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Thread: First time pool owner, so many questions!

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    First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Chemistry from today 10/15/2014 from the Pool shop:
    FC - .5 ppm
    CC - .5 ppm
    pH - 7.6
    TA - 120 ppm
    CH - 700 ppm
    CYA - 115 ppm
    Phosphates - 100 ppb

    water temp in the morning: 72

    We're running the pump from 9am to 7pm and the Polaris from Noon to 4pm.

    We moved in in mid-July and inherited a ton of 3" trichlor tablets. We immediately went out of town and paid a guy to take care of the pool for the first month. When we got back, he handed the pool back over and told us to put a tablet in each skimmer and two in a floating dispenser. Until recently, we'd done a good job of keeping the chlorine and pH in check (at least according to the pool store people), and haven't had any problems.

    However, I was growing more and more alarmed about the rising CYA levels. I told my wife to ask the pool store people if there were alternatives to the tablets (since I knew they were heavy on stabilizer), but not surprisingly they said no... With a new job, I just never got around to Googling (doh). Meanwhile, we also learned that the tabs in the skimmer is a bad idea, so we recently moved them into the floater (4 tabs, 4 holes open). Then, we had a bunch of rain and we apparently got behind on the chemistry (mainly the FC/CC). Last night (after seeing the Chlorine was really low on our rinky dink test kit), my wife spotted a small amount of algae starting to form where some of our rock border meets the water line/plaster. That got me searching around and Google until I landed on TFP.com. Finally, I'm starting to see some stuff that makes scientific sense!

    I'm planning to begin a TPFC program, but I'd love your help. I am guessing that my CYA levels are near the top of the triage list? Should I add a bunch of bleach now to try and attack the algae issue, or should I drain some water first to try and bring down the CYA and then go after the chlorine? I've read a bunch of horror stories about the effects of draining on plaster and pools in general, so I'm really nervous about making more problems. How much can I safely drain in one go?

    I've been told not to sweat the CH because it's just how the water is down here in Austin. Does that make sense?

    I suppose I also need to invest in a better test kit so my wife doesn't live at the pool store? I'm looking at the Taylor K-2006 (should I just go ahead an spring for the commercial one)?

    Do people in Austin close their pools?

    I suspect I've already made this too long but thanks for all the help.

    -Brian
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Welcome to TFP!

    I will let others address some of your questions, but wanted to say that the TF-100 test kit is a better value due to the quantity of reagents you get. See the comparison in Pool School.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Thanks Jason. You're right! I went ahead and ordered the TF-100.
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by BCinAustin View Post
    Chemistry from today 10/15/2014 from the Pool shop:
    FC - .5 ppm
    CC - .5 ppm
    pH - 7.6
    TA - 120 ppm
    CH - 700 ppm
    CYA - 115 ppm
    Phosphates - 100 ppb

    ...
    We moved in in mid-July and inherited a ton of 3" trichlor tablets. We immediately went out of town and paid a guy to take care of the pool for the first month. When we got back, he handed the pool back over and told us to put a tablet in each skimmer and two in a floating dispenser. ...

    However, I was growing more and more alarmed about the rising CYA levels. I told my wife to ask the pool store people if there were alternatives to the tablets (since I knew they were heavy on stabilizer), but not surprisingly they said no... With a new job, I just never got around to Googling (doh). Meanwhile, we also learned that the tabs in the skimmer is a bad idea, so we recently moved them into the floater (4 tabs, 4 holes open). Then, we had a bunch of rain and we apparently got behind on the chemistry (mainly the FC/CC). Last night (after seeing the Chlorine was really low on our rinky dink test kit), my wife spotted a small amount of algae starting to form where some of our rock border meets the water line/plaster. That got me searching around and Google until I landed on TFP.com. Finally, I'm starting to see some stuff that makes scientific sense!
    Yes, it's a relief, isn't it?

    I'm planning to begin a TPFC program, but I'd love your help. I am guessing that my CYA levels are near the top of the triage list? Should I add a bunch of bleach now to try and attack the algae issue, or should I drain some water first to try and bring down the CYA and then go after the chlorine?
    Once you have your new test kit, confirm the CYA level -- if it is as high as you fear (it may be higher), then a partial drain and refill is the most sensible step, assuming you don't have a local water shortage that makes this impossible. While waiting for your test kit, you can add some bleach on a daily basis to help keep algae in check.

    I've read a bunch of horror stories about the effects of draining on plaster and pools in general, so I'm really nervous about making more problems. How much can I safely drain in one go?
    Please wait for some other comments on this, but I think the advice generally given is to keep a foot or so of water in the shallow end. There are also techniques for draining and refilling at the same time, but some mixing of old and new water will inevitably occur with that approach. If you have any source of information about your local water table, that would be worth knowing -- a high water table will tend to push an empty pool shell up (like a boat floating on water).

    I've been told not to sweat the CH because it's just how the water is down here in Austin. Does that make sense?
    Once you have a good test kit, test the CH of the fill water, and then you can revisit this question.

    I suppose I also need to invest in a better test kit so my wife doesn't live at the pool store? I'm looking at the Taylor K-2006 (should I just go ahead an spring for the commercial one)?
    Sounds like you've already taken this crucial step -- that, along with informing yourself (read more of Pool School), is crucial to getting a good understanding of your pool, and key to maintaining it efficiently and effectively.

    Do people in Austin close their pools?

    I suspect I've already made this too long but thanks for all the help.

    -Brian
    All very sensible questions! Welcome to TFP!
    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: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Welcome to TFP. Along with testing CH, you might want to test your fill water TA as well. As far as CYA is concerned, you might want to consider doing a 50/50 dilution test, and double the result. If its still 100 or more, then a 25/75 sample would give you a closer result. Diluted tests aren't quite as accurate as an undiluted test, but still gives you a good estimate of what you have.
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    See here for further instructions on doing diluted tests for CYA, as mentioned in the previous post:
    http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...Kit-Directions
    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: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Thanks everyone.

    Singingpond, how much is "some bleach" while I wait on my CYA numbers? Using the CYA/Chlorine table, it looks like I need an FC of 12 (doh!). PoolMath says to get from the .5 FC I am at, to 12, I need to add 278oz of 8.25% bleach.

    I realize the CYA numbers could be wrong (and I may take a diluted by half sample back to the pool store while I wait on the test kit), but can I safely add a full 121oz jug of 8.25% bleach to try and stay ahead of the algae in the meantime? I'd obviously go slow and spread it out over a couple of sessions, but it seems like cheap insurance, especially given that nobody will be swimming.
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    I would add one bottle every evening until you get your test kit. Just add it all at once by pouring slowly in front of a return jet in the deep end (if you have one). Run the pump 30-60 minutes after adding any chemicals.
    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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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Thanks Jason. Bottle = 121 oz?
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Well, actually I might not add that much chlorine since your pool does not sound totally green. Closer to 3/4 of a 121oz bottle should be fine and not elevate the FC too high before you can test.
    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
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    For partial draining you could test fill water to confirm its Ch isn't high, fill pool to over skimmer, circulate for 48 hrs, backwash/waste til down below skimmer and add fresh fill water. Do this several times as required.

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Welcome and hello from a fellow Austinite.

    I too just bought my house this past summer and inherited a pool in the process. I also paid someone briefly to maintain the pool while I got my feet underneath me. The previous owner had relied on water testing at the nearest Leslie's and used pucks for the chlorine source. I've experienced pretty much everything you have, and this forum has been very helpful. After a lot of reading, I've gone to just using bleach and acid for my sanitation needs.

    What I've found is that my pool needed about 40oz of 8.25% bleach per day when the summer was it's hottest (lots of direct sunlight, about 2ppm per day loss) and about 7oz of 31.45% 20 Baume acid every 3-5 days to keep the PH around 7.5. Now that things have cooled off a bit, and with the rain and clouds we've had lately, my chlorine consumption has dropped almost in half. Keep in mind that my usage is relative based on my 14,000 gallon pool. We buy our bleach at Costco. It's about $9 for a 3-pack of 121oz bottles. Acid comes from Lowes.

    When I got my TF-100 test kit, I discovered that my CYA was right at 100. A partial drain/refill is in order for me, but given the coming winter, I'm considering waiting until the spring to do so. I also tested my tap water and found the CH to be 125 (my water comes from Lake Travis). Your high CH may be due to the previous owner using Calcium Hypo. You have to drain and refill to reduce CH as well, but if you keep your PH in check it shouldn't be problematic.

    My biggest issue right now, aside from my current pump failure, is keeping leaves and acorns out of my pool. The previous owner indicated that he just covered the pool in the winter. I've consulted my friends in the area who have pools and none of them close or even cover theirs.

    If you have an android phone or tablet, I highly recommend getting the PoolPal app to keep track of your testing. It also allows exporting the data to Google Drive so you can easily see trends in your chemistry. I would test everyday for a week or so to get an idea of what was going on, then I'd just test weekly assuming the weather was staying roughly the same.
    14,000 gallon IG gunnite with round spa and overflow, Hayward Ecostar SP3400VSP variable speed pump, Blue Haven (Hayward) 450 series quad cartridge filter
    Rainbow Lifeguard Model 320 auto-chlorinator, Aqualink RS8 control module, Polaris 360, Laars Lite heater NG heater, TF-100 test kit

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    First time pool owner, so many questions!

    goalie, have you thought about getting a leaf net for your leaves and acorns ?
    If your not going to drain and replace some water now, your CYA level may come down a bit over the winter. For some reason some pools will lose CYA over the winter. I know mine did. It went from 40 when I closed to 20-25 when I opened. 😎
    Jeff
    24'x54" AG Morada RTR (by wilbar) 13'500 gal. Hayward Powerflo Matrix 1hp 2 speed. Hayward Perflex EC65 DE filter.

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    This forum is awesome! Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions and help. My wife added half a jug this afternoon and the FC levels are rising (4ppm). The algae is really minimal right now, but I think it's a sign of what's to come if we don't ditch the pucks... I sucked it up and jumped in this evening with a brush and scrubbed what I could see off of the rocks and grout. I think I got most of it. What's left will get another dose of bleach we circulated tonight. The water is definitely still clear. We'll play it slow and steady moving forward, based on the tests and the calculator.

    I think I'm going to test my fill water for CH, just to know what my baseline should be. I do see a bucket of Cal Hypo in the backyard, so it's completely possible that the previous owner spiked the CYA and CH.

    Then I'll replace some water to drop the CYA (and hopefully the CH) some and then we can go with acid and bleach through the winter. Then I can keep an eye on CYA levels and decide whether to do more diluting in the Spring.

    THANKS EVERYONE!
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by goalie28 View Post
    If you have an android phone or tablet, I highly recommend getting the PoolPal app to keep track of your testing. It also allows exporting the data to Google Drive so you can easily see trends in your chemistry.
    Or just make a spreadsheet.
    14K Freeform Gunite w/60% Blue Quartz plaster, Quad DE filter, Intelliflo VS Pump + Booster for Cleaner, Aquacal Heat Pump

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by pwrstrk View Post
    goalie, have you thought about getting a leaf net for your leaves and acorns ?
    I'm considering a couple of options, including a mesh cover with anchors, but I like the idea of having access to the hot tub in the winter. So, something that's easy to remove enough to expose that would be my preference. I'm also concerned about the Live Oak pollen in the spring. One of my co-workers described his pool as looking like yellow soup in April.
    14,000 gallon IG gunnite with round spa and overflow, Hayward Ecostar SP3400VSP variable speed pump, Blue Haven (Hayward) 450 series quad cartridge filter
    Rainbow Lifeguard Model 320 auto-chlorinator, Aqualink RS8 control module, Polaris 360, Laars Lite heater NG heater, TF-100 test kit

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by goalie28 View Post
    I'm considering a couple of options, including a mesh cover with anchors, but I like the idea of having access to the hot tub in the winter. So, something that's easy to remove enough to expose that would be my preference. I'm also concerned about the Live Oak pollen in the spring. One of my co-workers described his pool as looking like yellow soup in April.
    Another good thing to use in the spring for pollen is skimmer socks or a nylon knee high over your skimmer basket. They will catch a huge amount of junk, pollen before it gets to your filter. On high pollen days make sure to check them often as they'll get full and starve pump of water. I've seen mine get full and can't even remove the basket without turning off the pump from the suction.
    I use them all the time. 😎
    Jeff
    24'x54" AG Morada RTR (by wilbar) 13'500 gal. Hayward Powerflo Matrix 1hp 2 speed. Hayward Perflex EC65 DE filter.

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    I ordered my TF-100 from PoolSupplyWorld two days ago and it already came today (with free shipping)! I'll report back with CYA #s this weekend. Thanks again all.
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    Did not see any algae reappearing after my scrubbing yesterday. FC is in the 3-4ppm range. I think we may have stemmed the invasion for the moment (but leaving the trichlor dispenser in for now).

    Just ran my first CYA test with the TF-100 (ok, I'll admit it, it's kinda fun). Went ahead with the 50% diluted approach and got ~120 (60x2). Assuming the next step is probably to start working on some sort of drain and fill scheme to get that number down by at least half (hoping I could then benefit from some natural attrition through the Winter - is that rational?)

    Going to test the CH of the fill water next.
    Last edited by BCinAustin; 10-17-2014 at 08:04 PM. Reason: OCD :)
    16k gal, IG plaster, Hayward 48sqft DE Filter, Hayward Max-Flo VS w/Pentair booster, Polaris 280 cleaner, installed 2003

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: First time pool owner, so many questions!

    So, you test the CYA and find it too high, and yet you are leaving the tablets that are adding more CYA in the pool?

    Switch to bleach, and start replacing water. I do recommend that you follow the SLAM process still ... it will go quick if there is not much in the water. Although easier if you lowered the CYA first.
    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
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

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