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Thread: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

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    First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    I just bought a house with a pool. I've been reading a lot on this site for about a month during the closing process. Now that I'm moved in, I've tested the pool, and it's pretty messed up.

    CYA - 85
    FC - .5
    CC - 1
    Total Alk - 0 (sample never turned green like it should. Turned red right away). I'm assuming that's 0.
    pH = 6.8
    Calcium Hardness = 1650! Pool Calculator says to just drain and refill my pool. I'd prefer not to do this. Any ideas

    I have a Appox. 15,000 gallon vinyl pool.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Welcome to the forum.

    You have more than one problem but I would take them one at a time.

    Put in enough 20 Mule Team Borax to get your pH into the sevens....do it in several doses and don't be surprised if it takes 2-3 doses to get there.

    Once you get your pH up around 7.4 or so, retest your TA and report both results.

    How are you testing?

    What does your water look like?
    Dave S.
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Since this is your first post: Welcome to TFP!

    The far more important thing to do is get some TA in there because your pH is probably much lower than 6.8. Add enough baking soda to get your TA up to 70 and see where your pH and TA are from there.

    Second, your FC is way too low for your CYA. You are running a CYA of 90 (always round up to the next ten) so unless you have an SWG you should never have less than 7 FC in your pool. How are you currently chlorinating your pool?

    The only way to lower either CYA or or CH is through water replacement. I understand your reluctance to but having high CYA and high CH is going to make things very difficult. Do you have any idea how it got that high in the first place?
    JD - 28' Round Above Ground Pool, 17,000 Gallons. Dual speed Jacuzzi pump with cartridge filter. Dual speed 1 HP pump, Hayward S210T sand filter
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    What test kit are you using?

    Please add your pool details to your signature as described HERE as it will help us help you.

    Can you explain how you did the CH test? That result is not very believable.
    We should make sure the result is correct before proceeding.

    How did the pH test look? If the TA is really 0, your pH would be in the 4s
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Welcome to TFP! Couple things to help us answer:
    - What test kit did you use?
    - What kind of pool is this and what equipment do you have?
    - Also, your FC is waaay too low. Please see the TFO Chlorine/CYA Chart (link below)
    - PH also quite low (needs to be in the mid-7s)

    Sure, CH is high, but your CYA is also - both could require partial drains which would be resolving 2 things at once.

    But by answering the questions above you might help us all answer. Thanks for posting and welcome to TFP!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Wow, I was slow on the trigger on this one.
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Thanks for all the replies. I hope I'm wrong. I tested the Calcium Hardness twice. to make sure. I'm using the TF-100. I followed the instructions exactly and I used the speed-stir while I was dropping it in. It did not change blue the first time for 66 drops (it says to multiply by 25) = 1650. The second time it took 59 drops to turn blue x 25 = 1475.

    pH test looked yellow, so color matched would be 6.8.

    I tested the CYA twice too hoping it was wrong and both the same result in 80s-85.

    I did the TA test exactly as it said. It should turn green, then you put drops in to make it pink, but it turned pink right away. I don't know how to interpret this.

    So, I bought the house. It was sitting under a cover for a month and a half, so that's why FC and TC are so low. I'm not sure how the calcium level got so high. All I know is the seller didn't really test things, he'd just throw stuff in it.

    I'm now having pump problems as well, so I might have to call a pool guy since I'm way over my head here.

    Water actually looks blue and clear. Just a lot of leaves and dirty which I could vacuum up if I could get the pump working right.

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    What I see is a pool that was probably fed a steady diet of trichlor pucks and dichlor shock which drove the pH so low that it started leaching Calcium out of the pool walls. It's also likely it etched a lot of copper out of the heat exchanger in the heater, if equipped. WHich means copper in the water which means it might turn Emerald green when the pH starts rising.

    My guess is that when you add a bunch of bleach, your CC level will leap up.

    Get the pump working and then drain and refill. That's my advice.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Yes, you're probably right. Ugh. Not looking forward to draining and refilling

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Update: I called the company that installed my pool cover. They came out and fixed a bad junction pipe that went into my pump. They tested my water and found it to be off the charts acidic. They put 54 pounds of baking soda and some soda ash. He said that there is no way that my calcium hardness is 1400, that the super low pH is giving a false reading.

    He said that over-the-counter bleach "oh, no, bleach you buy in the store is not strong enough, not here in Colorado. You need Calcium Hypochlorite." It seems people on this forum do just fine with over-the-counter bleach. Not sure why being in Colorado would make any difference. Does anyone have any thoughts to this?

    I'm a newbie at this. I don't know who is right or wrong due to lack of experience.

    They did verify that the alkalinity was 0 and the chlorine was pretty much 0. They said my pool was still blue because nothing could live in something so acidic.

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Basically, pool stores can not make enough money selling bleach.
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    It doesn't matter how strong the bleach is, so long as it's priced appropriately for the concentration, it's not old, and it's regular/unscented bleach. Use the calculator in my sig to help determine the price per ounce of chlorine. You should try to pay $0.20 or less which means a 121 oz bottle with 8.25% chlorine should be $2 or less. The calculator page lists some stores that others found bleach at that had a decent price.
    17,100 Gal 27' x 52" AGP steel wall vinyl; 44gpm Cooper sand filter; Hayward 1hp sp1580 single-speed; 1.5" plumbing, 1 skimmer/jet, inline chlorinator.
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Mastac, welcome!

    in this case the pool tech's readings pretty much matched your own, and it sounds like they brought you back from your acidic TA crash. So no harm done there. Now its time for you to retest using your kit and to post your results

    However, for the record, many pool techs are not well informed about the research that underpins TFP...their vendors -- the pool chem mfgs, likely prefer to keep it that way

    Weekly service meants they CANT use the TFP method so they really only know about using stabilized products and dumping water when things go wrong. We have a number of pool techs who actually come to TFP to learn more of the science behind it. But they have to manage the pools they serve a bit differently than the simple, daily ways of TFP.

    So the best course for someone new to pools is to stay in control through knowledge and by never adding anything to your pool for which you don't understand the consequences.

    As you've likely read, pucks and powdered shock adds either CYA or CH constantly, and the fact is that if CYA is a moving target you can easily find yourself dosing below the required "kill zone" for effective sanitation -- the chlorine:cya relationship is the single most important scientific underpinning of TFP

    That is why you have more control using liquid chlorine, it is not stabilized" - nothing else in it -- whether its grocery store bleach or 12.5% "pool chlorine" you purchase at a pool store. The only difference is the percentage of strenghth for which you use to pool calculator here to determine your dose.

    If you do use supermarket bleach, the only thing you have to worry about is making sure you don't buy these new "splashless" or scented" kinds, which will cause foaming. I personally use chlorine that I buy in refillable jugs from my pool builder/techs because I don't have to carry as much (as its stronger) and I don't like generating so much waste with empty bottles...our recycle service only comes every two weeks

    But when I recovered my "foreclosure swamp" I used cheap bleach from aldi's and it worked just fine...in fact, it worked in a way my pool tech couldn't...after $700 worth of attempts. I can tell you that the pool tech in question, who still closes for me (winter cover is heavy) and services mechanical for us, says I have the best water in town and is now a believer

    But when people pay him to service their pool weekly and are unwilling to test or dose themselves, then he has no choice but to use the products available to him and fight the ongoing problems they cause.

    You see how that works?

    I hope this helps you feel comfortable using this resource to manage your pool. Others, like the tech, and even some pool store folks, may mean well, but they can't guide you on a process they don't or can't use, so sometimes the advice conflicts.

    Eg "Your pool is green. Put this cal hypo in. You're selling the house? Use a LOT of cal hypo? Still green? Here's some more cal hypo...."

    End result? You were sold a pool that might be, if not 1400, still well above your target parameters for calcium

    So retest and let us know your results.

    Cheers to a trouble free pool!
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielP View Post
    It doesn't matter how strong the bleach is, so long as it's priced appropriately for the concentration, it's not old, and it's regular/unscented bleach. Use the calculator in my sig to help determine the price per ounce of chlorine. You should try to pay $0.20 or less which means a 121 oz bottle with 8.25% chlorine should be $2 or less. The calculator page lists some stores that others found bleach at that had a decent price.
    Walmart and Dollar General are $3.00. Who is selling it for two???
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    He said that over-the-counter bleach "oh, no, bleach you buy in the store is not strong enough, not here in Colorado. You need Calcium Hypochlorite." It seems people on this forum do just fine with over-the-counter bleach. Not sure why being in Colorado would make any difference.
    Stop a minute and think about this. If your CH level is out of sight due to previous owners dosing habits, or even elevated due to the water being acidic. Why would he suggest you add calcium hypochlorite which will further elevate the CH level.

    As Jason said in his post:

    Basically, pool stores can not make enough money selling bleach.
    It is probably more true than we want to admit.

    At this point, my suggestion is to post a full set of test results to see where you are at. If when doing the CH test you get to 20 drops, just stop and report 500+. No reason to waste regents testing something that is that far out of normal range.
    Randy H.

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Tested pH and was still low with a color level of 6.8. I guess 54 pounds of bicarb wasn't enough. I'm going to get the pH under control first and then test for the CH, and I'll post my results. It'll be interesting to see if such a low pH messes with other test results.

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Baking soda primarily adjusts your TA, did you measure that?
    JD - 28' Round Above Ground Pool, 17,000 Gallons. Dual speed Jacuzzi pump with cartridge filter. Dual speed 1 HP pump, Hayward S210T sand filter
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Quote Originally Posted by mastac741 View Post
    Tested pH and was still low with a color level of 6.8. I guess 54 pounds of bicarb wasn't enough. I'm going to get the pH under control first and then test for the CH, and I'll post my results. It'll be interesting to see if such a low pH messes with other test results.
    Baking Soda raises TA without a whole lot of pH change. Washing Soda raises pH and TA. Borax raises pH without much pH effect. It's in Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals

    Also, down near the bottom of poolmath is Effects of Adding Chemicals. You can plug in all your numbers and see what each addition will do up to a point. The pH calculation will be off with huge changes.

    548 ounces of baking soda raises TA by 257, which is waaaaaay too high while only increasing pH by .52.

    Our philosophy here is to only add what the pool needs and no more.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    Good point. Yes, the TA went way high now raising to 220-230ish. This is going to take some time to tweak right.

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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    If your going to drain and refill then I wouldn't worry much about the TA, CH or CYA and probably your best bet in my opinion if your CH levels are in the 1400's. Once your pH comes up you will likely have scaling with CH levels that high. Richard320 knows about high CH levels since he deals with them constantly. The pH is your main concern besides getting algae. Once you drain and refill your TA, CYA and pH will probably come to an acceptable level unless your pH is super low. If you know your fill water test results then we should be able to figure out where your chemical levels will be (except for the pH since we don't know exactly what it is) compared to how much water you need to drain. Do you have an inground pool or above ground pool?
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    Re: First test... 1650 Calcium Hardness. What do I do?

    I have an inground 15,000 gallon vinyl pool. I was hoping my CH was get better if pH was better. It did -- a little.

    pH = 7.5
    TA = 220
    Chlorine = 0. Didn't test FC or TC. There's nothing in it. I did put chlorine in the pool today because with the increase in pH, stuff is starting to grow.
    CH = 750ish
    CYA = 90-100 (I'll need to drain the pool anyway for this)

    I got the pH up to 7.5. There was a bunch of deposits on the bottom of my pool. I waste vacuumed them and refilled the pool to the same level. I was told that I am not to drain completely a vinyl pool because it can collapse in, so I will need to heat the water, drain 1/5 off the top. Put cold hose water in from the bottom. Heat and drain from the top and repeat 5 times. I am going to start tomorrow. I was told to get the pH in check because this can ruin my heating unit. Anyone have experience doing this?

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