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Thread: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

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    New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    First of all, hello! I've just found this forum and it seems like a great place!

    I'm trying to get my pool ready to close for the winter (live in south-western Ontario, Canada) and the last few weeks has been an absolutely ridiculous battle with far too many trips back and fourth to a near-by Pool Store. I'm hoping to gather some insight here.

    Background:
    - moved in to house 3 weeks ago
    - previous owners used "cheap" chemicals (HTH shock [cal-hypo], no-name pucks, etc) and probably never took the time to properly balance the pool water
    - water was crystal clear when we moved in, but appeared to have algae "sediment" in various places on pool's floor
    - being new to the pool, I had the water analyzed within the first few days of being in the home, and thus the battle began.

    Some of what I've been doing
    - Brought stabilizer up to 50 ppm (initial reading had been zero)
    - Shocked with ~5 gallons 12.5% liquid chlorine (killed algae, but has now caused very high phosphate levels)
    - been fighting with phosphates (and apparent inherent lack of FC) ever since (used 2 bottles of Calypso "Phos-free" ... still had high phosphate readings ... just today poured a bottle of Aqua "No Phos" in and awaiting the results of the next few days)
    - also been fighting to attempt to bring down calcium hardness levels since they've been very high ever since my first testing (vacuuming all the sediment from phosphate removers to waste has meant replacing water, but nothing too significant yet).

    Current numbers
    pH: 7.5
    T.A.: 110
    Adj. T.A.: 110
    FC: 0
    TC: 1.5
    CYA: 50
    CH: 600
    Phosphates: it's a judgment call on color-matching the test, so I'll say ~1,000 ppb



    So, I've been told a couple things that concern me. One is that I shouldn't close my pool with CH readings this high. Two is that until the phosphates are brought down significantly, I will have a very hard time getting my FC readings up (which I want to do before closing). Third is from another local pool store who told me that they don't "deal with" phosphates and that I should totally ignore that part of the equation and just shock the pool multiple times a day for as many days as it takes.

    Without babbling on too much more, I'm just looking for any ideas and/or suggestions as to what I can do to get my water "ok" to close the pool for the winter. I understand that dilution is the only way to bring CH down, so maybe that's the best answer I can get, since dilution will also bring down phosphate levels...?

    Thanks in advance!
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    I have a few questions to help narrow down what to advise you to do. Do you do your own testing or is the pool store testing for you? How old are the results in your post? How much and how often are you adding chlorine at this time? Have you read through Pool School? (link in upper right corner of this page) Have you done an overnight free chlorine loss test?

    Since the numbers you posted show FC 0 and TC 1.5 that would indicate you have 1.5 combined chlorine (CC) and that indicates a need to shock your pool. Most likely you are on the edge of a full out algae bloom.

    O.K., I plugged your current test results into the Pool Calculator. You should be keeping your FC between 4 and 8 ppm, but to shock your pool would require maintaining FC at 16 ppm until you pass the overnight FC loss test. You need to add 2 gallons, 1 quart, and 1 cup of the 12.5% liquid chlorine to reach 16 ppm.
    Phosphates are not eating your chlorine. The chlorine is depleted when trying to kill off the algae. You have been adding enough chlorine to keep the algae in check but not enough to kill it off. When there is sufficient chlorine to kill off the algae it won't matter how high your phosphates are. You can drain 50% of your water to lower the CH to 300. That would also drop your CYA to 25 however. Since you have a vinyl liner I wouldn't worry about the CH too much. CH mostly affects plaster pools. Right now I would concentrate on shocking the pool. These two threads defeating algea and shocking your pool will tell you what you need to do. Good luck!
    TFP Moderator
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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    The third store that told you to ignore the phosphates is the one you want to shop at.

    Phosphates are algae food. BUT, they are irrelevant provided you maintain proper FC levels (see the CYA chart)

    How were these tests done? They look like pool store testing. A CC of 1.5 means you need to shock. Your other numbers look fine.

    The high CH is concerning. Is your tap water high in CH? Any idea how it got that high? It's possible the prior owner was using alot of cal-hypo...

    If it's accurate, then I'd drain down about 1/3, refill, recirculate and retest. Rebalance then drain down for winter. When I say re-balance, I mean the PH/TA. CYA can wait until spring.

    So order your own test kit, follow the instructions in how to shock your pool. If you do drain, do that first, because the partial drain will lower the CYA level too, which means you'll need less bleach 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: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Yep, that third store has it right--keep shocking until the FC holds, however long that takes. Shock is not a one-time thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by zea3
    Since you have a vinyl liner I wouldn't worry about the CH too much. CH mostly affects plaster pools.
    A low CH is unimportant for a vinyl pool. High CH is a problem for any pool, due to the risk of calcium scaling. It's possible to reduce the risk by managing pH carefully, keeping it in the 7.2-7.5 range. Or replace water to reduce the CH level, as FPM suggested.

    But, wiping out the algae is the first step.
    --paulr
    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
    Water testing instructions on one page

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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    But, wiping out the algae is the first step.
    Cha-ching!

    Read Pool School on defeating algae. It'll involve high levels of chlorine (24ppm) held over an extended period of time. This process may take several days but your pool will clear.

    Disregard all your other parameters until you defeat the algae in your pool with chlorine. Then post back your test results and we can help fine tune your pool.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    The fact that the previous owners were using pucks and other pool store chemicals and yet CYA level was 0 seems odd.

    The more I read these forums, the more I cringe at the thought of a pool store water sample test.

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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Thanks everyone for the help so far. One thing I feel like I need to clarify is that I don't *think* I have an algae problem at this point. The only sediment I'm getting at the bottom of the pool is the white clouds you get from using these phosphate removers (there are now 3 bottles = 3 liters in there). The water is a bit cloudy, but this is also an effect of the phosphate remover products I've been using. At night I can turn on the underwater lights to see all the little particles that are floating around in the water, hence making it cloudy. I had gone about 3 days without adding any phosphate remover product, and the water was getting clearer by the day. But then yesterday I added the 3rd phosphate remover application (different product that works differently) which my store gave to me for free because the previous 2 applications didn't seem to work. So now the water is cloudy again.

    To answer some of your questions:
    Zea3:
    - I don't have my own test kit yet, just dip strips. Results I've given you have been store's testing.
    - test results I posted in original message were from that day (Sept. 23)
    - I have perused the Pool School link (awesome!) but did not find much speaking to phosphate problems and so on
    - I have not done an overnight FC loss test...I have not had a FC reading for a week or more
    - In the last 5-7 days I've only added a chlorine-free shock to the pool, one application. Just over a week ago (before the apparent phosphate problem) I had added 5 gallons of 12.5% liquid chlorine to the pool. My FC was around 6ppm a day later, then the phosphate problem bagan and my FC went to nadda. The store has been telling me that these phosphates will only neutralize the chlorine anyway, so there is no point in dumping any in there until the phosphates are cleared up.
    frustratedpoolmom:
    - I'm guessing that the high CH is because of the previous home owners using cal-hypo chlorine. I have no idea how much they were using, but I think that's the culprit for the high CH.



    So I know I need to drain/refill to bring my CH levels down ... should that be the first thing I do? If not, what should be my order of actions? (this is assuming I don't have an algae problem to deal with ... maybe I do and I don't know ...) Getting my FC up? Giving this last application of phosphate remover a few days to work?
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Maybe I wasn't clear. You are wasting time and money on phosphate removers. Phophate "problems" are pool store propaganda designed to sell their expensive chems. Their "solutions" often cause more problems. Put that behind you and move on.

    In MY opinion, you waste money and chems by trying to defeat a possible organic problem and then draining/refilling to correct the high CH. Obviously something is going on with the lack of FC. When you can't get FC readings for a week, you likely have an "nascent" algae situation on your hands.

    I am of the position that you should drain/refill first, if you believe the CH reading to be accurate. As I stated, a partial drain will lower your CYA level too, thus requiring less bleach/chlorine is needed to achieve shock level.

    Your high CC reading is possibly caused by the non-chlorine shock indicated in your last post. This product is not recommended for outdoor pools, its more useful for indoor pools or spas - it will register as CCs on chlorine tests. So we don't know if your 1.5 CC is from that or if you have organics (a "nascent" algae bloom). It's possible you have both situations on your hands.

    Without an FAS-DPD test for you to use to perform an Overnight FC Loss Test, it will be difficult to pinpoint what's happening in your pool. Can I assume you are hesitating to get a kit because you are about to close it for the winter? I understand your hesitation. Keep in mind your kit, stored properly, will last for at least 2 seasons.

    If you of are the mindset to close without your own kit, and you believe the CH test to be accurate...
    I would recommend you do the partial drain/refill as I suggested above. Have the pool water tested again after the refill (allow one full turnover of water before you retest). Adjust any PH/TA issues after that refill. Assuming the CH is a more manageable number... if it's still in the 400 range, make sure your PH is about 7.2 and your TA is about 90-100, and then proceed to shock the pool (required for winterizing anyway). Winterize the plumbing/etc....and deal with any potential organic problem in the spring, if there is one. You can order a kit in the spring so that you are prepared to defeat any problem at that time.

    If the winter cover is a good one, hopefully the PH will be stable and scale will not occur.

    Holler if you need clarification.
    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: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Thanks Frustratedpoolmom.

    I'm currently in the process of re-filling the pool. I drained it down to about 6 inches in the shallow end. Since the deep end walls are so slanted (3 feet of 90 degrees, then nearly a 45 degree angle to the floor), there's probably only about a 5 foot by 5 foot square that's actually 7.5 feet deep; so I'm figuring I drained out close to 35-40% of the pool's water. That's a real rough estimate, but regardless, I'm hoping that it brought the CH to a decent level (and also diluted any other chemical issues I may have been dealing with).

    My dilemma right now is whether to fill the pool up to normal operating levels now and work on the chemistry (only to drain it back down for closing in the next few weeks), or to just bring it up to the level that I would close it at (a few inches under the skimmer will also leave the return jets out of the water) and just close it. Another consideration is that I could fill it to "closing level" and, even though the jets would not be submersed, still run the pump via the main drain and work on the chemistry that way.

    What do you guys/girls think?
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    wes,

    How far SW Ontario are you???
    Jacuzzi 12x24 Oval AG 48" about 7500G
    Jacuzzi Maxiplus 190 sand
    Sta-rite/aquatools 2 speed 1HP (JWP series)
    Intex 8110 SWG

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    polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by wes8398
    My dilemma right now is whether to fill the pool up to normal operating levels now [... or] just bring it up to the level that I would close it at
    Are you planning to swim in the next few weeks?
    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: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    You have an option. Refill to winterization level, recirculate for one turnover of water, and retest, and see where you are at. If the CH level is not diluted enough, you can always add water to reach the normal level, then recirculate, retest....you can always repeat if necessary. You may need to rebalance the other numbers as I described... make sure the PH and TA are in line before you begin to shock and winterize.

    My only concern is if you don't refill all the way, the CH number won't be diluted enough. Think of it this way, by draining/refilling now, then lowering it again to winterize, when you refill in the spring, the level should be much better.
    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: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    crewchief47
    I'm in Sarnia, about an hour South-West of London ... you?

    polyvue
    It's HIGHLY unlikely I'll be swimming in it again 'til next spring.

    frustratedpoolmom
    I've considered that same issue regarding it not being diluted enough, but after running the hose from 7:00pm til 6:30am, I decided to err on the side of conservation and shut the hose off. Conveniently 6:30 was when I had to get up anyway, and the water level was barely an inch under the jets...right where I would want to close it. So I think I'll test the water and try to keep it at this level...unless the CH is still really high in which case I'll fill it, play with chemistry, then bring it back down to close.

    Question: Is there any issue with running the pump while the jets are NOT submersed? Like I said, they're barely an inch out of water right now ... using the main drain, I'll still get decent circulation, right?
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

  14. Back To Top    #14
    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    You may get a rise in PH from the aeration.... you can use acid to lower it before you close.
    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

  15. Back To Top    #15

    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    One more thing .... what's an acceptable CH level to close the pool? (considering a vinyl liner, etc)

    Once I get some testing done, I'll definitely post back with results. I really appreciate everyone's help and input. Thanks a lot! Especially you, frustratedpoolmom!
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

  16. Back To Top    #16

    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Ah, Sarnia is a little to far for stop in to give you a hand. I'm just outside of Windsor. Sent you a PM as well.
    Jacuzzi 12x24 Oval AG 48" about 7500G
    Jacuzzi Maxiplus 190 sand
    Sta-rite/aquatools 2 speed 1HP (JWP series)
    Intex 8110 SWG

  17. Back To Top    #17
    Butterfly's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by wes8398
    One more thing .... what's an acceptable CH level to close the pool? (considering a vinyl liner, etc)
    Here's the Recommended Levels from Pool School.
    TFP Moderator TF100 Test Kit TF100 TestKit YouTube Channel PoolMath
    You're done SLAMing when:
    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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  18. Back To Top    #18

    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    You guys are great. Thanks a lot! I decided to fill it up a little more so the jets are submersed. Going to test the water first thing tomorrow (after the pump runs all night) and go from there! Wish me luck!
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

  19. Back To Top    #19
    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    You're welcome
    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

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: New house, new pool, new problems! Please help!

    Well...more confusion today. I brought a water sample to both of the local pool stores to see what each of them would say. Both said my alkalinity was a bit low at 115ppm, so 4 kg's of sodium bicarb was suggested (of course I didn't buy theirs, just going to go to the grocery store). Both stores also found my Ph to be 7.8, which is on the high end, but they said to be safe.
    The store that uses a computer program to read a test strip (call it store A) told me that my CH is down to 300ppm. They thought I would be good to get the pool closed after bringing the alkalinity up. The store that uses dropper tests (call it store B) told me that my CH was at 405ppm. Store B said that if I close the pool with 400ppm CH I would run the risk of the calcium coming out of solution and leaving some nasty clean-up in the spring. He said that as the water got colder, it would become more and more likely for this to occur. He advised me that, to err on the side of caution, I should drain my pool down to 6" in the shallow end (for the 2nd time) and re-fill; then balance and close. Both stores suggested stain/scale inhibitors upon closing as well.

    So, yet another day off work goes by and my pool is still not closed. I really don't want to have to drain and refill again before closing it, but I wanted to get opinions from you guys. Is closing a pool with 400ppm CH a bad idea? Should I just add the bicarb and close the thing? Or drain, refill, balance, then close?

    Thanks again for all your help. I wasn't sure if I should start a new topic here, or just continue on. Hopefully some of you guys are still watching this one.
    Wes
    1) In-Ground pool with vinyl liner
    - ~25,000 gallons
    - Sand Filter
    - 1 HP pump
    - BBB method working perfectly since 2010
    2) Four Winds Honolulu Spa
    - ~450 gallons
    - 3 step bromine

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