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Thread: newbie pool questions/time to drain?

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    las vegas, nv

    newbie pool questions/time to drain?

    So in January, I fired my pool guy. I have gotten most of the basics down and most chemical levels seem to be stable in the right area. I did have some questions:

    I have been using chlorine tablets up until a week ago. Does using bleach boost the total dissolved solids more than liquid chlorine or tablets? If so, how much does that really matter? My total dissolved solids are at 1900 right now, and the guy at Leslie's says I'll probably have to drain my pool in a year...

    As far as bleach goes, any particular brand you guys recommend? I was looking at the 3 gallon pack of clorox at sams club...

    For the chlorine, my CYA is high and the chlorine/cya chart says my target chlorine should be 12+. At what point is the chlorine level unsafe to swim? Because the CYA is so high, does that mean the chlorine level would be equivalently harsh on your skin as a lower chlorine level with a lower CYA level? I have a young child, so I don't want the chemicals too harsh for her skin.

    Also, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the difference between total alkalinity and ph. Is it possible to have a ph that is in the optimal level, but a total alkalinity that is too high/low? If possible and that happens, what do I do? Last time I went to the pool store to get my water tested, my ph was 8, and TA was 170. My ph is 7.5 now, but I haven't gotten the water retested yet, so I don't know what the TA is (Basic test kit right now). In theory, should the TA be in the optimal range if the ph is? If the ph is optimal, but TA is slightly off, does that really matter (much)?

    My CYA is at 150 currently, and I was debating about trying that CYA reducer, I know the results have been mixed at best, but since my TDS is at 1900, would it be best to just wait it out and drain the pool once that hits 2500? Should I really wait till TDS gets to 2500 before draining? At what point is it recommended to drain the pool? How often are people generally draining their pools?

    I live in Vegas, and there will likely be water restrictions no later than 2017 as Lake Mead is being depleted, so I have a somewhat narrow window to drain and refill the pool. Don't worry, everything that goes down the drain in this city gets recycled and ends back up in the lake... Its the other 2 states and a country to the south using all the water.

    I know thats a lot of questions... Thanks for any help

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Isaac-1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    SW Louisiana

    Re: newbie pool questions/time to drain?

    Ok there is a lot of stuff to cover here, first off TDS is nearly meaningless in itself, anyone using it to give pool management advice in the 21st century should be looked upon in the way that medical practitioners using bleeding as a cure all are. TDS stands for total dissolved solids, this includes CYA, CH, and salts each of which we have individual tests for today, and each have their own levels at which problems can be expected, in general CYA over 100 ppm is a cause for concern, CH over about 500 ppm and Salt over about 4,000 ppm, so as you can see that TDS of 1900 might be very bad if it is all CYA and CH, but of little to no concern if it is mostly salt.

    Having said that I would suggest biting the bullet and doing a major water replacement, replacing at least 2/3 of your water if you manually chlorinate, this of course assumes that the CYA test from Leslies is correct, which is another whole issue in itself, as we typically find free pool store testing to be worth less than the money you pay for it. As to the issue of trying the new CYA reducer, if you want to gamble your money on it go ahead, but the best results we have seen from people that have tried it is around a 20 ppm CYA reduction, which really would not do much to change your situation.

    My advice is to start off by getting your own quality test kit (I suggest the TF-100 link is in my sig) when you get it post a full set of test reports and then we can give you a better idea of what to do.
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  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    DFW, TX

    Re: newbie pool questions/time to drain?

    Welcome to TFP! Good job firing the pool guy. You are halfway there. Now you just need a good test kit and delete the pool store from your Nav.

    Bleach: any unscented, plain bleach is fine. no easy pour, splashproof, or anything. Just plain. Most folks buy store brand 8.25% bleach wherever they shop. I buy grocery store brand concentrated bleach from Kroger, 8.25%. If the percentage isn't listed don't buy it. And try to buy from somewhere that turns over their stock. Bleach percentage degrades over time. You can also buy 10%-12% liquid chlorine at pool stores or big box stores that is the same thing with a stronger percentage. So, whatever is most convenient and best priced.

    Yes, it is possibly to have a good PH number and too high or too low TA. TA can be adjusted independently from PH and vice versa. I would NOT make any TA adjustments based on pool store tests or test strips, you could do more harm than good. We have seen people torpedo their TA to 0 based on pool store test results and that puts you on a roller coaster ride you don't want to be on.

    +1 on what Isaac says about lowering CYA by at least half to get started and get a Recommended Test Kits. I also prefer and use the TF100 from

    Chlorine level is set based on CYA level and the Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart

    Here are my top 3 pool school articles
    Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry
    Pool School - Recommended Levels
    Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals
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