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Thread: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

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    ITR's Avatar
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    Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Okay, so I'm curious. Has anyone here actually worked at a pool store. I'm curious because I took my tests and then took them into a pool store. Everyone here is saying your own testing is more accurate, but I'm not sure..."why". Here are my readings followed by the pool store:

    TF100 Tests:
    FC: 4.5
    CC: 0
    pH 7.8
    TA 30
    CYA 60
    Water Temp: 63

    Pool Store tests:
    FC: 2
    CC: 0
    pH: 7.0
    TA: 80
    CH: 300
    CYA: 70

    They ran all tests in like a total of 30 secs. The reason I am asking is that my builder requires monthly faxes from a pool store showing that I am caring for my pool appropriately and will not accept mine unless I am "certified". Are all of the pool store guys really "certified"?

    Just wondering...
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    If you really want to know "why?" take a sample to the pool store for testing. Later, take water from the same sample back for testing and see if the numbers are close to each other.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Well it was from the same sample...mine was done using the same water bottle even. Mine were done first though. Are you saying 15 minutes in a bottle makes a difference?
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    no, I mean their testing varies so much from test to test they often times get results that aren't similar at all from the same exact sample.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    LOL...then why would this pool builder (after 30yrs of being in business) require monthly readings from a place which is known to be "less than accurate"? I guess "less than accurate" is better than someone who paid tens of thousands of dollars and has a vested interest...potentially lying? Yeeesh.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    I see why the PB wants you to have monthly readings. I have no idea why he requires it to be from a place that is not accurate (most all pool stores are not). I had to twist someone at my pool stores arm to even do anything but a 7 way test strip, so I guess you may be lucky from that point. The PB obviously buys all his stuff there and likely gets a huge discount to send in people to get pool stored.


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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    I doubt there is any connection to PB and pool store. There are tons of pools stores around here. They don't care which one I go to....just that I get something "official".

    C'est la vie...hopefully I will never have an issue that will require this specific activity to come into contention. Thanks all for the help you have given us over the past few months. We greatly appreciate it!


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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    If you have a bunch of pool stores close by, when you have time pull 3 samples from your pool and get test results from 3 different stores within the hour. Odds are the printouts will be wildly different. Then show them to the builder and ask him which set of results he thinks are accurate! I guess if you find a store who is close to your test results you can use it for the builder's official results.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    Everyone here is saying your own testing is more accurate, but I'm not sure..."why".
    There are MANY stores out there that do offer quality test results and great advice. It is our expierence however that the majority of them don't provide accurate results on a consistent basis unfortunately. One red flag I see from your post was that they preformed all the tests in "like .30 seconds." This suggests they used test strips, as preforming any drop based tests will take much longer. Test results also can provide an accurate reading, however most the time they too are WAY off and unreliable.

    I would ask the builder just how one becomes "certified?" Just what certification are they looking for?

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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    TF100 Tests:
    FC: 4.5
    pH 7.8
    TA 30

    Pool Store tests:
    FC: 2
    pH: 7.0
    TA: 80
    What I've left above from what you reported are the HUGE differences in the two results. Now the FC test might be explained by the FC getting used up or outgassing in a dirty container or taking too long to get to the store, though more likely it's just inconsistent readings from the store. However, the pH is HUGELY different and that's really hard to foul up. Your test of 7.8 is magenta (pink/red) in color while their 7.0 would be yellow. For TA, yours is very low with just 3 drops to go from green to red while theirs would take 8.

    Is it possible that you mistakenly used a 10 ml sample size when doing the TA test? You should use the 25 ml sample size in which case each titrant drop is 10 ppm. If you used a 10 ml sample size then your 3 drops are not 30 ppm but 75 ppm which would be consistent with the pool store reading.

    Is it possible for you to take your sample to a different pool store? If the PB insists on a pool store reading, at least try and get a better one or show the PB that different pool stores give different readings and that you have a high-quality test kit based on Taylor reagents and FAS-DPD chlorine tests.

    Also, why is your TA so low? With the CYA of 60 ppm you have almost no carbonate alkalinity (< 10 ppm). Usually you'd only have such low TA if you used a net acidic source of chlorine such as Trichlor. Since you have a new pool, normally the pH will be rising significantly and that's consistent with what you see. I suspect that maybe you had an acid startup which had the TA be low, but normally one adds something to get the alkalinity back up and it sounds like perhaps that didn't happen. Either that or something is wrong with your TA test (hard to imagine it reading low -- most errors would have it read higher).
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    I dont think anyone at the pool store is lying to you. Most of them just dont understand pool chemistry and only know what they have been taught by other unknowledgeable instructors.
    Same goes for your PB. He has warranty skin in the game and he doesnt want to have a warrranty claim. Im sure he thinks he is doing the right thing.

    And yes, there is such thing as a certified pool operator. If you google CPO in the search box at the top right corner of the page, you can get some TFP discussions about it.
    http://nspf.org/en/cpo.aspx


    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    LOL...then why would this pool builder (after 30yrs of being in business) require monthly readings from a place which is known to be "less than accurate"? I guess "less than accurate" is better than someone who paid tens of thousands of dollars and has a vested interest...potentially lying? Yeeesh.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Okay...let's take these one at a time:

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    What I've left above from what you reported are the HUGE differences in the two results. Now the FC test might be explained by the FC getting used up or outgassing in a dirty container or taking too long to get to the store, though more likely it's just inconsistent readings from the store. However, the pH is HUGELY different and that's really hard to foul up. Your test of 7.8 is magenta (pink/red) in color while their 7.0 would be yellow. For TA, yours is very low with just 3 drops to go from green to red while theirs would take 8.
    The test was a pinkish orange. It may have been 7.6 or 7.8 but with only color splotches to go by it's hard to tell WHERE in the range it was. The electronic pH stick I have, which has been pretty close lately, also said 7.8 so I went with that (I do both reagent and electronic just to make sure I didn't mess-up and I suck at matching colors (and typically only dress in blue and black for that reason. LOL). FWIW, I am actually shooting for a lower pH as the PB said it would loosen the calcium (he said to keep it at 7.0-7.2 - at least the pool store is getting to know me from my acid purchases). I missed two days at was worried when I saw it at 7.8-"ish". He also mentioned something about pumping acid directly down onto the spots and then balancing with sodium bicarb. Said it might take about 10gal of acid to get it all cleaned up. *sounds* like they know what they are doing...but since this is my first pool everything *sounds* good. Being they have been in business for 30 years and I have seen some of their incredible work...I *do* trust my PB. Luckily with you guys and this forum I am picking up things and learning from the references and write-ups so thanks for that.

    Is it possible that you mistakenly used a 10 ml sample size when doing the TA test? You should use the 25 ml sample size in which case each titrant drop is 10 ppm. If you used a 10 ml sample size then your 3 drops are not 30 ppm but 75 ppm which would be consistent with the pool store reading.
    I'm pretty sure I did it per the directions on the card that came with the TF100 kit (which I think states 25 for TA - I'm at work right now and don't have it to reference, but I think it's the one that turns violet then blue). Although looking at the Youtube video I swear I was doing 3 of the first drop and then five of the second drop and the video states two drops for reagent 1 and five for reagent 2). My TA dropped from 90 on 12/21 to 30 on 1/18 (slowly coming down each test). I have been told this is normal for a new pool which is being controlled by acid. Is that not the case?

    Is it possible for you to take your sample to a different pool store? If the PB insists on a pool store reading, at least try and get a better one or show the PB that different pool stores give different readings and that you have a high-quality test kit based on Taylor reagents and FAS-DPD chlorine tests.
    Yes. I can take it to a different store, but it will be the weekend. I normally work long hours and the stores are only open until 6pm.

    Also, why is your TA so low? With the CYA of 60 ppm you have almost no carbonate alkalinity (< 10 ppm). Usually you'd only have such low TA if you used a net acidic source of chlorine such as Trichlor. Since you have a new pool, normally the pH will be rising significantly and that's consistent with what you see. I suspect that maybe you had an acid startup which had the TA be low, but normally one adds something to get the alkalinity back up and it sounds like perhaps that didn't happen. Either that or something is wrong with your TA test (hard to imagine it reading low -- most errors would have it read higher).
    pH definitely rose significantly the first month. Like I said, the PB told me to keep it low due to the calcium, so I have been acid almost daily...but only in small amounts now (like 5-10 oz a day per the pool calc). My head is once again dizzy from this info and knowing which dials I should turn first. I have been told multiple times pH is most important. BTW, I am using trichlor. That's what they started me on. I have not added anymore since the initial three tablets they put in the auto-chlorinator as I don't want CYA to go out of range. I do have four bottles of bleach on stand-by to use when needed.
    ----
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    the pool store is getting to know me from my acid purchases
    Have you compared acid prices from the pool store to Lowes/Home Depot? My Lowes sells acid much cheaper than the local pool stores. Just be sure you look at the label and get the full strength stuff. At Lowes it's the blue label in the paint department.


    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    BTW, I am using trichlor. That's what they started me on. I have not added anymore since the initial three tablets they put in the auto-chlorinator as I don't want CYA to go out of range. I do have four bottles of bleach on stand-by to use when needed.
    Using your 60, not the pool store 300 for a chlorine pool (no SWCG) you are already at the upper end or above recommended level of CYA. Check out the Recommended Levels chart in the Pool School.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    I have. Acid is actually cheaper at the pool store. $5.99 from the pool store vs. $7.-something from Lowes. I did pick up the "blue label" this last time since the pool store was closed and I ran out.

    Agreed on CYA. It went from 50 last week, to 60 this week. Again, I stopped the trichlor and will be using bleach from here on out. Hoping the summer will get some CYA burn-off. Hate to do a drain with only a one-month old pool, ya know?
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    FWIW, I am actually shooting for a lower pH as the PB said it would loosen the calcium (he said to keep it at 7.0-7.2 - at least the pool store is getting to know me from my acid purchases). I missed two days at was worried when I saw it at 7.8-"ish". He also mentioned something about pumping acid directly down onto the spots and then balancing with sodium bicarb. Said it might take about 10gal of acid to get it all cleaned up.
    I presume this is referring to the calcium carbonate scaling you were seeing earlier in the thread New pool help...possible calcium scale?

    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    I'm pretty sure I did it per the directions on the card that came with the TF100 kit (which I think states 25 for TA - I'm at work right now and don't have it to reference, but I think it's the one that turns violet then blue). Although looking at the Youtube video I swear I was doing 3 of the first drop and then five of the second drop and the video states two drops for reagent 1 and five for reagent 2).
    The violet to blue is for the Calcium Hardness (CH) test. The Total Alkalinity (TA) test goes from green to red. Though it is normally two drops for the R-0007 in the TA test (that's sodium thiosulfate to get rid of chlorine for the test), adding more is not a problem so you're OK there.

    Quote Originally Posted by ITR View Post
    My TA dropped from 90 on 12/21 to 30 on 1/18 (slowly coming down each test). I have been told this is normal for a new pool which is being controlled by acid. Is that not the case?
    :
    pH definitely rose significantly the first month. Like I said, the PB told me to keep it low due to the calcium, so I have been acid almost daily...but only in small amounts now (like 5-10 oz a day per the pool calc).
    As for your TA dropping and pH rising, let me explain this further. When new plaster cures, it produces calcium hydroxide. If this went into the water as is, then it would raise the pH, TA, and CH. The TA and CH would rise by the same amount. Instead, what one wants to happen is for that calcium hydroxide to combine with bicarbonate in the water to form calcium carbonate in the plaster to create a waterproof layer at the plaster surface. Plaster after curing is mostly calcium silicate hydrate but has calcium carbonate in between (and there's additional aggregate as well, usually silica sand but may be other rock).

    In the ideal scenario where the calcium hydroxide produced from plaster curing is converted to calcium carbonate in the plaster, then the net result is a pH rise with no change in TA. If you were to then add acid to lower the pH, then the TA would drop as well. In your 10,300 gallon pool, every 26-1/2 fluid ounces of full-strength Muriatic Acid (31.45% Hydrochloric Acid) added to your pool would lower the TA by 10 ppm in this situation.

    So to maintain the TA level, you'd need to add baking soda. I don't think your PB intended your TA to get as low as you are letting it go. You should ask him what you should target for your TA level. He might want it lower than usual in order to help remove the scale, but a TA of 30 ppm especially with a CYA of 60 ppm is dangerously low.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Yes, still have the scale build up. PB not coming out until a week from Friday....so keeping pH low and brushing...brushing...brushing.

    Your description makes a lot of sense. I have added a lot of acid, so that clearly explains the TA reduction. I love the science behind this! Not sure about the PB and his TA requirement. The PB has said I should really only need to check pH and Chlorine (gave me a cheap test kit with the two-vial color matching tester "thing".)

    This is what I am planning to do tonight.

    1. Retest
    2. Correct pH if needed (acid if high [above 7.8], borax if low[below 7.0])
    3. Let filter cycle for an hour
    4. Correct TA if needed (baking soda if low)
    5. Let filter cycle for an hour
    6. Retest (hoping pH and TA are at recommended levels)
    7. Adjust chlorine if needed (bleach if low)

    Is that the right process? Or is there a better order I should balance it?
    ----
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Because you need to adjust both your TA and your pH it's probably easier to adjust the TA first with baking soda and then adjust the pH. The reason is that the baking soda will somewhat move the pH. If I assume starting with a TA of 30 ppm, pH of 7.8, CYA of 60 ppm, then to get to a TA of 80 ppm and pH of 7.5 in 10,300 gallons it would take 126 ounces weight of baking soda (about 12-1/2 cups) and 12 fluid ounces of full-strength Muriatic Acid. In general, you should add smaller doses to not overshoot, then test and see if it's OK, then add more -- at least until you are sure you've got the hang of things.

    You can also adjust your chlorine first if you want.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Do you have any water features? If your PH is low, you could just use the water features to raise the PH through aeration in lieu of adding the Borax, unless you're wanting to add borates to your pool intentionally.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Welcome. It looks like you are sold, but I wanted to give my perspective.

    I've never worked in a pool store but I've treated industrial process water for over 15 years. I've been professionaly trained and I've likely run these and many more tests than any 50 pool store employees you could round up. Most of them are trained by some measure of "tribal knowledge", but pool builders naively and blindly accept that these people are somehow certified or in possession of specialized training and skill. Quite often, nothing could be further from the truth. The blind faith and trust given to these people by PBs is really mind boggling and very unfortunate. Sometimes their testing isnt bad at all, but just as often it is very inconsistent. Usually Cya, pH, and FC are the worst results they give you, depending on the method they use. Those that use automated electronic testing are usually the worst offenders. Often the bad results are a matter of sloppy methods, carelessness, and dirty contaminated glassware. Look at their test stations and you will see what I mean. Even if they are accurate to begin with, they take no better care of their electronic equipment either.

    FC and pH should be run quickly as both are susceptible to degradation. Depending on how the sample is handled and packaged, the difference can be fairly dramatic with these parameters. The Cya inaccuracies are usually due to improper lighting. This is just another example of why you'll see differences and if they know, it's not something PBs or Pool Stores will tell you.

    Obviously your concern is with the PB, so I would just document what you get, and show him the consistsnt results. If you want proof of the pool store issues, Zea outlines it very well above. Do that too and ask him which he trusts. In the end, if you test and follow the guidelines here for pool care, it's extremely unlikely you'll have problems anyway, so I wouldn't worry. Have no doubt, the tests we suggest here are very good and they will give you superb results.
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    Re: Has anyone on here actually worked at a pool store?

    Okay...here are the updated test results. Definitely getting the idea that mine are more accurate after so many tests:

    FC: 4
    CC: 0
    pH: 7.5
    CH: 400
    TA: 40
    CYA: 60
    Water Temp: 62

    So since pH was in check and TA was low, I added a 4lb (64 oz) of baking soda since someone said add under the recommended amount and you can always add more. The recommended amount was 97 oz.

    After a positive TA increase, I will add some bleach to get the FC up higher which I am approximating at 31 oz via the pool calc.

    Sound like I am on the right path?

    BTW, I do have a spillway for the spa which I have running most of the day (due to the pump being on high from 9am - 5pm)
    ----
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