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Thread: Noob learning the hard way

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    Noob learning the hard way

    Hi everyone on TFP!
    I am so grateful to all of you who are freely sharing your knowledge. Thank you!
    I've never had any pool experience whatsoever before this year. Anyway, we just moved into a new home in July that featured the inground pool described below. The older lady who owned the home did her own pool maintenance, using trichlor tabs, and everything seemed to be running fine. Did some research, found your wonderful forum, and figured I'd check the chemistry. I tried to use her legacy inexpensive test kit and the results were off the scale, so I assumed the results were due to old reagents and didn't sweat it as the pool seemed to be clear and blue, no problems.

    Fast forward to two weeks ago. Here in Maryland it's closing time so I figured I'd do what seemed like the hard part first, figuring out how to lower the water level, clear the water out of the system, break down the filter, etc. Only after getting to that point did I realize that what I thought was a pool cover she had left was actually just a thermal cover (blue bubble wrap). So, I figured I'd leave the pool as is for a couple days while I rustled up a pool cover. I also ordered a TF100 test kit.

    That was a mistake. Just a few days was all it took for leaves to blow in and stain the bottom of the pool.

    Then we had 4 straight days of rain. finally nice weather, got the thermal cover off, set the filter back up, cleaned the leaves out, put some more shock powder in, ran a few basic tests.
    Here are the results.

    Temp = 54-56 F
    Ph = 6.8 (or lower)
    FC = .5
    CC = 1

    Here are my questions:
    Do you need the other test results?
    We may get a freeze in the next week, maybe not. So, do I need to try to get my pool chemistry right before closing, or can it wait til next year?
    Should I worry about the stains left by the leaves? Brushing doesn't budge them. The old trick of placing a trichlor tab directly on the spot for a while seems to.

    I'll go ahead and pick up some bleach and baking soda while I'm out today. Any recommendations on quantities?

    Thanks in advance!
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Quote Originally Posted by b/o 402
    Temp = 54-56 F
    Ph = 6.8 (or lower)
    FC = .5
    CC = 1

    Here are my questions:
    Do you need the other test results?

    Yes. Most especially Cyanuric Acid (CYA), because depending on the level of CYA (likely introduce from the trichlor pucks used to chlorinate the pool) the recommendation might be to drain some of the water. From the results you've posted, you know that the pH is too low and the chlorine level is not high enough. But what to do about these will depend on the other test results.

    We may get a freeze in the next week, maybe not. So, do I need to try to get my pool chemistry right before closing, or can it wait til next year?
    Should I worry about the stains left by the leaves? Brushing doesn't budge them. The old trick of placing a trichlor tab directly on the spot for a while seems to.

    If your pool water is not balanced you may end up with damaged plaster in the spring AND an algae outbreak. Ditto with stains left by leaves. If the stain is lifted by trichlor tab then most likely you're correct about the cause of the problem, but it won't be any easier if you wait.


    I'll go ahead and pick up some bleach and baking soda while I'm out today. Any recommendations on quantities?

    Have a feeling you're going to need a lot of bleach, but can't really provide quantity until you decide what you want to do based on test results.
    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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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Hey, thanks for the quick response!
    Just did the cya test -
    cya = 40
    That's in the acceptable range, right?
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    More test results:
    T/A = 20
    CH = 330
    So, I need Borax rather than baking soda at this point, right?
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Your TA and PH are both low - in which case we recommend Soda Ash, or "WAshing Soda" - Arm & Hammer brand, if you can find it - NOT the detergent....

    Some stores sell it under "PH Up"

    Otherwise you need Borax AND Baking Soda...

    Definetly balance before you close, the stains are treatable.
    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: Noob learning the hard way

    Ok, just added 182 oz of 6% bleach. Pool calculator says that should get FC to 5.3.
    Couldn't find washing soda, but added about 60 oz of 20 Mule Team. Pool calculator says that should get pH to 7.5.
    I'll let the pump run all night , right?
    Looks like I may have to invest in some baking soda?
    Hey, this is kinda fun! (So far)
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    By the way, thanks poolmom! Reading your saga was inspirational!
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    After reading more here at TFP I'm starting to think I should shock the pool. The calculator says to go for FC = 16 to shock so I'll add 2 more Wally World specials (182 oz. jugs). Let me know if I'm screwing this up!
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    The CYA test can read low if the water is cold. Go get a fresh sample and put it in the house for a while and let it warm up to room temp, then run the CYA test again. I'm just suspicious because 40 seems awfully low for a pool maintained on trichlor. If the reading is for real, then I guess you got lucky!

    The bleach quantities seem reasonable, the two jugs should bring it up by 9 or 10. Give that a day or so to work on the stains.
    --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: Noob learning the hard way


    Post Posted: October 20th, 2009, 11:01 pm

    Reply with quote
    The CYA test can read low if the water is cold. Go get a fresh sample and put it in the house for a while and let it warm up to room temp, then run the CYA test again. I'm just suspicious because 40 seems awfully low for a pool maintained on trichlor. If the reading is for real, then I guess you got lucky!
    PaulR, I understand your concern, that occurred to me too. But I did that (warm up the sample) for the CYA test today, got a similar result. Whew! Guess I am lucky!
    Full test results from this morning:
    FC = .5 - 1
    CC = 3
    pH = <6.8
    T/A = 20
    CH = 300
    CYA = 30
    Temp = 56

    Pool calculator calls for 347 oz of baking soda to raise T/A to 100, I'll put in 5 boxes (320 oz.) and see how that works.
    I figure I'll see what that does to the pH before I add any more borax, right?
    Also, if I understand correctly, I should wait until tonight to add bleach, right?
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Quote Originally Posted by b/o 402
    Full test results from this morning:
    FC = .5 - 1
    CC = 3
    pH = <6.8
    T/A = 20
    CH = 300
    CYA = 30
    Temp = 56

    Pool calculator calls for 347 oz of baking soda to raise T/A to 100, I'll put in 5 boxes (320 oz.) and see how that works.
    I figure I'll see what that does to the pH before I add any more borax, right?
    Also, if I understand correctly, I should wait until tonight to add bleach, right?
    Your figures look right to me. The baking soda won't raise pH very much, but borax additions will. Recommend that you brush the sides/floor of the pool as well as run the pump for a number of hours to incorporate the baking soda and borax before you begin adding bleach to shock level. You really don't want pH too high before you shock, so keep that in mind.
    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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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    The baking soda won't raise pH very much, but borax additions will. Recommend that you brush the sides/floor of the pool as well as run the pump for a number of hours to incorporate the baking soda and borax before you begin adding bleach to shock level. You really don't want pH too high before you shock, so keep that in mind.
    Thanks, polyvue, that's what I wasn't sure about. I went ahead and added another 180 oz. of borax - dunno where I got that 60 oz figure, must have left something out of the pool calculator. I'll test pH tonight, then add the correct amount of bleach for the pH, check FC an hour later, then measure FC again tomorrow morning to check FC loss, right?
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Quote Originally Posted by b/o 402
    I went ahead and added another 180 oz. of borax - dunno where I got that 60 oz figure, must have left something out of the pool calculator. I'll test pH tonight, then add the correct amount of bleach for the pH, check FC an hour later, then measure FC again tomorrow morning to check FC loss, right?
    You've got the overnight chlorine loss process down*... but I'm a bit concerned about the amount of borax you added. Was this in addition to the 60 oz you added before? If your pH was 6.8, adding 240 oz. of borax (both applications) would raise pH approximately 1.42.

    pH 6.8 + 1.42 = pH 8.22

    Verify this tonight by testing pH. If you overshot the mark a bit, strongly recommend bringing this down with muriatic acid (a little at time) until you're in the neighborhood of 7.5.


    * You're testing both FC and CC, evening and early morning.
    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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    View of spiral galaxy in Ursa Major NGC6217 - Hubble Telescope 2009

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    I'm a bit concerned about the amount of borax you added. Was this in addition to the 60 oz you added before? If your pH was 6.8, adding 240 oz. of borax (both applications) would raise pH approximately 1.42.

    pH 6.8 + 1.42 = pH 8.22
    Yes, I added 60 oz yesteday, and the pH still tested at 6.8 this morning.
    I mean, 6.8 is as low as the test goes, but I kind of suspect the actual pH was actually lower than that.
    I got that figure for borax somehow on the pool calculator. Anyway, just tested pH at a solid 7.2.
    I'll go ahead and add the bleach now (pool is in full shade, sun going down) and check FC and T/A in an hour or so.
    Thanks for your help!
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Quote Originally Posted by b/o 402
    Yes, I added 60 oz yesteday, and the pH still tested at 6.8 this morning.
    I mean, 6.8 is as low as the test goes, but I kind of suspect the actual pH was actually lower than that.
    I got that figure for borax somehow on the pool calculator. Anyway, just tested pH at a solid 7.2.
    I'll go ahead and add the bleach now (pool is in full shade, sun going down) and check FC and T/A in an hour or so.
    Great... sounds like you're ahead of this game. Don't worry too much about testing TA right now (though you can if you wish)... the main thing is FC and CC.
    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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    View of spiral galaxy in Ursa Major NGC6217 - Hubble Telescope 2009

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Hey b/o 402,
    I don't have anything to add, because these guys are great and they'll never steer you wrong if you trust them.
    Just wanted to say hi from across the ridge in Martinsburg WV!
    WV Girl

    Custom "L" shape IG gunite pool, 36K gal., main drain, 2 skimmers, 3 returns, hayward heat pump, hayward 1.5hp pump with booster pump, ozonator, 4 cartridge filter.
    one dear hubby, two waterlogged kids, and lots of good times!

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Hmmm.
    Tested 1 hour after adding indicated amount (575 oz) of bleach about 5:45 PM.
    Result (tested 2 different spots in the pool):
    FC = <1
    CC == 5

    Did I wait long enough after adding bleach to get a correct reading?
    Should I go ahead and add more bleach now and retest later?
    I'd like to shock this pool!
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Just wanted to say hi from across the ridge in Martinsburg WV!
    Hey WV girl! Thanks!
    Where I live is beautiful, scenic, historic. Where you live is almost heaven!
    Beautiful, scenic, historic, rural Frederick County, Maryland!
    18,500 gal IG plaster freeform Anthony pool
    48 sf DE American Products filter
    1 HP pentair aquaflo pump

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    polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    Quote Originally Posted by b/o 402
    Hmmm.
    Tested 1 hour after adding indicated amount (575 oz) of bleach about 5:45 PM.
    Result (tested 2 different spots in the pool):
    FC = <1
    CC == 5

    Did I wait long enough after adding bleach to get a correct reading?
    Should I go ahead and add more bleach now and retest later?
    I'd like to shock this pool!
    Hmmmm... indeed. Are you certain this was full strength 6% bleach (like Chlorox or another bleach that states 6% sodium hypochlorite on the label?) If so, why don't you wait a while and test again. That should be enough to bring it up to 16 ppm.

    Try stirring up the water with your water features and automatic cleaner -- whatever you have.
    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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    Re: Noob learning the hard way

    402, what does your water look like? Do you have much debris in the pool?
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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