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Thread: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

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    Becominghopkins's Avatar
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    Question Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Hello everyone!
    I'm sure this has been covered at some point, so forgive me.
    We just closed and moved into our house last week. Yesterday we were preparing to shock the pool, or as I call it, the tadpole infested swamp, we had a few gallons of regular household bleach and had brushed the sides, started the pump and already backwashed a few times just to make sure everything was in order. Our new neighbor comes outside, and says I wouldn't do that, she converted that pool to bromine 2 years ago. So, being from North Carolina, clearly we were like OK, what is bromine? Nobody around here uses that. Which leads to my first question, WHY??? Would she do that?
    Anyway, we did find a huge bucket of bromine tablets in the basement, and what appears to be a place to put them beside the pump.
    So we stopped what we were doing right then. Because obviously we had no clue what to do from that point on.
    Its a fairly small pool, 4 feet deep, below ground, just enough for 3-4 adults to float around and maybe play some volleyball.
    The test kit looks EXTREMELY complicated. its digital, nothing I was used to as a kid (a LONG time ago) when we had our pool, where we just had test tubes and put the drops in. Its like a little mini computer that reads out all these digital numbers. I just sat it down and walked away frustrated thinking this has to be easier.

    So, question number 1, what was the benefit of even switching this over? Why would we want to spend the extra money on bromine vs chlorine? We budgeted a chlorine pool when purchasing, not bromine. (yes we should have asked, but keep in mind, NOBODY here uses anything but chlorine or salt, and it obviously wasn't salt, so the question never crossed our mind)

    Question 2, would we conceivably be able to switch to chlorine, or at least use bleach along with the bromine tablets to even everything out now that it essentially has nothing in it but algae, since we just closed, with two kids, on city water, draining the pool and refilling it not an option, unless we just don't open it this year, which would highly disappoint them.

    Now just for giggles, I called the local pool store and explained the situation, he said I could switch. But I needed to bring him a water sample today. Which, I am doing so there's that. Also thinking of purchasing a simpler tester kit while I'm there.

    Any advice much appreciated.

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Yes you can switch and you should IMO. Don't buy anything at the store yet. We suggest two kits, neither one is digital, but lets talk more before you order one. There may or may not be enough of a bromide bank to worry about. Your digital kit may (likely) have old bad reagent, and may or may not read accurately anyway. Get a good fresh kit and take those doubts out of the equation.

    Cick the links in my signature for test kits, and Pool School you should start on soon. When you get ready, begin with ABCs, and move on from there.
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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    First off... the local pool store is likely not a good option. They're likely going to try to sell you on things you don't need, like a special (non-existent) bromine to chlorine switch regimen.

    The short answer: once a bromine pool, always a bromine pool until you drain and refill. BUT... you can switch and have a combo pool for a while.

    The long answer: Bromine remains in the pool as bromide even after it has oxidized organics/bather waste. Adding chlorine or other strong oxidizer will immediately convert bromide in the pool to bromine, which will act as a sanitizer. Over time, bromide does break down but it takes time and how long until your pool is bromide free depends on how high the bromide concentration is to start with. Most of the time it's high if bromine tablets were used because they continually add bromide to the water as they dissolve. A bromine pool can be maintained by using bleach (chlorine) to convert bromide to bromine. However, bromine does not have any analog to CYA and its relationship to chlorine. Check out Pool School ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry for details on what CYA is. Bromine has no protection from UV light (sunlight) so it is burned up quickly and it's difficult to maintain bromine levels for sanitation. It's more costly to manage a bromine pool because of this. Bromine is a suitable sanitizer for spas and small indoor pools but it's far inferior to chlorine for outdoor pools.

    You will need a proper test kit in any case and getting yourself a recommended test kit is the first step. Check out Pool School - Test Kits Compared. The TF-100 is the best value overall but the Taylor K-2006 is also sufficient. The FC test in these kits also tests for bromine (with a multiplier/factor) but cannot distinguish between them. No readily available test kit can (that I know of). You simply have to know if your pool is chlorine or bromine.

    I can add more later, but please use the search box on the forum and search for bromine or bromine pool and you should get some informative threads.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    I see you say you cannot drain and refill. May I ask why? If it is the cost many places will not charge the sewer part if you call and tell them you are filling a pool so that should help.

    I so want the kids to be able to swim!

    We will find a way to have them swimming. Do some searching using the search box at the upper right of this page. I will do some when I get home.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    This thread is probably the most similar to your current situation and worth the read.

    Conversion of bromine pool to chlorine
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Thank you everyone! The good news, we took the water sample to the pool store, there was zero bromine, zero chlorine, zero anything but algae lol. They were very familiar with the previous owner and the pool, knew the gallons, (10,000) the size the location of the drain and skimmer, everything.
    So he said if we wanted to change over now would be the time. .
    My husband came home with a bucket of shock, tablets, algaecide, not sure what kind and a myriad of new things he thought he had to have including a super sized skimmer net.
    We skimmed and vacuumed a few hours and got most of the large debris out including a bullfrog on steroids.
    Put the two scoops of shock in and algaecide and left the pump running last night after backwashing and rinsing.
    Bad news -
    Got up this morning to check, no pressure at the skimmer, its not pulling water through it, it was clean, or cleanish, and there is little to none coming through the jets from what I can tell. We just turned it off because both of us had to be at work and had no time to check anything.
    HOPEFULLY it just needs another backwash, it looks like it pulled a lot of the algae out last night. The skimmer basket was clean, the water looked different, still somewhat green and cloudy but definitely a different color and a lot less algae debris. Sooooo, we shall see when we get home. Hopefully its not a clog and a backwash will clear it up.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    I am willing to bet it does need a good backwash! Don't forget to run the rinse cycle after the backwash. It resets the sand.

    Can you please do something for me? Set up your signature. Go to settings (top right of this page), edit signature (middle left). Put in kind of pool, size in gals, type of filter and what test kit you have.

    If you do not have a test please think about getting one. It will make your Pool life SO much easier! The on in my siggy is the best bang for the buck.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Before you go crazy with shock and tablets you NEED to understand the CYA/Chlorine relationship. Solid forms of chlorine add things to your pool that you don't want too much of and do not go away unless you drain the pool. Specifically, CYA (aka cyanuric acid). You need CYA in a chlorine pool but too much is a bad thing. If you've read the ABCs, then also check out FC/CYA Chart.

    To properly deal with algae, this is the way: SLAM Not some pool store upsell on shock, floc and clarifier. SLAMing the pool is a step based method that tells you definitively when all the algae has been eliminated.

    Algaecide does nothing to kill algae. It's useless after an algae outbreak. It's a preventative chemical only.

    Your filter likely just needs a thorough backwashing...
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Yes, please heed what JVTrain is telling you. This is why I suggested not buying anything yet.

    You also won't be able to complete a SLAM on this pool without a proper test kit.
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick_B View Post
    Yes, please heed what JVTrain is telling you. This is why I suggested not buying anything yet.

    You also won't be able to complete a SLAM on this pool without a proper test kit.
    Yeah I stood there watching the algaecide going in with my lips clamped and teeth gritted.
    I said no more pool store for you! Off to walmart I shall go.


    We have a test kit, but like I said it looks complicated. I'm going to try my best tomorrow on my day off to figure it out and if not I'm not going to order one this weekend.

    I will add my signature now .

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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    JVTrain says, "No readily available test kit can (that I know of). You simply have to know if your pool is chlorine or bromine," but also says, " Bromine has no protection from UV light (sunlight) so it is burned up quickly and it's difficult to maintain bromine levels for sanitation," yet the pool store did a test to say there is no bromine in the pool. Are you sure? What test did they do? Is is just such that the Bromine has all dissipated to the atmosphere? If so, you have no sanitation and need to get the FC levels up right away with bleach.. A lot of it, but with frog larvae swimming about, I'd just drain and refill. I'm not sure why this isn't an option.

    BTW, which test kit do you have? Non of them are complicated at all. Just read the directions and follow them.

    I could be wrong. I have been before.

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post
    JVTrain says, "No readily available test kit can (that I know of). You simply have to know if your pool is chlorine or bromine," but also says, " Bromine has no protection from UV light (sunlight) so it is burned up quickly and it's difficult to maintain bromine levels for sanitation," yet the pool store did a test to say there is no bromine in the pool. Are you sure? What test did they do? Is is just such that the Bromine has all dissipated to the atmosphere? If so, you have no sanitation and need to get the FC levels up right away with bleach.. A lot of it, but with frog larvae swimming about, I'd just drain and refill. I'm not sure why this isn't an option.

    BTW, which test kit do you have? Non of them are complicated at all. Just read the directions and follow them.

    I could be wrong. I have been before.
    The pool store did a test... who knows which one and it said there's no bromine in the pool. It also said there's no chlorine in the pool, because it's the same test. The drop based test by Taylor cannot distinguish between them, but is accurate. The computer based test at some pool stores cannot distinguish between them and is inaccurate. Either way, you have to know if it's one or the other.

    Bromine is consumed just like chlorine. If there's algae, there's likely no bromine or chlorine if none has been recently added. There certainly could be bromiDe in the pool, making it a "bromine pool", but test kits do not analyze for bromide, only bromine.

    Digital test kits (as Becominghopkins indicated they inherited) can be complicated to operate and are prone to error if they are not calibrated frequently. Drop based test kits are more fool proof and I agree that they are not complicated, once you've performed the test a couple times. That should be priority one. Getting a good test kit.

    You are right about draining. If it's a total swamp, you can save some money by doing a partial drain, removing many of the organics. If it's a mild to moderate algae outbreak, draining doesn't pay off as much.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Becominghopkins View Post
    We have a test kit, but like I said it looks complicated. I'm going to try my best tomorrow on my day off to figure it out and if not I'm not going to order one this weekend.

    I will add my signature now .
    Tell us or show us a picture of your test kit. We can/will walk you through it if we now which one it is.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Listen to Joel. If bromine was put in this pool, then it is a bromine pool. Adding chlorine will only reactivate the bromine. You CAN NOT distinguish between bromine and chlorine on ANY pool test kit. All tests for sanitizer measure just that, the total sanitizer level. So if you have a mix of chlorine and bromine, it measures the sum total of those two components.

    There is also another factor here - bromine tablets have a chemical compound in them called DMH. DMH is used to partially (albeit not very effectively) stabilize bromine from UV loss. The DMH is not very good at stabilizing bromine, but it does work a little bit. The problem is DMH also keep bromine from being converted into more volatile bromine compounds that would normally leave the pool and decrease the bromine levels over time. So, since it looks like brominating tablets were used, your water likely has a very high concentration of DMH in it.

    My suggestion is this - don't mess around with trying to fix this. Drain the pool as much a possible, and if a 100% drain is not possible, then do several large fractional drains (like 50% each time). While partial drains will not fully remove the bromine, a few heavy drains and refills will eliminate the lion's share of it and give you more control over your pool. Also, use rain water overflow to dilute the pool water as much as possible - you need to either drain some before it rains or let the rain over flow the pool or drain some water after rain has filled the pool up.
    Matt
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    I'm not sure about the test they did, my husband went because he got off an hour earlier that I did. This is just what he told me, he said they took our water, separated it, and put it in a "machine". I asked if it was a computer and he said no. We know two people that use these guys in our small town, and they love them, one is my mother-in-laws neighbor, who always has the most gorgeous pool, but that don't mean I want to keep paying a fortune for overpriced chemicals! The other "big" pool stores are in the big city next to us, this place is run by father and son. Anyway, after it went through the machine, he told my husband, you have zero chemicals in this water, nothing, what you do have is a LOT of algae. He said you can stick with bromine, since you have all those left over chemicals, or you can switch now, the choice is yours its your pool. My husband took him pictures of the pool, the pump, everything. But like I said he already had our pool in his database, that's how we actually found out it was 10,000 gallons yesterday.

    So, the reason draining is not an option because everyone keeps asking, we are a newly married blended family with 2 school age kids, both of us work two jobs, and saved for two years to buy the house so we could get out of my mother-in-laws. It took every dime we saved, starting over, had to buy the kids beds, dishes, towels, everything. We have literally worked non-stop, days, nights, weekends to do this. Our water is city water that is piped out to us in the country and it is VERY expensive per gallon. We can drain the pool, but we will not be opening it, not this year at least, it will have to wait until everything evens out. Next year, possibly even the year after. We are now on a strict budget that does not even include CABLE , so we could budget in the pool for the kids. So there you have it, that's why I'm not draining the pool, or rather not refilling it. But the upside to this, is I could probably get cable without the pool expense!!!
    We have drained it almost below the skimmer twice simply by backwashing since Monday.

    I will definitely take a picture of my test kit and post it tonight. I'm sure someone knows exactly what it is and can tell me whether to toss it and never look at it again, and buy a new one, or keep it.

    Should I sneak out there and take the chlorine tablets out of the feeder until I figure everything else out?
    Below Ground
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    pool3.jpg
    Here's the state of the water earlier this week, versus the water this morning after he shocked it last night, and put the algaecide in it. I've been trying to post that for an hour, duh
    Below Ground
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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    I hear what you are saying and am VERY proud of you for being able to do what you have done! NICE JOB! There are several of us thinking about your pool to see what is best for you short term and long term.



    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    I understand the predicament. My only concern with this pool being a bromine pool is that you are going to experience very high chlorine demand, i.e. adding lots of chlorine everyday, to keep the sanitizer level up. Since the the normal chlorine stabilizer that is used in chlorine pools (cyanuric acid, or CYA) is of no help in a bromine pool, you're only option is to constantly feed this pool chlorine (in the form of liquid chlorine or bleach) to keep the bromine levels up in the 2-4ppm range. There's no telling what that is going to look like, how much you'll need to add and how often you will be adding it. The chlorine demand could be so high that you might never experience the savings that most of see here running a standard chlorine pool.

    On the upside, shocking this pool with bromine in it should clear it fairly quickly because bromine is a very effective algaecide even when it is in the form of a combined bromine unlike combined chlorine which is not very good as an algaecide. So I think you can follow something like the SLAM procedure we have here but, since you are working with bromine, you won't need to adjust the Br levels based on CYA because there is no CYA in the water. You'll have to just get the bromine levels up to about 20ppm and hold them there until the pool clears. Perhaps the pool store that the previous owner used has some idea as to how often bromine tablets were added and if any chlorinating liquid was used??

    Basically, this is all uncharted waters here. If you have to run it as a bromine pool for a year or two, that will work but you're going to spend more money doing so. Once you get stable financially, then maybe you can consider draining the pool and starting over with fresh water.
    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: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    In some areas the fire department will "test their equipment" in your pool.. for free. Worth checking into that, especially given your miraclous circumstance. Kuddos to you!

    I know all about the costs involved with blending families but we were able to do it much easier than you and for that I am gracious.

    We definitely do not want you to spend money unnecessarily for sure but not completely switching from bromine to chlorine looks to cost you more in the long run.


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    Re: Just purchased - found out pool is bromine. What now?

    Any updates here?
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