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Thread: Brown dirt issue

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    Brown dirt issue

    Iíve been having a problem ever since we got our pool. Every day when I check our pool, there are areas where a brown fine substance has collected around the wrinkles in our pool liner. The majority of it ends up near the middle of the pool since our pool is round and the pump pushes the water in a counter-clockwise direction. I usually just get in and kick it up during my swimming and vacuum it every couple of days. But it never fails that the very next day after I vacuum, the brown stuff is back. The water is very clear, so itís not something that keeps the water cloudy. Whatever it is, it always seems to settle on the bottom.
    I initially suspected it was pollen and/or dirt. We are surrounded by oak trees and the pollen has been pretty bad this year. In fact, we have a chair in our screened back patio that has a nice layer of yellow on it. Our pool is also right next to a busy road so I also thought that could be throwing a lot of dirt into the air, and also when they cut grass near me since the trees have killed most of the grass, their mower kicks up a ton of dirt/grass.
    In our first pool season, we had enough water a few times to vacuum to waste but it came back. Iíve been reading a lot of threads about pollen and dirt, but a lot of those ended up being algae issues and after a SLAM, it went away. I finally decided last night to do the OCLT. I decided to raise the pool to shock level before doing the test as I read that sometimes works better than doing it at normal levels. Here are my test results an hour after I added 2 jugs of 121oz 8.25% great value bleach at around 8PM:
    FC:17
    CC:0
    pH: ~7.7
    CH:40
    Alk: 70
    CYA: 40

    I woke up around 6:20 this morning and tested the FC again: 17.
    So now that Iíve eliminated an algae issue, Iím pretty confident in my initial hunch that this is possibly a mixture of pollen/dirt. Also, we had algae in our first season and when I kicked it up, it turned a cloudy white. This stuff just swirls around and disappears though I have so much that if I kick it up it turns the water visibly cloudy if Iím underwater looking across the pool. After a few hours of filtering though, the water is clear again and this stuff has settled on the bottom.
    Iíve read different things on how to attack this problem but Iím not sure what method I should try. My main confusion comes from the fact that we have a sand filter. Iím just not sure if these are particles small enough that they pass through a sand filter. Does pollen and dirt usually past through a sand filter, or should it be catching this stuff? I was also wondering if panty hose used as a skimmer sock would help. I bought some knee-highs for adding CYA, and I stretched one across the skimmer. I didnít leave it in long though because it seemed like it was being stretched and would allow finer particles to get through. Does panty hose over the skimmer basket really block stuff that a sand filter wouldnít? I played with the idea of adding DE, but figured that would be a last resort as it requires it to be added whenever I backwash (though I donít do that often). I was going to get a robot vacuum but I figured Iíd have to run this thing every time I want to swim and couldnít be sure this stuff would even stay in the filter bag.
    Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated! Besides this issue, everything else with the pool is great and Iíve really been enjoying it since switching to TFPC.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    I don't think you've eliminated an algae issue. In fact, that's what I'd guess it is. Hold your chlorine at shock level for a few days and see if the stuff continues to appear.
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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    It could be pollen, grass and weed pollen are high this time of year. According to weather.com, your weed pollen has been very high over the last two weeks.

    http://www.weather.com/health/pollen/forecast/USLA0261
    Karen
    33K IG w spa plaster, Pentair 1HP Whisperflo, DE Filter, SWG CircuPool RJ-60, Dolphin Triton Plus, Raypak Dig 336K BTU, TF-100.
    Pool Math Chlorine / CYA Chart SLAM - Shock Level And Maintain
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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    JohnT,
    Does that mean the OCLT doesn't always work? I've read a lot of algae posts on these forums and that always seems to be the one thing recommended to verify if there are organics in the water, which consumes the chlorine. I even did it at shock level, which I thought would make the test better.

    kcindc,
    Yes, the pollen has been very high. I've been suffering with allergies for the past year and I know other people who have been suffering the whole year as well.

    I guess I'm just really wondering that if it is pollen, would a sand filter eventually filter it all out? I'm just thinking that my vacuuming may not do any good if the pollen would go through the filter and back in the water, and cause it to stay in the pool and gradually increase in volume as the season goes on. That's why I was wondering if the panty hose in the skimmer would catch pollen and not the filter, because then I would start vacuuming with that in so the vacuum won't throw it back into the pool.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    The only way to know that your filter is catching the pollen is is to vacuum, and if the pool is clean after you vacuum, you know your filter is catching the pollen. The problem is that it is weed pollen season where you live right now... your weed pollen counts are in the extreme, so more pollen is falling into the pool all of the time.

    A skimmer sock (or cheap queen size knee highs) will catch some pollen and if you will be able to see the pollen yourself. A skimmer sock won't catch all of the pollen, but will help you from backwashing it out of your filter.
    Karen
    33K IG w spa plaster, Pentair 1HP Whisperflo, DE Filter, SWG CircuPool RJ-60, Dolphin Triton Plus, Raypak Dig 336K BTU, TF-100.
    Pool Math Chlorine / CYA Chart SLAM - Shock Level And Maintain
    2017 replaster/retile

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    kcindc,
    You brought up a point I wasn't sure of. Is the point of the skimmer sock just to catch stuff before the filter so you don't have to backwash? I thought it might help catch smaller particles that the sand filter would allow through, though I didn't see how. I hardly have to backwash (maybe once a season) so I don't think the skimmer sock would help if that's the only reason to use one.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    The skimmer sock will not catch finer particles than any filter.....some may think that but it doesn't. It's sole purpose is to catch particles before they enter your pujmp and filter to allow them to operate with pretty clean water.

    Does that mean the OCLT doesn't always work?
    What it means is that there are thousands ov variables in pool chemistry management and it is not as black and white as we all wish it were. The OCLT is pretty darn dependable (bringing FC to shock prior to the test is not really helpful) but there are still so many variables and possibility for errors that you have to be subjective in interpreting your results.

    Newbies most always have trouble with very accurate testing at first (we all did) but that just seems to get better with time and practice.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    duraleigh,
    Thanks for responding about the skimmer sock. That helps me in that I won't waste my time trying the skimmer sock and waiting to see if it will help.
    I get what you're saying about the variables and testing, which is why I tried to eliminate as many of those as possible by buying the speedstir and samplesizer with my kit, and I even tested twice the first time to make sure my pre-night test was accurate and I got the same FC both times. If the testing is accurate, could the OCLT still fail to show algae if it exists?
    Also, over the winter this year I covered the pool (mainly to prevent leaves from getting in) and ran my pump for an hour a day. I brought the pool up to near shock level before covering and tested my water once every few weeks. I had very low chlorine loss and only added a little once during the winter. Did I perform an OWCLT (over winter chlorine lost test)? I was thinking if I was on the verge of an algae bloom I would have lost all of my chlorine over the winter and ended up with a green pool, but it was sparkling when I opened and there was just a little of the dirt, though I might add that the top was covered with pollen. I assume algae would have grown if that has been my issue, or would the cover somehow prevent that since it was supposed to block sunlight? I just hear of so many "green" openings that I figured algae does grow under winter covers. Plus being in the south, my water doesn't get very cold over the winter, or at least colder than what I've read on this forum to prevent algae growth. The only other thing I could see is if algae was growing in my ladder (which I removed for the winter) but when we pulled it out, the water that drained out was clear. I would also think that issue would cause me problems maintaining my FC over the summer, but for Louisiana I believe I have typical FC losses every day with just a single bleach addition in the evening.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    How do you vacuum the pool now?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    I manually use a vacuum that I attach with a hose to a skimmer vacuum plate. I just run the filter in the normal filter mode.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    I assume when you vacuum it into the filter the "stuff" reappears.....how long does that take?
    I’m pretty confident in my initial hunch that this is possibly a mixture of pollen/dirt. Also, we had algae in our first season and when I kicked it up, it turned a cloudy white. This stuff just swirls around and disappears though I have so much that if I kick it up it turns the water visibly cloudy if I’m underwater looking across the pool. After a few hours of filtering though, the water is clear again and this stuff has settled on the bottom.
    Algae you see on your pool floor is normally dead, most always greenish-yellowish-brownish and poofs away when it is stirred up. it will resettle in an hour or so. Cloudy [U]white[U] is not algae.

    This is not a really busy time of year for pollen and where would the dirt be coming from?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    If I vacuum it clean, the bottom stays clear until the pump runs the next day and it starts accumulating at the bottom near the middle and on the wrinkles in the liner. That's what made me think either some is passing through the filter or it's being deposited every day.
    My pool is surrounded by a few trees, and we're right next to a busy road. And our pollen level has been really high recently and medium today.
    I had read a thread recently where someone suggested to take a sample and look at it under a microscope. The only problem is I'd need to find a microscope powerful enough to look at it. Is that the only way I'll 100% be able to figure out what this stuff is? Or should I take a sample of it and see if it grows?
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    I don't mean to side track you by adding to your list of things to check, but have you opened up and inspected your filter to make sure that your laterals are okay? I'm too familiar with sand filter issues, but do know that laterals can be an issue.

    You could hold a sock, panty hose or skimmer sock on your returns for a minute to see if something is coming out of your filter.
    Karen
    33K IG w spa plaster, Pentair 1HP Whisperflo, DE Filter, SWG CircuPool RJ-60, Dolphin Triton Plus, Raypak Dig 336K BTU, TF-100.
    Pool Math Chlorine / CYA Chart SLAM - Shock Level And Maintain
    2017 replaster/retile

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    kcindc,
    No sidetracking at all because I had actually thought about that. I think the only problem is I'd have to remove most of the sand to be able to get to them. I also thought I would be getting sand in the pool if I had a lateral issue, which I haven't. I was worried about channeling as well but I read a lot of posts that say that's not usually an issue. If my water does get cloudy for some reason, the filter always eventually clears it up, so that makes me think that for the most part, the filter is working as it should. If I'm wrong on any of those points, please let me know. I may see about doing the panty host test, and may even try it while I vacuum to see if this stuff makes it through the filter when it shouldn't.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    Is that the only way I'll 100% be able to figure out what this stuff is? Or should I take a sample of it and see if it grows?
    All your posts are indicative of live (invisible) algae being killed in your pool and the "carcasses" falling to the bottom. The only thing that doesn't suggest that is the OCLT.

    I would suggest you re-boost your FC to SLAM value for another 24 hours and perform the OCLT once more (at any FC level). This is easy to do and will likely eliminate completely the idea of algae.....although everything else points to that.

    If you pass the OCLT, then you can assume it is pollen/dirt and all you can do is to vacuum until it finally stops.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    Dave,
    I did the OCLT last night, though I didn't bring it up to shock level again (forgot, though I'm hoping this test is still good). At 8PM, 7.5. At 6:30AM, 7.5, 0 CCs. I think my wife has some microscopes in her classroom. We'll probably pull a sample and see if we can identify what it is for sure.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    My wife brought home a microscope this evening and we were able to get a sample in the pool by doing a siphon through a tube. After a lot of tinkering with the microscope, I was able to get some good images of what we collected. These were taken using an iPhone 5 aiming at the eyepiece.
    Hopefully someone can help us identify what this stuff is.
    1.jpg2.jpg
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    I have no idea what it is, but that, my friend, is a pretty sweet picture.
    33' round, 23,000 gal AG vinyl , 1HP 2spd PowerFlo Matrix downsized with 3/4HP impeller (X2), Hayward S180T 150# sand filter (X2), Hayward H250 NG heater Pool Store year 1 - $850 for 2 months; Pool Store year 2 - $440 for 2 months, TFPC year 1 - $170 for 4 months; TFPC year 2 - $95 for 4.5 months
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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Smykowski View Post
    I have no idea what it is, but that, my friend, is a pretty sweet picture.
    Thanks! My wife tried to take some pictures with her iPhone and said she couldn't get it. It took me a few minutes and a VERY steady hand to get those shots. I'm still amazed that she thought to try to take pictures of the eyepiece with her phone. I'm even more amazed they came out like they did. It's virtually identical to what I saw looking through the eyepiece.
    Discovery LX, 17K gallon, vinyl, round (27'x4'), AG, sand filter, 1 speed 1.5HP, installed May 2012
    TF-100 + SpeedStir + SampleSizer = :-)

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    Re: Brown dirt issue

    My opinion is that it looks like grains of dirt/sand. I'm not a microbiologist, but I used them in school many years ago. Algae that I remember seeing (pond water) were generally opaque, and usually multi cellular groupings. Sometimes in long chains. You've got irregular shaped translucent "rocks". That's dirt/sand. I would expect pollen spores to be spiked in appearance, as it's evolved to attach to things and get carried.
    15k in-ground plaster, Hayward C900 cartridge, 3/4hp single speed pump, Barracuda G2 cleaner, TF-100

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