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Thread: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

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    Smile How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Hi,

    Could you kindly advise me on how to cost-effectively maintain my plaster pool (free form, with a spa) that is never used for swimming?

    We are in San Diego and the pool receives lots of direct sunlight. We keep CYA at 50 PPM, and borax at 50 PPM.

    Local temperature mostly around 40's to 70's and can go to 80's and 90's at times.

    I wonder if I can get away with lower-than-typical level of chlorine and filter pump run time?

    Thank you so much!

    Momo

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    First read the Determine Pump Run Time article as you are likely running the pump more than you need to. That is easy savings. Do you have a 2-speed or VS pump, that would be the next easiest way to save money on power.

    The FC levels that we recommend in the FC/CYA Chart are what is required to keep the pool from turning green ... they also make the water safe.

    There are other methods to keep the pool water clear (algaecides, metal ions), but I do not think they would be cheaper than just maintaining adequate FC and they could cause other problems (like staining).

    You do not state what FC level you are maintaining ...
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Thank you so much, Jason.
    We truly appreciated the information provided by this website.

    I ran the single speed pump 1 hour a day with the solar blanket on from Nov. to June, increased to 2-3 hours a day and removed the solar blanket at the same time when algae started to appear in early July. Since then, we have been trying to maintained the FC level as recommended by the CYA/FC table.

    Questions (so sorry for so many questions..)
    About the filter pump...
    What is the best time period of the day to run the filter pump?
    Can we only run the filter pump for 1/2 hour while adding Chlorine?
    If so, how long should we run the pump when adding MA?

    About the chemicals...
    Can we save time/resource by not checking/adding chemicals until small amount of algae started to appear in crevasses
    and only increased the level when guests are coming?
    If not, can we still use the solar blanket if the FC level is maintained as recommended, 4-6ppm?

    Can we save time by increasing the FC to 10ppm (the highest safe level to swim) while decreasing the frequency of
    adding chemicals? With all other factors being equal, does Chlorine deplete at a faster speed when the level is higher?

    Is there a set formula to calculate the amount of MA needed to balance out the alkalinity of Chlorine?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Momo

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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    The amount of chlorine lost in one day is proportional with the concentration: bigger the initial concentration, bigger the amount lost, but as a % it will be similar. With respect of balancing the alkalinity of the chlorine, you need around 100ml hydrochloric acid 31% for 1liter of 8% chlorine. (sorry for the units) I think it is 3oz to 1/4 gallon. Solar blanket helps keeping the chlorine level longer at higher levels extending the summer useful season as well.
    South of France inground rectangular 17k pool - ruber membrane. Sliding dome, black thermal blanket covering 75% of the pool surface. Aqualux 3/4Hp pump, glass media sand filter, Zodillac robot, 110W UV-c lamp, Hayward brominator, Caliente 12kW heat pump.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Answers below in red.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momo Bailey View Post
    Thank you so much, Jason.
    We truly appreciated the information provided by this website.

    I ran the single speed pump 1 hour a day with the solar blanket on from Nov. to June, increased to 2-3 hours a day and removed the solar blanket at the same time when algae started to appear in early July. Since then, we have been trying to maintained the FC level as recommended by the CYA/FC table.

    Questions (so sorry for so many questions..)
    About the filter pump...
    What is the best time period of the day to run the filter pump? Does not matter.
    Can we only run the filter pump for 1/2 hour while adding Chlorine?
    If so, how long should we run the pump when adding MA?
    You need to run the pump for at least 30 minutes before any testing and at least 30 minutes after adding any chemicals.

    About the chemicals...
    Can we save time/resource by not checking/adding chemicals until small amount of algae started to appear in crevasses
    and only increased the level when guests are coming? That is not a good idea because once algae has started, you need to follow the full SLAM process to clear it up which requires a LOT more chlorine than if you just added the 2-3ppm each day.
    If not, can we still use the solar blanket if the FC level is maintained as recommended, 4-6ppm? No problem.

    Can we save time by increasing the FC to 10ppm (the highest safe level to swim) while decreasing the frequency of
    adding chemicals? That will not save much time. It only takes less than 5 minutes a day to test and add chlorine With all other factors being equal, does Chlorine deplete at a faster speed when the level is higher? You will lose more FC to the sun at higher FC levels.

    Is there a set formula to calculate the amount of MA needed to balance out the alkalinity of Chlorine? There is no need to offset the chlorine with acid. Bleach is effectively pH neutral. When you add bleach, the pH may rise slightly, but as the FC is consumed, the pH drops back down.

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Momo
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Someone with more expertise in chemistry will probably correct me, but I think the addition of liquid chlorine is pretty much a net zero event, as far as any change in the pH of the pool water. The amount of muriatic acid needed seems to be a pool-specific thing -- i.e. you should watch what pH does in your pool over a period of time, to determine acid demand for your particular pool.

    Just as an example, our pool water always gradually drops in pH, and we periodically have to add chemicals to bump pH up, not down (we're using liquid chlorine only, so the pH drop is not due to CYA).

    As for waiting until algae appears, and then upping chlorine levels, you then run the risk of having to do much more intensive maintenance, and using much more chlorine (SLAM process) in order to get rid of the algae again. Any time/money you have saved can go down the drain quickly.

    The bottom line, probably, is that the pool needs minimal but regular maintenance, even when it is not used for long periods. That is, unless you let it go totally to h***, which doesn't seem to be your intention, and is also likely to be frowned on by neighbors and the local authorities.

    I believe it is fine to use the solar cover, as long as your FC levels aren't ridiculously high -- solar covers seems to deteriorate from sun exposure in a few years anyway, not so much from exposure to pool water. Use of the cover will reduce FC loss in sunlight somewhat, as noted by a previous poster.
    18' x 48" ring top pool (Summer Escapes); 5500 gallons; set up June - October, stored during winter; Intex 2500 gph pump (B size cartridge filter) Hayward 21" sand filter + 1.5 hp single speed Powerflo Matrix pump (upgrade October 2016) *** K-2006 test kit, refills from tftestkits

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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    I agree with all of singingpond's post^^^
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Look into switching to a salt water chlorine generator. Best move I've ever done. Makes the pool "almost" maintenance free. Once dialed in, I only have to test every week or 2. If you do go SWG, get once double the size for your pool- then it won't have to work hard and last a lot longer.
    45'x12' 17k gal, IG plaster, Pool Pilot Nano+ SWG, 1/2hp Whisperflo pump, PAC-FAB TA-60D sand filter, Raypak 266 heater
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    If you use a mostly opaque pool cover (preferably white or reflective if you don't want to heat the pool) and you let the pool water stay cool (i.e. don't heat it), then your chlorine usage should be very low. If you want to keep the water warm just in case you want to use the pool, then a pool cover can still help reduce chlorine usage.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Smile Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    We appreciate all of your helpful inputs.

    The filter pump running time has been reduced to one hour in all days during early evening when we typically test the water and add chemical(s) as needed.

    About the constant need to add MA in our pool, it could be that San Diego City Water pH averages around 8.19 in our area was added into it constantly. Putting the blue solar pool cover back will help to reduce water evaporation which in turn will save water and likely MA as well.

    Can you confirm my understanding that algae should not be a concern if we can vigilantly keeping the FC level above 4ppm (both CYA and Borax at 50ppm) even with the shade and high water temperature provided by the blue solar blanket which is capable in raising our pool water temperature to 85 degree Fahrenheit in the midst of the summer and other times especially when the hot and dry Santa Ana winds hits our area ?

    Thank you so much!

    Momo

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: How to cost-effectively maintain a pool that is never used?

    Correct, keep the FC above 4ppm at all times and algae should be prevented. Try to target 6-7ppm everyday so it does not drop too low.
    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
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