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Thread: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

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    Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Hi there. My husband and I recently bought a house with a pool. The pool was opened last week by a company, and it was nasty. The previous owners left us all the equipment and we have since begun to figure out how to work most of it. We ran the Polaris for a bit and most of the dead leaves came to the surface and I was able to skim them off. The rest is what I assume is dead algae - as a result of brushing the liner. I have held off with vacuuming until the rain clears up around these parts.

    Yesterday I went to the nearest pool store and had the water tested. They told me I had no chemicals:
    FC: 0
    TC: 0
    pH: 0 ?
    TA: 0
    CYA: 0
    Total Dissolved Solids: 500
    They told me to start by adding 5 lbs soda ash and 5 lbs alkalinity up, and come back and test water again.

    Today I had the water tested again at the store:
    FC: 0
    TC: 0
    pH: 6
    TA: 0
    The rest of the sheet is blank. They suggested the same as yesterday. I bought the silly 6-way test strips as an attempt to save time/energy/gas. I added 5lbs of soda ash and 5 lbs alkalinity up and tested after 2 hours with the strips:
    Hardness: between 100-250
    TC: 0
    FC: 0
    pH: 6-ish
    TA: close to 40
    Stabilizer: 0

    Because I had it on hand, I added 4 lbs of baking soda and 4 lbs of borax and waiting for it to circulate. I have yet to add bleach, as I've read it will burn off if the alkalinity and pH aren't right. Is this correct? I have one of those chlorine pucks in the floater-thing.

    The pool store also said not to worry about vacuuming until I get the chemicals balanced. True?

    Please let me know if I am on the right track (and if you are missing and critical info to answer my questions). Thanks in advance.
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Hi and Welcome...the folk that "opened" - did they add any chems? Or just hooked it all up?

    Have you checked out the Pool Calculator?

    If you plug in your numbers, you'll determine how much of which chem to add to get to the recommended levels. You use your current test results in the "now" column and your recommended level (listed in Pool School) in the "target" column. Hit calculate and voila! How much to add.

    I got:
    2.2 jugs (182oz) of 6% bleach to raise your FC to 10
    13 lbs of soda ash (or Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda) to raise your PH to 7.2
    14 lbs of Baking Soda to raise your TA to 90
    7 lbs 15 oz of CYA to raise your stabilizer to 50

    Don't worry about the hardness, since you have a vinyl pool it's probably fine where it is.

    To take total control, you need one of the recommended test kits. You can't rely on test strips because they are very unaccurate. You don't want to rely on Pool Store advice/testing, it's often poor.

    As your CYA raises, so will your FC levels - refer to the chart.

    Save the pucks for vacations, for now - stock up on bleach as it may take some time to get the FC to hold. That initial dose will not last long, and you have to keep adding the FC especially when killing algae and when your CYA is 0 as all of it will be consumed rather quickly by the algae and the sun.

    Hope this helps.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Oh yes - the FC doesn't burn off from the TA and PH not being right. Has nothing to do with that - it's actually because you have 0 CYA or stabilizer. The CYA protects the FC from sunlight destruction.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Hi, Tracy,

    Welcome to the forum. First chance you get, read the ABC's of pool water chemistry up in pool school and get a basic grasp of what the different parameters are and how they need to be adjusted.

    1.
    I have yet to add bleach, as I've read it will burn off if the alkalinity and pH aren't right. Is this correct? I have one of those chlorine pucks in the floater-thing.
    No, the Sun will consume the chlorine quickly but TA (alkalinity) and pH do not play a significant part in chlorine consumption

    2.
    The pool store also said not to worry about vacuuming until I get the chemicals balanced. True?
    Well, not really. If you have any solid matter in the bottom of your pool, you wioll be smart to get it out as soon as possible.

    Here's what I suggest as a start in clearing your pool

    A. Get your pH up into the mid 7'sd with 20 mule team borax. Your water is in a corrosive condition and you need to do this sooner rather than later.

    B. Once that is done, clean as much solid matter out of the pool as you can.

    C. Read two more articles in pool school....."How to shock your pool" and "Turning your green swamp into an oasis"

    That will trigger several questions, I'm sure, and you'll get a ton of help here on the forum from lot's of knowledgeable people.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    TizMe's Avatar
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    I agree with Duraleigh !!
    Les
    Don't have a pool right now. Just sharing what I have learned over the years!
    Helpful Links:
    Pool School,Pool Calculator,Cl/CYA Shock Chart,TF Test Kit
    Doing BBB and loving it!

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Here's what I suggest as a start in clearing your pool

    A. Get your pH up into the mid 7'sd with 20 mule team borax. Your water is in a corrosive condition and you need to do this sooner rather than later.
    To quote Waterbear:

    If both pH and TA are low use soda ash to bring up the pH and when pH is in line use baking soda to bring up TA the rest of the way (which will cause pH to rise slightly more).

    If pH is low and TA is fine use borax.
    So I think the OP's situation, Soda Ash is a better choice, do the PH first and then use baking soda the rest of the way.

    Not to pick a fight or nothing....
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Hi Tracyd21 and welcome to the forum

    You certainally have a pool with issues!

    You have gotten great advice. Just wanted to chime in and suggest that you do not add all the recommended chems at one time.

    First, start with increasing your pH, but do not add all at once. Add about half, circulate for 30 mins. and then retest to see where you are.
    Then add some more, circulate for 30 mins., retest and creep up on your goal number.
    (You do not want to overshoot, but if you do, make sure you have some muriatic acid on hand to reduce it.)

    Use the same technique with the baking soda to increase your TA.
    REtest your TA after adjusting your pH, and then add about half the amount you think you will need and creep up on it.
    I suggest you only increase your TA to 70 (instead of 90) for now. (It is easy to increase it, but difficult to lower it.)

    You will need a good test kit to take control of your pool. There is an article in Pool School comparing kits.
    My fav is the TF100 sold by duraleigh of TFTestKits.net. Best bang for the $ and fantastic service.

    Read Pool School! It is the best place to start

    You have a lot of info to absorb, so take it easy. Post back any questions you have.

    We want to help you with your pool and we're glad to have you.
    TFP Moderator TF100 Test Kit TF100 TestKit YouTube Channel PoolMath
    You're done SLAMing when:
    1)You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & 2)You have .5ppm CC's or less, & 3)your water is clear.

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Thanks for the details responses!

    I went out and found washing soda - at Wegman's! I added about 12 lbs. I also added 182 oz bleach and 12 lbs of baking soda. Will test again in the morning and let you know how I did.

    In the meantime, I need CYA. Is this something I get at a pool supply store? I will make a run and pick some up tomorrow.
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Quote Originally Posted by tracyd21
    Thanks for the details responses!

    I went out and found washing soda - at Wegman's! I added about 12 lbs. I also added 182 oz bleach and 12 lbs of baking soda. Will test again in the morning and let you know how I did.

    In the meantime, I need CYA. Is this something I get at a pool supply store? I will make a run and pick some up tomorrow.
    CYA, also sometimes labeled as conditioner or stabilizer, but contains cyanuric acid. Can be found at Lowes, HD, hardware store, WallyWorld, pol store.
    TFP Moderator TF100 Test Kit TF100 TestKit YouTube Channel PoolMath
    You're done SLAMing when:
    1)You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & 2)You have .5ppm CC's or less, & 3)your water is clear.

    ~ One should not use a sledge hammer to swat a mosquito. ~

    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    Oh no - I did add everything at once!!! Yikes...I hope I don't screw anything up

    Hopefully because I went slightly under the recommended amounts, I will be okay? I figure the bleach will burn off anyhow since I have no CYA at home...
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    At this point what's done is done; run some tests and see where you are, and we'll just proceed from there.

    Did I read that you just have some strips? You're much better off with a real test kit. There are two that have everything we like: the Taylor K-2006, also sold by Leslie's as the FAS-DPD Service Kit; and the TF100 from tftestkits.net. Basically besides the "usual" stuff you get a CYA test, and the FAS-DPD chlorine test which has a much wider range than any other kind and so is ideal for when you shock the pool. You can also get the HTH 6-way kit, which I believe Walmart carries, and augment with a FAS-DPD kit purchased separately. So, lots of options.
    --paulr
    BBB "Intermediate Swimmer"
    IG plaster pool 18.5K gal, Hayward Pro-Grid DE filter, 3/4 HP Hydramax II; Polaris 380, 3/4 HP booster
    AG spa 325 gal, probably Sundance of some kind
    Water testing instructions on one page

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    That is correct - I have test strips. Being the ignorant pool owner that I am, I bought them since they claimed to test 6 things, as opposed to the 2-way dropper tests I saw at Kmart. Since it's 1am, a real kit will have to wait until tomorrow

    I just used a strip to see if I had any color change, and it looks like TA is going up. pH still looks a little low an hour after adding all the other stuff, so I added 55 oz. washing soda just a minute ago. Will test in the morning and report back.

    Will have to buy some CYA and muriatic acid tomorrow, as I'm sure I screwed things up tonight.

    Thanks!
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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    reebok's Avatar
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    don't buy just whatever kit unless you plan on buying two (one to hold you over then a good one because a good one will have to ship). see the recommended test kits in pool school. the one from tftestkits.net is a better value if you're starting from scratch, and it will almost definitely get there faster.
    16x32 21,000 gallon in-ground exposed aggregate, 1.5hp pump, 120 sqft catridge filter, birdcage, solar panels, aquavac tigershark qc robot.

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    If that pool store told you that you had absolutely nothing, as in "0" for each category. I would strongly recommend you to go somewhere else.

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    It sounds like it is too late now, and it shouldn't be a huge problem, but when both PH and TA are really really low you should either:

    * add soda ash/washing soda in batches, allowing to mix in and retesting after each addition, until the PH gets up to around 7.0 to 7.4 and then retest TA to see if the TA needs further adjustment to reach your TA target level (which depends on your chlorine source, see the recommended levels chart in Pool School).

    or

    * add baking soda to raise TA to around 50 to 60, retest PH and if it is lower than 7.0, adjust PH to around 7.0 to 7.4 with borax (which may involve several add/mix in/test cycles), then retest TA to see if the TA needs further adjustment to reach your TA target level (which depends on your chlorine source, see the recommended levels chart in Pool School).

    but not both.

    Using soda ash is generally better, since it will adjust both PH and TA in about the right proportions. But using both baking soda and borax is fine, it just takes a few more steps and costs just slightly more. When you are adjusting really really low PH, you want to do it right away, so you want to use whatever you have on hand or can get hold of quickly, rather than wait till you have the "correct" chemical. If you have access to everything, then use soda ash/washing soda.

    Adjusting TA changes the PH and adjusting PH changes the TA, so you don't want to make both the suggested TA adjustment and the suggested PH adjustment without retesting in between to see how much the other one has changed.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    As predicted, I screwed up!

    I added too much of something and it is sitting on the bottom of the pool. But the water is blue now!!!! It was green yesterday. I guess that's good?

    Bought the test kit at Wal-Mart - going to have to deal with this for now:
    TC: 2
    TA: 150 yikes!
    pH: 7.2
    CYA: 50ppm

    Of course, I don't have muriatic acid at home. The previous owners have some pH decreaser (sodium bisulfate) - there's less than 3 lbs left.

    I have the filter running, as to try and dissolve the gunk. What to do???
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    150 is high but not disasterous. Don't worry about it for now.

    Do you have a pole-brush so you can break up what ever is sitting there? Something to get it to dissolve?

    How did you get the CYA up so fast?
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    My guess is the CYA was in there all along - and my test strips stink? I don't know (obviously!)!

    I will brush the bottom for now. Does TA ever lower itself? We've had a ton of rain - don't know if that matters.

    Side note - I am leaving for vacation tomorrow night. Will my pool be safe for the solar cover if these numbers remain constant? Do I add a puck to the floater for the week?

    Thanks!
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    OMG you are leaving for a week?

    The Pool Store results also said you had zero CYA. So you are saying you didn't add any?

    Your chlorine is too low right now. Refer to the CYA chart - you need to keep your FC levels up according to your CYA level. You NEVER want your FC below 4 to prevent algae.

    You need to shock your pool up to 20, and your wallyworld test kit only goes to 5...

    You need to keep shocking until:

    You lose less than 1ppm of FC overnight;
    your CC is .5 or less;
    your water is clear.

    You don't want to use pucks if you can avoid it - as they lower PH and raise CYA. Pucks are not what you need right now, bleach is. Is there someone who can come over and dump in bleach each evening while you are gone (while the pump is running)? (I would shock and cover it, the cover will reduce chlorine loss, however the sunlight is helpful for breaking down CCs. Don't use a floater if the cover is on.)

    If there is no one to help while you are gone you may be backtracking and have to start over when you get back.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Bought a house, got a gross pool - attempting BBB

    I did not add any CYA. I bought 15 lbs though.

    What are CCs?

    If no one is able to dump in chlorine, do I not chlorinate it at all? And I take the floater out altogether?

    For consistency's sake, i tested with a test strip to see what it said for CYA. The color chart indicates somewhere between 50 and 100 now. I don't know how this happened.

    By shocking, you mean just adding bleach, right? Sorry, I've read all the info several times, but I am sure what you mean when you say "shock up to 20" - I am looking at the pool calculator and can't figure out how much bleach would bring me to 20 (and I have no clue what the number 20 means).

    Ahhh! This is why I didn't want a pool
    15'x30' 19000 gallons, IG vinyl liner, DE filter

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