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Thread: Newbie Owner in FL

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Tampa Bay, FL

    Newbie Owner in FL

    Hi there,

    I'm a brand new home and pool owner in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.

    I have zero experience with pools and mainly got a pool with a house (err.. a house with a pool) for the wife, who is in a wheelchair (though she is not paralyzed) and wants to use the pool for exercising.

    We had to move over Christmas, because the landlord kicked us out of the previous house. Christmas was practically ruined for us. I was moving us the weekend before and the week of Christmas.

    Anyway, because of the stress of moving, making sure I'd get everything out of the old house before year's end, I couldn't pay much attention to the pool. I believe it was January 2nd, when I saw algae bloom on the sides of the pool. The previous owner had some chemicals in the shed. I used a chlorine powder I found to "shock" the pool, 1.5 pounds of it and scrubbed the walls off the algae.

    Two days later I went to a local Pinch-A-Penny pool store with a water sample with the following analysis and recommendation:

    FC: 0 ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Acid Demand: 2
    TA: 120 ppm
    CH: 255 ppm
    Stabilizer: 0 ppm
    TDS: 500 ppm

    They told me to put three to four tablets of Chlorinating Tablets into a float feeder (which I bought along with a small bucket of tablets), add four cups of muriatic acid, two 2.5 gal jugs of liquid chlorine (I guess it must have been 12.5%) and two lbs of Stabilizer (which I bought a four lbs bag of as well) and placed that in the second skimmer.

    The evening of the same day I added the newly bought floater to the water with four tablets, put in the required muriatic acid and put two lbs of Stabilizer in a pillow case in the second skimmer (didn't have a long enough sock handy). The vacuum, however, connected to the other, closer-to-the-pump skimmer didn't move much, if at all. Also, the pressure gauge on the D.E. filter showed 20 psi.

    At the store I had requested for someone to come to my house the next day to take a look, because water was leaking by the pump and the vacuum was pretty much not moving. So, the next day the pool maintenance guys determined that the filter basket lid had a crack in it and the pipe to the pump had a leak too. They fixed both and backwashed the filter. I wasn't completely comprehending what was going on at the time (the backwash produced quite a bit of water at the side of the house) and especially them feeding D.E. into the skimmer after the backwash I found unusual (and am still murky on a lot of other things), but after the leaks were fixed and they backwashed and fed the filter with new D.E. the pressure dropped from 20 to 10 psi. Whoa, what a difference. Also, they put in one 2.5 gal jug of liquid chlorine for me that day, not two, as the store computer had recommended.

    Vacuum was moving now. By the next day it had cleaned out the algae from the floor I had scrubbed off the walls the day before. One of the pool guys said the pool isn't in too great shape (the fiberglass) and the surface will probably need replenished in the mid-term future. I'm not sure how old the pool is. There are markings on the filter that suggest it may be from 2000 or 2001, but I'm not sure.

    So, three days later (Jan-4) I went back to the store with a new sample with the following results:

    FC: 0.5 ppm
    pH: 7.8
    Acid Demand: 1
    TA: 120 ppm
    CH: 250 ppm
    Stabilizer: 0 ppm
    TDS: 600 ppm

    Instructions were to add two to three cups of muriatic acid, one 2.5 gal jug of liquid chlorine and add Stabilizer if it was empty. I ended up adding the acid, but only put in half a 2.5 gal jug of liquid chlorine and added about a pound to the Stabilizer in the pillow case in the skimmer. It wasn't quite empty though, still contained maybe half a lbs.

    I have to say that the skimmer the Stabilizer is in, does not seem to have much suction at all, so I'm not sure it's getting circulated very well, but it's dissolving alright, if only slowly.

    The water is between 18-20C (=64-68F) these days. I think the pool is leaking, though I'm not sure if it's through the vessel or the pump system. The previous owner has a Pool Sentry M-3000 water level control system installed, which automatically adds water to the pool if it drops below a preset level. I don't have the faucet turned on for that the whole time though, because it's noisy at times and I don't want it to be on during the night. The existence of that device alone speaks volumes, I guess. The pool loses about an inch to two of level every week. I have yet to do the bucket test.

    So, apart from these initial problems, I'm still a little overwhelmed by all these different chemicals. I don't want to have to run to the pool store every week to drop off a water sample, although the store is conveniently situated along my commute route home.

    I was shocked by the fact that the store recommends to shock the pool once every week. I have since read here on the forum that that is probably overkill, though I am questioning the blurb in the TFP Pool School sticky note How to Chlorinate Your Pool, that says

    [Trichlor tablets] are incredibly convenient and incredibly insidious. The CYA that they put into your pool water doesn't get used up, and instead accumulates. Eventually the CYA level will build up to a point that renders your chlorine ineffective. Typically, everything is fine, until one day you start to develop algae and don't understand why.
    So, you can't use chlorine tablets as a disinfectant alone? Is Liquid Chlorine a necessity? I'm still unclear on which and/or how many of the chlorination options mentioned in above article should be applied. I think some clarification is needed in the article, unless I overlooked something fundamental.

    Eventually, I will probably test the water myself, though I'm uncertain of which test to get. Also, I didn't really understand why the FAS-DPD is so important to have. I didn't find much elaboration on the topic in the Pool School articles. I take it this test is for determining FC values only? Are other FC tests inferior, if not insufficient?

    So, yeah, I'm not looking forward to pool maintenance. I knew it wouldn't get easier or less costly with a pool.

    As a newbie I'm surprised there aren't any affordable automated tests available. They haven't come up with something affordable in the age of microcontrollers and hackerspaces? Some kind of machine that does all the dosing and counting of reagent drops for you. Have also been looking into automatic chemical dispensing systems, like the Liquidator, for instance, though it's too early for me to determine what I would want or need.

    Oh yeah, what do I do with that nature2 mineral dispenser? I've read here it's of little use?

    I'm glad though, I found TFP. Hope to get everything sorted out in the long run with your help.


    17,700 gal fiberglass outdoor, rectangular, chlorine-sanitized in-ground pool, 35x15 ft2. Pentair FNS Plus D.E. Filter (48 ft2). Pentair Whisper Flo 4 (1 hp) pump. Two skimmers (@2- and @4-), two returns (@7- and @10-), one vacuum (@4-o'clock position skimmer), no main drain. Autofill device adding ~1000? gal of utility water per week. TF-100 test with speed stir.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Franklin, NC

    Re: Newbie Owner in FL

    Well, you have covered a lot of ground....

    If you have read around here much you have probably seen that not much credence is given to pool store testing. While you would think that a "professional" would be the best, unfortunately in most cases it is quite the opposite. Between employees who blindly trust the word of chemical sales representatives and high school kids working in the pool store for the summer you end up with poor results from their testing. Plus, they make their money by suggesting things you need to buy to put in the water and many of them will make you feel like you will hurt your family you don't follow their suggestions.

    To follow the pool care methods taught here you need to arm yourself with the knowledge and tools necessary to care for your pool.

    The knowledge is condensed in the Pool School link at the top of every page. It is a great community here, but we do ask that you read and try to understand the information being taught. Questions are always welcome and folks will try to direct you and teach you the methods. Start reading that more and it will start to sink in. There are articles that explain the chemicals and even the DE filter.

    The tools are not limited to the brushes, vacuum hoses and other stuff you use around the pool, but include the most important item - one of the recommended test kits. The TF-100 suppies the testing reagents in the amounts most people need. You can buy a kit at a pool store, but again the pool store kits generally won't cut it. To effectively practice the TFPC methods, the FAS/DPD chlorine test is essential. All these kits contain that test while very few other kits do. Think of it this way, do you see a doctor blindly prescribing drugs without seeing the patient or having tests run? Here at TFP we are going to ask for photos so we can see the condition of the water and are going to ask for a full set of test results.

    Don't put the Nature2 in as it adds metals we don't want in the water. I also would not keep adding stabilizer (also called CYA) until I tested the water myself. This is the test the pool stores mess up the most and once it's in the water it stays thee until diluted by additions of water.

    So, welcome to TFP!!
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  3. Back To Top    #3
    jrs_diesel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    League City, TX

    Re: Newbie Owner in FL

    First of all, Welcome to TFP!

    Second, start reading the articles in Pool School in the link above if you haven't already done so. Lots of great information in there.

    Liquid chlorine is preferred over all of the chlorine sources because it only adds chlorine, a little bit of salt, and nothing else. Trichlor and dichlor add chlorine and CYA (Cyanuric acid) which will render the chlorine useless if the CYA level gets too high. Chlorine is consumed from sanitizing your pool (algae and bacteria), oxidizing organic material (breaking down leaves, bugs, skin, urine, anything organic), and sunlight/UV rays on a daily basis. CYA will build in the water over time, it does not leave unless you drain some or all of the water and replace with new water. Cal-hypo (calcium hypochlorite) adds chlorine and calcium, the calcium levels can get out of hand too and cause calcium staining at high levels (hard water stains).

    For test kits, a Taylor K-2006 or a TF-100 will contain everything you need to keep your water in good shape. The TF-100 is better since it contains more of the test reagents that get used, and sales of the TF-100 help support this site. Computerized testers need frequent calibration and are a lot more trouble than they are worth. The TF-100 and a Speed-stir are accurate and gives consistent results. I highly recommend you get a Speed-stir with either test kit, makes testing so much easier. The reason you want the FAS-DPD test is because you can get very accurate free chlorine (FC) levels, and also see if what you have for combined chloramines (CC). FC is what is available to keep your water clean, CC is what chlorine turns into as it kills stuff in the water. The shades of yellow chlorine test (the OTO test) will clearly indicate if you have chlorine, but cannot tell you what your chlorine level is accurately beyond 5 parts per million (ppm). Plus you cannot easily tell the difference between FC and CC with the OTO test.

    For now your TA (total alkalinity) and CH (calcium hardness) seem to be in good shape according to your other test results. I would focus on getting your chlorine levels up. You can ignore the acid demand result, and also TDS (total dissolved solids). TDS measures everything dissolved in the water and is pretty pointless.

    Nature 2 is more for spas I think, but you can get rid of that. It contains silver and copper ions in the mineral pack, and trichlor in the Z-tabs. You don't want copper in the water, it causes green stains in the pool and blonde hair.

    Once you learn how to test and balance the water, pool maintenance is pretty easy. I spend maybe 5 or 10 minutes daily checking the ph and chlorine levels, plus checking the skimmer, and cleaning out whatever else may have blown into the water. Saturday or Sunday I do the full battery of tests with the TF-100. I also keep a log of my weekly results. We have a lot of fun in our pool, and I don't have to be a slave to it either.

    Hope this helps explain some things for you.

    20K IG gunnite pool
    2HP Hayward single speed pump
    Cartridge filter

  4. Back To Top    #4
    pwrstrk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Elverson Pa.

    Newbie Owner in FL

    Welcome to TFP !
    You've gotten some good advice in the above two posts so I won't overwhelm you with more info. One thing I will repeat is the investment of the TF100 test kit ! It's a must have if you want to maintain you water chemistry on you own. When you need advice on your water chemistry we need to have accurate test results to base our advice on. That's where having a good test kit comes into play
    Do the reading in Pool School and when you have specific questions on something don't hesitate to ask. Ask a couple of questions at a time and you'll get better responses instead of asking a whole lot at one time.
    Two good places to do some re-reading.
    ABC'S Of Pool Water Chemistry
    How To Chlorinate Your Pool.
    Once you overcome the little bit of a learning curve our method's are quite easy. Hope you enjoy the forum !
    24'x54" AG Morada RTR (by wilbar) 13'500 gal. Hayward Powerflo Matrix 1hp 2 speed. Hayward Perflex EC65 DE filter.

  5. Back To Top    #5
    Divin Dave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Longview, Texas

    Re: Newbie Owner in FL

    Hi Georg,
    Welcome to TFP. You brought up several subjects and we'll be glad to help. But lets concentrate first on your water because thats the most important part. Its critical you get your water in check, especially for FC, or it can get way out of hand really quickly. You NEED to add liquid chlorine every day. Scrap the nature 2, it will cause you big headaches.

    Until you get your hands on a test kit and head wrapped around all of this info, I would recommend to continue to add 1 gallon of liquid chlorine every day to keep the algae from getting out of hand. Many people, me included, use regular bleach as a source of liquid chlorine. The cheapest you can find will do. The 12% pool store stuff is excellent too, but it usually costs a little more.

    There are no fancy testers for newbies. If there were any that were accurate, we probably wouldnt be able to afford them anyhow.
    Get the TF100 test kit. You will be glad you did. You need teh FAS DPD which is included in the TF-100 because its the only test that can measure FC above 5 and measure Combined Chlorine. And you WILL need it.

    While you are in process of learning more in Pool School, follow these recomended water parameters.

    And here is the Chlorine chart. The Free Chlorine level depends on your CYA (also called stabilizer) levels.

    After you have tested your water, use POOL MATH to determine how much of which chemical to add in order to maintain the recommended level.

    Since you mentioned already, that you have algae, you will need to SLAM the pool. SHOCK LEVEL AND MAINTAIN. What that means is raise the Free CHlorine to shock level and keep the chlorine level high until you have no more algae at all. This link tells you how to do it and how to know you are algae free.

    Please continue to ask questions and lots of folks here will be willing to help you out,
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge. Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    SpringHill FL

    Re: Newbie Owner in FL

    Dont lose hope. I know being new to the pool maintenece scene can seen very overwhelming but you will find the principles laid forth here at TFP are very simple and very effective. Test your water yourself then only add what your pool needs not what a store wants to sell you
    15x30 gunite 18k gallons Hayward star clear plus 120sqft cart

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Richard320's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Dimas, CA (LA County)

    Re: Newbie Owner in FL

    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyGuy View Post
    Dont lose hope. I know being new to the pool maintenece scene can seen very overwhelming but you will find the principles laid forth here at TFP are very simple and very effective. Test your water yourself then only add what your pool needs not what a store wants to sell you
    What he said.

    There's a very steep learning curve at first, but within a month, it will be a breeze. Get the test kit, run the tests a few times and treat the pool and see what happens. A lightbulb will go off once you start doing and it will all make sense.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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