think of one without believable test results. You do need to keep some FC in the water, just to keep algae at bay, but who can guess how much? The target is based on the CYA levels, and yours is all over the place. You need to know how much is in there already, but it could already be so high the test strip bleached out and is misreading. We don't know where you are or where you're going right now.

    Order a test kit ASAP, and dump some bleach in. Your guess is as good as mine how much.
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Welcome - And unloading your problems is what the forum is here for!

    Get the TF-100, XL option and Speed Stir. And also an ammonia test kit from a tropical fish/pet store may be appropriate to assist you if (big if) that Ammonia 15ppm test happened to be correct.

    Then likely lots of bleach or liquid shock (same thing different concentration) is in your future. Read Pool School, then re-read it twice more. Heed advice given here. The great thing about this site is if someone happens to say something not quite right, it will be corrected by other posters very quickly so there's little chance of getting errant advice.

    Take control of your pool and never (ever) rely on (or even think about getting) pool store testing again. It's the TFPC (Trouble Free Pool Care) way or the pool store way, not both. I'm the only one who has ever tested our pool water and our pool was new last year and I had no pool experience whatsoever. I also opened my pool to sparkling water this spring because I followed best practices for winter maintenance of a closed pool. You can too (though you may have to modify some of the winter techniques living where you do.)

    Just to give you a preview, you will be needing to SLAM your pool (because your FC has been at 0) so in addition to getting the basics of water chemistry down from Pool School, make sure to read (and re-read twice) the SLAM procedures. The one thing that many people miss is that you need the FC level to be at or above SLAM level for your CYA level at all times (ALL TIMES) until ALL 3 requirements are achieved.

    Since your water is clear, maybe the process will be pretty quick, but regardless, don't doubt the process once you get going.

    Best of luck, but you won't need it. Just patience.
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    If I were you, until you get the new test kit, I would assume your current CYA level is the highest number of the 3 tests (55)... and add at least the minimum matching amount of chlorine.

    I didn't do this initially, I was following pool store (and builder) advice to maintain FC at 1.0 to 1.5. Perfect breeding grounds for an algae bloom. I'm just lucky that I caught it early.
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Thanks very much for the warm welcomes and the advice! Great to hear from a fellow Minnesotan and 2 fellow Marylanders! I have lived in MN since 2001 but I was born and raised in Maryland for 22 years!

    So yea...feeling bamboozled here...and "pool-stored"...I LIKE THAT!

    So I feel I need to go back tonight and ask why the H I was sold $120 worth of granular chlorine. Something tells me he may have grabbed the wrong bucket and perhaps they need to make something right. If I end up having to drain a bunch of water to get CYA under control, I'll be quite upset with them, but moreso myself for not questioning it before doing it.

    As for the TF-100 test kit....it doesn't appear there's a quick way to obtain one of these, but I will order one this evening as it looks like I have missed the shipping cutoff for today anyway. Any advice in the interim for a test kit I can buy locally? Would hate for the family to not be able to swim this holiday weekend! I mean it is what it is, but I assume we will basically be starting over!

    Thanks again! What a great place!!!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Also I assume that I am going to need to just shock the living **** out of it with a non-stabilizing liquid chlorine again....I am just most interested now in my CYA reading tonight to see if I have to drain/fill...drain/fill....drain/fill over the next few days to flush out the excess stabilizer....<<<heavy sigh>>>
    Matt Miles

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    The alternative to the TF100 is the Taylor K-2006. It uses exactly the same reagents as the K-2006, but in smaller quantities. It's pretty rare to find it in stock at a local pool store. The K-2005 unfortunately is common, and uses the same plastic case. K-2006 is a FAS-DPD test, K-2005 is a DPD test. They are not the same! You have no idea -- wait, maybe you do, since you've been pool-stored -- how often they tell the buyer they're the same kit. They are not! BTW Leslies sells the right Taylor kit as part 81329, if there's one near you. Call first.
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Get the test kit and wait for it. I'm sorry you may or may not be able to swim this Holiday weekend but in the future, if you want to swim on the Holiday, don't wait so long to open. I don't want that to come off snarky. I'm just saying that a lot of us open in April and sit around looking at beautiful water to warm up on it's own or the heater gets fired up so they can swim. Personally, I open the first week or so of April if there is no snow on the ground. I don't care if it snows 2 weeks after I open, I just run my pump to not let the water freeze. The best part of opening so early is that algae won't grow in water 60 degrees and lower.

    You're going to learn so much here at TFP. So glad you found us and are taking control of your pool instead of letting the Pool Store *pool store* you.
    I'd bet you my bikini you'll never get TFP water from a pool store!

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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    If you do take anything back to the pool store and complain, they are likely going to ignore that adding buckets of stabilized chlorine could ever cause a problem. Pool stores many times have no idea about the relationship between CYA and FC (free chlorine) and they'll spout off non-sense about total dissolved solids, which is a useless number. They ignore the relevant and sell you the irrelevant. SHOCKING.

    Spend some time in Pool School and you'll know more than most store employees shortly.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Thanks again everyone for the advice! I have ordered the proper test kit and accessories and I am very excited to take control!

    I did go back to the store last night in the interest of not losing progress on getting to my breakpoint and bought more shock. I know, I know....as soon as I get my Taylor Kit in the mail, I will begin converting over to my new Trouble Free Pool. Anyway...

    I brought samples to two different pool stores last night in the interest of seeing the contrasting results -

    Store A
    FC - 0.0 | Target 1-3
    TC - 0.3 | Target 1-3
    pH - 6.4 | Target 7.2 - 7.8
    TA - 115 | Target 80 - 200
    CH - 175 | Target 200 - 400
    CYA - 90 | Target 30 - 100

    Store B
    FC - 0.0 | Target 1 - 3
    TC - 0.6 | Target 1 - 3
    pH - 6.2 | Target 7.4 - 7.6
    TA - 79 | Target 125 - 150
    CH - 275 | Target 175 - 225
    CYA - 100 | Target 30 - 200

    Last night, I added 10lbs of shock and this morning, I was happy to discover that we held FC overnight...my guess is somewhere between a 3-5. I hit it again before I left for work. pH also came up with the addition of 5lbs of soda ash.
    Matt Miles

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    What type of shock? Dichlor? Trichlor? Cal-hypo? I'm assuming one of those because you said pounds.

    You really need to stop using those for chlorination. The dichlor and trichlor are especially bad as they will raise your CYA very quickly. If it's trichlor it's also going to drop your pH, which is already too low. If it's Cal-Hypo it's going to raise your CH.

    If that CYA testing is mildly accurate, you ALREADY have CYA levels that are too high. Adding more stabilized chlorine (solids) driving it even higher. You should be aiming for 30-50 ppm.

    Get some bleach if you want to shock/chlorinate until the kit arrives.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    When you say you "added shock", you are talking unstabilized liquid chlorine, right? In the interest of clarity, going forward if this is the case just say you are adding liquid chlorine. When you say you added shock, the first thing we think of is granular product, which will cause problems.

    Those CYA tests of 90-100 indicate you are going to have to drain some water. But, pool stores are notorious for getting the CYA tests wrong. Wait and test on your own.
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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    What he said ^^^^^

    You already have plenty of CYA and CH in that water, if either of those tests are close to accurate. Once you realize you're in a hole, you need to stop digging.

    You didn't learn "breakpoint" here. If you try mixing and matching our techniques with the conventional pool store methods, you're just going to end up broke, angry, confused, and not swimming. Two different ideologies completely.
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    Re: Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Casey View Post
    Get the test kit and wait for it. I'm sorry you may or may not be able to swim this Holiday weekend but in the future, if you want to swim on the Holiday, don't wait so long to open. I don't want that to come off snarky. I'm just saying that a lot of us open in April and sit around looking at beautiful water to warm up on it's own or the heater gets fired up so they can swim. Personally, I open the first week or so of April if there is no snow on the ground. I don't care if it snows 2 weeks after I open, I just run my pump to not let the water freeze. The best part of opening so early is that algae won't grow in water 60 degrees and lower.

    You're going to learn so much here at TFP. So glad you found us and are taking control of your pool instead of letting the Pool Store *pool store* you.
    No snarkyness sensed! It is rough trying to open a pool early in Minneapolis though, especially when just 3 weeks ago there was still 4 inches of ice in the shallow end. That and we had an expensive/drawn out auto-cover repair as well.
    Matt Miles

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    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
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    Re: ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Matt,

    I get the feeling that you are in the same boat I'm in. You have been sold lots of dichlor or trichlor and you just want to "save" the money you have spent. As Richard said, there is no mixing and matching TFP techniques with the conventional pool store methods. I had a hard time admitting I had been pool stored and to put away the dichlor/trichlor.

    Swing by WalMart and pick up a bunch of bleach. Resist the temptation to pour some in because you need to be doing something. You need to wait for your test kit to know where you are starting from. As I'm sitting here I'm watching two hoses running into my pool because I have to keep doing water changes to get the CYA down. I started at CYA of over 200 because the previous owner of the house did what the pool store folks told him. Use the time waiting for the test kit reading and re-reading the Pool School.
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    Re: ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Please please! No more powdered/solid/non-liquid "shock"! Why make it worse?

    In essence you're adding something to "keep from losing progress" but if you just added a whole bunch of powdered something you just lost progress...in that you just made more work for yourself when you get your kit. Any solid chlorine is going to raise *something* that can only be lowered by replacing water. "Just say no!"

    If you must add something, only add bleach/liquid chlorine/liquid shock. Sodium Hypochlorite.
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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Another thing to keep in mind. The CYA test maxes out at 100. Odds are your CYA is much higher if the pool store tests are accurate. When your TF100 comes test the CYA first. No point in adding anything else to the pool if you have to drain it to lower the CYA.
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    Re: ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Hard to find plain old bleach at WalMart! Weird! The "plain" Clorox they have is "concentrated", but it also says REGULAR Bleach at 8.25%....is this stuff okay to use?
    Matt Miles

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    Re: ***UPDATED*** Time To Stop Trusting "The Store"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Miles Family View Post
    Hard to find plain old bleach at WalMart! Weird! The "plain" Clorox they have is "concentrated", but it says REGULAR Bleach at 8.25%....is this stuff okay to use?
    That's the stuff. Plain bleach, not scented, splashless, germicidal, outdoor, no variants. Plain laundry bleach.
    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!

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