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Thread: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    May 2014
    Baltimore, Maryland

    Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    Hi! I am new here so I am very appreciative of anyone who will jump in and offer advice.

    We have a 20k mineral springs pool which has been opened for about a month. Everything has seemed to be fine until about 5 days ago when we took a water sample into our pool store and the result showed that we had chlorine residual and needed to add 14 bags of "Burn Out 35". Three days later we took a sample back to the store and things had improved. The total chlorine was slightly low (0.8) so we were told to just do a "boost" with our chlorinator.

    The next day we noticed the water was slightly cloudy so we completely cleaned the filters with a power washer and added our weekly renewal (this was yesterday). This morning the water was so cloudy we can't see the bottom.

    We took a sample back to the store and both the free and total chlorine readings were zero. We had sampled it before we went and our test confirmed this. The owner of the company ran numerous other tests and our phosphates came back at >2500 and the nitrates were at 5ppm. The owner of the company told us he could sell us a bunch of chemicals to try but felt it may be a swing and a miss and is recommending draining and refilling the pool. He said that we need to fix the chlorine problem before we can fix the phosphates and that the only real way of getting rid of nitrates is removing the water.

    Just a bit ago (about 8 hours) we did an additional self test and the tablet did reAct at about 0.5 ppm of chlorine.

    We are having another water test performed in the morning but we don't know what to do. Certainly we don't want to dump a bunch of money into chemicals if we will end up draining. We don't know how the nitrates could have gotten into the pool. We don't use fertilizers. We want, whatever, done as soon as possible so we can begin using the pool.

    Any advice?? Thanks

  2. Back To Top    #2
    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    Welcome to TFP!

    The best thing you could possibly do is to stop listening to that pool store, get your own top quality test kit, and take control of your pool.

    Without test results there isn't much I can tell you about what to do. But I can tell you that phosphates and nitrates are not a problem at all. My phosphate level fluctuates between 2,000 and 4,000 and I have never had a problem because of that. Also BurnOut 35 is the most expensive form of chlorine available, which doesn't help you at all, but does help the pool store a tremendous amount.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Join Date
    May 2014
    Baltimore, Maryland

    Re: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    Thanks for your reply.

    I checked my receipt and we actually put in 14 bags of 'Smart Shock'.

    Here are the results of our tests.

    Forgive me if I am missing any important parts, we have never had a problem with our pool. It is a 4 year old plaster pool.

    CYA 53
    Total Chlorine 3.8
    Free chlorine 0.3
    pH 8.1
    Total Alk 115
    Total hardness 466
    Minerals 3450
    Borates 0

    CYA 73
    Total Chlorine 0.8
    Free chlorine 0.7
    pH 7.6
    Total Alk 109
    Total hardness 439
    Minerals 3500
    Borates 0

    CYA 39
    Total Chlorine 0
    Free chlorine 0
    pH 7.2
    Total Alk 97
    Total hardness 347
    Minerals 3600
    Borates 9
    Nitrates 5
    Phosphates >2500

    The reading above from yesterday was taken at 9am. At that same time I did a test with the chlorine tablet and the FC didn't even react, the water was clear. Yesterday at about 3 pm i did it again and it was about 0.5ppm.
    I did the test again at about 8pm and it was about 1ppm.

    The pool remains very, very cloudy today. We did no treatment yesterday because the pool store didn't seem to know what to suggest beyond draining.

    Looking forward to help from you. Thanks so much!

  4. Back To Top    #4
    BoDarville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    DFW, Texas

    Re: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    Welcome to TFP!

    One thing jumps right out at me...the test results show much variation in the CYA level. This is not typical. The CYA level is almost always very stable. Water replacement and prolonged use of chlorinating pucks (trichlor) or powdered shock containing dichlor are about the only ways that the CYA level changes. I suspect you are using strips for testing. If so, that would explain the variability. I would suggest investing in one of the Recommended Test Kits.

    If the Smart Shock you added contains Calcium Hypochlorite, that would explain the cloudiness. That is a typical (and temporary) effect of using a Cal-Hypo-based product.

    My recommendation for you is to (1) Get one of the recommended test kits, and (2) When it arrives, run a full suite of tests and post the results. The main thing you want to focus on is getting a reliable CYA level. This will determine the amount of chlorine needed for day-to-day maintenance. Post #8 in this article contain instructions on how to properly do the CYA test: Extended Test Kit Directions. I would read this while you are waiting for your test kit to arrive.

    Do not worry over the phosphates or nitrates.
    Gold Supporter, TFP Lifetime Supporter, 26,680 gal Plaster IGP 3.5 - 10' depth / Attached Waterfall Spa, Manually Chlorinated, Triton Sand Filter, 1.5 HP * 1.1 SF = 1.65 SFHP 1-speed Pentair WhisperFlo WF-26 Pump, 400K BTU NG Teledyne Laars Series One Heater, Polaris 360, Test Kit Comparison, Chlorine/CYA Chart, SLAMing Your Pool, OCLT
    A good test kit is an investment, not an expense.

  5. Back To Top    #5
    Richard320's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Dimas, CA (LA County)

    Re: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    Bo called it..... look at that CYA reading 53 to 73 in 3 days... then down 34 in two. A jump that high is possible the way the pool stores have you pour bag after bag of powder into the water. Except that burnout 35 adds Litium, not CYA. So where did it come from? And the only way CYA goes down is by draining. Did you replace 1/3 of the water? If not, then the CYA test results must be wrong. And if they're wrong, how can you be sure any of the others are correct?

    Question: what is the "weekly renewal" you added? Some mineral pack?

    Cloudiness is usually an algae bloom in its early stages, but it could be clouding from Calcium-based chlorine powders or mineral sanitizers.

    If you invest in a proper test kit and do a little reading and post accurate results here, your pool can get straightened out. You can have clearer water than you've ever had before and be an old hand at testing and dosing by Fourth of July if you get on it now.
    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!

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Join Date
    May 2014
    Baltimore, Maryland

    Re: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    The tests are being done by the mineral springs machines. We had them independently tested by three different pool stores and got nearly identical results.

    I drove out to the company that did our initial opening, about an hour away, and they recommended boosting the chlorine generator to 80% and doing a boost and retesting for 24 hrs. TC and FC were 0.4 this afternoon and the pool was less cloudy. We have had two huge rain storms here in the last two weeks and they think that the generator (which was set at 10%) couldn't keep up with the demand.

    "Mineral Springs Renewal" is the weekly salt/mineral add in.

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Patrick_B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Midland TX

    Re: Cloudy water, >2500 phosphates, 5ppm Nitrates! HELP

    Welcome to the forum Eatright.

    I must say, I have to agree. Levels of 53, 73, then to 39 are simply not possible without making vast changes to the pool through chemical additions and water changes. You simply cannot rely on those types of results.

    Get your own good kit, learn, and trust your own results.
    TFP Moderator
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    ABC's Of Pool Chemistry, Test Kits, SLAM Your Pool
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