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Thread: Pool Pilot Digital not producing chlorine

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Pool Pilot Digital not producing chlorine

    I have a one year old Pool Pilot Digital Salt System that is currently not producing chlorine. My chlorine levels have been variable for the last few months and require frequent adjustments to the percentage on the control box (check the chlorine, level is low, up the percentage, check the chlorine, level is low, up the percentage, repeat, repeat). I started noticing algae in the pool in January. I was told by the local pool store that I needed to shock the pool monthly, which I have been doing. This month I shocked the pool and noticed algae again about two weeks later. The pool store recommended shock, an algae pack and then an additional shock in one week. I did the initial shock/algae treatment two days ago and tested my water today to make sure the chlorine level was where it should be. To my surprise NO chlorine whatsoever. I put it in Boost mode and now, twelve hours later I still have no measurable chlorine in the pool. I didn't expect it to be at a high level but, after running for that period of time at 100% I would expect at least a minor increase.

    The acid and stabilizer levels are good. I cleaned the filter and removed a minor amount of scale from the cell.

    There are several issues possible...

    One, the Pool Pilot was not able to produce an adequate level of chlorine on level 1 when it was brand new in 75 degree weather. It seemed to work sufficiently at level 2. Could I actually need to move it up to level 3 after only one year? Is this normal or could there have been something wrong with the cell from the start?

    Two, the current salt level is too high (3900) - could this be causing the chlorinator to stop functioning?

    I am really puzzled at this point.

    HELP!
    Buggs

    14,000 gallon, in ground, plaster, free form, play pool.
    Sta-Rite Max-E-Glass with a 1.5 hp Emerson motor
    WaterCo Micron High Rate sand filter S750 490 lb, 4883 sq ft - using ZeoBest
    In floor Polaris cleaning system
    Blue Diamond robot for those after storm days when I can't wait overnight for the in floor to clean it.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum!

    You should not have to shock monthly. Something else is wrong and shocking routinely is just ignoring the problem. A salt level of 3900 is a little higher than ideal but won't cause any problems.

    I see two basic possibilites. Either the PoolPilot is not working, or you have something growing in your pool that you haven't been able to kill yet. The easiest way to tell the difference is to bring the chlorine up to shock level in the evening and see if it goes down overnight. If it holds steady overnight you have a problem with the PoolPilot. If it goes down overnight then there is something growing in your water. It is quite possible for algae to eat chlorine faster than the PoolPilot can produce it. [[Of course if the PoolPilot was working correctly the algae should never have gotten started in the first place.]]

    It would be a big help if you could post a complete set of test numbers and tell us the size of your pool.
    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

  3. Back To Top    #3
    ktdave's Avatar
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    You need to get in touch with poolsean. He is a member of this forum and wil probably chime in soon. Otherwise, here is his info:
    Sean Assam
    Commercial Products Sales Manager
    Aqua Cal Heat Pumps
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators
    www.autopilot.com
    www.aquacal.com
    11,000 gal. gunite w/midnight blue and white pearl PebbleTec
    Intelliflo 4x160 pump
    Intellichlor IC-20 SWG
    Pentair cartridge filter 420 sq. ft.
    Mastertemp 400K BTU heater
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    Pool School
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  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Trixietriever,

    A set of numbers will help. What are your test levels for the following:
    Free Chlorine
    Total Chlorine
    Cyanuric Acid
    pH
    Total Alkalinty
    Calcium Hardness

    Please perform a TEST POOL PILOT diagnostic and report the displayed readings too.

    Also, how large is your pool? Which model cell do you have? How many hours per day are you running your pump? What is your Pool Pilot currently operating at (Cell Power Level, Purifier %)?

    A quick check to see if the cell is producing. While the cell is in BOOST mode, crack open the lower cell union and take a water sample. Test and compare to what your pool chlorine level is. This should be 1 - 5 ppm higher.

    Finally, what chemicals have you added to tackle the algae? Any Yellow Algaecides?

    You do not need to shock the pool monthly. The Pool Pilot will take care of maintaining the chloramines.
    Salt at 3900 ppm will not cause any problems with the Pool Pilot. IF it tastes too salty for you, dilute some water out to lower it.
    You should not need to run the Cell Power on 3.

    As you have not stated that there were any warning displays, I'm assuming that the Pool Pilot is not sensing anything wrong with the operating conditions. Typically is then goes to either operating conditions or water chemistry related.
    As soon as you can get this information back to me, the sooner we can get your pool back in order.

    Leave your results here, or directly to my e-mail
    sassam@teamhorner.com
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Jacksonville, FL
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    Thank you for your assistance. I ran the Boost overnight and was pleasantly surprised that I now have a chlorine level of 5.0, which is high but certainly beats the 0.0 that I had before. In the past, I am have been able to reach this sort of chlorine level with the use of 24 hour Boost Mode but it will drop back to less than 2.0 in about 24-48 hours. I am still puzled as to why I cannot maintain a 2.0 - 4.0 chlorine level on a regular basis and as a result, having a problem with algae. Hopefully I answered all of your questions below...

    I had my water tested at Pinch-a-Penny this morning to ensure it wasn't "operator error" (me testing chemicals)
    Free and total chlorine - 5.0
    Stabilizer - 80 ppm
    pH - 7.6
    Total Alkalinity - 80 ppm
    Calcium Hardness - 425 ppm
    Salt - they have it at 3,600 - Pool Pilot has it listed at 3,900

    The pool is a 15,000 gal. exposed aggregate pool
    I run the pump for 10 hours (I used to run 8 hours but someone suggested that this might be the problem causing algae so I upped the time). I'd love to isolate the problem and therefore be able to back off to 8 hours to save some electricity.
    The filter was changed two weeks ago

    Test Pool Pilot -
    Software version - 4.02
    Cell - SC-36
    Power Level - 2
    Salt 3,900 ppm
    Temp 78
    Cell 20 V 6.5 A

    Prior to the 24 hour boost, I can see that the chlorinator was running at 45% (it defaulted back to this when the boost stopped). I will keep a close eye on it over the next few week but I will often have zero chlorine levels and I will check the panel and it will have adjusted itself back to less than 15%.

    What I added to tackle the algae was 6 oz. Suncoast Stop Yellow and 1# Suncoast Super shock. I was advised to shock again one week from last treatment. The algae is gone for the most part but I noticed a few small patches on the stairs (yellow/brown in color) - I will brush these off today.

    I normally also add 8 oz. per week of Salinity Stain Control (the purple stuff). The chemicals I use are stabilizer and acid as needed.

    I have not received any warning lights or messages from the Pool Pilot control pannel except for one three months ago to clean the cell, which we did (1 part acid/4 parts water, soak for 15 minutes, rinse, repeat until clean).

    I will attempt to test the chlorine level at the cell this afternoon, however I feel better since I was able to get the level up last night.

    Thank you!
    Buggs

    14,000 gallon, in ground, plaster, free form, play pool.
    Sta-Rite Max-E-Glass with a 1.5 hp Emerson motor
    WaterCo Micron High Rate sand filter S750 490 lb, 4883 sq ft - using ZeoBest
    In floor Polaris cleaning system
    Blue Diamond robot for those after storm days when I can't wait overnight for the in floor to clean it.

  6. Back To Top    #6
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    It sounds like you have had alage constantly growing in the pool and have gotten into a back and forth race between the PoolPilot and the algae. The PoolPilot appears to generates enough chlorine to keep the algae in check most of the time but I suspect that you have never killed the algae off completely. With algae in the pool you will have a difficult time maintaining a proper FC level.

    With a CYA level of 80 you need to get the FC level up to 20 and hold it there for a few days. That will kill all the algae and should subsequently allow you to hold a chlorine level. You need to wipe the algae out completely to get out of the mode you have been in and back to normal operations. Dumping in a bunch of "shock" isn't enough to wipe out all the alage, you need to get the FC level up and hold it there. Otherwise little patches of algae that can hold on for many hours through a brief spike in chlorine will just spring back after the FC level drops.
    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

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    JasonLion, I think you are right on because I noticed that when I went out back to brush off the small patches I had on the stairs, I have more algae growing on the walls - ARRRGGGHHHHH!

    So I need to take Free Chlorine up to 20 and hold it? Would this be the 72 hour boost? I can only get it to 5.0 with the 24 hour. I am assuming no swimming durring that time frame?

    Sorry for the silly questions - I am still new to pool maintenance.
    Buggs

    14,000 gallon, in ground, plaster, free form, play pool.
    Sta-Rite Max-E-Glass with a 1.5 hp Emerson motor
    WaterCo Micron High Rate sand filter S750 490 lb, 4883 sq ft - using ZeoBest
    In floor Polaris cleaning system
    Blue Diamond robot for those after storm days when I can't wait overnight for the in floor to clean it.

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    Oh, and I just re-tested the chlorine and in that short period of time, it has dropped again below 1.0.
    Buggs

    14,000 gallon, in ground, plaster, free form, play pool.
    Sta-Rite Max-E-Glass with a 1.5 hp Emerson motor
    WaterCo Micron High Rate sand filter S750 490 lb, 4883 sq ft - using ZeoBest
    In floor Polaris cleaning system
    Blue Diamond robot for those after storm days when I can't wait overnight for the in floor to clean it.

  9. Back To Top    #9
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    The 72 hour boost might do it or it might take several of them. It depends on how quickly the algae is eating up the chlorine. The whole process will go far more quickly if you add a couple of jugs of bleach at the right times. The trick is to keep your chlorine additions ahead of the algae. To do that you need to test the water, add chlorine to bring it up to 20, and repeat as frequently as possible. You will also need to brush off any algae you can find and watch the filter pressure and backwash or clean the filter as needed.

    A good test kit will help this process imensely. To reliably measure chlorine levels around 20 you will need an FAS-DPD chlorine test. You can probably get away with keeping the PoolPilot on boost and checking the water at the store every few days to see when it finally gets up to 20, but the process will take much longer and add more cell wear to the PoolPilot.
    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

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Remember I asked about treating it for algae with a Yellow algaecide? There was a specific reason for that. MOST specialty algaecides with YELLOW or MUSTARD in the name, contains Sodium Bromide. If you still have your bottle of Stop Yellow, can you verify this?
    Sodium Bromide, when added to a salt chlorine generator, will start producing bromine and will tie up your chlorine. Thus the reason you're not able to hold your chlorine readings. I'm not sure why the Pool Pilot was not able to prevent it to begin with, but at this point, as Jason suggested, increasing your chlorine level is best. However, I would suggest turning off the Pool Pilot for now and treating it with bleach for the next week or two. Once you see that your chlorine is able to maintain the residual for 3-4 days without having to add more chlorine to maintain it, you can resume operation of the Pool Pilot.

    What's happening is that the small amount (usually 1-2 lbs) of Stop Yellow, along with the additional chlorine they had you add, does a great job of getting rid of the algae, and this will look great for about 2 weeks. After that, you'll have a difficult time getting a chlorine residual and the algae will return.

    Increase the chlorine, manually, and maintain a high residual. Make sure you brush and filter the algae out and clean your filter frequently during this time. You need to get the dead algae out. You may want to also consider adding a phosphate remover to lower your phosphate levels, after the algae treatment. Phosphates are algae food, which are introduced by fertilizer, grass clippings, leaves, municiple water, and oddly enough, dead algae.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Thank you - we'll do!
    Buggs

    14,000 gallon, in ground, plaster, free form, play pool.
    Sta-Rite Max-E-Glass with a 1.5 hp Emerson motor
    WaterCo Micron High Rate sand filter S750 490 lb, 4883 sq ft - using ZeoBest
    In floor Polaris cleaning system
    Blue Diamond robot for those after storm days when I can't wait overnight for the in floor to clean it.

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    duraleigh's Avatar
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    Sean's post above points out three important issues that we all need to remember:

    1. Adding specialty products to your pool is almost always a bad idea....they're seldom necessary and frequently troublesome.

    2. Sean is one smart SWG dude!

    3. Test your water!! (yeah, I know that's a plug but it's pretty subtle...I meant it in a generic way...really )
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Thanks Dude... I love you man. 8)
    just trying to help out.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  14. Back To Top    #14
    Hopefully, your algae/pool pilot issues have been resolved. I have a pool pilot and was having issues at one point with low FC. Luckily I never got any algae. The probe connection was not very good. We applied some dielectric gel (purchased at an autoparts store) and applied it to the cable connection. This will keep the copper connections clean and water free. Has worked great since.
    Tampa, Florida

    17,000 gallon IG pool, DE FIlter, pebble finish, 1 1/2 hp, 8 4x10 solar panels, screen cage, combined ozone/SWG.

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