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Thread: STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

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    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Portage Michigan
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    STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

    First of all thanks for all the helpful info on this site. Learned a lot from the Pool School and by reviewing the experiences of others.

    Been operating my 14x30 foot in-ground backyard pool (12K gal) since 1993 and once in operation with chemistry balanced, it is very stable over the summer months. However startup in recent years has become more and more challenging often with no FC readings initially after adding 3lbs of chlorine shock followed many gallons of 12.5% pool bleach, high CC readings too, low to very low CYA levels, low PH levels needing PH+ and in some years low Total Alkalinity as well. My pool's chemistry really deteriorates over the winter. For 15yrs startup was easy and simple. Add a few lbs of chlorine and non-chlorine shock and some PH+ and all was fine. Now it takes a week or longer to get it all in balance. I wonder what's changed?

    I keep thinking that my "winterizing" could be the source of the problem. Yet I vacuum and brush all surfaces well before closing, use a qt. of winter algaecide, use a floater with several lbs. of non-chlorine bleach, use a bottle of Metal Free to sequester high iron levels in our city water, and cover with a heavy-weight vinyl winter cover with a black side on the water side to retard algae growth over the winter. Nitrogen runoff into pool over winter is unlikely. Only small plots of fertilized grass are near my pool.

    Yet each spring in recent years it takes 7-10 gallons (sometimes more) of 12.5% bleach along with several more lbs. of chlorine and non-chlorine shock to get any FC readings on test strips. Using TF-100 this year I discovered that my CC readings were rising along with FC readings as bleach was added -- almost 1 for 1. We had a very rough winter here in Michigan and yet even though I opened up the pool earlier than usual with the water still cold, the pool water was green with algae. The pool cleared in about 5-days running pump 24/7. Pool store experts at two stores said I had high FC readings yet no test strip showed any FC. In desperation I just added several more gal. of pool bleach and suddenly my strip readings showed FC and CC took a nosedive. What is happening over the winter months and any way to prevent these problems?

    With the summer just underway, I know it is strange to be asking about winterizing. Yet I'm fed up with "startup" hassle of recent years and would like to prevent it if I can. Does anyone have any special winterizing products or techniques to insure less chloramine formation and fewer start-up problems in the spring? It is very difficult for me to add chemicals to the pool over the winter months. Any special procedures beyond what I am doing to insure an easier pool opening as in years past? Appreciate any advice or suggestions.

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    bridgman's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
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    Bowmanville, ON Canada
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    Re: STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

    >>use a floater with several lbs. of non-chlorine bleach

    What is "non-chlorine bleach" ? (EDIT - after re-reading a couple of times the best guess is that you meant non-chlorine shock)

    You mentioned "low to very low CYA readings", does that mean CYA level has dropped between closing and opening ? There seem to be more reports recently of CYA being converted to ammonia over the winter, which takes a lot of chlorine to eliminate come spring. My impression is that it seems to happen when FC levels are low-to-zero at closing -- current thinking is a soil bacteria does the CYA-to-ammonia conversion but it doesn't survive in the presence of chlorine.
    Cedar hot tub, 680 US gallons - Snorkel wood-burning heater, canoe paddle, "offline" Intex 1000 GPH pump/filter with skimmer

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    aussieta's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
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    Langwarrin, Victoria, Australia
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    Re: STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

    1 using pool store recomendations
    2 not using recomended test kit - you mention TF100 and then test strips
    what is your CYA level and all other test results
    SWG inground peanut shaped eco-bright concrete pool
    50,000 litres 13,000 gallons
    Lincoln Salt Chlorinator, 25 gram cell Sand Filter with glass media
    Taylor K2006-C test kit, Taylor K-1766 salt test, Dolphin M500 pool cleaner
    are you taking care of your pool or is the poolshop taking care of you

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    Jun 2014
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    Portage Michigan
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    Re: STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

    [QUOTE=bridgman;661716]>>use a floater with several lbs. of non-chlorine bleach

    Sorry, I did mean non-cholorine shock (not bleach) oops.

    I think you may be onto something about a connection between a major drop in my CYA levels over the winter months which has been happening to me for the past few years. My CYA levels from from 40-60 ppm at end of season down to 20-30ppm or less by opening the next spring. About three years ago I opened I had zero CYA. I bet this could be producing ammonia along with the high CC at opening . Your suggestion is to be sure I shock with chlorine to a fairly high level before I close (10ppm?). I have added a floater with several pin-holes to dispense non-cholorine shock over the winter months. The non chlorine floater is part of the std. In-the Swim winterizing kit. Anything else to combat this?

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    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Portage Michigan
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    Re: STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

    Didn't get the TF-100 test kit until recently. Like many, I had been using two brands of pool test strips (AquaChek FC/ ) all current. At opening I had no FC with high chloramines. My CYA was low compared with end of last season -- as reported above 20-30ppm at opening but 60-80 or higher at end of last season. I did keep a floater with non-chlorine shock in a floater over the winter months. It had 2 pin-holes to dispense slowly. Wish I could be more precise about my opening test data. Kept being told that my results for FC, PH were in normal range. Pool was blue and clear enough to see bottom. Yet no free chlorine reading on test strips -- I kinda feel that the drop in the CYA levels Bridgman suggests maybe the cause. Thanks for replying.

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    Re: STARTUP is a bigger & bigger challenge with each new season -- Any ideas why?

    You say that you opened earlier than usual this year, but when did you close last year? If you closed and the water was ~ 60 degrees or higher, then algae and bacteria had a chance to take hold before Winter started. I'm in a similar climate. I closed first week of November and opened to crystal clear water in mid-April (even though it was full of worms but that's another story).

    Also, I wouldn't worry about the misleading readings using the test strips. Might as well try to taste-test your water for chlorine. You need a drop based chlorine test.
    18' x 41' IG w/vinyl liner. 30000 Gallons. 78" x 78" poolside spa
    1.5 hp Hayward pump - sand filter & Tiger Shark QC robot
    Compool CP3800 Control Panel
    TF-100 kit
    Built in 2002. "Inherited" w/House in 2012. Located in Pittsburgh

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