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Thread: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

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    Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    Hello, and thank you to those who have helped me in the past few weeks.

    Brief summary -- started TFP method around 6/6. Using the test kit I bought from TFP. My water looks great, and I have never seen it so sparkly. I was actually shocked (no pun intended) at how sparkly it was today.

    But - I still have some questions and concerns.

    First, here were today's readings at 11:00 am today (Hot, sunny, KS day):

    pH - was 8.5 (yikes - I've never seen it that high) added muriatic acid and brought it back down to 7.2
    FC 7.5
    CC <.5 (very slightly pink)
    CH 275
    TA 110
    CYA 22

    Concerns:

    1) I guess I thought this was supposed to be less expensive, and no more trips to the pool store, but it seems that the only thing that has changed is now I'm having to add stabilizer and bleach when before we used the trichlor tablets. I guess other people had bad experiences with pool stores, but ours didn't have us putting any thing in other than what we're using now, except now I buy LOTS of bleach and stabilizer in a different form. (I guess there is no question here - just whining).

    2) I'm having a really hard time getting the CYA up. (Started with 0!) I have been testing and adding CYA and had it up to 30 at one point and today was back to 22. We have to add water every day, and I have backflushed A LOT so that is probably why. I have added it a few ways -- about a 1/2 cup at a time in the skimmer sock and in a stocking hanging in the pool giving it squeezes periodically. I have added about 8 lbs over the past 3 weeks. Given my problem getting CYA in the pool, why not turn my tower of triclor pucks back on to supplement? (I've had it off since switching to TFP, but I wonder why not use it as long as I am monitoring the levels very frequently? I am getting ready to leave town for a few days, so I am planning to turn it on while gone b/c I don't have anyone to monitor the pool. I'm truly not concerned about getting too much CYA since I seem to have the opposite problem.)

    3) I've also had trouble getting my CH up. I finally have it up to 275. OK? Or keeping bringing it up? (I've added about 30 lbs. It was 225 when I started this on 6/6; then it went down to 150 for a while and I steadily brought it back up)

    4) We had/have black algae so I have been scrubbing and keeping the FC between 7 and 14 (because my CYA level is low). I *think* it is dead (or mostly dead) and at this point what I'm seeing is staining and dark areas from the pool needing to be resurfaced. At first, I thought that all the dark spots were plaster problems until I started seeing parts that were streaked clean from the bleach and realized I was seeing black algae and not just pitting on the plaster. At that point (a few weeks ago) I started keeping the FC up higher and scrubbing like crazy and read everything I could about black algae on here. I don't think we had black algae last year. The pool was a disaster when we opened it this year. I also see it growing on the concrete deck area and around the diving board. (I plan to scrub all of that with bleach water too, but there is a lot of it -- it's not up next to the pool, but at the edges of the concrete furthest from the pool, with the exception of the diving board.) I haven't done the OCLT for about 3 days, but I passed the the last two times that I did it. I feel like it is continuing to fade and get better, but it's hard to tell. So - I wonder if I should just keep doing what I've been doing, or if there is something else I should do.

    5) When I brush the pool, I see little poofs of fine particulate. Is this normal? Will I always see that no matter what? (This is my first year to pay any attention to the pool - was my husband's job before.) We seem to get a lot of pollen in the pool (in addition to the pine needles and leaves).

    I'll post some pictures too.

    Thank you!
    Southeast KS, Unpainted plaster gunite, 22,000 gal, sand filter, Polaris pool sweep

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    Re: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    Southeast KS, Unpainted plaster gunite, 22,000 gal, sand filter, Polaris pool sweep

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    Re: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    Duraleigh - I received an email with your response, but for some reason, it's not showing up on the forum. So, here is Duraleigh's response and my answers:

    1. I'm not sure how you can compare your costs quite yet since it appears you have only changed from pucks in the last 2 weeks or so?

    I know. That's why I said I was just whining. I just saw all these testimonials about dumping the pool store and saving thousands of dollars, but I see that I still need to buy the same things I was buying from the pool store.


    2. Your bigger concern would seem to be backwashing. Why would you be backwashing everyday?

    I was backwashing every time the pressure got above 12 (that is the point at which we backwash). We were scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing the black stuff off the sides. It needed it. The water that was coming out each time looked like milk which is how it generally looks when we backwash. Is that true for everyone? I've never talked to anyone else about pools.

    3. How? by adding calcium chloride?

    Yes

    4. I am not sure you have black algae based on the pic? Have you tried removing some of it and smearing it onto a piece of white paper? It should turn blackish green.

    Yes, we did that. I am reasonably certain it was black algae, and I feel like now we are seeing staining and pitting (old plaster), but I am checking here to see if my perception seems right. Also, last year when my husband was working on a leak and had the water level low, he re-caulked around the perimeter where the plaster meets whatever it is on the sides of the pool - some sort of vinyl? Anyway - there is black stuff IN the caulking so, nothing we can do about that right now. He is very frustrated that the pool guy said the caulk he was using would be fine. Surely there was something different we should have done.

    5. I am not sure how much "fine particulate" you are seeing but I wouldn't call it normal. Are you vacuuming the pool? How?

    I'm not even really seeing anything on the bottom to vacuum. It's just that I see a little cloudy poof when brushing the sides and bottom. We do run the pool sweep for an hour each day, and we were finding a grey sandy material for a while, which I suspected was dead algae that we had scraped off. Now, there is usually a bit of grainy stuff, bugs, pine needles, and leaves. The water is still crystal clear. I'm pretty sure from reading others' posts (especially the thread I read tonight on skimmer socks) that the poofs must be pollen. Just not positive about this. I use a skimmer sock and I have been cleaning it out at least twice a day. It is sort of cream colored (some sort of pollen?) and sometimes pinkish fluff (I think from the cotton wood trees).

    So... I *think* I'm just dealing with staining and pitting on the plaster and with pollen. Therefore, I *think* I could be maintaining at a lower level of FC, but I have been holding it a bit higher in case I am still dealing with residual or nascent black algae.
    Southeast KS, Unpainted plaster gunite, 22,000 gal, sand filter, Polaris pool sweep

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    BoDarville's Avatar
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    Re: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    You may want to check out this article on Black Algae .
    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.

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    Re: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    Yes. I have read that. It's always good to go back and review. I guess I'll just keep my chlorine on the high end of my range and keep an eye on things. Thank you.
    Southeast KS, Unpainted plaster gunite, 22,000 gal, sand filter, Polaris pool sweep

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    BoDarville's Avatar
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    Re: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    Since you have passed the OCLT the last 2 times you have performed it, the algae is likely dead (although it wouldn't be a bad idea to perform it again). I would take the nightly FC test and then brush the pool immediately after. This will expose any live algae to the chlorine. If there is living algae, the FC should go down by morning. If, OTOH, you pass the OCT again, then it is likely the algae is dead. I would still brush the entire pool daily to keep the dead spores in suspension so the filter can capture it. I would also keep the chlorine at the high end of the recommended rage for your CYA for at least a week or so after all visible signs of the algae are gone just to make sure any resistant spores are killed off.
    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.

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    Re: Still a newbie - checking back in with questions - a few concerns & black algae

    Bummer - I just came from brushing the pool, and there was definitely some new stuff that I brushed from the pits in the sides. I was able to pull up something that flaked off and it is surely the greenish black algae. Just when I thought it was gone... I have to leave town today - back Friday night. I'm going to bring it up to shock level before I leave, and I have turned the chlorinator on for lack of better options. So, when I get back home, keep it at shock level for a while and then maintain it on the high end for a week or so after I feel satisfied (again) that the algae is dead and after passing OCLT again? This is so discouraging.
    Southeast KS, Unpainted plaster gunite, 22,000 gal, sand filter, Polaris pool sweep

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