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Thread: Safe to Swim?

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    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Safe to Swim?

    Hi all,

    We've owned our pool for about two years now. Over the last winter I let it get a bit unclean and have been diligently vacuuming it, running the filter nonstop (and cleaning the filter daily), and shocking it (to the best of my ability and limited knowledge) for the past month or so.

    The pool now looks much cleaner; it was a cloudy green and is now a cloudy blue, though the water is not yet as clear as I'd like it to be. But looks are one thing, safe chemical levels for my wife and two small children are my main concern.

    A little history about the pool, incase it helps: originally I bought the pool and a SWG. With tips from a local pool shop I got the pool chlorinated and salted and we enjoyed it all summer. By the end of the summer however, the SWG system corroded and stopped generating chlorine. Rather than invest another few hundred dollars into another SWG I switched to chlorine tablets, which I've used since (including last summer). The pool still likely has most of it's original salt levels. I'm not sure how this effects my chemical levels, if at all, since I am not using a SWG, but incase it matters :the pool does still have salt in it (I'm unsure how much). The rest of my pool's info is in my sig below.

    Anyways, I'm wondering mostly what, if anything, I need to do to get the pool safe to swim in. Secondly, I'd greatly appreciate any tips to help me get the last bit of cloudiness out.

    I received my TF100 kit in the mail today, here are the results:

    FC 9.5
    CC 0.5
    (TC 10.0)
    TA 160
    CH 375
    CYA 80

    Thanks for your time,

    MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Your chemical levels are fine for swimming. If you can see the entire bottom of the pool clearly and there is no visible signs of algae, then it is safe to swim. A little haziness is fine, but you have to be able to see a person anywhere on the bottom.

    By the by, your CYA level is already higher than I would recommend without a SWG, and as high as your should ever let CYA get. If you continue using tablets CYA is only going to to go up further and will soon be at levels that will cause problems.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    If you are standing in your pool and you can't make out anything below your knees it is not safe to swim, especially with small children.

    It will take an Intex cartridge filter a while to filter all the fine debris. Since you should lower your CYA anyway, try vacuuming to waste. If you have a standard Intex set up you will need to use the siphon method. Keep the pump turned off overnight to allow the debris to drop to the bottom of the pool before you vacuum. Move the vacuum very slowly to avoid stirring up the debris. Re-fill and balance the water when you are done.

    Quote Originally Posted by madwil
    when I had a Intex, I used a standard vacuum head and hose, and set a syphon over the side instead of using the pump at all- as long as you don't mind watering the grass, and replacing water (same as vacuum to waste!)
    fill hose with water- start at one end, attach to vacuum to weight/hold underwater.
    push hose underwater along the length, so it fills entirely
    when you reach the other end, water should bubble out of it
    Hold both ends under water
    grab the middle of the hose, throw it over the side so a loop is hanging lower than the water level in the pool
    work back the length of the hose away from the vacuum head
    throw the end on the ground where you want the water to drain
    start to vacuum!
    when done, lift vacuum out of water to break suction, and drain to other end so gunk doesn't come back into pool
    TFP Moderator
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    Vogue 21' round AG, Pentair 1 hp 2 speed pump, 36 sq ft DE filter, Hayward S180T 150# sand filter, Houston, Texas
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  4. Back To Top    #4
    JesseWV's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    It's important to also test the pH even if you don't use the OTO chlorine test that comes with it,
    16k gal, 28'x3.5', Vinyl A/G, 1hp Pentair Dynamo 2-speed Pump, Hayward S160T Sand Filter, Intermatic HB800RCL Digital Timer, Intex 8110 SWG, TF-100 Test Kit, SpeedStir Author: Jesse's Graphical Pool Testing Log

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    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    By the by, your CYA level is already higher than I would recommend without a SWG, and as high as your should ever let CYA get. If you continue using tablets CYA is only going to to go up further and will soon be at levels that will cause problems.
    What would you recommend I chlorinate the pool with instead of tablets? Should I use liquid and, if so, how much/often?

    It will take an Intex cartridge filter a while to filter all the fine debris. Since you should lower your CYA anyway, try vacuuming to waste. If you have a standard Intex set up you will need to use the siphon method. Keep the pump turned off overnight to allow the debris to drop to the bottom of the pool before you vacuum. Move the vacuum very slowly to avoid stirring up the debris. Re-fill and balance the water when you are done.
    I'll do that this Saturday.

    It's important to also test the pH even if you don't use the OTO chlorine test that comes with it.
    I forgot to test the pH yesterday, but on Monday it was 7.2

    MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

  6. Back To Top    #6
    JesseWV's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    If you still have your SWG, you might be able to clean the cell with muriatic acid. I'm guessing the corrosion you speak of was probably deposits.

    You can also use plain bleach from the grocery store. If you go this route we recommend you lower the CYA a bit.

    16k gal, 28'x3.5', Vinyl A/G, 1hp Pentair Dynamo 2-speed Pump, Hayward S160T Sand Filter, Intermatic HB800RCL Digital Timer, Intex 8110 SWG, TF-100 Test Kit, SpeedStir Author: Jesse's Graphical Pool Testing Log

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    My updated pool values:

    FC 6
    CC 1
    TC 7
    pH 7.2
    CYA 90
    TA 140
    CH 300

    So, I know I still need to get my CYA down, I'm trying to bring it down slowly by siphoning to waste each time debris and silt settles to the bottom of the pool but it seems like a painstakingly slow process. At some point I will do a proper drain/refill, but for now the CYA is relatively high. The pool water is getting steadily less cloudy, but I imagine it's going to take awhile longer due to the small size of my pump/filter.

    My main concern at the moment, is making sure the values of the above chemical levels that I'm shooting for are correct. I used to have a SWG for the pool (it broke), there is still plenty of salt in the pool though. Should I be shooting for levels consistent with a SWG pool, or for a manually chlorinated pool? Are the differing target chemical levels between SWG and manually chlorinated pools a result of the salt water generation system, or just because of the salt in the pool?

    Thanks,

    MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

  8. Back To Top    #8
    JesseWV's Avatar
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    Safe to Swim?

    Having the salt in the water is irrelevant and doesn't hurt anything, but with the SWG not working you'll want to use Bleach Pool targets. The FC target for a SWG is lower because you have a consistent stream of chlorine going to your pool every day and perhaps a bit of super chlorination in the return line for a split second right before it re-enters the pool. The CYA level is higher for a SWG to help it keep up with daytime FC loss from the sun.

    Right now your FC target is 7-12, so you need to keep it above 7 at all times! If it were my pool I'd never let it get below 10.

    More importantly, if the water is cloudy and your CC is over 0.5 you need to go through the SLAM process.

    For a CYA of 90, FC level for the SLAM process will be 35, so you may want to consider draining and refilling a portion of your water to get that CYA level down before you start. It will save time and money spent on bleach.
    16k gal, 28'x3.5', Vinyl A/G, 1hp Pentair Dynamo 2-speed Pump, Hayward S160T Sand Filter, Intermatic HB800RCL Digital Timer, Intex 8110 SWG, TF-100 Test Kit, SpeedStir Author: Jesse's Graphical Pool Testing Log

  9. Back To Top    #9
    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Update:

    Two nights ago I drained the pool to lower the CYA level after a refill. I slept through my alarm and ended up draining more than I had wanted to (instead of draining 50% of the pool I drained 67%). I figured no harm, no foul, since I can always bring the CYA up much easier than I can bring it down. I spent yesterday evening, night and midday today refilling the pool. Before leaving for work in the morning I (using the poolcalc) calculated how much liquid bleach I would need to add (assuming an FC level of 0, because I figured better to add too much then too little) 3.5 cups of 12% bleach (which according to the calc would bring the FC up to 4).

    Side note: You guys are true pool wizards. The CYA and FC values I had when I got home were spot on what I expected based on what I've learned in my short time cruising these forums.

    My TF100 test results when I got home from work are as follows:

    FC 3.5
    CC 1
    TC 4.5
    pH 7.1
    TA 200
    CH 250
    CYA 20

    I'm very pleased so far with the results so far. Obviously, with so much fresh water, the pool clarity is pretty great (but there is still a good amount of silt (or perhaps dead algae? my eyes are as yet untrained) still at the bottom of the pool that I need to vacuum up).

    Rather than ask what to do next I thought I'd try to figure it out for myself, and post my plans, and let you guys correct me where needed.

    Step 1. Get my CYA up to 30. The poolcalc says to "Add 8.7oz by weight or 9.2oz by volume of stabilizer or add 22oz of liquid stabilizer." Does anyone have a recommendation on which of those methods would be the most effective (or just have a preference)? Also, should I add a bit less than that and retest, adding along the way until I get a CYA of 30?

    Step 2. Get my TA down to 80. The poolcalc recommends that I lower the pH to 7.0-7.2 (which it is already at) and then aerate. So... I should get in the pool and splash around a bunch? I feel silly even asking that question...

    Step 3. Bring the pH back up to 7.5 (which will mean adding soda ash, but I will need to wait until my TA is down to 80 to know how much to add).

    Step 4. Test chlorine/pH daily, run the pump/filter and vacuum as often as I can to get the last bits of visible "stuff" out of the pool, and keep that chlorine and pH right where they need to be.

    Thanks for the site and all of the previous responses.

    Thanks in advance for all of the wisdom to come.

    -MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

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    Smykowski's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Couple things....

    First, at the beginning of the thread, you said your water was cloudy. I'd raise the CYA and SLAM the pool to clean it up. While some of the CCs are from the fill water, the cloudy indicated a problem that refilling alone wouldn't have fixed.

    Second, I think there's a little confusion wrt the TA reduction process. Lower the TA with acid, but raise the phH with aeration, not chemical addition. Kids' splashing will accomplish this as well. While your TA of 200 is high, it's not so crazy high you have to do anything about it now. Get the pool clean and clear, then lower the TA later.
    33' round, 23,000 gal AG vinyl , 1HP 2spd PowerFlo Matrix downsized with 3/4HP impeller (X2), Hayward S180T 150# sand filter (X2), Hayward H250 NG heater Pool Store year 1 - $850 for 2 months; Pool Store year 2 - $440 for 2 months, TFPC year 1 - $170 for 4 months; TFPC year 2 - $95 for 4.5 months
    The most important article on this site - The ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

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    Smykowski's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Sorry, I read it wrong. You posted correctly about the TA reduction. Yes, splashing is a form of aeration.

    However, my overall advice still stands. SLAM first, TA reduction later.
    33' round, 23,000 gal AG vinyl , 1HP 2spd PowerFlo Matrix downsized with 3/4HP impeller (X2), Hayward S180T 150# sand filter (X2), Hayward H250 NG heater Pool Store year 1 - $850 for 2 months; Pool Store year 2 - $440 for 2 months, TFPC year 1 - $170 for 4 months; TFPC year 2 - $95 for 4.5 months
    The most important article on this site - The ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    I retested this morning, just Chlorine and pH:

    FC 3
    CC 1.5
    TC 4.5
    pH 7.1

    I started to vacuum with my microfiber bag to get some of the crud off the bottom of the pool and it seems to be working well, but will take some time to finish because the battery on my vac doesn't last as long as I'd like. So far the pool is still clear. I am running the pump and will continue to test the chlorine levels, probably twice a day, for the next few days to see if it dips.

    Am I correct that if my chlorine levels stay fairly regular that a SLAM might not be necessary? Or should I SLAM it anyways just to be absolutely sure that it's all good?

    Thanks,

    -MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Your 1.5 CC indicates you have something growing in the pool. I suggest you read and follow the SLAM process in pool school.
    12000 Gallon IG Plaster built 2/15/2014. Jandy 340 sg ft 127 gpm filter, Jandy 1 HP stealth pump. Circupool RJ-45 SWG (overkill). TF-100 with Speed Stir.

  14. Back To Top    #14
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Will do
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

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    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    I started the SLAM process yesterday. Everything seems to be going well. I did not pass the OCLT this morning (lost 2 FC and testing showed 1 CC) so I added more bleach, cleaned the filter and brushed. Brushing still kicks up a bit of greenish brown cloudiness, though it dissipates and is undetectable almost immediately.

    I'll keep up the SLAMing til it's finished.
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Almost there. Brush well again and think about places algae could hide. Creases, overhangs, corners, skimmers... etc. Any place those little buggers could hide, root 'em out!
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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  17. Back To Top    #17
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Update:

    After 4 days of doing my SLAM I passed the OCLT. My results, before and after, are below (CYA of the pool is currently 20):

    6-11-14 9PM
    FC 11
    CC .5
    TC 11.5

    6-12-14 6AM
    FC 11.5
    CC .5
    TC 12

    The problem is, the SLAM process says that you are done when the water is clear. My issue is, there are (about) 3 spots on the bottom of the pool where (even this morning) stuff likes to collect. My guess is the stuff is algae (dead or living), since it is brown and clumpy and looks just like the stuff that plagued the majority of the pool before I started the SLAM. The rest of the pool is pretty clean looking to the naked eye, but some very minor (brownish tinted) cloudiness still gets kicked up when I am vacuuming/brushing the floor (the cloudiness immediately dissipates and is only visible for under a second).

    My guess is: I'm not done with the SLAM yet. I have a feeling that before the day is over I'll get a CC over .5 (during the SLAM it has been bouncing around between .5 and at one point the test registered a 2).

    I know I've got this stuff on the ropes now, the pool looks great, and I no longer wake up to find the sprawling metropolis of algae inhabiting the bottom of it each morning that I once did.

    So at this point, since I'm going to continue the SLAM and will presumably get a higher CC before the day is through, my question is:

    Should I take off my pool cover? My guess is it helps keep my FC level where it needs to be, but I'm concerned that algae might be hiding out under (or even on top of) it. The pool cover I am using is an Intex solar cover that floats right on the surface and has essentially a layer of bubble-wrap on the underside (lots of nooks and crannies). It is very new, but I've had it since before I started the SLAM and it has stayed on the pool throughout the process.

    -MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

  18. Back To Top    #18
    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Just checked the chemicals again:

    6-12-14 11:30AM
    FC 13
    CC 0
    TC 13

    So, my FC went up, but I didn't add any bleach. Is that from the CYA releasing some chlorine back into the mix?

    I'm still seeing formation of clumps in those same spots I mentioned in my previous post. I get mostly small blossoms from the neighbors trees, could the clumps possibly just be bits of that debris rather than (dead or living) algae?

    Also, my pool temp has been around 91 during the day (the solar cover really works well in the recent heat-wave we've been having), does this negatively impact the SLAM process?

    -MP
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

  19. Back To Top    #19
    Matchpower's Avatar
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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Tomorrow will mark the 7th day of the SLAM.

    I've been passing the OCLT three nights in a row now, but during the day I am still getting occasional CC readings above .5, so I continue to SLAM. As I said in my previous post: there are still small spots where clumps are forming.

    Still wondering about the pool cover, if anyone recommends that I remove it since it has bubble-wrap on the underside (which has lots of places that stuff could be hiding). Perhaps, I should take it out and spread it on the lawn and scrub it down, but if so what should I use to clean it? Water? Soap?

    I'd love some help. I'm sure there's no set amount of days that a SLAM should take, but the wife and kids are itching to get back in the pool (especially since it is the cleanest looking it's been all summer right now).

    -MP

    (Incase anyone is curious, this morning's readings were:

    FC 11
    CC .5
    TC 11.5)
    18' Round (6500 gallons), Vinyl Liner With Steel Frame, Above Ground, Intex with 1500gph Cartridge Filter Pump.

  20. Back To Top    #20

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    Re: Safe to Swim?

    Hi -

    From everything I've read, the SLAM needs to be continue until you pass all 3 of the following:

    1) Pool is clear
    2) CC is .5 or less
    3) Pass OCLT

    Personally, when I did this, I waited until 1 and 2 were complete before I even bothered with 3.

    I don't really have good advice on the pool cover. I have solar rings. I took them off and left them off until I passed the OCLT. I think algae grows faster the warmer the water - so I was trying to lower the temp (not easy in AZ )

    So, once the SLAM was "done" with them off, I put them on and continued to SLAM until I confirmed that all 3 were good again -- I knew there was algae on them but that was easier than washing them outside the pool -- not sure that the experts would recommend that.

    Bottom line is that I would remove it and just deal with the additional chlorine loss -- but I think you should be able to go either way.
    25K gal, fiberglass, Hayward 1hp pump, Sta-rite 30" sand filter, Hayward Pool Vac

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