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Thread: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

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    Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    After 8 years of peaceful pool ownership, a monster has arisen from the deep to torment my once sunny, restful days. I know not from whence it came, but it calls itself Iron, and it's kicking my sorry A**!

    Round one: followed instructions for AA treatment that I found here. AA from Leslie's and 2 bottles of Metal Magic. Worked like a charm. Less than a week later, stains reappeared. Yes, there were lots of swimmers, and yes, I raised the FC after a party, although I did not shock.

    Round two. Followed the same procedure. Clean liner lasted about a week this time. I can't figure out what made the staining come back. Using the heater? FC above 3.0? I haven't shocked all summer, and PH has not been above 7.2. Doesn't make sense.

    Somewhere in between all this I used Metal Free - MISTAKE. Cloudy pool for two days. Like milk. Yucky. But it did clear up just fine.

    Round three. Decided to forgo the ascorbic acid, because staining was light. Followed instructions on the Metal Magic - dropped FC, added two bottles of sequestering agent, then added a culator pillow. The Metal Magic alone took longer than the AA- maybe a few hours - but did the job. Thought I was in the clear. But a week or so later, Iron Man was back. Light stains at first, so I thought, you know what, I'll just deal. But it got worse and worse and worse. Finally, I couldn't take it any more.

    Today was round 4. Stains were heavy. Still can't figure out what keeps causing the sequesterant to fail. My FC has not been above 3.4 all season, except for right after Round 1, when I spiked it a little after a kids party. PH has been kept low.

    So round 4 included a backwash prior to AA treatment, followed by 3 bottles (instead of 2) of Metal Magic. Pool looks fabulous right now. I'll backwash again tomorrow night. Then throw in 2 Culator pillows (double barrel). Wait another 24 hours and start gradually raising the FC.

    ** Any suggestions for how to keep this at bay?

    One other question: My plan is to do a partial dump either at the end of this year or before opening next season. How much water would I need to pump out of my 20,000 gallon pool to be safe? I guess I will have to have fresh water trucked in, because even though my fill water is public tap water, it's really the only source I can think of for the iron. Which came out of the blue and sucker punched me, the ***.
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    The higher the iron level in the water, the more sequestrant you need to use. From what you have described it sounds like you are not using enough sequestrant. Remember also that you need to add more sequestrant regularly to maintain the sequestrant level (since it breaks down slowly).

    The other option is to replace water with metal free water, if any is available.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Maybe I will add a fourth bottle tonight. Metal Magic's recommendation is two bottles for 20K, so that would be double.

    MM recommends a monthly maintenance dose, but I obviously can't wait a whole month. Do you think I should try a half a bottle every week? Can you put too much in?
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Yes, it is possible to put in too much, but it has to be several times too much before anything undesirable happens.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    You need to keep up on a maintenance dose weekly.
    I'd bet you my bikini you'll never get TFP water from a pool store!

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    So my AA treatment followed by 4 bottles of Metal Magic was four days ago. Now I can't seem to keep chlorine in the water. I am adding a bottle of bleach a day, which gets the level up to 3.8 (I am afraid if I go higher, the stains will return), but within 12 hours, the level drops below 2 again. I have my automatic chlorinator turned up higher than normal (pucks). Also, I have added about 8 Lbs of PH plus (a little at a time over the past four days) and can't get the PH above 7.0. The problem this has created is my TA is now 120.

    I have never had high TA before, but from what I have read here, the two methods of lowering TA will both lower PH as well. It seems it is rare to have high TA along with low PH, but that is the situation I have created, perhaps from all the bleach.

    Since the TA isn't ridiculously high, I'm hoping it may come down on its own once I get the chlorine to hold. I did turn the jets up for a little aeration. And I'm not overly concerned about 7.0 PH, since I've also read here that you can run that low for a while and not create any problems.

    We're having a party in 6 days. Hopefully, I can get everything in order before then. Just odd that my chlorine and PH won't hold this time. I guess due to all the extra Metal Magic (I used double this time). If I keep the stain away, my plan is to use a half a bottle of MM per week maintenance dose. Anyone know how long it may take before I can stop adding a bottle of bleach every day?
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Also, I have added about 8 Lbs of PH plus (a little at a time over the past four days) and can't get the PH above 7.0. The problem this has created is my TA is now 120.
    yep, that is a side effect of adding soda ash (pH Plus). You can calculate how much TA rise from pH-up additions by using the PoolMath Calculator "effects of adding chemicals" located near the bottom of the calculator. One pound of soda ash (in your pool) will increase TA by 5.7

    This is why we recommend Borax for raising pH - few side effects

    What is the CYA #?

    The auto chlorinator (pucks) are acidic and will not only lower pH, they will also add CYA.
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    CYA is over 100. I really can't get an accurate measurement because it is too high. My plan is to do a partial drain either at the end of this season or before opening next spring (which is a better plan? and how much would I have to dump to make a difference?). I'm hoping a dump will help with the iron and also dilute the CYA. I am going to see if I can get some fresh water trucked in, in case there is an issue with my fill water (public, not well water, but where is the iron coming from?).

    FC is down to 2.2 again when I got home from work. I'm adding another 1/2 to 2/3 bottle of Clorox.

    PH is still 7.0 and TA 120. So if I add Borax, this won't increase the TA?
    Will a higher PH help stabilize the FC?
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    I had similar problems last season. My CYA was up over 130 and I had metals which I could not figure out where they came from because I didn't have a problem until the last few years. One place many of us could possibly be getting it from is the concrete around the pool. Mine was reinforced with steel and it could be leaching into the water somehow. If your on city water it shouldn't have any metals.

    You need to get your FC levels up a lot higher than where your at now according to your CYA reading. min 7.3 target 11.4 It will take a lot of chlorine and you shouldn't raise it all at once after AA treatment but do it gradually. I believe the stains would only return if the ph got higher than 7.8 and FC at shock level. I would use liquid chlorine. I wouldn't worry right now about the TA 120 isn't that high. You'll have to deal with the higher FC levels needed until you can replace the water and lower your CYA.
    27K Gallon vinyl pool, 1hp 2 speed Hayward Super Pump, EC-75 DE filter, Stenner 45MPH22 liquid chlorine injection pump with timer control. Taylor K-2006 test kit, Aquabot pool cleaner. location SC PA.

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Quote Originally Posted by OasisSeeker View Post
    After 8 years of peaceful pool ownership, a monster has arisen from the deep to torment my once sunny, restful days. I know not from whence it came, but it calls itself Iron, and it's kicking my sorry A**!

    Round one: followed instructions for AA treatment that I found here. AA from Leslie's and 2 bottles of Metal Magic. Worked like a charm. Less than a week later, stains reappeared. Yes, there were lots of swimmers, and yes, I raised the FC after a party, although I did not shock.

    Round two. Followed the same procedure. Clean liner lasted about a week this time. I can't figure out what made the staining come back. Using the heater? FC above 3.0? I haven't shocked all summer, and PH has not been above 7.2. Doesn't make sense.

    Somewhere in between all this I used Metal Free - MISTAKE. Cloudy pool for two days. Like milk. Yucky. But it did clear up just fine.

    Round three. Decided to forgo the ascorbic acid, because staining was light. Followed instructions on the Metal Magic - dropped FC, added two bottles of sequestering agent, then added a culator pillow. The Metal Magic alone took longer than the AA- maybe a few hours - but did the job. Thought I was in the clear. But a week or so later, Iron Man was back. Light stains at first, so I thought, you know what, I'll just deal. But it got worse and worse and worse. Finally, I couldn't take it any more.

    Today was round 4. Stains were heavy. Still can't figure out what keeps causing the sequesterant to fail. My FC has not been above 3.4 all season, except for right after Round 1, when I spiked it a little after a kids party. PH has been kept low.

    So round 4 included a backwash prior to AA treatment, followed by 3 bottles (instead of 2) of Metal Magic. Pool looks fabulous right now. I'll backwash again tomorrow night. Then throw in 2 Culator pillows (double barrel). Wait another 24 hours and start gradually raising the FC.

    ** Any suggestions for how to keep this at bay?

    One other question: My plan is to do a partial dump either at the end of this year or before opening next season. How much water would I need to pump out of my 20,000 gallon pool to be safe? I guess I will have to have fresh water trucked in, because even though my fill water is public tap water, it's really the only source I can think of for the iron. Which came out of the blue and sucker punched me, the ***.
    You just described my exact summer as well. In 10 years I have never had to deal with this.
    I cant really help too much because I am fighting the same war in almost the same way. But what I will say is that the recommended maintenance dose of metal magic is nowhere near enough to keep the staining out for me.

    I am now putting in a bottle a week, keeping my FC fairly low (my CYA is very low unlike yours) and its still barely enough to keep the stains out. Sometimes I have to add more or add ascorbic acid to compliment it.

    The worst part is, its not just a few metal stains at the bottom of the pool. The entire pool changes color for me. The water starts turning brown. This is the first year in a dozen I feel like Ive lost control of the situation... Im going to be replacing water at the end of the season as well.
    18x38 Inground Liner (25k gal) Paver surround, multi-speed pump, DE Filter, Raised spill over spa, TF-100

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Mitch, Have you tried any of the iron test kits or strips? I would like to be able to monitor the iron levels so I can get an idea of when and how much Metal Magic to add. I was using half a bottle a week, but obviously, that's not enough. I can't tell if the culator pillows are helping, so I may discontinue them.

    My last AA treatment lasted less than 2 weeks before light staining reappeared. Just did a MM treatment before it got too bad (backwash/two bottles of MM/filter 24 hours/backwash). The worst part is, I now have an insatiable chlorine demand. I'm dumping about a half a bottle of bleach in the pool daily just to keep FC above 3. My Ph is 7.2 and TA is 150, but I can deal with the high TA.

    I would guess I've spent around $600 to $700 this summer on AA, Metal Magic, Culator, DE powder, bleach, Ph plus. Frustrating.

    Still, daily iron testing seems like a good idea. Amazon has LaMotte kit for $20 and Aquachek strips for $15. Taylor kit is $60. I can't find any reviews on either, except someone on here said the LaMotte test didn't work with sequestering agent in the water - registered zero when he clearly had an iron problem. Also, when I had the pool store test both my fill water and my pool water after an AA treatment, I was told no iron registered in either sample.


    Anyone have luck with iron kits? Do any of them actually work?
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Oasis, I'm on well-water so struggle with these issues frequently. That said, please take my comments with a grain of salt as tree are soooo any variables when it comes to metas

    For testing, it is true that the sequestrant will make it appear to be zero. But the proof is in the pudding, so to speak!

    For us, we've used our aquarium kit to test for iron...it does seem accurate when the phosphonic acid is wearing off You could perhaps take a bucket of pool water out and "shock" it, which usually "releases" the binding and frees or oxidizes the iron. Then take a read to get a sense of whether you're over or under on the .5 ppm guideline. Generally, anything above .5 iron or .2 copper can cause staining over time...but given what you're describing, my guess is you're in the 1 - 2 ppm area somehow. Could be fertilizer that's blown in, etc. Testing might give you a baseline of how aggressively to treat. But you can get there without it.)

    Here is how I've so far stopped staining successfully this year (but not successfully removed a few historic rust spots):

    1. Mega treatment with proteam metal magic -- 5 bottles for 23k gallon pool - very effective on light stains, stairs, outlets, vinyl etc. overall. Didn't have to drop ph and chlorine as much. Didn't have the high chlorine demand afterwards NEARLY as much as I did with ascorbic acid system in prior years.

    Note: if you google "metal magic sponge test, it will give you a step-by-step guide for hw much to use based on stain response over time. Your post says you've used 3 and it looks good. I'd say now just maintain it...but try same weekly instead of following their "monthly" guide.

    And BTW, I ALWAYS had the re-chlorination issues you're having after my various AA treatments in prior years.

    2. Maintenance dose monthly...metal magic says only 16 oz per 10k gal for 2-3 ppm iron, or 3-6 oz per 10k monthly for trace amounts. Right now I am instead doing 12 oz a week and its absolutely controlled the staining...steps are as white as the day they were born But this was after the 5-quart treatment, which I suspect makes a difference.

    The thing to note here in my case is that I'm using the metal magic at higher doses and skipping the AA. The results have been equal but hassle factor and recurrence lower

    Previous seasons, I used Jacks Magic Pink stuff, an equally recommended sequestrant. However, I'm liking the Metal Magic better as it seems I have to use less to get better results AND I do not have to drop the ph to use it.

    That said, for measurement purposes, jacks does have an elaborate stain test kit and sequestrant measuring systems so that you can dose precisely by telling how much phosphonic acid is left in the water at any given time. Had I invested in those too I might have liked it better.

    For me, the metal magic was also more cost-efficient..,$16.99 at www.poolgeek.com and free shipping on a case. But I also live in an area where metal magic is more readily stocked as Haviland is local company.

    Two elements that can exacerbate staining are TA over 180 and ph over 7.8.

    Are you controlled on those two fronts? If not you might want to look to that.
    My pool is behaving itself well this year ph-wise with a TA of 70....

    Lets hope round 4 does it for you.

    Since you need to replace water anyway due to your cya, I'm guessing that's ultimately gonna be your knock-out round

    With such high cya, and ergo chlorine levels, I'm guessing you get an upward drift on your ph that is truly the culprit on your staining in terms of increased oxidization. So in a way, getting the cya down is germane
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Battling the same exact problem. Use AA and pool looks great, tried 3 different phosphoric acid sequestrants and within 2 weeks stains are back. My ph has Been 7.3 TA 75 but ph just went up to 7.5 2 days ago. Cya is 45, FC 5 CC 0. Pool would look great if it weren't for these stains. I'm going bankrupt spending $50 week on sequestrants
    Montgomery, AL
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    You're using 4 bottles a week? ($50)? That doesn't seem right, and I order if its possible to be exacerbating the situation somehow via unintended consequences...

    Okay, here's the "big unknown" - I am NOT buying into pool store voodoo, but there is possibly something worth exploration if we could ever just find some solid fact...

    Last year or the year before there was a guy who posted about chronic light brown staining that responded to metal treatment but not organics. So he had a pool tech out that told him super high phosphate levels could cause same. Against everyone's wary advice on this thread, he went ahead and did a commercial level phosphate removal treatment. He reported that it solved his staining problem, but didn't really report back over time so none of us know if the results were asking.

    HOWEVER, that thread did make me wonder DESPITE the fact that its well-known here that with adequate FC, high phosphates are generally of NO consequence, whether a CONSTANT diet of phosphonic acid that gets spent over time (and becomes phosphate) might in fact somehow contribute to the cycle.

    I don't know because i have not needed to resort to a commercial level phosphate treatment (although I m a candidate insofar as I have really high phosphates) and believe that most of the pool industry's phosphate talk is in fact selling voodoo.

    But I think all of us on this thread might be interested to hear from someone whose either tried a major phosphate removal or has any research information as to what levels of sequestrant use are contraindicated and why.

    I might call Haviland and ask them

    An alternate theory on perpetual restaining when ph and FC are well-controlled might involve leaching from heaters (eg do you all have heaters), drift from fertilizer applications (many have ferrous) (do you all use fertilizer? Or live near a farm) or even rust from steel walls permeating old nd porous liners (this may be crackpot...as you can tell, I've spent too much time throwing goat entails over my iron

    Oasis, how's your pool looking today?
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    As noted in this post and this thread and others from the user smallpooldad, he uses a LOT of HEDP (phosphonate) metal sequestrant due to the huge amounts of metals that get into his pool so his phosphate levels are in the tens of thousands. He does not get algae because he maintains an FC level appropriate for his CYA level. The only downside to the high phosphate level is that his Calcium Hardness (CH) is also high so that he can get calcium phosphate scaling especially in a saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG) cell at the hydrogen gas generation plate (a discussion about this is in this thread).

    So if one has high CH and high phosphate levels then perhaps the "staining" is calcium phosphate though that should look more like scale except much harder to remove than calcium carbonate.
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Don't want to hijack Oasisseeker's post but the sequestrants in the pool stores here are approx $23 bottle 10% sales tax!! finding using one bottle a week doesn't seem to help. Started off w 16 oz maintenance and stains would come right back. I don't use fertilizer or anything around my pool. I feel like a hamster on a wheel....��. How bout you Oasis?
    Montgomery, AL
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Sorry, I was off on another post about the pink slime outbreak after Round 5! Round 5 was for light staining (on 7/24) and it was just adding 2 bottles of Metal Magic while my FC was at 2. No AA. Stain gone the next morning and started adding bleach. After three days of high chlorine demand, I should have figured something was wrong and just hit the shock button. But everyone says DON'T SHOCK for a week, and I figured I had put Polyquat 60 during the treatment and I had been constantly adding bottles of bleach, so OK not to shock. But then it happened. Came home from work on Monday to find PINK mold on my light fixture, around the molding on the steps, and on the jets.

    FREAKED OUT. Scrubbed everywhere I saw pink. Shocked like crazy. Since my CYA is 90 to 100, I knew my shock level was 24 to 35, depending on whose chart you use. So I took it there. And kept it there. My sparkling pool turned cloudy for three days. I was adding 6 bags of 72% cal hypo at a time. After the sixth bag, the water would foam, so I knew it was time to stop. Everything I read about this pink **** indicates you have to go at it early and full throttle. I decided tea staining is not as bad as mold growing on your liner and in your lines. The next day I found more pink under the bottom ladder rung. Dang! Had to figure out how to get the ladder out of the pool (tricky!). I vacuumed and brushed and backwashed. Let the FC get down to 12. Water got crystal clear.

    Then my DE filter quit on me. DE powder in the bottom of the pool. I wasn't sure what it was at first. Turns out filter was loaded with pink mold and the grids were torn. So that's fixed. $450 later.

    So here's the weird thing. After shocking at 35 ppm for two solid days, and in the days before and after that the FC was in the twenties, all I can see right now is light staining on the steps. Very light. Yesterday, I easily removed the stain from the top step with Vitamin C in a sock, and the stain did not come back yet. I don't see anything on the liner at this point. Water is crystal clear. My PH is 7.4. TA still running high (120). I'm still getting 90 CYA with the black dot test, but I'm not sure if I'm doing it right (can't somebody figure out a better way?).

    I don't want to get my hopes up, but is it possible I shocked the metal out of my pool? Either that, or running at ridiculously high FC is keeping the stain away. I let it get down to FC 8, but then I thought I saw something pink on the patch in the shallow end, so I added a bottle of 12.5%. I actually partially scrubbed the patch off, and now I have the pool tech coming to replace it. So there's another service charge. I'll have him check behind the light while he's here, in case there's pink lurking there. I am afraid to mess with electricity in water.

    Anyway, I'm doing the overnight chlorine loss test tonight. The level has been holding steady with the chlorinator on, but I turned it off now. I am afraid to turn off the filter. It's been running for weeks. The electric company should send us a gold Christmas card this year.

    I feel like a zombie. Sleep deprived. Completely pre-occupied. Walking around with dark circles under my eyes, afraid to leave the house because I won't be here to test or check for mold or algae every hour on the hour. I can't wait to have my oasis back again. Even though the pool has looked great for several days, and the chlorine demand seems to be gone, I am afraid to let the FC level drop to normal, for fear there is pink slime just waiting for its chance. Maybe I need professional help?
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

  18. Back To Top    #18
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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    I am right there with ya. Hang in there, we will find a way to beat it! Your story is identical to mine. I'm also slamming and doing chlorine loss test tonight. After a few weeks of low Cl so stains would stay away, I too found the pink slime and freaked out. I haven't slammed yet this summer and was scared to death to add all of that chlorine in because I was afraid of how bad the stains would be. They aren't that bad at all now!
    24' x 52" AG / Hayward Sand Filter
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  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    To address some of the other issues brought up here:

    - I have no idea where my metal came from. Not on a well. Not near a farm. Heater is only a few years old. Tap water tested several times, and no metals found.
    - My CH is very low (40). I have a vinyl liner, so I hadn't been concerned.
    - I've never had out of whack Ph, and TA was fine until after the last AA treatment, when it shot up and at one point hit 140, even though my Ph was 7.2. Weird having low Ph and high TA, because they normally like to move in the same direction. But with Ph at 7.4 and TA at 120, I'm not overly concerned.
    - I've been paying about $20 per bottle for Metal Magic. If I have to keep using it, I'll check out chemgeek's price by the case. I will definitely try the 5 bottle method followed up by maintenance. I don't think I'll ever do the AA treatment again, since it created the chlorine demand that led to pink slime issue. The AA process is awesome, though, when it looks like you have a brand new liner 15 minutes after adding 2 lbs of AA. Too bad it's a temporary fix.
    - I was hoping my pool store people would help coordinate a partial drain and refill at the end of the season. But they are saying you can't do it with a vinyl liner and don't want any part of it. I wanted to go down to the bottom of the steps and have a truck bring fresh water. Was hoping this would get rid of metal AND the high stabilizer level. I guess I'm on my own. Our water pressure is very low. Anyone know if it's better to refill vinyl liner pool with trucked in H20 vs slow hose refill?
    - Lastly, has anyone had any luck with any of the iron test kits? Do any of them work? Taylor, LaMotte, Aquachek strips are the three I can find online.
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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    Re: Me vs. Iron stains - Round 4

    Good luck tonight JenMichelle! And thanks everyone. Great forum.
    20,000 IG vinyl pool, DE filter

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