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Thread: confusing test results

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    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    confusing test results

    My pool is less than 1 year old and I'm confused about the test results that I just got. I opened my pool a week ago and have been running it on "low" since. I did a HTH 6 way test strip when I opened it and everything was fine. I have an automatic chlorinator that uses trichlor tabs.
    I just retested it with the strips and got: th-200, fc-5, ph-7.5, ta-240, cya-3- to 50. I then retested it with a HTH 6 way test kit with all of the drops, etc. Results: ph-7.2, cya-70-, ta-130, I couldn't interpret cl since it turned red when I added the OTO drops instead of yellow. For the th test-another confusing result- it turned yellow from the hardness indicator drops instead of red. What does this mean? Do I have a problem?
    I added about 6 to 8 inches of community well water before I opened the pool. The water has been alkaline and very hard in the past.
    What do I need to do to maintain my water? It's perfectly clear now, but I guess that I'm supposed to add shock to it weekly. How much? Thanks.
    15,300 gal., AG, sand filter, 1HP 2 speed pump, 40 GPM.

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    SWSuburban Chicago, IL
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    Re: confusing test results

    No one should have to shock weekly

    Start by reading Pool School...

    Tomorrow go to the Pool Store and have them test the water for you, then you should order or your own test kit (we recommend 2).
    Trust the drop kits over strips, any day...

    But I'm wondering if you maybe did a testing error on the OTO and TH test.
    Did you shock recently? Is the OTO Red or a darkish orange/brown?

    The pool store should be able to narrow things down.

    So, how does your water look now?
    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

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: confusing test results

    The water is perfectly clear. I'm sure that I didn't mis up the 2 drop bottles. I checked carefully after i got the confusing results. The OTO is light yellow.I'll go to the pool store on Thursday-I'm off to the Zoo with the 3rd graders tomorrow.
    15,300 gal., AG, sand filter, 1HP 2 speed pump, 40 GPM.

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    Re: confusing test results

    If you're sure you put the yellow drops in for the OTO test, and the sample turned red, that means your chlorine is ridiculously high. (It goes yellow/orange/red/brown as FC goes up; but nobody makes a color chart that tells you what those colors mean, other than "wicked high.")

    High chlorine levels can also cause the other tests to turn unusual colors.
    --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

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: confusing test results

    I made it to the pool store to have my water tested yesterday. They found:
    saturaion index:-0.29, Corrosive
    total dissolved solids:0, OK
    free chlorine:3.1, High
    total chlorine:3.1, High
    combined chlorine:0.0, OK
    pH:7.3,OK
    Cyanuric acid:9, Low
    copper:0.0, OK
    iron:0.0,OK
    total alkalinity:119
    adjusted total alkalinity:119, OK
    calcium hardness:124,Low

    They didn't say to do anything about the saturation index and said to add 15 lbs. of calcium booster ($43 for 20 lb. container) into skimmer 1/2 at a time with 2 hours of filter running time between the 2 doses. Then, add 4 lbs. of stabilizer into skimmer.
    Can't I just use the deicer calcium chloride that I already have to use in the moisture control containers in my boat? My husband said that he's never heard of adding calcium chloride to a pool-but then again, he's never had a pool AND I maintain the pool! The pool store never explained why my fc test gave a red color norwhy the total hardness test turned yellow. They said that I should get a new test kit.
    15,300 gal., AG, sand filter, 1HP 2 speed pump, 40 GPM.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Re: confusing test results

    Red when you add the OTO drops, which normally turn the sample yellow, means your FC level is very high, 20+. Having TA or CH turn yellow also indicated that the FC level is very high.

    With CYA relatively low, it should only be one or two sunny days until your FC level is down to something more reasonable.

    There is no need to add calcium to an above ground pool. The only issue with calcium that might come up in a vinyl liner pool is if the calcium level was too high, which yours isn't.

    Getting a better test kit is an excellent idea. A kit like the TF-100 from TFTestKits.net or the Taylor K-2006 would allow you to find out exactly what the FC level really was. A top quality test kit will also more than pay for it's self in the long run through reduced chemical usage and avoided problems.

    Measure the chlorine and PH levels again today with the WalMart kit and tell us what you get. And don't add any more chlorine until the OTO test shows a more normal yellow color.

    The only real open issue is what your CYA level is. When you did the CYA test you said 3 to 50, do you mean 30 to 50? Can you describe what you saw in the CYA view tube?
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Nelsonesteves's Avatar
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    Unhappy Re: confusing test results

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    Red when you add the OTO drops, which normally turn the sample yellow, means your FC level is very high, 20+. Having TA or CH turn yellow also indicated that the FC level is very high.

    With CYA relatively low, it should only be one or two sunny days until your FC level is down to something more reasonable.

    There is no need to add calcium to an above ground pool. The only issue with calcium that might come up in a vinyl liner pool is if the calcium level was too high, which yours isn't.

    Getting a better test kit is an excellent idea. A kit like the TF-100 from TFTestKits.net or the Taylor K-2006 would allow you to find out exactly what the FC level really was. A top quality test kit will also more than pay for it's self in the long run through reduced chemical usage and avoided problems.

    Measure the chlorine and PH levels again today with the WalMart kit and tell us what you get. And don't add any more chlorine until the OTO test shows a more normal yellow color.

    The only real open issue is what your CYA level is. When you did the CYA test you said 3 to 50, do you mean 30 to 50? Can you describe what you saw in the CYA view tube?
    I think I may be having a similar issue with my OTO (waiting for my TFT fas/dpd test to come in). When I mix the sample it get a nice bright yellow which to me looks like 2-3 ppm but if I add more chlorine and test within 1-2 hrs it's the same color and not the orange color that you would get from 5ppm.

    Could it be my FC is too high and the OTO doesn't pick it out?
    CYA is approx. 30-50 but basing that on my aquacheck sense I'm waiting on my CYA tester as well.
    11.5k Gal In Ground Pool w/ attached spa
    Mini Pebble Stonescapes Plaster Tropics Blue
    48 sq DE Filter with Perlite
    Intelliflow VS pump
    Pentair Warrior with Hayward leaf basket

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