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Thread: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

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    How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Over the course of the past 12 months we've had a lot of work done in our backyard that I'm certain has affected our pool:
    - installed an irrigation well (dust and more dust from the drilling)
    - had pavers installed (lots of dirt moved around and concrete /sand laid down)
    - renovated our lawn (tilling, compost, lime, fertilizer,herbicides)
    And the pool is located dead center in the middle of this activity. And then there's the 30+ trees that border the pool.

    With all of this work going on the only ones who used the pool were my two dogs The only maintenance we performed was vacuuming, backwashing, weekly shock and some algaecide.

    It never occurred to me to cover the pool when the work was being done so now I'm left with the consequences.

    The water is crystal clear but the pool has a green cast to it. I know some it it has to be algae but there are a number of stains on the sides, bottom and steps. Some look like rust but some others are very dark (especially at the bottom of the spa) and some are greenish/blue and one or two are more yellow.

    I know I can't treat any stains until the water is balanced so I had the water tested with the following results:
    TA: 115
    Iron: 0
    Copper: 0
    PH: 7.6
    Shock: 0
    CYA: 0
    TH: 160
    TDS: 300
    TC: 1
    FC: 1

    Based on this I was told to add 3.5 LBS CA and 6 LBS of Cal Plus. I've added both of these over the past 36 hours but the FC and CA are still too low.
    How long should it take for these two chemicals take to raise the FC and CA? Should I already be seeing results?

    I was told not to increase my chlorine level until I can determine if the stains are organic or metal since that will affect the treatment and and the required chlorine levels.

    I was advised that the easiest way to figure out what the stains are is to apply a chlorine tab to the stain and if it lightens then it's organic and if I apply a sock with PH Down to it and that works then it's metal. The problem is not all of the stains look the same. Is it possible to have both organic and metal stains at one time? And if so, will treating one type of stain have a negative impact on the other type of stain?

    I had a new DE filter installed last week and asked them what the stains were. They said algae but I always thought that algae would move or dust up when brushed and most of this seems impervious to brushing.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Hi ya, Barney. Welcome to TFP!

    You have a number of questions but I'll just try to answer one or two and let other more experienced members address the remainder.

    First, I'd recommend posting a few pictures of the stains, this should result in better and more specific advice from the folks here. Second, read thru some of the articles in Pool School -- there is even one focused on staining. Third, buy yourself a good test kit so you can perform your own testing; you'll be able to get more accurate (and quicker) test results. See this link for some good test kits.

    Finally, difficulty in getting Free Chlorine up typically indicates an algae problem and/or high level of Combined Chlorine (aka Chloramines). Once you're able to test your own water, you may want to consider shocking. But first, read Pool School...

    Good luck!
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Ditto the advice above. Pool School has a wealth of info.

    Your first step is to order your own test kit.

    Your second step is take a chlorine tablet and hold it on each spot to determine the stain type. YES, it is possible to have both metal and organic staining at the same time.

    A vitamin C tablet put on the stains will also determine if the spots are metal, so you don't have to use dry acid in a sock. You can, just letting you know your options. Vitamin C will likely have little effect on copper staining, FYI.

    How do you normally chlorinate your pool? Why would your CYA be zero?

    If you were to proceed with a stain treatment to remove metal stains, then the chlorine must be near zero to do so. But to defeat algae, you will have to shock. IF your CYA is really zero, it will be difficult for you to maintain chlorine because the sun will consume it.

    When you say CA, what chem do you mean? And Cal Plus, what's the active ingredient in that?
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Quote Originally Posted by Barney Rubble
    The only maintenance we performed was vacuuming, backwashing, weekly shock and some algaecide.
    What are the ingredients of the algaecide? Some contain copper.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barney Rubble
    TA: 115
    Iron: 0
    Copper: 0
    PH: 7.6
    Shock: 0
    CYA: 0
    TH: 160
    TDS: 300
    TC: 1
    FC: 1
    These numbers look suspcious. You said that you shocked weekly but your CYA is zero and if you were using cal-hypo to shock then your hardness of 160 seems to be low. At any rate I'd be suspcious of any of the numbers. The good news is that your pH shows good. But I'll qualify that by saying see the immediately preceeding sentence.

    Follow Polyvue and FPM's advice. It's good for you!
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Yes, we are suspicious of all pool store testing, in case you hadn't figured that out.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    These numbers look suspicious. You said that you shocked weekly but your CYA is zero and if you were using cal-hypo to shock then your hardness of 160 seems to be low. At any rate I'd be suspicious of any of the numbers. The good news is that your pH shows good. But I'll qualify that by saying see the immediately preceding sentence.

    Follow Polyvue and FPM's advice. It's good for you!
    The one number I am comfortable with (based on everyone's apparent concerns with pool store analysis) is the PH. This was just tested by the pool repair company last week when he installed the new DE Filter. I have just ordered the TF test kit and hope that shipping doesn't take too long. Until i receive it I will have to rely on the store numbers.

    As for products used:
    Shock Plus is a tri-clor. Used 2 LBS/wk.
    Cal Plus doesn't list ingredients just that it will raise the calcium level.
    CA - is 100% Cy Acid.

    Other products used at various times over the summer:
    Clean Sweep - non alum flocculent. Used this to help vacuum out much the debris that settled in the pool after the various projects listed in original post.
    Algaecide Plus 50% - dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride 50% The rest of the ingredients are listed as "other".
    Algaecide 20% - 3.3% Copper 96.7 % other

    I am embarrassed to say that I've never looked at the ingredients before but that's because I had no clue what to look for. I have simply gotten their recommended products and applied according to their directions. Having said that, my last few trips to Leslie's has made me realize that many of their employees don't seem to know much more than I do. One person tells me one thing and when I return the next person tells me that I shouldn't have used that product.

    So based on the posted recommendations my plan is to :
    - start testing the water myself once I get my test kit
    -use the chlorine tablet and Vitamin C tablet on various stains to see what they are
    - spend some more time reading articles in the Pool School.
    - send some pictures along with my chlorine and vitamin C results

    If my FC and CY remain low which one should I try to address first (assuming that I should only add one chemical at a time)?

    Thanks for all of the replies.
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    You used 2 lbs of trichlor shock a week? Routinely? There is no way the CYA can be zero, UNLESS the FC dropped to zero, bacteria consumed the CYA and converted into ammonia.
    Then you will have a great chlorine demand trying to oxidize the ammonia. If this is the case you will consume a lot of chlorine to do this.

    If you added 3.5 lbs of CYA in the last 36 hours your CYA should be at least 30, depending on how you added it....CYA can take up to a week to fully dissolve and register on tests. It may be that you tested too soon or some was lost somehow, perhaps if you added directly to the filter and then backwashed too soon?

    You can safely shock up to 12 FC level, assuming that the CYA is 30 from this addition.

    Once you have your own test kit you can test the CYA level yourself. As I said above if you routinely used trichlor the CYA level should be anything but zero....

    Don't worry about the calcium for now. Don't use/buy either of those algaecides anymore.

    Your focus now should be chlorine, and plenty of it. Once you i.d. the stains you can determine the next steps to proceed, metal staining can always wait.

    Follow the steps on How to Shock your Pool and Defeating Algae in Pool School. Once you id the stains post back and we'll advise you better. Organic staining usually fades away over time with proper FC levels, so any metal staining will likely be all that is left behind...pics will reveal more. There is a treatment for stains but as I said, that can always happen later.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    I've taken some pictures of the stains ( actually have some more but 3 is the limit so I'll add in another post). As one picture will show, the Chlorine tab did work on some of the stains but neither the Chlorine or Vit C tab worked on another (picture also attached). I also have some very dark spots but I'm not sure they are clear in the attached picture and they are too deep for me to try using either tablet on.

    Yesterday afternoon I cleaned out the pump basket and when I turned the filter back on I ended up with a bubble bath.. The pool was full of foam and I could see this "white stuff" shooting into the pool and the spa. I turned it off and had the gentleman who installed the DE Filter last week come out to look at it. I just assumed it had to be DE coming back into the pool. He came by and told me it's the chemicals in my pool and the filter is fine.

    I've only added Cy Acid and Calcium . The only chemical I've ever had foam on me is algaecide and I haven't put any of that in the pool for at least 3 or 4 weeks (and yes I saw the post to stop using the algaecide that I had been using). The pool man suggested some anti-foam stuff but I decided to just let the filter run and see what happens. After about an hour the foam disappeared and nothing else is coming out and the water is actually pretty clear right now. Any ideas?

    If I'm reading the posts and pool school correctly the most important thing for me to concentrate on right now is getting my FC up to 12. I ordered a test kit from TFP but I think I should have one now so I can monitor the chlorine. My plan is to go get some chlorine and another test kit and see what else I need after that. Any recommendations on what type of chlorine or does it matter? For that matter any suggestions for the best place to buy chemicals since I assume not all products are equal.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    To attach multiple pics it's better to upload them to Photobucket.com or similar host site and then copy the IMG Code and paste it in the message here. (select the "large" size when uploading to their site).

    The organic staining is easy - should fade with proper chlorine levels.

    The other stain looks like iron but you said Vitamin C did nothing? Possibly copper then...you can try dry acid in a sock, set it on the stain, use something to hold it in place. See if that does anything.

    You should just be using liquid chlorine or bleach, 6% Clorox or the Target/Walmart-store brand...you can get 10-12.5% liquid chlorine (sometimes called "Pool Shock") at pool stores, but no guarantee on the actual strength if it's been sitting around for awhile. If you can find that for $3.00 a gallon it's a good price. Otherwise stick with the large jugs of Clorox/Wal-mart brand - for Around $2.54 for 182 oz that's a good price and they have rapid turnover so the strength should be good.

    You shouldn't need any other products right now, especially algaecide.

    So stock up on the bleach... have you figured out how to use the Pool Calculator to determine how much bleach you need to reach shock level?
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    I'm off to Target to get some bleach. I did use the calculator to figure out the amount of bleach (228 oz). How long to I want to keep the FC at 12? Until the stains start to fade?

    Again, thanks for your input. You folks are great!
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    You want to hold 12 until the FC holds overnight via the Overnight FC Loss test (see instructions in Pool School).

    If the stains don't immediately fade from shocking the pool, hold the FC at a slightly elevated level, using the "target" as your "min" and then target 2ppm higher than that for your nightly dosing. So if 3 is your "min" and your "target" is 5, make 7 your new target and keep the FC above 5 at a min. I would think organic stains would begin to fade within days and be gone within a month. (This was my personal experience when I first found TFP...my stains never returned.)

    Brushing the areas while at shock level is always a good idea.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    So last night I added 228 oz of bleach (6%) per the pool calculator. I was rather amazed this morning to see the green cast has almost disappeared completely.

    My TF Test kit arrived this morning - talk about fast delivery I just ordered it late Thursday afternoon.
    The test results are:
    FC - 3.5
    CC - 0
    TC - 3.5
    PH - 7.5
    T/A - 150
    CH - 290
    CYA - 35

    As an FYI, before the TF test kit arrived I used a test strip and it showed 0FC and 0 CYA. I won't be using those again.

    The only test result I'm not completely comfortable with is the calcium. After adding the 0010 and 0011 the water was pink and it took forever to get it to turn blue. Other than that -does anyone see any discrepancy in these test results - I tried to be careful but it was my first time so I may have slipped up and as of now nothing would stand out to me.

    We just finished scrubbing the pool so now I'm going to throw another 176 oz of bleach in and do the overnight fc test and see how that goes.
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    I must be doing something wrong when I test the water.

    My first test results with my new TF test kit - posted above - showed FC @ 3.5. I decided to do the overnight FC test. I added the recommended amount of bleach (6%) of 176 oz and waited almost an hour to do my last FC test of the night. The test results showed FC @ 2. I expected the FC to be MUCH higher after after adding all that bleach. (I do think my initial test yesterday afternoon was wrong since the R870 just turned a very pale shade of pink but I don't think I added enough R870) .

    This morning I did another test (still dark out) and I couldn't get any reading. In both the pre and post tests I added one heaping scoop of R870 powder to 10ml of pool water. Last night the solution turned a deep shade of pink this morning it just turned cloudy almost a milky color. Last night it took 4 drops of R871 to turn clear this morning I put in 10 drops and it just stayed cloudy. I can't figure out what I've done wrong here. It did rain all last night but no more than 1/2 inch so I don't know if that would have any affect on the test.

    I'm thinking maybe I should redo all of my tests but I'd really like some feedback as to what I may be doing wrong before I redo everything.

    On a positive note - the pool is looking really good for only 2 1/2 days of working on it.. It was a green swamp on Friday and it's a lovely shade of clear light blue. Granted most of the stains are still there but I expect those to take time to fade.

    One other observation. I expected that when all of this green disappeared that my DE filter pressure would increase a lot but I started at 20 on Friday and this morning it's only gone up to 22. I'm not complaining just a little surprised.

    Any insight is greatly appreciated.
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    good Morning, Barney,

    It certainly sounds like you have no chlorine left in your pool. Two things consume chlorine....sunlight and organics (algae) in the pool. We do the overnight test to eliminate the sun leaving only organics as the cause for the consumption of the chlorine.

    I think you are doing the test fine. (although, you shouldn't see "cloudy" but only clear water if there is no chlorine present.)

    Simply confirm the lack of chlorine by doing the OTO chlorine test (it's the blue plastic box with the comparator tube). mY bet is that test will report no chlorine either.

    Confirm that and prepare to shock the pool.......this time holding the FC higher (around 20ppm) and longer than you have been.

    Report back the OTO test.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Dave;
    Just as you expected there was absolutely no chlorine. The OTO test was perfectly clear. This afternoon I added 415 oz of bleach based on the calculator to get to 20 ppm FC. After 4 hours the OTO test is still showing high levels of Chlorine but we'll see how that holds up. I will try to do another overnight FC test this evening and let you know what the numbers look like in the morning.

    Thanks for your help..
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Not sure this will happen but be prepared for your FC to drop 4-8 points or so today. Simply bring it back up to 20 tonight. You may have to do this a day or two before you get an acceptable result on the overnight FC loss.

    RE: the DPD Powder....
    Using the small, dimpled end of the blue spoon, heap it up a little and use just that one scoop......that's virtually always adequate to turn the water pink (rosey red) and consequently enough for you to perform the test pretty accurately.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Actually, the chlorine has dropped to 0 again using the OTO test. It took a little under six hours to use 415 oz of bleach. I just put another 364 oz in (it's all I had left). I'm going to wait about 45 minutes and perform part 1 of the overnight FC test. I'll do the morning test around 6 tomorrow morning and post the numbers then.

    I know there's still a lot of algae in the pool since the stains are still prominent even thought the water looks crystal clear. The only thing I don't understand at this point is why my filter pressure isn't going up.

    Dave, I have to laugh about your detailed instructions on the DPD powder. When I did my first FC test I used the small dimpled end of the spoon. When the water only turned a pale pink I figured I used the wrong end so this morning I used the flat edge. That may be why this morning's FC test didn't work - I probably used way too much DPD powder. I was wondering about this earlier but was too embarrassed to say I was unsure of which end to use. So thanks for clearing that up for me.

    Susan
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Barney (Susan),

    You would have to get in a long line if you wanted to join the club of "wrong-end spoon users"!

    If you're already at zero, don't worry too much about the overnight FC loss test as I'm sure you will be losing a bunch of FC for the next couple of days. Focus on keeping the4 FC up around twenty by adding a couple of times in the evening and them once in the early AM. That'll minimize your FC loss to the Sun but still give you a lot of killing power on the organics.

    I would plan on an overnight FC loss test probably Tuesday evening but not much sooner.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    What he said

    (This from a member of the used-the-wrong-end club )
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: How Can I Tell What these Stains Are

    Since I missed your last post about not bothering with another overnight FC test I ended up doing one.

    After adding another 364 oz at 6:15 I tested the FC around 9:30 PM and it was at 11. I rechecked it this morning at 6 am and it dropped down to 4. I know that's a big drop but I felt fairly good about it since this is the first time that the chlorine level was higher than zero after 12 hours. I added another 332 oz of bleach after this morning's test and will see what I need to add around 6 this evening.

    Once I do get it to stay at 20 FC how long do I want to keep it there?

    Also I have 2 Golden Retrievers who are very despondent since I haven't let them swim for the past week. Is it safe for them to go in when the FC is high? Will it have any effect on them?

    I also feel better knowing that I'm not the only member of the "wrong end user's club"!

    I'll let you know the test results on Wednesday morning.
    Susan
    15,400 gal with attached spa, IG concrete, FNS 60# DE, 2HP Pump, Gas Heater 400 BTU , 1.5HP Booster Pump, Polaris 360, Nature 2 (never use)

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