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
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!!!