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Thread: New House came with a neglected pool - SLAM DONE!

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    New House came with a neglected pool - SLAM DONE!

    We purchased a house located in Maryland in late December. By the time we go here, there was nothing we could do to better the pool and the tarp that was falling apart while attempting to keep the pool covered. We were told that the pool wasn't opened for 1 season and that it may need resurfacing, but it came with the house as is. Aside from swimming in pools, my husband and I have no experience with them. I had a pool guy come out and he recommended draining and cleaning the pool at the very least ($1000). He said we could take our time doing the other things it needed, but that is will take significant work. We would like to have the pool up and running at least one season before we have to make decisions on tiles, resurfacing, etc. Our total quote to get it back in shape was around $15,000 (tile, resurfacing, draining and cleaning, new filter).

    We don't know a lot about the pool. I'm not sure of the size or how to figure that out. I do know that the filter was purchased in 1991 and that the pool was build in the late 70's. It is gunite and has a DE filter. The pool guy said the filter looks like it needed replaced.

    Other advice I've received was NOT to drain the pool, but to clean it, backwash the filter, and shock it. My husband removed the tarp yesterday and tried scooping out more of the debris. I have not tested the water at all, but plan to get the test kit recommended. The pictures were taken yesterday after my husband worked on it.

    Is this pool salvageable without draining it? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!






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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Hello, and welcome to TFP

    There is a lot here to address, so let's take a bit at a time. The only real danger in draining a pool in this shape would be if you have high ground water levels. This is true of any pool, no matter the condition. That aside, you won't hurt this one in terms of damaging the finish as the damage is done. Did they mention high water table as a threat where you are?

    If this is not a threat, and you can drain, it might be best given the state it's in. It's absolutely possible to clean it out as is, that just takes a lot of effort. The first priority is getting all the debris out that you possibly can. There have been many pools here just like that, and turned around completely. Removing debris is paramount at this point. I'll be marking this one, and stick with you until it's done. Lots to cover, but don't worry, if you want to learn, there will be many others here to help as well.

    You'll need some tools for that, and some labor. A heavy duty pole, and quality leaf rake are the first two.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    You can absolutely salvage the pool and get it clean up without draining.
    There are many many threads that show the process in work.

    -Basically, you need to start by scooping everything you possibly can out of the pool with a leak rake.
    -Then you need to get the equipment up and running. That filter is likely a DE filter. So you open it up and follow the DE Filter Cleaning Tutorial to inspect it.
    At the beginning you may want to run in recirculation mode so that the DE filter does not clog up right away.
    -Then you will want to run a full set of tests using one of the Recommended Test Kits ... honestly, you should just get the TF-100 with the XL option and add a SpeedStir ... since you are going to be testing a LOT to get it cleared up.
    -Then you need to follow the SLAM process. Take a look at the below:
    Defeating Algae
    Turning Your Green Swamp Back into a Sparkling Oasis
    SLAM Process

    And of course spend a good bit of time reading the forum and asking questions
    Have you discovered Pool School yet? Start with these:
    ABCs of Water Chemistry
    Recommended Pool Chemicals
    How to Chlorinate Your Pool
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Thank you both for replying.

    Will the cost to get it running as is be a lot less than draining and refilling it? The one issue we see with draining it, is that if we are going pay to have that done now it would be a better time to get all of the other work done to it too - that isn't in the budget right now. It will be a slow process getting the other work done, so we don't want to pay to have it drained/refilled now and then have to pay to drain/refill it again in the next year or so.

    I do not believe that we have a high water table.

    The previous owners left a leaf rake and a pole, which we've been using (also some chemicals, a flat style vac, and a test kit). It seemed like the tarp was getting cleaned off, but then once the tarp was gone, more debris was underneath. That is what we are going to be working on next. I spent the day yesterday reading over the great information on this site. I learned so much, but knowing what to do next was confusing, thank you for helping with that too. We will keep working on clearing the debris out.

    Should we pour bleach in the pool, in the meantime, as we are working to clean it out? I had read some suggestions about doing that. It's pretty dark in there, so we can't see how much debris is left. Our area pool store doesn't open till next week. We'd like get a better leaf rake.

    Is there a calculator for figuring out how much water is in the pool, and/or what the size of the pool is? I tried to get a picture of the entire pool, but I couldn't fit it all in.

    I will order the test kit with XL and the speed stir today.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Hi Mickey,

    You've gotten great advice from Patrick and Jason. None better will ever be found.
    No reason you cannot drain and refill the pool yourself. To drain it, rent a sump pump for a rental store or buy a cheap one from Harbor Freight. Home Depot might rent them too, but you have to ask.

    Once its drained, you will just have to clean it with chlorine and brushes and a water hose, or perhaps a power washer with adjustable nozzles for pressure.

    For filling it back, just turn on the water hose and let it run.

    Thats all there is to it.
    Once its filled back up, you will likely need to SLAM it to kill any bad stuff left, but its a piece of cake if you let us help you and use our method.

    Here is a calculator. At the bottom you can enter the dimensions and click the calculate button at top and it will tell you how many gallons it holds. For the depth, Add the Deep end to the shallow end and divide by 2. You are going to need this calculator for as long as you own your pool.
    http://www.troublefreepool.com/calc.html

    Hope this helps,
    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.
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    swoopman's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Welcome from a fellow Marylander. You've gotten great advice so I don't have anything to add right now.

    Are you on well water or city water there?
    TF-100 Test Kit
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Thank you, I will see about measuring it this weekend. So I guess, if we need too, draining won't be difficult. There is something about the challenge and the learning process of getting it to clear though.

    The test kit has been shipped and cleaning will continue little by little till Sat. Hopefully we can get a lot accomplished then.

    My SIL and MIL live in the Annapolis area.
    We have well water here. We also have a water softener. Isn't there an issue with filling something so large from a well? I know, at this point, we are going to try to keep the water in it, but for future reference.

    Thank you all so much for replying!

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Filling with a well is often not advised. You need to be sure the well can handle that volume of water and not run dry. And that there are not metals in the well water.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Thank you. We have to fill it some before we can run anything since the water level is low, but I think my husband knows how without causing issues with the well. Hopefully we won't need to drain it this year.

    I got about half a trash can worth of leaves and "stuff" from the pool today. Along with a dead frog and a live one that promptly jumped back into the pool.

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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyB23 View Post
    Thank you. We have to fill it some before we can run anything since the water level is low, but I think my husband knows how without causing issues with the well. Hopefully we won't need to drain it this year.

    I got about half a trash can worth of leaves and "stuff" from the pool today. Along with a dead frog and a live one that promptly jumped back into the pool.


    This will be one of your biggest hills to climb, and it's a tough one sometimes. Get all you possibly can, and keep trying to make sure you get all you can reach. Doing this is really important, because all that junk puts a load on the Chlorine you add later on.
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    We top off the pool with well water. If the water level is not high enough when opening then well water is used to fill if not much is needed. If it's a dry winter and we need a lot of water to open then we have water delivered. BUT - we have had the water tested and are sure we don't have an issue with metals and are careful about how much water is added at one time using the well. I would not use it for a drain and fill.

    Since we're reasonably close to you I thought these numbers might be helpful...

    When we did do a partial drain and fill last summer (to reduce cya) we had 2 deliveries of 6,000 gallons of water each which cost $425 total. That's just 12k gallons. If you did a full drain and fill it would cost more.

    We pay about $3.20 a bottle for 8.25% bleach. So my guess is that unless you need to drain and fill for another reason (high cya or high CH) then using bleach may cost less - $425/$3.20 = 132 bottles of bleach. Once your test kit arrives you'll be able to test everything and make an informed decision based on real numbers and help from the members here.

    I haven't had to clean up a green swamp so maybe someone else can share experience of how much bleach it might take.
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Thank you Patrick. Yes, very helpful swoopman! We received the test kit today. We need to keep cleaning before we can test anything, correct?

    We have removed about a total of 3 wheelbarrels full of debris so far and still have more to go, but I think we are getting close.
    We still need to measure the pool, but it is very windy here today, so we will wait for a non-windy day.

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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    More gunk gone today, hopefully we are getting near the end. We have made our way from the shallow to the deep end. Freed 2 frogs to the nearby pond.


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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Now it's the hard part, but hang in there and remove everything possible.
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    swoopman's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Looks like you're making good progress removing debris - congrats! Like Patrick said, remove all the debris you possibly can first.

    Glad the info was helpful.

    Yes, you're going to want to test. You will need to get the water level up and pump running so you can circulate the water before testing. As Jason said, you may want to run in recirculation mode so that the filter does not clog up right away.

    If the CH (calcium) level or CYA (stabilizer) level is high you will need to drain and fill to reduce those levels. If neither of those levels are high than you can choose whether or not you want to do some drain and fill or just SLAM to clear up the swamp.
    TF-100 Test Kit
    22,000 gallon, 20x40 kidney-shape IG plaster pool built in 1986
    Nautilus NS-36 DE filter, Hayward Self Prime Super Pump 1HP
    Polaris Automatic Pool Cleaner, PB4-60 3/4 HP pump

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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Thank you - I think we are getting close. The local pool store opened so I was able to get a better leaf rake, brush, new poles, etc. He explained the sweeper we have to me and more about the filter. I also got some DE. I don't want to use the sweeper on this mess, but maybe once the pool is clearer, we can use it.

    What do I need to know about de-winterizing? Will there be things missing from the pump or filter that need reconnected? Do I need to fill anything with water, or flush anything out? The thought came to mind yesterday since we should be able to check the pump and all this weekend hopefully.

    We started adding in some water to get the level right. I was going to message the previous owners to see about the size of the pool It isn't kidney shaped, I don't believe, it's more irregular than that, so we aren't sure how to measure it.

    I did a set of tests, just to see how the testing worked and nothing was high or anything. CYA was non existent as well as Chlorine. CH was 75 and TA was 80. Waiting on getting things flowing before doing them all.
    1978 Sylvan IG Gunite pool (around 18,000 gallon)
    Hayward Vari-Flo DE Filter and 3/4 HP Super Pump - installed in 1991
    TF-100XL with speed stir Dolphin Nautilus Pool Cleaner (2015)

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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    There are several plugs in the equipment that are normally removed during the winterization process. My pump for example has two plugs that screw on and off, I also have a plug on the bottom of my DE filter that is unscrewed for the winter. You will get familar with this plug during the cleaning process as I am sure you will be opening your DE filter and cleaning your filter grids during or after the cleaning. I keep all of my plugs in the pump basket so they are all in one place and I can easily find them.

    If the pool was properly winterized the pipes should have been blown out, plugged, and anti-freeze put into them. There should be a rubber plug or stopper in the returns inside the pool (this is where the water returns from the equipment back into the pool).
    In my pool I have two returns which are placed in the shallow end by the steps about 2 feet or so down.
    My skimmers have two holes in the bottom, the one that leads to the pump gets a rubber plug and the other gets plugged with a Gizmo which is a long plastic tube that screws into the hole. This allows the ice to compress the Gizmo instead of placing a lot of pressure on the skimmer walls.

    So all this means that you will most likely have to reach your arm into the dark dirty water to search for and remove the plugs if they exist.

    Once you get the plugs back into your equipment and the plugs out of the pool your pipes will still be mostly filled with anti-freeze and air. I take a garden hose and fill my pump basket for several minutes to put water back into the pipes, this is also called priming the pump. I will then turn the pump on which will immediately pull all the water I just put in, sometimes this is enough for the pump to prime and start pulling water from the pool, however in most cases I will have to repeate this process several times.

    If you do decide to just drain and re-fill you can always check the water table in your area by using a post digger to dig to the depth of your pool and monitor it for few days to see if it fills with any water.
    25,000 gallon in ground white plaster- 1 1/2 HP Pentair SuperFlo pump - 60 sqft FNS DE filter (with FiberClear), 1999 Sundance Optima 850 hot tub.
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Thank you Rocco, I was looking at things yesterday and I will check it out more in depth this weekend.

    I think we are pretty clean. I spent an hour on it yesterday and I can now pull the leaf rake out without getting much. Just barely covered the bottom of the wheel barrel yesterday. My kids want to adopts the Toads and Frogs, but so far so good.

    I think the pool is around 21,000-22,000 gallons from using the calculator. It's sort of kidney shaped, but with an extra curve in there. I only estimated the depth of deep end by using the pole length.

    Hopefully the filter and pump work, and cleaning the filter is easy. Still trying to get the water level back up. Slow, but steady...
    1978 Sylvan IG Gunite pool (around 18,000 gallon)
    Hayward Vari-Flo DE Filter and 3/4 HP Super Pump - installed in 1991
    TF-100XL with speed stir Dolphin Nautilus Pool Cleaner (2015)

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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    if it were me, I wouldn't really want to swim in that pool even if the water were crystal clear. the surface looks horrible. For the amount of time and effort it will take to clean the water, take apart the filter and refresh it, etc etc, to get the water finally acceptable, just to drain it in a year or whenever to resurface it.... I'd just drain it, resurface it, then fill with decent water.
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    Beens's Avatar
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    Re: New House came with a neglected pool - Please Help!

    Pish tosh. I want to see it green to clean! Did I miss something in the pictures? I don't feel like I can see the surface of the pool itself. It's green!
    Well anyway, it's not my pool so it's not my decision.

    I'm just a curious onlooker and a cheerleader if needed!

    I can't wait to see how this one goes!
    18' x 48" (42" water depth) Intex Metal Frame 6,700 Gallons
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