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Thread: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

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    New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Location: Suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Pool: In-Ground - Viking Pool Gulf Shore Model - Fiberglass - Cantilever Dyed Stamped concrete around perimeter
    15,000 Gallons - Approx 16' x 35' - Depth 3'-7" to 5'-10" - Water Surface Area 423 sq ft
    Equipment: Hayward Swim Clear Filter Model C2030 Filter - 84 GPM Flow - 4 Cartridge CX481XRE
    Heater: Hayward H-200 Natural Gas
    In/Out Flow: In - 2 Intakes at deep end, Standard Skimmer Basket; 4 standard returns + 1 variable water feature
    Pool location: Open with very little shade. Gets full unfiltered sun from 9:00am to 6:00pm in summer months

    Chlorine: Sustain System

    Water Test Performed 5/18 - Evening using Taylor Service Complete Water Testing Kit K-2006C
    Free Chlorine: 0.4 ppm
    Combine Chlorine 6.0 ppm
    pH 7.7
    Alkalinity 130 ppm as calcium carbonate
    Calcium Hardness 600 ppm as calcium carbonate
    CYA 30 ppm (this was the only test I was unsure of because i wasn't sure if i read it the right way but the black dot didn't "disappear until the CYA testing tube area was full. May be lower than 30 but 30 was the lowest reading on the device)

    Background (and the reason why I'm here today):
    I had my pool installed in March of 2014 (6 months after building a new house). So all my equipment listed is just over 1 year old. Due to the concrete and other construction around the pool i waited until all of that was done to get the pool up and running. After a few good thorough cleanings the water looked great. I had a pool at my old house in which I used the sustain system (because the previous owners said that's what they used and since it was my first one, I just followed their lead). In my old pool I rarely had a problem outside of a few algae growths in some super hot periods. Most of the time the water was crystal clear without much maintenance.
    Fast forward to my new pool I expected most of the same because I thought the sustain system was just that good. Once i got into June last year and the weather got hotter I started to see some algae growth. I would go to the pool store, they would give me some shock and a bottle of algae treatment and after a few days I would have it clear again. I'd then add my sustain 3" discs along with the energizer tablets and expected everything to get back to normal. Well i started to go through that cycle almost every week. That's when I first heard about my dreaded phosphate problem. They tested and told me my levels were extremely high and i would need to get rid of them in order for the chlorine to actually work. One bottle, then another, then a commercial strength bottle, then a phosfloc where I would need to vacuum to waste and my phosphate level never got down to where it needed to be. After many discussions with the pool store they came to the conclusion that since I live in a new plan where construction had been constant there must be so much fertilizer in the air with new lawns etc that it's not letting me lower my phosphate levels. I basically dealt with what I could for the remainder of the summer last year trying to treat my pool weekly with 3 oz of algae preventer and 2 lid fulls of phosfree every time i added my sustain treatments with hopes that once the construction is over all this would die down.
    When i opened the pool this year (5/1) there was the normal dirt in the pool due to the mesh winter cover but after vacuuming and adding all the start up chemicals the water was crystal clear. I took my water sample in and again my phosphates were somewhat high (400 ppm). They sold me another phosphate treatment intended to eliminate problems of 900 ppm or greater and I added it. After 48 hours I tested the phosphates again and they suddenly jumped to 2500. Needless to say I was puzzled. This is when I started looking hardcore at this website and other articles on phosphates. I'm clueless at this point because I'm not even sure if it is an issue having them this high. Mostly because my water could not look any better! it's as clear as I have ever seen it and the finish on the bottom of the pool glistens in the sun!! My concern now is that as the weather starts to get warmer I'm anticipating the return to algae and I fear the same cycle as last year where I dropped hundreds of dollars on treatments that seemed to do nothing. Most of the construction in our plan is complete at this point. I just know there has to be a better way. I used those basic test strips throughout last year and my free chlorine reading was always 0 about 8-12 hours after I would add my chlorine dose. Based on my testing above I see that I have trace amounts of FC but there are a few other readings that seem to be out of whack (most notably my CC which the chart says should read 0).
    I'm hoping someone can provide me some feedback of what I can do to balance my water and if phosphates are truly a problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!!!
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Welcome to TFP!

    Most likely some of the CYA got broken down over the winter and turned into ammonia. Ammonia reacts very quickly with chlorine and turns in to combined chlorine (CC). You need to keep adding chlorine until you can maintain an FC level and CC has gone to zero. That may only be a little chlorine or it might be a great deal of chlorine. If you are curious you could pick up an ammonia test kit (sold for fish tanks) to see how much ammonia you have. But regardless the solution is to SLAM the pool (see the directions in Pool School).
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Welcome to TFP!

    Forget everything the pool store ever told you. It doesn't work. Phosphates are meaningless. I have never tested for phosphates or shocked my pool and it is still crystal clear after 3 years of TFPC. I have also never bought a puck. What is a Chlorine: Sustain System?

    The only reason you got algae is because your chlorine level dropped below the minimum level for your CYA. Chlorine demand increases as it gets hotter and more people are swimming, if you aren't boosting your chlorine level as it gets hotter then algae can overtake the chlorine level. The most important thing is to keep your chlorine level above the minimum level for your CYA level on the Chlorine CYA Chart. Allowing FC to drop below the min will let algae start growing. The next most important is to keep your PH between 7.2 and 7.8. We can work on TA and CH later.

    Here is a link to SLAMing Your Pool.

    Here are some intro Pool School articles to read
    TFPC for Beginners
    ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry

    Here are the Recommended Levels for your pool.
    Here are the Recommended Pool Chemicals to maintain your pool and how to add them.
    Use PoolMath to figure out how much to add.

    Also, please change your location to Pittsburgh, PA so we know where you are climate wise.
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Thanks for such quick responses!!! I guess I thought that chlorine product was more widely known that i thought since it's all I've know about pool chlorination. Here's the description from their site:

    The Sustain® 3-Part Pool Care System delivers sparkling clear results!

    1 Sustain® Summer Shield Chlorine Extender is applied at the beginning of the pool season and lasts up to 150 days.
    2 Routine use of Sustain® 3/4-Inch Energizer tablets not only provides shocking protection, but also makes sure that Summer Shield is fully charged with chlorine.
    3 Sustain® 3-Inch Blue chlorinating tablets serve to provide the general sanitizing protection you need all week long.

    So I guess my next step is to SLAM the pool. Looks like I will need to reach 12 ppm FC shock level. Now is this something that I need to wait to do on a weekend so I can constantly monitor?

    Using the calculator do I set my FC goal to the shock value? If so that says I need almost 4 - 96 gallon jugs at the 6% weight to get to that shock value. At that point do I let the FC fall until it reaches my desired state of 4 ppm and then that's when I do my overnight test or do I keep it up around my shock level until i notice it's not falling overnight? Sorry if the answers to these questions are obvious but there's a good deal of uncertainty when you pick up an approach like this for the first time. Hopefully some day I don't feel this way but there seems something weird about just dumping a ton of clorox bleach in my pool.
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Adjust the bleach strength to 8.25% as that is what is commonly sold in stores now. Any 6% you find is likely to be old stock and will have lost some of its strength. During a slam you want to keep as close to shock/slam level as you can for as long as you can until your pool is clear, and CC is .5 or less, and you lose 1.0 or less of FC overnight. The first couple of days it is best to test and bump up the FC to slam level every 2 hours. You'll see when chlorine is lasting longer and you can test less frequently. Once you start seeing results it will make more sense.

    I read up on the Sustain System. The white tablets are Calcium Hypochlorite, and since it says not to mix white and blue tablets, the blue ones must be trichlor. That is probably why you have at least 600ppm for calcium. Test your fill water for calcium. If it is low in calcium you may want to replace some of your water. As for the Summer Shield, it is mostly a sodium chloride brine and the remainder is "proprietary". What the proprietary stuff is I do not know, I do know it is not CYA, which is why you have no CYA in your pool. That is also why your chlorine dropped so quickly on hot, sunny days, there was nothing to prevent the chlorine from burning off in the sun faster than the tablets could release it.

    If you decide to replace water to lower the calcium then do that first then slam if it is still needed. If you do not replace water, lower the pH to 7.0 then start your slam.
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    How long should I wait to SLAM after I treat with Muriatic Acid? I am having a party on Saturday, should I wait until after to start this process? Just wondering if my water would be safer to swim in as it is now or 5 days from adding all this acid and bleach. thanks!
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Acid should fully mix within an hour of adding it if the pump is running. I would suggest starting now, on the SLAM, I will not say if you will be done by the weekend, but it will be better by then than it is now.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Test and add every few hours during your SLAM, or as often as you can. The more you keep it at shock level the faster it will go.

    As for the safety of your water, as long as you test, use the recommended levels, recommended chemicals and poolmath to calculate the dose for your pool it will always be safe. It is safe to swim when your chlorine level is below shock level for your CYA, the PH is between 7.2 and 7.8 and the water is clear.

    When you did the CYA test was the water cloudy at all? Or clear? If clear then you need to get some CYA/stabilizer in the pool, target 30ppm. Put it in a sock and put the sock in the skimmer basket. Squeeze it when you are out there to help dissolve it faster.
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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Even though the water looks nice, with high CC it can irritate eyes and skin. Also if your pool won't hold FC it is not being sanitized and could possibly make someone sick. I would slam first before letting anyone swim.
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    As far as my CYA test is concerned I would have to say that it was not cloudy at all. I had to fill up the test column all the way to the top and I guess it's conceivable that the only reason why the black dot may have disappeared was because it was filled up over the brim creating a visual distortion. Since the lowest marking on the column is 30 then it's possible my CYA is down next to nothing (if not 0).

    Last night I added 72oz of Muriatic Acid to bring the pH down to 7.0 as zea3 suggested. After about an hour of circulation I added 256oz of bleach to start my SLAM. After about an hour of that circulating I took a test:

    FC 17.5
    CC 6.0
    pH 7.0

    FC was up higher that what I intended. I tried to get to 12 (not knowing exactly what my CYA was so I just followed the instructions for 30ppm). Not sure why it was up so high but maybe the uncertainty of the actual CYA level had something to do with it. CC was exactly where it was when I took my first test the night before. I was happy to see that my pH fell to exactly where I intended based on the calculation (who doesn't get excited when they feel like they're started to make sense of all of this???)

    Unfortunately my work schedule will not allow me to test every few hours so I'm going to do it as often as possible. Morning, Lunch, after work at the least today. Will have some time off starting tomorrow afternoon so I can cater to it a little more closely.

    All of my additions happened pretty late last night (10:00 - 12:00am ish). I have to be into work somewhat early so I had to test the water around 6:30 am. I know that's not much time in between readings but it was my only option. Anyway, my readings this morning were:

    FC 16.5
    CC 6.5 (however I'm not sure if it actually went up or if that was just human error over the span of one drop of solution)

    I guess it's good that the FC held as much as it did (even though it was only about 6-7 hours). Not sure if I should expect a drop in CC in that time or not. Hopefully I get a chance to go home at lunch to take a reading and I'll post my progress. As far as bringing up my CYA, can I do this during the SLAM process?

    Thanks to all for your help!!! Feels so comforting knowing that I only have to go from my pool to this website instead of the pool store from here on out!!!!
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Yes, it is always good when FC holds. Yes, you can add CYA in a sock in a skimmer basket. You will need to raise your shock level target accordingly.
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    It's been about 3 days now and I'm pretty much stuck in a holding pattern it appears. Since I've had to work all week I only get a chance to test before work and when I get home. I basically test in the evening and FCC is usually around 7.5. So I bleach up to 12 since I'm working off of a CYA of 30 since I can't seem to get a reading. Right before bed when I test it usually goes a little above 12 and then in the morning it's still about the same. If it dips under I'll add a little more bleach to get back up. My CC however hasn't been dropping at all. It has consistently stayed around 6. Not sure if it hasn't dropped because I'm not home enough to make sure FCC doesn't drop below shock level. Any ideas? I'm having a party on Saturday so to be safe I think I'm going to let the FCC drop to around 6 or so so people can swim. Am I just wasting bleach at this point since I'm going to let FCC come back down? Is the right mindset here just keep SLAMing until CC drops or could there be other factors that is keeping the CC from dropping. Now I didn't expect to fix it in 3 days but I thought I would maybe see somewhat of a drop in CC.
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    No, definitely not wasting bleach, it is doing something in there. It is safe to swim when chlorine level is below shock level, PH is 7.2-7.8 and the water is clear. It takes about a week for CYA to show up on a test.
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    So I had my party this past weekend and I had to stop my SLAM in order to get the FC in a swim able range. I don't think I'm any further along than I was when I started. My initial step was to try to get the CC down but I guess I'm confused as to the order of what I need to do. My test results currently are:
    FC 4.0 (but that's because I have just been adding bleach per pool math to keep it there to swin)
    CC still around 5.0
    pH 7.5 (also because I have been adding Muriatic acid to keep it there per pool math)
    CH 650
    TA 130
    CYA to low to get a reading so I guess it could be anywhere between 0 and 30.

    What is my biggest problem here? What should I attack first? My pool water has been crystal clear after the initial clean post-opening. I have a fiberglass pool but the perimeter top of the wall is lined with tile. Judging by the looks of all my "in range" stats for my pool, my CH seems to be my most out of whack followed by my CC. Should I go in that order? It's perplexing to say the least mostly because visually my water seems to be perfect but I'm trying to make sure it stays that way. Even though CC is high it does not have a bad chlorine smell to it. Are there cases where a high CC doesn't matter? I have more questions than answers at this point and I'm hoping maybe someone can help me lay out a complete plan of attack because it seems that I'm just doing independent fixes and I don't know if it's in the right order. Thanks in advance!!!
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    I was wondering if the "proprietary ingredient" in Sustain's summer shield product could conceivably be something that would cause a high cc (or false cc...eg some oxidizers like MPS do that. So too do other chemicals.)

    (Unknown consequences/ingredients is why TFP generally advises sticking to liquid chlorine/bleach. In your case, your Sustain products aren't adding CYA, which is ultimately a good thing...but they are adding calcium, which ultimately can be too much.)

    Do you intend to switch to liquid chlorine or to continue using Sustain?

    In either case, you likely want to first lower your calcium via partial water change just so that you aren't dumping water that you've just treated. If you continue using Sustain, your ch will continue to rise. If you're switching over its likely best to have a slightly more manageable ch level.

    You could contact Sustain to ask if there's something in Summer shield that would cause a high/false CC reading (the product says it creates a reserve of chlorine for 180 days, but appears to do this without cya...hence the suspicion of he ccs).

    Generally, sustained slamming should ultimately oxidize ccs either way -- and will ensure if the ccs are from a nascent algae fight that you will tip the balance with a win. So after a partial drain, you can follow the slam and see what happens. I have a hunch you'll pass the overnight quickly. The ccs may be a different matter, and depending on what you discover about Summer shied, might not represent an organic problem.

    The levels Sustain purports in its literature are not FC levels known to be adequately preventative here on TFP unless your CYA truly is extremely low all year. Given your outbreaks, I'm guessing that the levels are inadequate. Given the "unknown" function of the Summer shield, I don't think you'll be able to get the control you want using that system.

    So, AFTER your SLAM, if you switch to daily liquid chlorine, maintain about 40-ish ppm of CYA and an FC in the 4-7 ish ppm range, I can also say your phosphate level won't matter one whit.

    (Note: for slamming purposes, don't raise cya higher than 30 ppm to start or it takes a little more chlorine to shock/slam.)

    Properly sanitized/chlorinated water does not allow algae growth to begin with, so it matters not whether there's "food" lying around. Only in low/uncontrolled sanitization scenarios are phosphates remotely germane, and even then, the problem isn't the phosphates...its the ineffective sanitization level.

    See the FC:cya chart in my sig. Follow it and you'll have no worries.

    Sorry this isn't a more straight-forward situation for you but the unknown aspect of Summer shield makes the situation just a wee but "murkier" if you'll forgive the pun.

    Keep us posted and cheers to "trouble free."


    PS I have ridiculously high phosphate levels from a combo of swamp recovery three years ago and a steady diet of phosphonic acid to treat iron-laden well water. I have not ever had a single algae outbreak since joining TFP, and open clean each year. Those are the kinds of results you can expect
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    I do intend to switch to the BBB method once I right the ship completely. However, I did purchase a ton of sustain for this summer so I may try to get out of it what I can. I'll try contacting Sustain to find out what the "other ingredients" really are in their products and if they cause my out of whack numbers (or at least test that show false positives). I have had a few busy weekends but things should slow down after this one and I'll be able to spend a lot more time diagnosing and tweaking under the microscope a little more. Thanks for your help. I will post back when (or if) I get a response from Sustain or after a few more updates on my journey to the BBB method.
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Let us know what Sustain says. Its helpful to know these things to helps others with inexplicably high ccs
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    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Overnight I drained about 35% of my pool and put the hose in it this morning so when I get home from work it should be close to finishing the refill. Goal was to bring CH from 600-650 down to 400-450. My tap water listed about 120 CH so pool math suggested 38% refill. I believe 400-450 is a good range right now. No doubt it will be expensive so maybe my plan is to drain below the jets each fall before closing in order to keep CH in line. I read from another post in the forum that rainfall has no CH in it. My area usually has enough rainfall that I rarely have to fill it with the hose. So hopefully over the course of the year with all the splash out and the rainfall replacement I may be able to lower my CH (as long as I add nothing that would cause it to rise).
    Assuming my CH gets down to the level I stated I think I'll be ready to move on. I need some advice on what to do next. I still have not been able to get a reading on my CYA. My CC is holding steady right around 5.5 and I've just been adding enough bleach each day to get my FC to 3 in order for everyone to swim in safe water. I do want to SLAM but should I wait until my CYA rises? Should that be my next step? Just from reading on here I think that is probably the next thing to do. Since I haven't been able to get a reading on CYA I know it was at least less than 20. After removing about 35% of my water last night I can probably assume that it is much closer to zero now than it was before (assuming it wasn't at zero in the first place - which is probably the case since my FC from bleach burns off very quickly throughout the day). My range for my pool is 30-50ppm. I think i will add enough to target a jump from 0 to 35. I'll use the sock method and make sure I vacuum and clean out my cartridge filters BEFORE putting this in so I don't have to do it for another week.
    What should I do while waiting a week for the CYA to increase? Can I SLAM simultaneously to get the CCs down? I don't anticipate anyone swimming in the pool until at least Thursday evening at the earliest so I have a few consecutive days to keep the FC levels up if need be.
    Thanks in advance as always!!

    I also could not find any way to contact anyone regarding the make up of the Sustain products. I was able to find the MSDS sheets on all the chemicals I normally use but it doesn't explain the PROPRIETARY 15-20% of the Summer Shield. The 3 inch tablets Chlorinating tablets and the smaller Shield Energizer Tablets have the exact same ingredients listed. Not sure if that is a mistake on the sheets or not but it seems that something should be different if they market them differently (unless it's part of a scam which I guess is entirely plausible). Those ingredients are:
    Calcium Hypochlorite 65%
    Calcium Chlorate <2%
    Calcium Carbonate <2%
    Calcium Hydroxide <2%
    Magnesium 0.1834

    Obviously I'm starting to see why my CH levels are so high .......
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Mr Bruce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Greenville, SC
    Posts
    1,798

    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    You just assume the CYA is there until it registers. If it doesn't register after week add more. So put in 30 for CYA in the calculator and add what that says.

    If you drained 30% of the water you lost 30% of your CYA. I don't think your refill was warranted but somebody else might be able to answer that.
    32K gallon Plaster - 1hp Hayward 2 speed Super Pump - Hayward S200 Sand Filter - TF100XL
    Test Kits - Pool Math - Chlorine/CYA/Target/Slam Chart

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    12

    Re: New Member Post - Initial Info and Issue

    Are you saying that CH at 600-650 is not a problem?
    IG Fiberglass 15K Gal, Hayward C2030 4 Cartridge - 84 gpm, Hayward H-200 NG Heater, Installed March 2014, Suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA

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