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Thread: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

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    Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Hi Everyone,

    This is my first post and I am happy that I found this website while searching the internet. I just bought a house with a pool and will be moving in next week. Since I dont know anything about pools and dont know how the pool was taken care of by the previous owners, I just took a water sample and took it to the nearest pool store for free test. They told me that the pH level is way too low and chlorine level, calcium and dissolved solid is way too high. They recommended for a complete drain of the pool and quoted $150 for this. In addition to that, thanks to this website, I ordered my first TF-100 test kit and just did the OTO test. Like the poolstore said, my pH level is way too low, the fluid was yellow and Chlorine sample turned into orange color, I am assuming too high chlorine. I assume the previous owner dumped in chlorine to the pool before they sell the house. So my question is how often do you guys recommend full drain and should i go with what pool store told me and schedule a full drain or should I get the chemicals and try to do TFP method without the drain?

    Any recommendations is greatly appreciated and thanks in advance.

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    Mod Squad Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Hello and welcome to TFP! PH low, with chlorine present? Maybe they did do a chlorine dump earlier, or ....... do you have an in-line chlorinator with tabs/pucks in it? Those pucks are acidic and will drive-down pH while driving UP your CYA to the point you need to exchange water. So before you do anything else right now, use that awesome TF-100 to post a full set of numbers as follows:
    FC
    CC
    CYA
    PH
    TA
    CH

    No guessing and no more pool store results. We'll help you through this and you'll be surprised how easy it is. Great to have you with us.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Thanks for your input and help. As far as I know, there is no in-line chlorinator but I will double check it today. I will also do the full measurement and will post the numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Splash View Post
    Hello and welcome to TFP! PH low, with chlorine present? Maybe they did do a chlorine dump earlier, or ....... do you have an in-line chlorinator with tabs/pucks in it? Those pucks are acidic and will drive-down pH while driving UP your CYA to the point you need to exchange water. So before you do anything else right now, use that awesome TF-100 to post a full set of numbers as follows:
    FC
    CC
    CYA
    PH
    TA
    CH

    No guessing and no more pool store results. We'll help you through this and you'll be surprised how easy it is. Great to have you with us.

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    I just did my first full test with TF-100 test kit and here are my full set of numbers:

    FC --> 50 (it took exactly 100 drops)
    CC --> none
    CYA --> much more than 100 (the test tube has highest label as 100 but my value was much more than that)
    PH --> lower than 6.8 (again the min label is 6.8 and my PH testing color indicated i have PH values much lower than that)
    TA --> more than 800 ( added 80 drops)
    CH --> more than 1200 ( add 50 drops)

    Let me know your suggestions. It seems like I have most of these values to be very high. Is there a way to get these values to recommended values without doing full drain ?

    Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Splash View Post
    Hello and welcome to TFP! PH low, with chlorine present? Maybe they did do a chlorine dump earlier, or ....... do you have an in-line chlorinator with tabs/pucks in it? Those pucks are acidic and will drive-down pH while driving UP your CYA to the point you need to exchange water. So before you do anything else right now, use that awesome TF-100 to post a full set of numbers as follows:
    FC
    CC
    CYA
    PH
    TA
    CH

    No guessing and no more pool store results. We'll help you through this and you'll be surprised how easy it is. Great to have you with us.

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    For CYA you can adjust the procedure (step 8). See Pool School - CYA

    I would drain while it is still cool here in the AZ desert.
    13k Pebbletec Pool/Spa, Hayward Ecostar, SGS Breeze 540 SWG, Pentair C&C 420 cartridge, Pentair MasterTemp Heater, Caretaker system, TF-100 & Taylor K1766 test kits

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Hi, welcome to TFP! Wow, those are some numbers. If the consensus from the experts here is to refill, and you're planning to take care of the pool yourself (which is super easy to do with TFPC and help from these amazing people), knowing how much water is in your pool can be very useful. So I've taken to offering this idea when I hear someone is about to fill their pool:

    Will your fill water be coming from a water source that is metered (like from your city, through a water meter near your curb or street)? Here's a way you can find out what your pool's volume is, very accurately.

    Start with the pool as empty of water as possible. None if you can manage it.

    Mark where you want your water level to end up with a piece of tape. This is usually half way up the skimmer opening, but other things might determine that as well. The point is, when the water is nearing where you want to stop, it's not always easy to tell where that is, either because of the reflection in the water, or the refraction of the water. A piece of tape is much easier to see.

    Have everyone in your household take their showers, use the toilet, wash the dishes or clothes or whatever, before you start your fill. The idea is to use virtually no water during the entire fill. Be sure any automated irrigation system is shut down.

    Go out to the street, find your meter, make note of the meter reading and/or take a picture of it.

    Start your fill. Use as many hoses as you can. Generally speaking, it's best to fill a pool as fast as possible. It's better for the pool surface, and minimizes the risks involved having an empty pool. Start your fill late in the day, after shower time, and then go to dinner and a movie. Celebrate your new home and pool! Stay out late, come home and go to bed. That minimizes the need to use water. If anyone has to sneak in a toilet flush, just keep track of how many.

    Once the fill is complete (when the water reaches the tape you placed), shut down the hoses and go read and record the meter reading (take another picture), then lift the water use embargo!!


    Calculate the difference between the two meter readings, subtract a gallon or two for every flush you snuck in there, and voila! You'll have a very accurate number for pool water volume, which will help you with all your pool water chemistry adjustments, equipment adjustments, programming, purchases, etc.

    Some meters are in gallons, others are in units. You'll need to know which and do the proper math.

    The accuracy of the result will be based on how well you limited water use during the fill, and the water meter itself (typically accurate to about 1.5%).
    12300 gallon IG pebble, freeform 19x28, 1 skimmer, 3 returns, no floor drains, auto fill. Pentair: EasyTouch PSL4, ScreenLogic2, Indoor Control Panel, Intelliflo 2 VST, IntelliChlor IC40, IntellipH, CCP320 Cartridge Filter, MasterTemp 250 Heater, Rebel Suction-Side Cleaner, IntelliBrite. Solar and cleaner actuators. Heliocol HC-50 8-panel solar heating. FlowVis Flow Meter. Taylor: K-2006 and K-1766 Test Kits, SpeedStir. City/softened water.

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    Mod Squad Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    FC --> 50 (it took exactly 100 drops)
    CC --> none
    CYA --> much more than 100 (the test tube has highest label as 100 but my value was much more than that)
    PH --> lower than 6.8 (again the min label is 6.8 and my PH testing color indicated i have PH values much lower than that)
    TA --> more than 800 ( added 80 drops)
    CH --> more than 1200 ( add 50 drops)
    Oooooh weeee! Those are some numbers. Very indicative of chlorine tablets/pucks. Did you find them in the chlorinator? If so, remove them ASAP. In any case, no doubt a healthy water exchange will be in order. You can use the CYA dilution method linked above in post #5, but I have the feeling that CYA will be extremely high. For a non-SWG pool, you'll want that CYA down to around 50 or less. The only reason your pool has been able to stay away from algae with such a high CYA is because the FC has also been required to be exceptionally high. Now is the time to bring all of those down, while also increasing the pH after the refill to protect your plaster.

    Try the CYA dilution test, but be ready to exchange water until the CYA is at least no higher than 50. Also, please update your signature with all of your pool info. Make sure the little box is checked to show the signature with each post. Thanks!
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk View Post


    Mark where you want your water level to end up with a piece of tape. This is usually half way up the skimmer opening, but other things might determine that as well. The point is, when the water is nearing where you want to stop, it's not always easy to tell where that is, either because of the reflection in the water, or the refraction of the water. A piece of tape is much easier to see.

    This is very good advice. My pump switch is far enough away that its hard to tell for sure if I've drained to my desired level...tape will make it stand out better.


    Have everyone in your household take their showers, use the toilet, wash the dishes or clothes or whatever, before you start your fill. The idea is to use virtually no water during the entire fill. Be sure any automated irrigation system is shut down.

    Or fill the bathtub with water and use the empty bathroom trash basket to scoop and *dump* said water in the toilet bowl fast which causes it to flush. Old trick learned from going thru one too many Nor'easters .

    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.
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Or fill the bathtub with water and use the empty bathroom trash basket to scoop and *dump* said water in the toilet bowl fast which causes it to flush. Old trick learned from going thru one too many Nor'easters .
    Great tip, thanks Maddie!

    I should point out that the "meter fill" trick to determine pool volume only works, of course, if you empty completely. If the consensus here, from TFP experts, is only a partial drain, then defer to them, they know their stuff. I just wanted to make sure you understood that draining a pool 100% is not always called for...
    12300 gallon IG pebble, freeform 19x28, 1 skimmer, 3 returns, no floor drains, auto fill. Pentair: EasyTouch PSL4, ScreenLogic2, Indoor Control Panel, Intelliflo 2 VST, IntelliChlor IC40, IntellipH, CCP320 Cartridge Filter, MasterTemp 250 Heater, Rebel Suction-Side Cleaner, IntelliBrite. Solar and cleaner actuators. Heliocol HC-50 8-panel solar heating. FlowVis Flow Meter. Taylor: K-2006 and K-1766 Test Kits, SpeedStir. City/softened water.

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Thanks for all the inputs, this is very useful and overwhelming at the same time since I just own a pool less than a week and I need to find out how to exchange the water. So here are some of my questions:

    1) It seems like I need to exchange water until the CYA is at least no higher than 50. I am assuming CYA is the first thing I need to lower, after that is there an order of importance that I need to work on in terms of other readings (TA, CH, PH etc.)
    2) Is there a step by step instruction on how to exchange water or should i get some help from someone since I am not familiar with my current pool equipment either.
    3) My other concern is my CH value being higher than 1200ppm. In Arizona, our tap water is very hard, around 250-300ppm incoming. How am I going to lower my CH below to recommended values by using my home water source? Even if i replace all the water, CH will be minimum 300ppm or so.

    Sorry for maybe the stupid questions Just trying to figure this whole exchange thing out. Thanks again in advance.

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    Mod Squad Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    I am assuming CYA is the first thing I need to lower, after that is there an order of importance that I need to work on in terms of other readings (TA, CH, PH etc.)
    Once the CYA is confirmed to be back down to earth around 50 or so, then first test FC to ensure the proper amount of FC is still there - balanced with the CYA. That prevents algae. Then run the other tests (pH, TA, and CH) so we can see how the water exchange effected your other levels. It should help lower your CH a bit as well.
    Is there a step by step instruction on how to exchange water or should i get some help from someone since I am not familiar with my current pool equipment either.
    Not really. Everyone has different methods. The most common are:
    - Pumping to waste if you have a multiport valve and main drain
    - Buying/renting submersible pump or sump pump which works very fast and well
    - Siphoning with garden hoses if the end of the hose can go below the waterline; but that's a very slow method.
    My other concern is my CH value being higher than 1200ppm. In Arizona, our tap water is very hard, around 250-300ppm incoming. How am I going to lower my CH below to recommended values by using my home water source? Even if i replace all the water, CH will be minimum 300ppm or so.
    Either way, you have to replace water to lower the CYA, so the CH should come down. Even if only to about 400-500 as an example, it helps. Time will tell once you get the water changed.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    How much water you take out of the pool is based on your current levels, the levels of the incoming water, and the size of your pool. You can test for the first two. An estimate of the size of your pool can be calculated by measuring its dimensions. Then someone here can help you do all the math.

    Draining a pool is not without risks, and you should proceed with some caution. An empty pool can float right out of the ground, like a boat at sea, if the surrounding water table is high enough. Any water table issues in Chandler? And older plaster can blister by emptying a pool, as sometimes it is the pressure/weight of the pool's water that is keeping weakened plaster in place. I know this is scary stuff, sorry 'bout that. Don't mean to add to your stress. These possibilities are only that, possibilities. They are rare. But I thought you should be aware of them. Someone local to you (or maybe even someone here at TFP) can determine if there are any water table issues where you live. Do you know how old the pool is? What kind of surface it has?

    Your first step is to edit your signature so everyone here knows what you're dealing with. Something along the lines of mine or others that have been posting in your thread. Tell us as much as you know about your pool and equipment.

    Regarding how you're going to empty it (if you're going to empty it), a few picture can be helpful... Take a shot of your pool and a shot of your pool pad equipment and post it here. Then a TFP expert can tell you how best to drain the pool, if and when.

    And know there is another possible solution to all this. There are services that can come out to your pool and pump all your pool water through special equipment that will filter all your water back into shape. I believe it's an RO process. So you don't have to drain your pool at all. That's if that service is available in your town, and if that isn't cost prohibitive.

    I think it's safe for me to say: there is some time sensitivity to all this, as you want your water out of balance as little as possible, of course, but you have enough time to get this all straight in your head before you proceed. So fill in your signature, post a couple pic's, keep asking questions here, and proceed after you're confident you have the right plan.
    12300 gallon IG pebble, freeform 19x28, 1 skimmer, 3 returns, no floor drains, auto fill. Pentair: EasyTouch PSL4, ScreenLogic2, Indoor Control Panel, Intelliflo 2 VST, IntelliChlor IC40, IntellipH, CCP320 Cartridge Filter, MasterTemp 250 Heater, Rebel Suction-Side Cleaner, IntelliBrite. Solar and cleaner actuators. Heliocol HC-50 8-panel solar heating. FlowVis Flow Meter. Taylor: K-2006 and K-1766 Test Kits, SpeedStir. City/softened water.

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Splash View Post
    Once the CYA is confirmed to be back down to earth around 50 or so, then first test FC to ensure the proper amount of FC is still there - balanced with the CYA. That prevents algae. Then run the other tests (pH, TA, and CH) so we can see how the water exchange effected your other levels. It should help lower your CH a bit as well.
    Not really. Everyone has different methods. The most common are:
    - Pumping to waste if you have a multiport valve and main drain
    - Buying/renting submersible pump or sump pump which works very fast and well
    - Siphoning with garden hoses if the end of the hose can go below the waterline; but that's a very slow method.
    Either way, you have to replace water to lower the CYA, so the CH should come down. Even if only to about 400-500 as an example, it helps. Time will tell once you get the water changed.
    Can't we determine for the OP ahead of time, from testing the fill water and guess-timating the size of the pool, how much to replace to deal with both the CYA and CH issues at the same time? It'd be a shame for the OP to have to do this twice.

    And if it were me, I'd empty my pool with the fastest method possible (not a garden hose) and fill it as fast as possible (with every hose I could muster). I'm likely more paranoid than need be about an empty pool, but I still think it prudent to replace water as fast as possible.
    12300 gallon IG pebble, freeform 19x28, 1 skimmer, 3 returns, no floor drains, auto fill. Pentair: EasyTouch PSL4, ScreenLogic2, Indoor Control Panel, Intelliflo 2 VST, IntelliChlor IC40, IntellipH, CCP320 Cartridge Filter, MasterTemp 250 Heater, Rebel Suction-Side Cleaner, IntelliBrite. Solar and cleaner actuators. Heliocol HC-50 8-panel solar heating. FlowVis Flow Meter. Taylor: K-2006 and K-1766 Test Kits, SpeedStir. City/softened water.

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Can't we determine for the OP ahead of time, from testing the fill water and guess-timating the size of the pool, how much to replace to deal with both the CYA and CH issues at the same time?
    Often times - yes, we do assist with those calculations, but the OP still needs to update their signature with all the pool info. From there, of course the focus is on exchanging the proper amount of water to bring the CYA down. I suspect the CH will only go down as well which is good, but based on local conditions I doubt it will go too low. From the initial test results, I suspect a healthy 50-70% exchange will be required - perhaps more. Time will tell once we know more about the pool itself, and the equipment available to drain the water. After that, we can certainly help narrow it down to a better % of exchange, but we also encourage the pool owner to use the Poolmath Calculator so they can begin to get used to it.

    Understanding the fill water content helps to give us an idea of what to expect, but that can be tough to nail-down for detailed projections. In the end, a post-fill sample with give us the best measurement to go on.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    why not empty and tank in new water if you want it to be done fast? i know it's more money but it would give me piece of mind.
    35x23/20 free form gunite 3.5-6 feet water. approx. 20,000 gallons. no spa or water features. 2 skim, 2 ret, floor ret, floor return. 2 inch solid. suction cleaning line. 1.5 inch solid. super blue diamond brite. NPT Gemstone Blue 2x2 with custom waterjet cut Disney Mickey markers. all pentair equipment. master temp 300,000 BTU. de 60. inteliflo 3.0 VS. swg ic40. 3 globrite LED lights. easy touch 4 with screen logic. tf-100/ salt kit

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Hi, welcome to TFP! Folks who live in hard water areas can manage their pools with higher CH levels if you keep the pH between 7.0-7.4, and the TA between 70-90. Keeping these values on the low end will help prevent scale formation, which may form with high CH values. We have several TFP Experts who manage hard desert water and can help you learn to keep yours in balance.

    Since the only practical way to reduce CYA and CH is to drain and refill, I would start with a 90% drain. There is a chance that the CYA is so high that you will need to do a second drain/refill cycle to get it low enough. Do the first drain/refill and then run a test on CYA to see where you are. If it is good then test everything else and see what to treat next. After you test everything, get the FC to the correct level for your CYA and balance the pH around 7.0. Adjust other levels as needed.

    EDIT: If trucking in low CH water is an option you might want to consider it. You can also look into whether or not reverse osmosis pool treatment is available in your area. It can be a little pricey, but it will get the CYA and CH down without wasting too much water.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    I'm following along because I have high CH fill water, too. I'm attempting to address this issue in my pool by topping it off from my water softener, but expect I'll be facing water replacements in the future. Is there a threshold at which you wouldn't bother saving any of the old water?

    By "90% drain" do you mean drain the pool until it's 90% full? Or drain 90% of the water out of it? Why would you leave the 10%? Why not just "start fresh?"

    Are you the kind of person that leaves that last little bit of orange juice in the container then sneaks it back into the refrigerator!?!
    12300 gallon IG pebble, freeform 19x28, 1 skimmer, 3 returns, no floor drains, auto fill. Pentair: EasyTouch PSL4, ScreenLogic2, Indoor Control Panel, Intelliflo 2 VST, IntelliChlor IC40, IntellipH, CCP320 Cartridge Filter, MasterTemp 250 Heater, Rebel Suction-Side Cleaner, IntelliBrite. Solar and cleaner actuators. Heliocol HC-50 8-panel solar heating. FlowVis Flow Meter. Taylor: K-2006 and K-1766 Test Kits, SpeedStir. City/softened water.

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    These are all great inputs and thanks for everyone for their replies. By the way, I just used the poolmath calculator and it also suggested replacing 85% of my pool with the numbers that I posted earlier. Anyways, as the next steps, I will measure the dimensions of my pool and get an estimate on the volume. will take pictures of the pool and equipment to give better information about my system. Only thing I can tell right now that my pool has pebble-tech finish . I will look at my options on how to drain my pool until the weekend and seems like I have a project to work on Saturday and Sunday. Will keep you guys posted.

    Thanks again..

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
    And if it were me, I'd empty my pool with the fastest method possible (not a garden hose) and fill it as fast as possible (with every hose I could muster). I'm likely more paranoid than need be about an empty pool, but I still think it prudent to replace water as fast as possible.
    Sorry, don't mean to beat up this horse more than I have... but this guy just posted this:

    Pool Surface, Plaster Advice... with Pic

    My pool also blistered when I emptied it, but that was helped along by an acid wash done very badly. It can, and does, happen... just be careful...
    12300 gallon IG pebble, freeform 19x28, 1 skimmer, 3 returns, no floor drains, auto fill. Pentair: EasyTouch PSL4, ScreenLogic2, Indoor Control Panel, Intelliflo 2 VST, IntelliChlor IC40, IntellipH, CCP320 Cartridge Filter, MasterTemp 250 Heater, Rebel Suction-Side Cleaner, IntelliBrite. Solar and cleaner actuators. Heliocol HC-50 8-panel solar heating. FlowVis Flow Meter. Taylor: K-2006 and K-1766 Test Kits, SpeedStir. City/softened water.

  20. Back To Top    #20

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    Re: Another newbie with no pool experience. Help is appreciated.

    Now you scared me even more. Thanks for pointing that out and I will do more thinking/planning before starting the draining. I will also try to get quotes on how much it will cost to have the full water filtered with RO system rather than draining the full pool...


    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
    Sorry, don't mean to beat up this horse more than I have... but this guy just posted this:

    Pool Surface, Plaster Advice... with Pic

    My pool also blistered when I emptied it, but that was helped along by an acid wash done very badly. It can, and does, happen... just be careful...

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