4 years in and still have a lot to learn - I have an old pool and need some advice

SilverSD

Active member
Aug 26, 2016
33
San Diego/CA
Pool Size
33000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I have been mostly lurking on this site and it has been an amazing boon to someone who knew nothing about pools/maintenance just a few years ago. Thank you to everyone for the great information and discussions.

So I have been able to bumble along fairly effectively and maintain my pool for the past few years. So far I have been able to do everything myself (with the help of these forums). But the pool is old (20-30 years?), has definitely seen some wear, and I probably need to make improvements at this point. Not sure quite where to start.

It had a single speed 1.5 HP pump which I replaced the first year (put in a variable speed intelliflo).



Here are the other issues I am looking at:

  • The previous owners left their suction crawler (I think it is a hayward phoenix?). Not sure how old it is but it is constantly stopping, needing attention, and more than once has contributed to problems maintaining the pool chemistry because it was not cleaning. I have dissected it, lubed it, and reassembled multiple times. But the treads are gummy and disintegrating and the internal fins keep getting stuck even without any debris (they catch on the side). It seems like Dolphins are popular cleaners here. I assume this better than the suction side cleaners, but I don’t know. What are the pro/cons of dolphin vs. maytronics, models, online vs. local vs. phone orders etc.?
  • The system has (had) an auxillary pump which also crapped out the first year after we moved in. It seems to only add power to the integrated spa and runs a blower. I haven’t replaced it yet because we can still use the spa but some of the jets don’t work and we don’t have the bubbling spa effect. But it is on my list of fixes - Any suggestions on replacement pumps etc.
  • Old plaster - most noticeable in the spa where it has 2-3 inch areas that have come off. But the whole pool is highly pitted. Is this something I can patch/fix or is this best addressed through a whole pool replastering? When do you know this is something that has to be addressed and can’t be just ignored or put up with? Obviously, it is not pretty and I don’t chose to ignore it but I’m assuming this would be pretty costly. I would love to redo it as the plaster is a terrible off-white yellow/green color and even when it is in top condition it just doesn’t have that sparkling clean look.
  • Related to number 3 above - I’m pretty sure I have a black algae issue which is exacerbated by the deep pitting. It is kept at bay with proper maintenance of chlorine but it is everywhere when I look closely in the pits. I just don’t seem to be able to brush it effectively and multiple slams have failed to remove them. Any thoughts on how to address?
  • The pool lights are very old and show gaps from the pool. I’m sure there is probably a source of algae coming from them. There are only two 1-foot lights, one in the pool and one in the spa. We asked the previous home owners to fix the spa light but apparently the ground/concrete decking have settled and crushed the conduit so a new light couldn’t be installed. Instead the lines were cut to remove any electrical risks. Are there other alternatives for lighting? The pool light still works, should it be replaced? Or is there a way to clean behind it and reseal? (It’s located about 3 feet down so I’m guessing the pool will have to be drained?)
  • Do drains need to be cleaned / augured periodically? I have two, one in the deep end and one in the spa. I keep imagining years and years of Crud is built up which might be contributing to circulation issues.
  • The pool had two skimmers, on opposite sides of the length of the pool. When the inspection was done, they found that the deep end skimmer had been closed. The previous owners had only lived there 2 years and knew nothing about the pool history. I have no idea why it was closed off or if there is any problems with the plumbing. The inspector speculated that it may have been done to increase the suction of the other skimmer for the purpose of running the crawler. My question, do I dare re-open the other skimmer after 6-15 years probably?
  • I know this is way too many questions for one post but it is has been helpful just to get all my questions written out so I can see all the issues. So obviously, I’m not going to be able to address all these issues at once. Therefore, my last question is, which should be my priority(ies)?


Thanks in advance for all advice!!

-Steve
 

HermanTX

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2020
1,367
Katy TX
Pool Size
14600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I will address how I would approach this.
First is algae. You show to use a SWCG but your Pool Math logs have not been updated in 3 years. So has your SWCG kept up the proper level of chlorine for whatever CYA you have? Refer to FC/CYA Chart.
Once you are algae free then look at plaster. If it is cracked or has pitting as you described then it is on verge of needing re-plaster. If it is holding water - i.e. no leaks or losing water then it is not an immediate issue other than aesthetics. Also look for soft spots in the plaster especially where you have large areas of pitting. When your budget is ready then plan to have the plaster chipped out and complete re-plaster. At that time you can address the light issue as well as the closed off skimmer.

The concern with the skimmer could be there was a leak in the piping or around the skimmer and it was closed off to solve that. If that is not the issue, then once you have your pool algae free you may want to consider trying to open it up and see if you can get it to work. Just have your FC on the high side to address anything that may be in the pipes. Maybe post a picture of your equipment pad to show how your suction lines are set up feeding your pump.

Your drains should be clean if you have been circulating through them. One idea is to turn your valve at the equipment pad to only have suction from the main drain (turn off suction from the skimmer) and see if there is any issue with flow to your pump. If it circulates fine and your filter pressure is same then your drain pipes should be OK.

See the attached for robot cleaners and call Marina (name and phone in the attachment) for advice. That may be a better solution then buying a new suction side cleaner.

Fix the auxiliary spa pump only if budget allows it. That can be repaired at any time.

Hope this helps.
 

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SilverSD

Active member
Aug 26, 2016
33
San Diego/CA
Pool Size
33000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Thank you for your reply!

I aim for cya of 70 and keep the chlorine between 5-10. I chose not to run the pumps more than 12 hours day and instead add some chlorine periodically. In the cooler months this may be zero to 1 gallon, and 4-6 gallons/mo. In the summer.

The plaster is holding water - i.e. no leaks or losing water.

The concern with the skimmer could be there was a leak in the piping or around the skimmer and it was closed off to solve that.
That is what I'm afraid of!

Maybe post a picture of your equipment pad to show how your suction lines are set up feeding your pump.
I'll attach some pictures.
Unfortunately, I have only one valve that controls the intake from either the pool or the spa. The drain and skimmer plumbing are joined somewhere underground.

Thank you for sending the PDFs for the robot cleaners. I have some research to do! I'm curious what features are more important. Run time, number of brushes, wifi, spintech etc. I've been unhappy with my current cleaner for a while, I would like a upgrade that delivers on the things that matter.

-Steve
 

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