I recently bought my first home and it came with an in-ground pool. When I viewed the house the pool was already closed for the season.
I knew nothing about pools. The equipment was a random mess of pipes to me and the bewildering amount of pool chemicals I had seen online was confusing. Basically my knowledge could be summarized as "chlorine keeps a pool clean...somehow".
My original plan was to continue to use the pool company the previous owners had used to open the pool. but having got a quote, I was quickly put off. I started my research, found this forum and the DIY journey began...
May 16th 2015
Here's the pool as it stood once 4 ft. of snow melted and I took a peek under the cover:
First job was clearing out around the equipment so I could get a better view of everything. I went from this:
After I identified all the model numbers, I hit the 'net and downloaded all the manuals. That helped me understand their purpose, how they were connected and their relationships to each other.
I also discovered what diatomaceous earth is. I have yet to discover how to pronounce it though.
Then I read up on drain plugs, expansion plugs and baskets. I couldn't find the skimmer basket, so ordered a replacement. Luckily I was able to find the drain plug for the filter. They were still in place in the pump (it had antifreeze in it).
Next was research and understanding of the SLAM process along with some playing with PoolMath. Once I had a handle on it, I was off to the store for chorine. For me, the best source was a discount store at $3 a gallon for 12.5% I ordered the FAS/DPD test and purchased the HTH 6-way test kit.
May 30th 2015
Time to remove the cover to see what I was dealing with. That's when I hit hurdle number 1. The previous owners left behind a small submersible pump, so I tried clearing the cover with that. After a while of no visible change in the water level, I began to suspect the cover may have had a hole. It had to be pulled off as it was, trying to minimize the junk that ended up in the pool. the result:
Then I started fishing around blindly with the net. Over several days a lot came out! I discovered a squirrel, two birds, a mouse and various Newt type creatures. Suffice to say they were all dead. Although I have photos, I'll spare you them Not pleasant and not what I had in mind when I first thought of having my own swimming pool!
Fishing around in that water to ensure I found all the plugs was not fun either...yuck.
Once that was done it was back inside to the basement to figure out how to turn all this equipment on. Breaker switched and Intermatic T103 timer figured out, I was ready - nervous and excited in equal measure!
I decided early on that I wanted to spend more time enjoying the pool than maintaining it, so purchased this:
At this point I took my first readings:
May 30th 2015
CYA: <30 (minimum reading from HTH kit) - completely clear
This told me I had to go back to the store for stabilizer. I added just under 40 oz in tights in front of the skimmer basket.
Right before flicking the pump on to check it worked okay, I decided to check the pool company had closed it properly and cleaned the filter grids. Part of me wanted to assume it would be fine to speed up the process, but out came the wrenches and the lid came off. This is what I found:
Disappointing to say the least. I tore the house apart to try and find it, as this was my window to start the SLAM process. In desperation I paid a visit to the pool company, who confirmed they remove the grids to clean them at closing, but leave them on the property.
So that was big pool expense #1 and more days lost awaiting delivery...
June 4th 2015
The new grid arrived and looked fresh (not for long, I would discover):
At this point I had missed my opportunity to babysit the pool, so I started it up in recirculate mode. I also thought that this might clear it a bit and save putting too heavy a strain on the equipment.
Then I was ready to begin adding chlorine. I was targeting a shock level of 12.
The first two days my FC was being used up within hours and my CC had risen to 10. After a couple of tests of that I decided to stop testing for CC until the pool was in a better state in order to save on reagents.
Much more debris removal was done, but with the valve just set to recirculate progress was at best very slow, at worst non-existent.
I finally got some time to dedicate to the filter, so got it running. I was not prepared for the pressure to reach backwash levels in 30 minutes Back to the store for a second box of DE.
Once again progress was slowed by the very rapid pressure rises. Even after multiple backwashes the pressure was still up 8-10 PSI in under an hour. The valve spent a LOT of time in recirculate mode.
Eventually the pressure rise slowed, the filter was on for longer and the color change became more visible.
June 7th 2015
I was doing a good job keeping my local store in business:
June 8th 2015
I received a new toy to help with maintenance, but would also be a huge help for this opening:
My sister named him Colin
June 9th 2015
Colin is definitely helping:
June 10th 2015
Real progress being made - Here's a sample of pool water:
and that pretty much brings me to where I stand now...
June 16th 2015
Pressure is now rising much slower (lasts a few days), the pool is VERY clear and I have very little overnight FC loss.
I've re-tested for CYA and it still didn't register. Confused, I've since learnt CYA can be broken down when opening a particularly ugly pool and also that you should avoid backwashing for a week after adding CYA to avoid flushing it out (that seems to contradict all the advise saying to get the CYA in straight away as it takes time to dissolve?).
My patience has been severely tested the last few days, as the improvement has stalled/slowed. I already missed the window for my sister to use the pool and my mum, who is currently staying with me, will be returning home soon so at this rate she won't get to use it either.
I saw 0.5 CC once, but never again...it has been hovering around the 1 - 1.5 range for a few days now. My overnight FC loss is around 1. I REALLY don't want to quit or shortcut it, but the temptation grows stronger every morning I look out the window.
This mornings results:
06/16/2016 @ 09:56
Overnight FC loss was 0.6 (using PoolMath "Effects of adding chemicals" since I added more before bed last night). My frustration has led me to up my chlorine dosage a tad in order to ensure I don't dip under my target 12 for too long, hence why it shows 13 above.
I am really struggling to get over this final hump. I have begun to wonder whether I have either underestimated my pool capacity or have higher CYA levels than I think (or a combination of both). The pool has steps, slopes from about 2ft. to 5ft. but has a sloped perimeter round the edge in the deep end, so the deepest part is in the middle of the pool (if that makes sense). This logic also played into my reasoning to up the dosage a tad. The last couple go rounds I've been using an 11K capacity (up from 10,500) and a target FC of 13.
I read today that the sun helps burn off cc's...well the weather here has been awful the last couple of days, so that won't help. Do I just have to sit and out and wait for better weather?
I'm also gutted about the green tint. I don't believe at this point it is algae (or is it?), but more likely iron. The vitamin C test works on the brown staining on steps, skimmer and returns. My research suggests it will lighten once I'm able to bring the chlorine levels down. But everyone else is associating it with the pool being dirty, which knocks my morale I have Ascorbic Acid on it's way.
My girlfriend is losing patience and confidence I can get this done. She has told me (more than once) I should take a sample to the pool store and follow their advice....it worked for her parents pool.
Right now I need a break from writing this. I will be back with a complete log of all my test results with time stamps, along with a tally of my costs and quantities used to date. Hopefully someone will find my story useful so I can give a little back to the community.
This whole process has been interesting, fun, frustrating, exhausting and exciting all at the same time. Without this great forum I wouldn't have made it this far - thanks everyone for sharing such great information.
Before I sign off here are some comparison shots:
Shallow end steps - May 22nd 2015
Shallow end steps - June 15th 2015
Looking down at a return - May 22nd 2015
Looking down at a return - June 14th 2015
Colin hard at work in the deep end - June 10th 2015
Colin in the deep end again - June 13th 2015