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Thread: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

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    Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    I've read for hours but could use some expert advice to make sure I'm doing the right things without going overboard.

    Problem: I live very near Seattle Washington (known for cloudy skies and rain), but that doesn't mean I should have cloudy water all the time! For the last two years I've had very clear water only when I remove the winter cover. I know this is the opposite problem most people have when opening. In winter I have very little chlorine loss (assuming I get cover on before leaves fall). As soon as I start running the pump (vacuuming to get any gunk on the bottom) I end up with clouds that prevent seeing the bottom just 52" down. The clouds last the rest of the season until ~December when I peek under the winter cover! I have never had clear water since I started up the pool .

    I also get green algae blooms fairly easily. I just recently finished shocking the pool from solid dark green back to light blue cloudy. I've finally decided I need to chase the blue clouds away too, but high chlorine levels don't seem to be enough. I'm not sure if I'm doing the right steps or prioritizing my time appropriately to succeed.

    I don't have time to clean the pool with a toothbrush. What do you think I should be focusing on to chase the clouds away? Will keeping above shock level (FC 28+ ppm) alone do it after several days even if FC 20+ and filter running 12hr per day for 2 weeks hasn't solved the problem? Perhaps I got zeobrite dust in the pool (if so then how do I remove it???). Please help!


    Current test results:
    9/1 PM
    FC 23.5
    CC 1 <typo corrected 9/4>
    PH 7.4
    TA 70
    CYA 70
    water temp 70
    Filtering ~2 turnovers per day (10-12hrs filtering per day, 5-6.5 hrs per turnover)

    9/2 AM
    FC 21.5 (2ppm drop from last night)
    CC .5 (.5ppm drop from last night)
    Pool water volume: 7,700 gallons per the pool calculator (12'x24'x52" oval)
    Filter pressure: 13 psi after backwash, ~20 psi when dirty.
    Flow rate: 26 gpm with 13 psi filter (19.4 through solar panels)
    turnover rate: 5-6.5 hrs per turnover (7700/26)/60=4.9359 , (7700/19.4)/60=6.6151


    Overnight FC drop from 9/1 evening to 9/2 morning was only 2 ppm FC, .5 ppm CC. I'm assuming any drop meant algae is being consumed, but I'm not sure.

    Full disclosure (stuff I'm not doing "by the book"):
    1. FC high but not shock level: I've been trying to keep FC between 20 to 23 since before 8/20 (14 days now). After reading & re-reading cloudy thread posts and pool school I found I should have FC=8 target (non-shock) and FC>=28 for shock when my CYA=70. FC=20 to 23.5 has eliminated the green (after 2 weeks!), but I'm unsure if this or even official shock level will clear the clouds. Note that I'm letting the kids swim (age 9 and 11) in the pool but have to shower after they are done.

    2. Filtering 12h per day instead of 24hrs per day: My 2hp motor is fairly noisy. I don't want to risk bothering the neighbors if I don't have to. Also we can clearly hear the pump since our bedroom is about 25' from the pump and filter. I typically run the pump from 8 AM to 10 PM.

    3. Backwashing Limited: Since I've killed the green clouds my filter is consistently running ~13psi (clean pressure) so I haven't been backwashing. I just keep dumping in more chlorine and running filter 10-12 hrs every day. I also use a redneck(tm) skimmer sock (panty hose) to catch most the bugs and occasional stringy white plants (roots from seeds the birds drop in ???). I hate wasting water followed by adding more chemicals to balance freshly added water.

    4. Brushing infrequent and incomplete: I brush the pool floor moderately about once a day. I use a pool ranger (hooked up to my only inlet) vacuum once a week. I don't brush the walls because they feel smooth with no residue. Perhaps I'm delusional because I keep reading about brushing the walls in other posts. I even bought a wall whale to help brush the pool bottom while pulling back the brush. It works a little for that, but the idea of walking around the outside of my cramped pool perimeter scrubbing up and down just takes more time (~20min) and hassle than I've been willing to give.

    5. Zeobrite filter media: In July 2007 I started with 75 lbs zeobrite in my 150 lb sand filter (per zeobrite instructions). I backwashed the zeobrite per instructions to get the dust out. The first time I actually drained waste to an inflatable pool so I could see the drainage and repurpose it for watering the lawn & shrubs. I noticed about a cup or two of zeobrite in the waste pool I set up. I'm sure each time I backwash there is at least a little bit of filter media going to waste. This spring I peeked in the filter and I noticed the sand level was a bit low (just below half-way mark on molded tank), but I'm unsure if that is normal given zeobrite instructions recommended 1/2 the weight of regular sand. (I don't know if zeobrite just needs less or if it takes up more volume than regular sand.) My current plan is to add a couple hand fulls of D.E. via skimmer sometime soon and see if it improves cloudy situation.

    6. Solar blanket issues: I've only had this solar blanket for 3 years (2007). It has some damage and near the damaged area I noticed a couple bubbles had green in them. I read in a separate post that old solar blanket can provide a haven for algae which might explain my constant battle, but I'd hate to replace the blanket when it otherwise appears fine. I plan to look for damaged bubbles and give it a separate washing soon.

    7. Ladder in the pool 24x7: I typically leave the ladder in the pool except when vacuuming (~once a week). I know the rocks in the bottom rung compartment (designed to keep ladder down) provides an impossible area to clean beyond high chlorine level. Do I need to remove the ladder more frequently or scrub it regularly? (Please don't recommend extra work if you wouldn't do it yourself .)


    TO DO (in my order of priority):
    1. FC>=28 consistent shock for 3+ days, test twice a day (~noon and evening)
    2. Brush pool 2 times a day (morning and midday) and vacuum twice a week. Backwash each time water condition shows improvement (which indicates stuff in pool is now in filter)
    3. Wash solar blanket and check for/remove any algae-filled bubbles
    4. Add D.E. to sand filter
    5. Remove ladder when not in use (PITA, but likely haven for algae)
    6. Close pool with floc/polyquat (?) in about 3 weeks and try again next year (perhaps catching zeobrite dust)
    7. Microscope examination of water culture for signs of life vs. inorganic cloudiness. Trick will be getting a good sample because I don't have deposits on pool floor that I can see (too cloudy!) Perhaps I could try panning for particles by filling a pyrex dish with pool water, letting it settle for 4+ hours, then slowly pour off 99% of water to obtain sample for microscope.
    8. Read more about zeobrite dust as possible inorganic cloud particle (and how to remove said fine particles).

    I can commit to doing 2-3 of these at a time, but if the battle drags on I'll be likely to throw in the towel. Even if I don't get much benefit for this season the battle will help me understand how to conquer this problem next year starting at opening day.

    Would you do more or less? Would you change priority of steps above? Any additional ideas I haven't listed? Please reply with your ideas!
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Here's a photo:


    As of 9/3/2009 the pool is cloudy blue. I can barely see the fourth step and I can't see the bottom of the pool (about 52" down).
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

  3. Back To Top    #3
    Butterfly's Avatar
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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    What is your CH level?

    Have you always had zeobrite in your filter? Never sand?
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    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: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    I think part or all of the problem is your pump/filter combo.

    A 2hp pump is a LOT of pump for an 8000 gal pool & your filter is to small for that pump.

    A 1/2 hp pump would be fine for your sized pool/filter & would save quite a bit on power cost.

    You could probably run a 1/2 hp pump 6-8 hrs a day & be fine.

    Is your pump 2 speed? If it is keep it on the low setting.

    As a comparison I have a 17,000 gal pool, 300# sand filter & a 1 hp pump & I run my pump 6 hrs/day & my water is crystal clear.
    I consider myself very lucky I found this site before the pool store found me-pool owner since Nov 2008- Stunningly clear 17,000 gal fiberglass pool, thanks to this site, installed in 1982-24" 3.1sq. ft sta-rite sand filter, 1 hp - 2 speed wisperflo pump-WFDS-4

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Where do you normally maintain your FC? Obviously you are shocking now but where do you normally keep it?

    As Butterfly asked, what is your CH?

    How long have you had zeobrite? Was your pool cloudy prior to using it?

    Your CYA seems excessive for your method of chlorination and your climate. Why do you have it at 70?

    Post those answers back up and we'll get to work on your cloudy water.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Thanks for the initial replies. We had some rain this morning (for first time in a long time).
    Here's tonight's numbers:
    FC=34
    CC=.5
    PH=8.4
    TA=60
    CH=20ppm*

    *I have a vinyl AG pool so I thought "Vinyl pools are unaffected" per TF-100 instructions and a few posts I've read. (Seattle has very soft water .)

    CYA is high because I made a miscalculation when adding CYA this summer (plus the bottle recommended higher amount (of course) than TFP recommendation). I added too much so now I'm waiting for rain and backwashing to dilute. I could be more aggressive but I hate wasting water (plus I'd want to drop FC before dumping it all over my lawn and bushes which would be counter to my shock strategy).

    I normally try keeping FC around 8 to 10 ppm. Note that just this summer I've found/understood the FC/CYA chart in pool school.

    I've had zeobrite since I bought the pool. I vaguely remember the pool being very clear for first couple weeks, but I don't remember when it started getting cloudy. I also remember I didn't have the pool pump hooked up for a week (and had to manually mix the water due to making trade off for 4th of July construction completion party ). It's possible the zeobrite dust is the cause, but I'd be surprised that this much water is clouded by dust from 75 lbs of at least half-washed zeobrite. I'll look over my 2007 July through September photo archive to see if I can zero in on when clouds first rolled in.

    Bob, you're right on about the pump being overpowered. Pool bundle offered 1.5 HP Haywood or 2.0 HP Waterco pump but only offered 150lb sand filter. I didn't know enough to make adjustments to the order and properly size the pump and filter. Besides, I planned (and just finished ) my solar hot water panels located on a deck roof 20' above the pool so I didn't know exactly how much head I'd need and what size pump to get. When money allows I'll get a Pentair whisperflo 3/4 2-speed pump or something similar so I can easily prime the solar array, reduce electricity costs, and best of all get a quieter pool pump ! For now I'm stuck with what I've got. At least I used 2" plumbing all around .

    I need to get some acid or dig around for leftover PH down product in the shed tonight. Then I'll baking soda up the TA to try correcting those two values (per pool calculator so I don't miscalculate like I did before).

    Please continue providing advice. Thanks!
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Don't mess with the pH. As FC gets higher than 10, it starts interfering with the pH reagent and it will start reading artificially high.

    People were asking about CH because calcium is one source of clouding. But your numbers don't indicate that's a problem.
    --paulr

    P.S. (shh-- good job on getting people to think Seattle has terrible weather-- don't want anyone thinking it's lovely in the summer.)
    --paulr, who lived in Everett for 6 years
    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
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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    The cloudiness in the pic has a greenish tint to me, I suspect you just weren't shocking high enough and long enough - evidenced by the very high CC level in the first test results. It appears that has come down so I expect you to see visible improvement every day. If you don't, the filter is contributing to the problem.

    FYI - keeping the solar cover off during the day helps break down cc. if you leave it on frequently it can be problematic for some pools. Most solar covers won't last more than 2-3 years. I would throw it away after this season and get a new one for next year. They work better at retaining heat at night rather than actually 'heating' the pool. So I would try to keep it off during the day more often and see if that helps.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    (edited original post to correct "CC 1 .5" to "CC 1")

    Thanks for the input (no longer frustrated) poolmom. I just realized I had a typo in my initial CC posting. Instead of "1 .5" the reading was actually 1 followed by .5 the next morning. Please let me know if 1 CC is considered high. I think it should be 0 but I haven't found the pool school confirmation and I don't know what the range of severity is (0 to 10 or ...).

    PS: Glad to see you are no longer frustrated (per your sig). I remember reading some of your posts in PF several years ago.

    I've seen no change in color or cloudiness for last 2-4 days.
    I'll leave the cover off during the day to see if that helps any. We're expecting rain in next couple days so I'll keep a sharp eye on shock level and have a few extra bottles of bleach handy.
    I've noticed the edges of the solar blanket are a little waterlogged so you're probably right that I need to replace it soon.

    Additional tidbit: I also backwash infrequently (~3-4 times a year) because I want the additional crud and filter pressure to help catch finer particles... as long as I'm not harboring live algae in the process! This is one reason why I like slowly pouring bleach into the skimmer (rather than at the return jet) to help keep dead stuff in the filter dead.
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Tough to figure why your pool is cloudy but I have these thoughts that may or may not provide some insight.

    1. Allowing your pool to "breath" by keeping it uncovered is a good thing. Of course, you have to trade that off with the subsequent heat loss.

    2. I would suggest a CYA of 30-40 in that climate....no more.

    3. I am not a big fan of zeobrite but I doubt it could contribute to your cloudiness for anything but a very short period of time.

    4. I would suggest you back wash when you get a psi rise of 20-30%. I know I'll catch a little heat for this but I'm not a huge believer in that "dirty sand filters better" idea. I'm not saying it doesn't but I believe that effect to be so minimal as to be inconsequential. Why wouldn't the manufacturers simply suggest finer sand and a smaller holes in the fingers?

    5. Your stated gpm in your sig has me puzzled. It's incredibly low for a single speed pump. Tell us how you got that number.

    6. Why did you go to FC 34ppm?

    Again, these a random thoughts because it sounds like you have a filtering issue rather than a chlorinating issue but I'm having a hard time getting the whole picture.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    I'm still cloudy, but I can see the bottom of the pool a little! I'll try posting a picture later tonight (gotta run now).

    Today's test results:
    FC=31.5
    CC=.5 (likely closer to .25)

    Why 34 ppm yesterday? I'm in overkill mode. I've never read any posts saying too much chlorine is bad (other than wasteful). I've been pleasantly surprised to see FC isn't dropping too much. (Feel free to correct me .)

    I've taken the solar blanket off for now. Nobody's swimming in the rain with high shock FC anyway so no harm in losing a few degrees of heat.

    flow rate gpm was calculated by directing return hose into two 5 gallon buckets. It took 21 seconds to fill 10 gallons. That's ~30 gallons in 60 seconds =30 gpm. I'll check my math later tonight (gotta run for DW).
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Excessive FC will bleach a vinyl liner. Just how high that needs to be isn't a given, but we know the recommended values for shocking proposed on the forum are safe.

    Excessive overdosing on bleach is like overdosing on medicine...."two is supposed to make me well, so I'll take 16 and be well eight times faster!"
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    Quick update: The clouds are a bit thinner but not that much (perhaps extra 3-4" visibility). I can make out the bottom and any items on the bottom, but liner floor pattern is not clearly visible. Two days ago I removed the stairs and scrubbed off a bunch of brown film (dead algae) from behind stairs. I'll keep the stairs out as I continue shocking, filtering, and brushing.

    Yesterday I had chlorine drop down to 24ppm, likely helped by some rain overnight. (That is one reason why I have tried to stay well above the 28ppm shock level for my CYA.) I also need to buy a refill for my dpd/fas chlorine test. I'm diluting 2:1 to test with dpd/fas which works fine, but there's no way to get an accurate reading with the more popular OTO or test strips at this high a FC level. (I've even tried diluting 8:1 but error is +-10!)
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    My ladder was harboring algae last year. The pebbles in the bottom had come out of a creek bed, the installer "washed" them, and they were called "washed rock" but, as I discovered, that was a huge overstatement. We took the ladder out for the winter last November, and even though the water was sparkling clear at that moment, the ladder oozed with green gunk. We bleached and washed and bleached and rinsed that thing and the rocks. Then, in the spring, we did it all over again. Has not been nearly the problem this year. Also, the wall whale lets me stir up water under the ladder a bit better. I still expect to see a little algae when I take the ladder out again this year, but hopefully not like last year. Also, for next year we will go with weights in the bottom of the ladder made of pvc encased concrete (we learned about that on this forum). Should be easier to keep clean.
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  15. Back To Top    #15

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    Re: Cloudy in Seattle - every day of the season!

    What I've learned:
    1. Clouds are algae, even though I had FC above 20.
    2. CYA level makes a huge impact in how much bleach and test solution you use. CYA 70 takes much more bleach and test solution than lower CYA. I'll definitely lower my CYA level next season (backwash/drain below skimmer for winter, add fresh water in spring).
    3. Solar blankets can easily harbor algae, especially in damaged bubbles. Inspect your cover if algae is being stubborn.
    4. Ladders can easily harbor algae. Consider lifting ladder out of pool each time when pool is not used until algae problem is licked, then brush underside of ladder and weight compartment with bleach solution. For extreme measure consider sealing the weight compartment after filling with as much rock/sand as possible (with torch or soldering iron???).

    Well I've managed to keep the clouds at the same level last reported (can see texture of bottom). I haven't been very aggressive because I found one of the neighborhood kids has sensitive skin and we've got our last week or so of good weather happening. My plan is to close up when the wind and rain sets in (ETA 1-2 weeks). Usually the winter cover + high shock is enough to kill off the algae for the winter and give me back a clean(er) slate to work with.

    Thanks to all who chimed in! I'll try updating this post after I open next year with results of my second serious try.
    Thanks! ZephanS
    AG 12'x24'x54" "Diamond Star" (wilbar) bought 2007 from http://www.sunenterprise.com as kit with waterco 2hp (max) pump (too big+noisy) & WaterCo T450 150lb sand filter (filled w/ 75lbs zeobrite). Pool installed 2007. 160 sq ft solar array installed (2009) on custom metal deck roof (2008). Purchase, Site prep, & installation 100% DYI thanks to PF and TFP. Wrap-around deck, small swg, electrical upgrade, and 8' water slide still pending install.

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