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Thread: Starting to not trust my pool guy

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    Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Hi everyone


    First off, thanks for reading and helping me. This forum is amazing, full of a ton of information, and I know I'm just starting to scratch the surface. That said, here's where I stand:


    We purchased a house about 4 years ago (TX area) with an in ground, approx 35,000 gallon pool built in the mid 1970s. Goes from ~4' to 9' (maybe 10). It was clearly resurfaced some number of years ago, and clearly will need to be redone in the next few years. Previous owners did a lot of things themselves to a pretty low degree of success around the rest of the house, so I full expect that whatever they did with the pool and equipment to be par with that. We have a pool guy that does a bunch of other pools on the street - charges ~$40/week, and from what I can tell all he does is toss a few chlorine tabs in every week and vacuum it with a long pole and the flat 6"x12" vacuum attachment. Wham bam $162.37/month thank you ma'am. I'm super handy and this is my first pool - but I know I can do what he does and save myself some cash. We also have a Polaris 360 pressure cleaner thing, of which I've replaced every single internal part, and I'm sick of it. What a piece of junk.


    Recently we've noticed a ton of dark grey grit in the pool - Mr Cleaner Guy says we need to replace our DE filters, but the more I read about it the more I'm convinced I can just clean and recharge the DE system, and not have to spring for new filters and all of his labor costs. I'm also thinking that if I can dump the guy, a nice shiny robotic vacuum cleaner pays for itself by mid summer.


    Here's where I'm stuck: I'm super intimidated to crack open the pump/filter/etc unit without really understanding what I'm looking for. I know there are certain pressures and levels I'll need to watch, but other than that I'm worried about getting stuck and having to throw a few hundred dollars (or more) at Mr Cleaner to fix it. Since I'd be removing the Polaris pressure cleaner, I know I'd be messing with the water volumes in/out of the system, so I want to make sure I'm doing things right (unlike my predecessor).


    So my questions:
    1) There's 5 PVC ports going down into the ground. Where is water flowing to/from? I know I have:
    a) A drain at the bottom of the pool (suction)
    b) A skimmer at the surface of the pool (suction)
    c) A small nozzle pushing (presumably clean) water into the pool (pressure)
    d) A large hose pressurizing the Polaris 360 (pressure)
    e) A drain which pumps pool water into the sewer
    f) The pool is filled manually, by me or a big rain storm.
    I know turning the large black handle on the right so the valve is pointing to the right drains the pool. I had to do that a few times during some bad storms to prevent the pool from overflowing. Otherwise I don't know what is going where.
    2) Does converting from a Polaris 360 to a robot cleaner change anything about what water needs to go where? Essentially, can I leave all the valve switches where they are and just come home to a nice clean pool every day? Seems weird that we would have 2 nozzles pumping water into the pool, but then again I guess we have ports draining the water, so from a volume perspective maybe it is what it is.
    3) Right now we're running the Polaris for 4-8 hours a day (depending on the season). Due to the large size of the pool, does the robot need to run as long?
    4) Chemicals: Though the cleaner guy is clearly taking the easy route, to be honest the pool has always had a great chemical balance since we moved in. So from what I can tell his methods are a bit unorthodox, but it's been working. Do I mess with what works?


    Again, thanks for any and all advice. Let me know what other info would be helpful and I'll provide it as quickly/completely as I can.

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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Oh heck yeah you can do it yourself and save those bucks! First off you need a test kit (we only recommend two, see Pool School) and you need to commit to caring for your pool our way. We basically avoid pucks on a routine basis (save them for vacations) and use either a Salt Water Chlorine Generator or bleach. How would you proceed?

    You have a nice clean set up there... almost identical to mine except we have a sand filter and slightly different valves to increase/decrease each line.

    Your suction lines include the two pipes on the left of the picture going to the pump. I think if you turn that black valve on the left you would be increasing the suction on either the skimmer or main drain at the bottom of the pool, or decreasing it. Not sure if you would be cutting one off entirely, but mine will. Never close both at the same time or you'll run the pump dry and be buying a new one.

    The pipes on the right off the picture are pressure side pipes going back to the pool from the filter. It looks to me like you have a backwash pipe, but I'm not positive as its a DE filter, right? How many returns do you have....two or three? It looks like you can tweak the returns also to make one stronger/weaker, just like above you never want to close both at once.

    Ditching the Polaris will open up a return (pipe) into your pool for increased circulation and movement. The water that was pushing the Polaris around is now free to just flow into the pool. You could also use that newly opened return to add a fountain to your pool if you desire. (see link below for Skippy's fountain)

    YouTube has many videos helping folks with pool equipment. I'm positive you'll find one there talking you thru opening up your DE filter and checking the grids. If one is torn/damaged you'll find DE in the pool. But it still might be algae, until you feel it its hard to know for sure.

    How big is your pool in feet? Length and width? Most robots can handle up to 50' pools, but the electricity needs to be close enough. Robots are cheap to run too.

    Check out the Doheney Saturn, made by Maytronics. Doheny's Saturn Powered by Dolphin-Doheny's Pool Supplies Fast



    Maddie
    Maddie :) 12K Fiberglass IG, Infinity 4000 automatic cover, SWCG, Hayward Sand Filter, Hayward 1.5 Pump, Doheny Discovery Robot, Savi Melody LED pool lights, outdoor speakers and other assorted doo-dads. Sundance Altamar Hot Tub.
    Skippy's Pool Cooler --> Skippy's New Fountain Our Build --> Our Pool Solved Our Sloping Yard

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Welcome to TFP!

    Here is a tutorial on cleaning your filter, Pool School - Maintenance and Cleaning of Pool Filters
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    If TFP helped you or saved you money - Become a TFP Supporter! <--Click here
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Quote Originally Posted by yubbie2 View Post
    Hi everyone


    First off, thanks for reading and helping me. This forum is amazing, full of a ton of information, and I know I'm just starting to scratch the surface. That said, here's where I stand:


    We purchased a house about 4 years ago (TX area) with an in ground, approx 35,000 gallon pool built in the mid 1970s. Goes from ~4' to 9' (maybe 10). It was clearly resurfaced some number of years ago, and clearly will need to be redone in the next few years. Previous owners did a lot of things themselves to a pretty low degree of success around the rest of the house, so I full expect that whatever they did with the pool and equipment to be par with that. We have a pool guy that does a bunch of other pools on the street - charges ~$40/week, and from what I can tell all he does is toss a few chlorine tabs in every week and vacuum it with a long pole and the flat 6"x12" vacuum attachment. Wham bam $162.37/month thank you ma'am. I'm super handy and this is my first pool - but I know I can do what he does and save myself some cash. We also have a Polaris 360 pressure cleaner thing, of which I've replaced every single internal part, and I'm sick of it. What a piece of junk.


    Recently we've noticed a ton of dark grey grit in the pool - Mr Cleaner Guy says we need to replace our DE filters, but the more I read about it the more I'm convinced I can just clean and recharge the DE system, and not have to spring for new filters and all of his labor costs. I'm also thinking that if I can dump the guy, a nice shiny robotic vacuum cleaner pays for itself by mid summer.


    Here's where I'm stuck: I'm super intimidated to crack open the pump/filter/etc unit without really understanding what I'm looking for. I know there are certain pressures and levels I'll need to watch, but other than that I'm worried about getting stuck and having to throw a few hundred dollars (or more) at Mr Cleaner to fix it. Since I'd be removing the Polaris pressure cleaner, I know I'd be messing with the water volumes in/out of the system, so I want to make sure I'm doing things right (unlike my predecessor).


    So my questions:
    1) There's 5 PVC ports going down into the ground. Where is water flowing to/from? I know I have:
    a) A drain at the bottom of the pool (suction)
    b) A skimmer at the surface of the pool (suction)
    c) A small nozzle pushing (presumably clean) water into the pool (pressure)
    d) A large hose pressurizing the Polaris 360 (pressure)
    e) A drain which pumps pool water into the sewer
    f) The pool is filled manually, by me or a big rain storm.
    I know turning the large black handle on the right so the valve is pointing to the right drains the pool. I had to do that a few times during some bad storms to prevent the pool from overflowing. Otherwise I don't know what is going where.
    2) Does converting from a Polaris 360 to a robot cleaner change anything about what water needs to go where? Essentially, can I leave all the valve switches where they are and just come home to a nice clean pool every day? Seems weird that we would have 2 nozzles pumping water into the pool, but then again I guess we have ports draining the water, so from a volume perspective maybe it is what it is.
    3) Right now we're running the Polaris for 4-8 hours a day (depending on the season). Due to the large size of the pool, does the robot need to run as long?
    4) Chemicals: Though the cleaner guy is clearly taking the easy route, to be honest the pool has always had a great chemical balance since we moved in. So from what I can tell his methods are a bit unorthodox, but it's been working. Do I mess with what works?


    Again, thanks for any and all advice. Let me know what other info would be helpful and I'll provide it as quickly/completely as I can.

    Capture5.jpg

    RED : Skimmer + Main Drain
    BLUE: Waste water
    GREEN: Returns

    You can investigate which red marked pipe is skimmer or main drain. turn off one side and check the skimmer.

    I also installed chlorine dispenser in the plumbing system. Works fine

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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Nice first post, Sarpworks! Thanks for helping out with the colors.

    Maddie
    Maddie :) 12K Fiberglass IG, Infinity 4000 automatic cover, SWCG, Hayward Sand Filter, Hayward 1.5 Pump, Doheny Discovery Robot, Savi Melody LED pool lights, outdoor speakers and other assorted doo-dads. Sundance Altamar Hot Tub.
    Skippy's Pool Cooler --> Skippy's New Fountain Our Build --> Our Pool Solved Our Sloping Yard

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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    I believe there is also a valve on the return side hiding in the grass. I wonder if that is a 3rd return to the pool for the Polaris 360.
    20'x40' Oval 27,000 gallon Vinyl IG, Coverstar Auto Cover
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Here's a couple of changes to make when you get the cash to do so -

    1. Ditch the polaris and get a robot. You'll be much happier.

    2. Replace all those cheap PVC ball valves (that are totally unserviceable and easily develop leaks) with good, Jandy NeverLube valves (valves that look like the one on the pump inlet).

    2.5. Remove that three way splitter valve on the pump inlet and make a T connection with two shut-off valves instead. You want to be able to independently control the main drain and skimmer suction, not have the suction split. While that could introduce the possibility of dead-heading the pump, that would be a rare situation.

    3. Consider a salt water chlorine generator....you'll thank us when you do. But, be prepared to hear from every pool builder in TX that salt water is corrosive, you're pool will immediately start to corrode away and your house will fall into the giant sinkhole where your pool use to be....oh, and you'll lose all your hair, your wife will leave you and you'll be struck by lightening....twice! You can easily install them yourself, but if you want a longer warranty term, then you need a professional to do the installation.

    4. Considering the history of the previous owner and the clueless pool boy taking care of your pool, it is highly unlikely that DE filter has ever been opened and fully cleaned out. They are easy to take apart and clean, it just requires some elbow-grease a little effort...unless the grids are torn or some internal components are broken (highly unlikely or you'd know it), then it's just labor to do the clean out. We have a sticky thread that covers DE filter tear-downs.

    5. At some point consider switching to a variable-speed pump. VSPs can save you a ton of money but they do cost a lot up front. A cheaper solution would be to pull out that single-speed motor and replace it with a two-speed motor so that you can run the pump on a lower speed. Single speed pumps are just wasteful.

    All of this can be done by YOU if you so choose to do it and there are experts on this forum who can easily help you out. Just ask....
    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: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    pool.jpg

    This is my plumbing idea. The pool company did not provide me clear pvc pipe. I could not find it at any stores. I ordered online and plumber asked me why did I requested clear pvc. Answer is easy. I can investigate which suction line makes bubbles, low pressure, clogged filter, any dust in return line. It works fine. Because my pool is still leaking water after big renovation and i see the problem in main drain line.

    Also, Sunshine gives damage for PVC. You should keep all of your system in the shed/closet.

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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Oh my god, you guys are amazing. Thank you for all of the quick and informative responses!

    Ok, so you've convinced me. As soon as I get a robot and clean my own DE filters, pool dude is gone.

    A few follow up questions:

    1) How do I know what the correct pressure should be on my Hayward? If I remember correctly I usually see the needle around 25 when everything is running. The more I read, the more I'm worried this is super high and bad. Is it a correct assumption that the pressure gauge is reading high b/c the filters are probably chock full of 3 years of gunk? Backwashing (which is what pool guy says he does occasionally) doesn't actually get rid of a lot of stuff, right? How do I determine the "right" pressure? Or will I only know that after doing a full cleaning?

    2) If the 2 PVC pipes on the right are returns (that is, 'clean' water going back to the pool), why am I getting water flow coming out of 2 different holes in the side of the pool? One is the small nipple thing, and one is where the Polaris is attached? It looks to me like one of the 2 valves in the picture is closed (horizontal)

    3) If I'm seeing DE at the bottom of the pool, does that mean there's a tear in the filters? What I'm worried about is while I'm tearing down the Hayward I find the filters are ripped, and I can't reassemble until new ones arrive. What else would grey silt material in the pool be?

    4) Once I remove the Polaris (and before I make a fancy fountain or something), is there any harm in just having an empty outlet port in the pool pumping water in?

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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Quote Originally Posted by yubbie2 View Post
    Oh my god, you guys are amazing. Thank you for all of the quick and informative responses!

    Ok, so you've convinced me. As soon as I get a robot and clean my own DE filters, pool dude is gone.

    A few follow up questions:

    1) How do I know what the correct pressure should be on my Hayward? If I remember correctly I usually see the needle around 25 when everything is running. The more I read, the more I'm worried this is super high and bad. Is it a correct assumption that the pressure gauge is reading high b/c the filters are probably chock full of 3 years of gunk? Backwashing (which is what pool guy says he does occasionally) doesn't actually get rid of a lot of stuff, right? How do I determine the "right" pressure? Or will I only know that after doing a full cleaning?

    2) If the 2 PVC pipes on the right are returns (that is, 'clean' water going back to the pool), why am I getting water flow coming out of 2 different holes in the side of the pool? One is the small nipple thing, and one is where the Polaris is attached? It looks to me like one of the 2 valves in the picture is closed (horizontal)

    3) If I'm seeing DE at the bottom of the pool, does that mean there's a tear in the filters? What I'm worried about is while I'm tearing down the Hayward I find the filters are ripped, and I can't reassemble until new ones arrive. What else would grey silt material in the pool be?

    4) Once I remove the Polaris (and before I make a fancy fountain or something), is there any harm in just having an empty outlet port in the pool pumping water in?

    When I bought my house in last summer, I had same problem with pressure. I read it supposed to be between 8 - 10. But mine was starting with 20 and increase to 25 in short time period. Backwash and rinse did not work. I watched videos on youtube and decided to open the filter. When I removed the top piece of filter, I saw entire grids covered with DE filter aid + gunk. I pulled up the entire grid set and washed with garden hose. Then I installed back and started filter. It worked around 10psi. After cleaning process, you should make sure use lubricant for the seal. When you open the filter, you can investigate the grids.

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    DeanP66's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Definitely open the filter and clean the grids with a hose. If you see any ripped grids, then, at least you know that you've got to get those replaced. Until you do, you can just reassemble the grids as is and at least get the filter back up and running. Don't forget to add some DE. You should see a big drop in your filter pressure with everything clean. Record that pressure as your clean pressure and that way you'll know when it's time to backwash or clean them in the future. Of course, that'll be after you take apart the filter again to replace the torn grids once you receive the new one(s).
    Pool size: 20,000 Gallon Plaster Pool, Pump: Hayward Tristar VS SP3202VSP, Filter: Pentair Clean and Clear Plus 320
    Polaris 280 Pressure side cleaner, Solar cover, Pentair Amerilite LED pool light, Taylor K-2006C test kit
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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Quote Originally Posted by DeanP66 View Post
    Definitely open the filter and clean the grids with a hose. If you see any ripped grids, then, at least you know that you've got to get those replaced. Until you do, you can just reassemble the grids as is and at least get the filter back up and running. Don't forget to add some DE. You should see a big drop in your filter pressure with everything clean. Record that pressure as your clean pressure and that way you'll know when it's time to backwash or clean them in the future. Of course, that'll be after you take apart the filter again to replace the torn grids once you receive the new one(s).
    I disagree. If there are holes in the grids, recharging the filter will just send a bunch of DE into the pool. Better to run it without any grids in there at all until the replacements get installed.

    And Yubbie, when your filter is all clean and you've recharged it with the right amount of DE. Pay attention to which position your valves are in and that the pump is on high speed (if multi-speed) and then check the pressure. That is clean pressure for you. Any future comparisons should be made at that speed and in that position. When you gain 25%, it's time. So if clean is 16, dirty is 20.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Quote Originally Posted by faby3003 View Post
    I believe there is also a valve on the return side hiding in the grass. I wonder if that is a 3rd return to the pool for the Polaris 360.
    Ok, but something doesn't add up here.

    From filter to pool: The clean water goes from the filter, to the giant valve with the big handle, and then splits off to the 3 PVC ball-valves, 2 of which are closed. But in the pool itself, I have 2 sources for clean water (one just flows into the pool, the other flows into the Polaris). Both are definitely active. I have identified a total of 4 possible ports in the pool: 1) Polaris. 2) Nipple thing. 3) Sealed off 2" PVC cap. 4) Sealed off 1" PVC cap. Is there a way to test those other 2 closed ball valves without blowing something up?

    I omitted this earlier, but at one point in time our pool did have a jacuzzi on the side, that probably flowed into the pool. That was filled in at some point (probably at last resurfacing), and turned into a super shallow (like 3 inches) sunning pad. So maybe those 2 closed ball valves go to the former jacuzzi area? Now I'm really scared to open them and see where water flows to.

    Pictures of the 4 ports: Imgur
    Last edited by yubbie2; 05-04-2017 at 08:08 PM. Reason: Added details about ports

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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320 View Post
    I disagree. If there are holes in the grids, recharging the filter will just send a bunch of DE into the pool. Better to run it without any grids in there at all until the replacements get installed.

    And Yubbie, when your filter is all clean and you've recharged it with the right amount of DE. Pay attention to which position your valves are in and that the pump is on high speed (if multi-speed) and then check the pressure. That is clean pressure for you. Any future comparisons should be made at that speed and in that position. When you gain 25%, it's time. So if clean is 16, dirty is 20.
    The label on my Hayward is kind enough to tell me how many lbs of DE to add depending on the size of the filter. But it doesn't tell me how big the filter itself is. Uhhh....

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Quote Originally Posted by yubbie2 View Post
    The label on my Hayward is kind enough to tell me how many lbs of DE to add depending on the size of the filter. But it doesn't tell me how big the filter itself is. Uhhh....
    Mine, too. I had to measure the screen height and compare it to the parts manual.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Starting to not trust my pool guy

    Ok, good news and bad news:

    Good news is I took the filter apart yesterday and cleaned everything. Oh man it was so easy! I was shocked. I ended up taking each filter panel out as well, as there was a solid 1" of crud on the front and back of everything. It was awful. Put everything back together, recharged with DE, and I was good to go. Thanks everyone for the advice and confidence.

    Bad news is, today I have a small leak at the top of the filter, and the pressure is back up to where it was before I started. Before cleaning it was ~23-24psi, after cleaning it was ~18psi, and now it's back to ~23psi. Did I do something wrong? Shouldn't the pressure be way lower since water is now flowing smoothly through the filters?

    Should I take everything back apart again? The water isn't streaming out of the top of the filter, but it's definitely wet (see photo). Suggestions?


    Edit: Now I'm just confused. Leak is seemingly gone and psi is right around 18. Maybe it was just pushing residual water out from the cleaning process when I hosed out the top?
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