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Thread: Borates over 200ppm

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    Borates over 200ppm

    Hey folks first post. Been a pool owner for 9yrs, never ever even looked at borates nor do I think my pool store tested for them until recently.

    My borate level at the bottom of the report was measured at 207ppm
    I've never added any borates to my pool?
    I'm on a well and refilled from winterizing but I don't a have a softener that would introduce borates - not sure what my well has for normal levels.

    Any thoughts?

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    Borates over 200ppm

    New to the forum and posted this in the sticky but know how folks glance past them.
    I've never added boric acid to my pool but at the bottom of my test report from the pool store it said 207ppm?
    I'm not sure if they ever tested for it in the past or if the multi test kits they use are accurate - spectrometer type plastic puck.
    I'm on a well with NO softener and my well water has never appeared hard.
    Normal treatment with Re-Fresh shock, I did have some algae bloom last year for the first time in 7 years, treated and cleared with a copper sulfate based product, metals are below .1ppm

    My knowledge of pool chemistry is adapted from boiler and cooling tower chemistry working in industrial environments - all the stuff folks add to their pools are poisons by themselves but turn into harmless substances when diluted in pools at appropriate levels
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    Any reading around here will lead you to see that we do not trust pool store testing for anything ... especially the digital ones.

    If you never added borates, then your level should be 0ppm.

    I suggest you invest in one of the Recommended Test Kits if you truly are all ears on finding a cheaper way as your signature indicates.

    I merged your post in the sticky to this thread.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    On a side topic about borates there is a very long running thread here on the general subject of them that may interest you So you want to add borates to your pool--Why and How

    Ike

    p.s. I remember spending a VERY unseasonably cold night (in April I think, may have been Sept though) in a tent at the state park on Mt. Cheaha about 15 or 16 years ago, It dropped down to the mid 20's that night (forecast was for mid 30's), and I had bought a new sleeping bag for the trip which I had not tried out, somehow it seems I ended up with a child size sleeping bag even though the packaging did not say anything about it being child size and could only get one arm inside the sleeping bag at a time. Needless to say that was a long night.
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Thanks for the welcome I hope to add some knowledge, I test myself but just bring a sample once a year for comparison when I know I need CYA from winterizing/refill
    This was a blindside that's why I joined.
    My supplier had bad chemicals 9yrs ago and tried to sell me on sodium bicarbonate dosage of 50lbs - when my tests showed normal, they admitted later on their tests were way off.
    I'm more inclined to get an actual test kit for borates my dogs take a lick here and there and possibly more when I'm not around that's why I ask after reading all these hugely informative posts - no idea how I've missed this forum for so long, maybe my pool is always good and costs me little to maintain
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
    Hayward sand filter circa mid 80's
    If there is a way to do things less expensively and yield a superior product I am all ears

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Welcome, Basod.
    Have you ever added any kind of product that said it was an "enhancer"?
    Eg ProTeam Supreme?

    Those enhancers are actually boric acid. ProTeam for example, says to add "once a season." In the fine print, however, it says to maintain to 30-50 ppm.

    I use raw boric acid myself, and find that after a whole season, and winter, I will open to a level of 30 ppm.

    So that's a possibility to explain the otherwise unexpainable
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Unfortunately, most titration-based boron testing is quite expensive and the tests are for much lower levels of boron. Taylor has the K-1541 boron test kit but they sell it for ~$180. It's titration based and the reagents test at most at 0.5ppm/drop. So you would have to seriously dilute your water sample if your boron concentration is as high as 200ppm. Hanna Instruments also sells a test kit too, but again, it's meant to check for no more than 2ppm boron.

    Alternatively, you could buy the LaMotte InstaTest Boron test strips and see if strip color maxes out and then try to dilute the water sample until you get a reading in a normal range. A bottle of strips is like $11 plus shipping on Amazon.

    I think the pool store screwed up the test but the strips might give you peace of mind. 200ppm is pretty far over the recommended limit for pools (30-50ppm with 100ppm MAX) and, out of an abundance of caution, I would not swim until you have it sorted out.
    Matt
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    The test strips should give you a rough idea if you've got borates in the water. If you want to make your own drop-based test, then you can buy two chemicals in this post and follow the instructions in the post that follows it.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    Welcome, Basod.
    Have you ever added any kind of product that said it was an "enhancer"?
    Eg ProTeam Supreme?


    So that's a possibility to explain the otherwise unexpainable
    No enhancer products ever added.
    My normal regimen at opening is refill ~8-10" from winterization, vacuum any fine debris that settled over winter, 2lbs of Re-fresh granular shock dissolved in 5 gal buckets poured at returns.
    I retest after a day and bring my CYA up to 30(drops to 20-25 from winterization) and usually about 4lbs of Alkalinity increaser brings me up over 80.
    After that once a week ~1lb of dissolved shock and everything is usually carefree, a little rebalancing couple times during the summer if it rains a lot.

    Last summer was the first time I had to use any algaecide(copper based product) things got a little out of whack from a bunch of rain. It actually cleared up some light tan stains in the shallow end
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
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    If there is a way to do things less expensively and yield a superior product I am all ears

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Welcome basod!

    That is unusual. I'm not sure Ive heard of a pool store testing for borate before. How strange. Until we know more, I sure wouldn't let that test worry me. Very suspect at the least given these circumstances. Welcome to the forum, and enjoy your time on TFP.
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by basod View Post
    No enhancer products ever added.
    My normal regimen at opening is refill ~8-10" from winterization, vacuum any fine debris that settled over winter, 2lbs of Re-fresh granular shock dissolved in 5 gal buckets poured at returns.
    I retest after a day and bring my CYA up to 30(drops to 20-25 from winterization) and usually about 4lbs of Alkalinity increaser brings me up over 80.
    After that once a week ~1lb of dissolved shock and everything is usually carefree, a little rebalancing couple times during the summer if it rains a lot.

    Last summer was the first time I had to use any algaecide(copper based product) things got a little out of whack from a bunch of rain. It actually cleared up some light tan stains in the shallow end
    There's no borates in the ReFresh Shock, just lots of calcium (cal-hypo, calcium hydroxide, calcium carbonate). And your chlorination method doesn't indicate any reason why the boron test would come up so high. I think it's fair to say the pool store screwed up the test or was interfered with by something in your water.

    Here's a theory - did they test for calcium and accidentally label it as boron? I can certainly see your calcium being very high as your chlorination method relies almost entirely on the weekly use of cal-hypo shock products.

    You should read the Pool School articles, particularly the one about the Trouble Free Pool Care (TFPC) Method and the FC/CYA Realtionship. Based on the limited info you have provided, your weekly regimen of adding 1lb of cal-hypo shock to your water each week would raise your FC up by 2.9ppm and calcium hardness by 1ppm each time you add your bucket of dissolved chemicals. Given that your CYA is 30ppm, your pool water is likely on the very low end of the TFP Recommended ranges and I would bet your FC dips well below the low end of the FC limit. The "brown" stains in the shallow end were probably a mild algae colony that had taken hold in an area of weak pool water circulation or some minor organic staining. TFPC never recommends the use of any metal-based algaecides as they are inferior disinfectants relative to chlorine and are almost never needed.

    I think if you were to convert over to TFPC and start using liquid chlorine (bleach) and follow the recommended levels for your pool, then your pool water would be a lot better in terms of proper sanitation. However, you would likely go from a once weekly care routine to a daily regimen (typically not more than 15mins per day to give the pool a quick check and dump some bleach in and then, perhaps 30mins twice a week to perform the proper water tests). I think the TFPC results would be far superior to what you have now and save you money in the long run (liquid chlorine is typically cheaper to use than granular chlorine products) but only you can decide if the extra time spent on your pool is worth it.

    Just my 2 cents for whatever it is worth
    Matt
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Since we are playing with the pool company..... have them check the borate amount in the fill water. If it isn't there and you didn't add any........

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Thank you for the warm welcome.
    Talked with the pool store a few minutes ago and the tester they have does not actually test for borates - they are supposed to zero the number out.
    She said they do not sell anything with borates nor do they sell the test strips.
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
    Hayward sand filter circa mid 80's
    If there is a way to do things less expensively and yield a superior product I am all ears

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    Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by basod View Post
    Thank you for the warm welcome.
    Talked with the pool store a few minutes ago and the tester they have does not actually test for borates - they are supposed to zero the number out.
    She said they do not sell anything with borates nor do they sell the test strips.
    I think this thread is a good demonstration of why, at TFP, testing your own pool water with a high quality test kit is so critical to good pool care. While the pool store folks might be nice people, no one cares about your pool and pool water more than you. By having a tester that prints out a line for borates even when no such test is performed and then to have a default value in the computer of 207ppm that relies on a worker to zero it out is just silly. It also led you to spend days concerned about a problem that did not exist to the point where you considered buying expensive test chemicals to check on a problem created solely by bad testing methods and practices.

    Buying one of the recommended test kits is expensive, but it's an investment that pays dividends in not having to worry about pool store testing and in giving you, the pool owner, control over your own pool.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    I think this thread is a good demonstration of why, at TFP, testing your own pool water with a high quality test kit is so critical to good pool care. While the pool store folks might be nice people, no one cares about your pool and pool water more than you. By having a tester that prints out a line for borates even when no such test is performed and then to have a default value in the computer of 207ppm that relies on a worker to zero it out is just silly. It also led you to spend days concerned about a problem that did not exist to the point where you considered buying expensive test chemicals to check on a problem created solely by bad testing.

    Buying one of the recommended test kits is expensive, but it's an investment that pays dividends in not having to worry about pool store testing and in giving you, the pool owner, control over your own pool.
    I have a liquid test kit that I use as a reference and bring a sample just for second checking when I open in the spring. Walking in a telling them what you know you need tends to prevent the overselling of unnecessary chemicals. I use drip strips for daily testing of chlorine and pH which prompts me to perform liquid testing if something seems out. The pool gets minimal sunlight(surrounded by trees) so I don't have issues with chlorine stripping as bad as most people do. My shock method has worked for 9yrs basically costing $2-3/week with tri-chlor tabs running in a metered dissolver. This is why I can target 30-40ppm CYA at opening and maintain 2-4ppm FC. I have no idea how much bleach I would be adding to keep sanitation in line, but am currently exploring the site and may surprise myself
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
    Hayward sand filter circa mid 80's
    If there is a way to do things less expensively and yield a superior product I am all ears

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by basod View Post
    I have a liquid test kit that I use as a reference and bring a sample just for second checking when I open in the spring. Walking in a telling them what you know you need tends to prevent the overselling of unnecessary chemicals. I use drip strips for daily testing of chlorine and pH which prompts me to perform liquid testing if something seems out. The pool gets minimal sunlight(surrounded by trees) so I don't have issues with chlorine stripping as bad as most people do. My shock method has worked for 9yrs basically costing $2-3/week with tri-chlor tabs running in a metered dissolver. This is why I can target 30-40ppm CYA at opening and maintain 2-4ppm FC. I have no idea how much bleach I would be adding to keep sanitation in line, but am currently exploring the site and may surprise myself
    If you put your pool details into PoolMath, you can easily calculate all the effects of adding different chemicals on your pool water. The section at the bottom of the PoolMath page lets you input chemical amounts (by weight) and then tells you exactly how it affects your pool water. The only input you need to have in the page is your pool water volume.

    Your pool water chemistry method is pretty typical of most pool owners and if it's worked for you for so many years then I understand the reluctance to change unless there's a clear advantage. I think there is as the TFP method gets away from using stabilized and solid chlorine products and uses nothing more that standard household chemicals (bleach, baking soda, borax and muriatic acid) none of which are terribly expensive. Bleach can be purchased from most of the Big-Box stores for pretty cheap and in fairly large quantities. The other three chemicals are also cheap and the average pool owner only needs small quantities of them on hand to make corrections to water balance.

    As for testing, what kind of test kit do you have (liquid)? Strips, as you'll read here, are pretty much worthless in most TFPers opinion, especially the multi-way strips that attempt to measure every water parameter. The ranges on them are not very precise, the color discrimination is typically very poor and they are easily compromised by humidity and other conditions if not stored properly. The Taylor test kits used here (either the Taylor K-2006 or the TF-100) are what the pros use and are incredibly reliable and accurate. A pool owner with a K-2006 easily out-performs any pool store testing or strip testing. I get that dunking a little test strip in the pool is way easier that sitting down for 20mins with a bunch of dropper bottles, but what you gain in ease you lose big time in accuracy. Many pool owners on TFP find that they can use a simple OTO/Phenol-red test kit for quick daily checks of pH and chlorine and then reserve the Taylor chemistry for a weekly or twice-weekly high accuracy test. That is what I do and it works well for me.

    Good luck and definitely keep reading the site. I lurked on this site (and another pool forum site) for years before joining and I have found the information here on TFP to be the very best of the best. The site is also expertly designed and managed and it's incredible that a site which is basically free of charge is so amazingly helpful. It's a testament to all the dedicated moderators and administrators on the site who donate their time and effort to make it this way. As soon as the wife releases the budgetary funds (she's Chief Financial Officer for the home), I plan on becoming a TFP Supporter.

    Best wishes to you!!
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    I have 5 way drop test kit similar to the Poolmaster brand. Compared to results from the spectrometer at the pool store it is actually quite accurate.
    The dip strips have a bad wrap, really just use a as go-no-go and the CYA test is fairly accurate when you consider you're attempting to stay in a range and don't need precise numbers.
    From the calculator I guess bleach usage would require ~20oz for 1ppm of FC. I may experiment with this and see where it takes me.
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
    Hayward sand filter circa mid 80's
    If there is a way to do things less expensively and yield a superior product I am all ears

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Actually you do need a pretty good number for CYA as that determines what your FC level must be: See FC/CYA Chart.

    Over and over and over again we have seen inaccurate and inconsistent readings from test strips and pool store testing. That is why we consider a good titration test kit as a must have.

    But, if you have had no problems for 9 years and are happy with your water, then we are not here to change you mind or methods.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    Actually you do need a pretty good number for CYA as that determines what your FC level must be: See FC/CYA Chart.

    Over and over and over again we have seen inaccurate and inconsistent readings from test strips and pool store testing. That is why we consider a good titration test kit as a must have.

    But, if you have had no problems for 9 years and are happy with your water, then we are not here to change you mind or methods.


    And, one point that must be always be made, you can not properly SLAM your pool with strips, OTO tests or the pool store. Once your FC goes over 10ppm, the only test method capable of accurately measuring the FC level is the DPD-FAS titration test. Strips will bleach out over 5ppm FC, OTO goes brown and curdled above 8ppm (at least my PoolMaster OTO does) and the pool store will tell you your FC is too high to measure but, magically, assume that they can accurately measure all the other parameters like pH and TA when the chlorine is high (which you can not do).

    Here's a test of the pool store - if you have 3 different stores within a reasonable driving distance, take the same sample of water (in three different containers) to each store and have them test it. Watch and be amazed at the variability in the numbers and "suggested chemicals" to fix it. Pool Stores can usually get pH and FC close, but they are usually all over the map on TA and CH. And they never get CYA right. My local pool store never got CYA correct and they have the lovely habit of reporting anything over 100ppm as "99ppm - OK"....
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Borates over 200ppm

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    Actually you do need a pretty good number for CYA as that determines what your FC level must be: See FC/CYA Chart.

    Over and over and over again we have seen inaccurate and inconsistent readings from test strips and pool store testing. That is why we consider a good titration test kit as a must have.

    But, if you have had no problems for 9 years and are happy with your water, then we are not here to change you mind or methods.
    I get where you're coming from.
    Are pool stores out to sell you chemicals? why yes they are
    Do pool stores hire untrained folks to test your water? why yes they do
    Do I personally think they invest several thousand dollars in a spectrometer tester to give me comparison results(for free) so I don't over/under treat? I say they are good business.

    I probably don't take my pool chemistry as seriously because I haven't had any bad problems, outside of a neighbors dog jumping the retaining wall and destroying my winter cover which set me up for a long spring of shock&Flock - that was a mess.

    As far as CYA levels, once you have achieved a known range(for me 30-40 works) and I'm not dealing with rain pump outs or splash out all I need is 2-4ppm FC to sanitize, dip strip matches drop test kit which matches pool store. Same for alkalinity I have a known amount of water pumped out each year for winterizing and adding water come opening brings me down to the 80ppm range, 3 doses of 4lbs brings me into 100-120 and provided no heavy rain pump-outs it will gradually drift down over the season when I add a bit here and there.
    My CH seems to keep itself in the 200-250 range with little effort, partially well water and calcium from using Re-fresh shock as a chlorinator

    I guess what I'm getting at is my pool maintenance method is CCC - clean chlorinate and cannonball
    30k in ground vinyl lined pool surrounded by decking in the woods.
    Hayward sand filter circa mid 80's
    If there is a way to do things less expensively and yield a superior product I am all ears

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