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Thread: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

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    Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Hi All,

    I recently purchased a home with a pool, details are in my signature. As a DIY-er I of course searched for a forum on such a big piece of equipment that requires maintenance. For me I usually find a community on my current project car, my home, and of course (now) my pool. The big ones!

    For the most part I am comfortable with the general pool knowledge and maintenance needs. I am probably bad with the correct terminology and could use a lesson or two on the more advanced aspects of things. I more or less wanted to introduce myself and let people know I'm new here. I'm sure the future will bring many questions to mind. I enjoy hearing other people's opinions on things, especially those with a lot of experience or experts on the subject... even if opinions differ, I like the whole store/360 view.

    That being said, I wanted to start off with two questions for the folks around here to give me their opinions on.

    1) First opening my pool two weeks ago and I've been plagued with a leak. Alas, it happens and instead of panicking I did what I do best and tried to troubleshoot (I'm an IT person so I have some experience in this area). I would lose about 4 inches in a 24 hour period, but the facts always stayed the same. The water level would drop to just below the skimmer housing. This led me to believe the leak was in/on/around the skimmer. After days of troubleshooting with/without the pump on and w/ a plug in the skimmer bottom I think I found the leak. Turns out, after careful inspection the water in the skimmer wouldn't drain... it would drain to the bottom of the skimmer level... and so when I got down in there I noticed a crack along the door/flap of the skimmer. From what I can ascertain via Google and my local pool shop (they seem like good knowledgable guys) is that this should be a fairly easy fix with special epoxy made for this type of patch. Anybody have experience with this type of crack and should I expect good results from a patch? I'm hoping it will work as I know to replace the entire skimmer it will be quite a job $$-wise and in just purchasing this home we aren't rolling in dough. I've attached a few photos of the crack.

    2) Hopefully a simple question. Obviously the better test kits are preferable because of all the levels they give. I might already know the answer to this based on the type of community this is... but, are there really strong opinions against using basic test strips? During my first two weeks (at least while I kept my water level up continuously) I had crystal clear water and the test strips were all in the preferable ranges. My alkalinity started high (we have hard water and I was filling quite a bit from our hose) and with a few adjustments with dry acid it was down to normal. The rest I used an opening kit that contained stabilizer and algaecide. Basic granular shock and then a second shock with plain old bleach (seems much more effective both in cost and as a sanitizer, thanks for that tip I got from this forum!). Long story short, I feel comfortable with my water looks/quality and the strips worked out. So unless I have any problems is it okay to use the strips... or are you guys dead bent on getting a good kit (or bringing water to my store)? If so, why?

    Thanks all, I know it was long winded, which probably isn't preferable, but alas it was more of an introduction than a real dead-bent question!

    Tyler

    photo 1.jpgphoto 2.jpg

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    First off welcome, now down to the details, I would strongly suggest reading the pool school link in the upper right of this page, then take a break, let it sink in, then read it again. I know it is a LOT of information, and can seem overwhelming at first, but you said you want to learn the terminology and that is probably the best way, most people seem to get a lot more out of it the second or even third time through. Personally I even go back through and reread it every year or two, because it is constantly being improved and you never know what little helpful tidbit may have been forgotten. Leak detection can be the worst, I am chasing one now myself that is proving very illusive as it leaks some days, but not others, and I don't know why so all of my testing results are questionable.

    On the topic of your two questions, I can't say much about the first one as I have never used the patching epoxy myself that you mention, but have generally heard positive things about it.

    As to your second I will not say that test strips are completely useless, instead I would likely call them as being somewhere between nearly useless to almost useful depending on the care with which they are handled. The big problem with them is not just their inaccuracy, but also their ranges are often far too wide. Lets take the typical CYA test on one major brand of test strips, were the color comparisons read 0, 30-50, 100, 150, 300 where 0 is light orange, 30-50 is medium orange, and 100 is red.... Now look at our Chlorine/CYA level chart in pool school http://www.troublefreepool.com/conte...art-slam-shock and ask yourself how you get enough resolution out of those strips to know the proper chlorine level for your pool. Also consider that we generally suggest a CYA level of between 40-60 for manually chlorinated pools, and between 70-80 for pools equipped with a salt water chlorine generator and consider any CYA level 100 to be unmaintainable and an algae outbreak waiting to happen, this this instantly puts those top three color matches on the test strip as, too high, way too high, and insanely too high.

    Ike
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    As far as taking water samples to the pool store, their tests are very unreliable. I've taken 3 samples to 3 stores and got 3 different sets of results along with a range of recommended purchases ranging from $50 to $250. Eliminating one shopping trip to the pool store for recommended supplies could pay for a good test kit. The kit recommended here is the TF-100. The extra expense for the speed stir is worth its weight in gold.
    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.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Thanks for the replies. I did gather that the TF-100 is the recommended test kit. I was on the cusp of buying it, but I figured I would ask first. I guess I'm of the mindset that the pool is clear and great right now... why bother with something I don't need... but I need to be of the mindset that if/when something happens I will have the information at my fingertips as to WHY it happened and how to correct it easily.

    What is the lifespan of the test kit? I would imagine based on looking at it that it would survive a good amount of tests.

    Tyler

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    It should last a year or 2 (stored correctly), just depends on how often you test everything.

    Your mindset needs to be: what do I need to do to the pool NOW to keep it clear and prevent something from happening in the first place.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Great, thanks for all the info. This seems like a great community. I like your comment on keeping the pool right NOW to prevent issues. Preventive is always better! With the test kit I will feel better that everything is as it should be, versus the test strips where I can see its in a good "range" but I don't actually know where I really am for sure. I particularly appreciate the Pool School. I've been combing over it several times. Bleach, borax, and baking soda. So basic. Really the only thing you'd have to get from another place is muriatic or dry acid.

    This leaves me to another question I have after reading through pool school. To drop alkalinity muriatic or dry acid is used... but it stated that muriatic was preferred. I don't recall seeing an explanation for this. Is it because rather than dissolving dry acid the liquid muriatic acid is distributing throughout the pool easier? Or is there another reason for this?

    While I'm asking questions... I need repaint my metal coping around the pool... there is some "coping paint" products I've found on various websites, like doheny.com... but I've heard rumors this is nothing more than Rust-Oleum type paints found in most stores. rustoleum.com Any comments on that?

    Just to keep everyone updated on my progress... I isolated several skimmer cracks. One that had been "repaired" in the past, but it looked like some kind of caulking rather than epoxy... it was soft and rubbery and pulled off easy. I scraped all the remnant from it and sealed it with epoxy. I was out there this evening (now that I'm getting the water level back up where it needs to be) and didn't notice much with the dye test. I'll leave it overnight again and cross my fingers I solved the major leaks. I think there is one other place around the return valve that has a small crack I will repair with more epoxy. I feel very good about that stuff... it seemed to set perfect and felt very strong, like a good seal. I used JB Water Weld... among the many choices I had at Lowes. I did a Google search on how good this is for pools and a few promising TFPC posts came up! Next year (after recouping some money from buying this house) I will likely be replacing all the external fittings/housings for the skimmer, suction, and return lines. They are visibly old and off-color and starting to crack.

    I'll be posting photos soon. Unfortunately with the water level being down I haven't been able to run the pump or vacuum for 24 hours. I'm hoping it gets up there so I can keep my water clear... I'm going to have restart the SLAMing process now.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Muriatic acid is much less expensive. But the more important reason to use it is that dry acid contains sulfates. In small quantities sulfates are not an issue at all, but at higher levels they can cause problems. So if you are using large quantities of acid it can be important to use muriatic acid, while people using small quantities it really doesn't matter.
    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

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    ****, this place is great. You guys have all the important info! Thanks for that, there was some dry acid left over in the pool shed when we moved in. I used a bit of it when I first was balancing my water because, with the leak we had, we were filling quite a bit from the hose and we have hard water. It showed in high alkalinity during water tests. It seemed to work okay, but since I've run out I will pick up some muriatic acid instead!

    Good news on the leak front... no water loss has shown for the last 24 hours. Looks like my epoxy job did the trick for stopping the leak! At least the large leak, I will continue to do the bucket test over the next few days to see if we have any hairline leaks anywhere.

    Waiting on the TF100 to be sure my pool is where it needs to be. But right now, crystal clear and the free test strips I got show good levels.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    The other reason that muriatic acid is recommended is that it consists of just Hydrogen, Chlorine and water, so you aren't adding any other elements to the pool that can drastically change the chemical balance of the pool and/or provide food for algae.
    8638 gallon 20'x52" Intex ultra frame round AG. 2650 gph Intex Sand Filter. Intex krystal Klear SWG. (newer model that includes copper ion generation) Hayward 1091LX skimmer, Kreepy Krauly lil shark. Taylor K-2006 w/speed stir and sample sizer. New this year, Intex PureSpa - dichlor-> bleach method for sanitizing.
    New pool, 16'x36' (approx 18000 gal) in ground pool, Haywood DE filter

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Yes, I definitely like knowing what I am putting in. My PH seems to be staying relatively stable, raising only very slowly. Since I don't have a problem with calcium scale, I don't think I need to worry about the higher alkalinity right now. At least that's what I understand from the ABC section of the Pool School.

    Hopefully its okay that I continue asking questions in one thread, I think I read that is the preferred manner in the forum rules.

    Is there anything wrong with using wedding cake style stairs for an above ground pool in an in ground pool with a vinyl liner? I bought some from a person off craigslist because my pool has no stairs. They have suction cups on the bottom and seem to fit just fine. It didn't seem to me like they would cause any damage to the liner, but are there any thoughts from others on this?

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Hopefully its okay that I continue asking questions in one thread, I think I read that is the preferred manner in the forum rules.
    Absolutely the best way. All of us frequent responders like seeing your "story" in one thread......Thanks for doing that.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    twhitney11

    Let me know what route you decide to take on your coping. I need to paint mine too but I'd need $120 worth of special "pool paint coping" from Doheny's so I'm thinking of going the Rustoleum route as well.
    16 x 32 In-Ground vinyl, 21,000 Gallons, Hayward Cartridge Filter, Hayward Tiger Shark robotic cleaner, Taylor K-2006 Test Kit

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    @dschribs, my wife and I started the coping project today (as well as filling cracks in the concrete deck and prepping for painting the entire deck area, previous homeowner didn't seem to understand maintenance). I ended up getting the "hammered" Rustoleum. It went on great and is looking great. As it starts to dry I realize I need another coat on top. What is weird is when we ran out and went to grab more cans we tried 3 different stores and were out of the "hammered" white I told her to get the regular semi-gloss Rustoleum. It appears to be turning out just as good with the regular stuff too. I thought "oh hammered, it will cover imperfections" as it says on the bottom. But in reality, the condition this coping was in a coat of anything is going to make it brand new (there are also paint foot prints in a few spots where someone painted the deck and let their kid walk on the coping). Anyway, I'd be willing to bet that the "coping paint" on Doheney's is just Rustoleum re-branded, or at least identical stuff.

    I'll see if I can get some photos when the project is finished. So much maintenance after buying this new home. The only maintenance that seems worth it is the pool... 91 and humid here today. I'm HAPPY cleaning and painting that area. Last week I sealed a cracked and 50 yo blacktop driveway... THAT was not as fun, nor as rewarding.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    More info on the coping. The regular Rustoleum (I went with semi-gloss) worked way better coating everything than the "hammered" and it was less than half the price. Go with that! Its drying now, but looks great, I can't wait to see in tomorrow dry and in the complete sunlight.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Ok, I guess I'll continue this thread, I think that is what I remember being recommended last year.

    Starting year two living in our new home and I pulled the cover off the pool to see lovely looking water. Really glad I read the info here. Opening this year should be easier than last. Glad I did a proper closing.

    As for the leak, the water level over the Winter dropped to just halfway below the second suction line (other than the skimmer the only other suction is at the deep end of the pool halfway up the wall). I suspected that this was the case as the skimmer was patched well and water only leaked when the pump wasn't running... indicating something on the suction side, at least that's what made sense to me. I purchased new fittings for both the jet and the suction side, they are yellowing and old anyway, I did patch a crack in one of them last year. Time to replace, I will do that tomorrow.

    For the skimmer. I originally set out to replace the faceplate and gasket, as it too was yellowing and bugging me a bit. I ended up buying the wrong size, but figured I would inspect my faceplate anyway. After removing the gasket was barely left. Glad I checked it out. It also aided in showing me my patch using JB Water Weld last year didn't last. Don't get me wrong, the stuff was GREAT last year. I did the patch while the water was at its normal level and the stuff went on great even under water. I imagine a combination of getting dried out after the lower water from closing mixed with the cold weather made it brittle. Honestly, if I have to patch the crack in the skimmer every year for a few years until I can afford to dig up the concrete and replace the skimmer I'm fine with it. This time, with the water being down, I thought I'd try silicon caulk. Anybody have good/terrible experiences with it? I got one designed for being submerged. It seemed to be patched with caulk originally from the previous owner before I replaced it with JB Weld. If it doesn't last I'll do another JB Water Weld job again.

    I'll let everybody know when I bring the water level back up to normal how the silicon stuff holds.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh, I also meant to mention. The Rustoleum product worked great on the coping. I highly recommend it. I think the branded "coping paint" is just Rustoleum rebranded and raised price. A couple spots I didn't scrape as well and some rust is starting to show through. Easy to fix though with one can, the rest of the coping shines white and looks wonderful. Bummer the previous owners of the home didn't take as good care of the pool / yard, but I this Spring I really feel like all the work I did last Summer is paying off. I feel less overwhelmed with the things needing to be done after Winter because of my preparedness last Summer/Fall.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Welcome back, I too had an underground suction leak to deal with over the winter, had to cut out concrete and dig down to the pipe under the skimmer where a fitting had let go after 35 years. Still have the 3x5 ft hole around the skimmer with a sheet of plywood over it until I can get the concrete patched.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Isaac, that sounds like a nightmare. There is one location where the return jet comes in that there are two boards down. I suspect this area was once dug up to fix a leak there from a previous owner. The "good" thing, if there is a such a word, is that I think my leak at the suction end of the pool is in the cracked faceplate. So, crossing my fingers, replacing that will be okay.

    Also hoping my new skimmer crack fix this year holds up. It did last year.

    Winters are harsh.

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    Re: Newbie - Introduction - Minor Questions

    Hopefully yours will go smoothly, I have spent over $700 dollars dealing with mine, $350 to the leak detection people to say it is under or near the bottom of the skimmer, $200 to the concrete saw guy, and another $150 to the plumber I had fix the pipe. Normally I do my own PVC pipe work, but this was at arms length working by feel under the skimmer, so I paid a pro.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

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