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Thread: new pool owners....many problems after installation of a SWG

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    new pool owners....many problems after installation of a SWG

    Hello everyone,
    I have been reading tons of info on the www to try and figure out what went wrong last weekend and have gotten lots of answers but I need some help with the solutions. My husband and I bought a home with a 16.5 gal inground pool this year and it has turned into an enormous money pit (will try to spare you ALL the details, but this is going to be a bit long).

    We had professionals open the pool on 4/24 and after discovering an inoperational DE filter they put a new sand filter in on 5/1. Note, between 4/24 and 5/1 we added at least 6 inches of well water to pool. Got filter running, vacuumed, and water looked great until this weekend! We used the tri-chlor pucks the previous owners had for chlorination. The pool store people told me to put 3 in each skimmer, and to replace when they were dissolved. They also told us to shock so I added a container of that. We were worried about all the maintenance and dealing with chemicals and heard SWGs reduced it.

    After reading all of the great reviews on internet decided to purchase one online at this link http://shop.saltpoolinstaller.com/produ ... roductId=6. Husband intalled it on Sat, 5/17 without a problem. Upon advisement from salesperson from where we bought SWG, we purchased salt from local feed store (note - we asked to be sure there was no anti-caking agents or iodine in salt). They said not, although bag said 99% pure (big mistake!). Poured 600+lbs. of salt into pool and within hours water turned a green hue and massive rust colored stains formed all over pool surface.

    First poured some algecide (1/2 gallon) in pool (just a quick gut reaction to green water, although I am sure algea wasn't the problem so I wish I hadn't done that!). Went to pool store on Sun and bought 3 bottles Jack's Magic (the blue stuff), and some lo 'n slo after testing our water and seeing high FC (9.5) high pH (7.7), high CYA (151), fine TA (91), and no algea. Added the blue stuff and low 'n slo, had the SWG running at 70%, then went on internet and started reading. Learned of the absorbic acid treatment to rid of the iron stains. Since I needed to lower my FC levels for the ascorbic acid treatment, the next day I lowered the SWG to 10%.

    Tested water again next day with strips but FC still appeared very high (dark purple, 10ppm). Waited another day, tested again, no change, but pH was looking on low side according to strips, which made sense given all the rain. I didn't adjust pH because I thought the ascorbic acid treatment would do better with low pH anyway (not sure on that though). Lowered SWG to 0% in efforts to get FC down in order to do ascorbic acid tx. That night (yesterday), I came home to green tinted water! The rust stains have not changed a bit even though pool store said the blue stuff would help after a few days (after reading pool forum advice I figured it was just a sequestering agent and would not remove already precipitated ions from pool surface, but hoped I was wrong).

    More reading taught me with my stabilizer so high, my chlorine probably won't change, and it should be at that level anyway. So did I screw up by turning SWG output so low? I assume the green is copper, perhaps from the salt impurities? Why didn't the sequestering agent keep it at bay? Are my TDS too high and due to the saturation, the sequestering failed? Did this happen because I had the SWG at 0%. I turned it up to 60% today and I am taking my water back to store for testing after work.

    Any advice on how to get a handle of all these issues? I need both short term solutions and long term maintenance advice. I am having a picnic on Sunday and was hoping to have a clear pool free of rust stains by then!
    Sorry for such a long post, it has been a saga!
    TIA for suggestions!

    Janell

    [Edited by SeanB to insert paragraph breaks for easier reading. ]
    17G IG gunite with SWG

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Before anybody can help, you need to post test results. I'd recommend having a pool store test for iron as well.
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    SeanB's Avatar
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    This post falls into more than one category but it is definitely not a personal introduction. I have moved to to the SWCG forum since that is the subject title.
    TFP Founder

    My Pool: 13K gal IG gunite with 7' spa, Pentair Cartridge Filter, Intellichlor IC40 SWG, Polaris 280 Cleaner, TF-100 Test Kit w/ salt test.

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    The pool store tested for all metals twice (on 5/4 and 5/18) and all readings came out zero. Tonight I will be asking them to test again, I have read that these tests are not always too accurate. This morning my "guess" strips showed low pH, so I added a pound of soda ash (I may need more but will wait for a more accurate reading), still very high chlorine, TA looks fine, and surprisingly, CYA is about right according to the color indicator (not so sure I trust it though...I am going to purchase a Taylor test kit soon). Regarding the metals, since I have not added well water since, I imagine the only thing that may have changed these readings would be the water reaching saturation levels of TDSs. Does anyone know if turning the SWG to 0% would have done this? I am hoping for some advice before I go and spend more money on chemicals at the pool store. Sometimes it is tough trusting a 20 year old sales clerk with my problems. Just looking for other opinions!
    Again, thanks!
    17G IG gunite with SWG

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janell Mensinger
    Does anyone know if turning the SWG to 0% would have done this? I am hoping for some advice before I go and spend more money on chemicals at the pool store. Sometimes it is tough trusting a 20 year old sales clerk with my problems. Just looking for other opinions!
    Again, thanks!
    Turning the SWG to 0% is just turning it off. The only effect will be that it will quit generating chlorine.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    You need to get your CYA below 100, preferably between 60 and 80. The only practical way to do that is to replace some of the water.

    Sequestrant alone will sometimes remove metal stains when they are new, but you may need to do the whole ascorbic acid treatment. It will help the sequestrant to work if you bring the PH down to about 7.0 to 7.2. Muriatic acid, available at hardware stores, is the best thing to use to lower PH with a SWG. If you still have some Lo N Slo that will work also, but in the future muriatic acid is less expensive. You may also need to use more sequestrant.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Worried about replacing the water with more potentially high mineral well-water. Will leaving it go not allow the sequestering treatments to work?

    As for the pH, the past several days have shown very low pH using the strips (like <7), not a surprise with all the rain we've had (and the addition of lo n' slo this weekend). Was I wrong to try increasing it a bit this morning by adding 2 cups of soda ash?

    I don't know that I am going to get the rust stains out before the party this weekend (afraid to waste the ascorbic acid I bought with these FC levels), but I DO want the green water to go away! It looks terrible!

    Thanks for the help!
    17G IG gunite with SWG

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Keep the PH between 7.0 and 7.2 for a couple of days and the sequestrant will do as well as it is able to do. If PH was below 7.0 then raising it gently back to 7.0 is fine.

    It isn't going to at all easy, and likely not possible, to clean up the stains by Saturday. Getting the green out of the water and having the water be safe to swim in is much more practical by Saturday.

    What are your current water test numbers? Is this a clear transparent green, or a is the water murky or cloudy?
    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

  9. Back To Top    #9
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    Couple of questions. You mentioned that the water looked green but you had rust (iron stains) forming. What color is the surface of your pool and exactly what color are the stains? (Iron colors the water yellow but if you have a blue surface to your pool it will look green. Iron stains are yellow to brown. Copper will color the water green and can produce stains that are black, grey, or copper (rust) colored.) IF the metals have precipitated out of the water as stain or particulate matter then the water test will not show any metals. If they are in the water in their colorless oxidation state they will show up on testing. If they are in the water in their colored oxidation state (your water has colored from the metals) they might or might not show up on testing. If you have added a sequesterant then they most likely will not show up on testing.
    Second, do you have a heater on your pool and if you do what is the heat exchanger made of?
    Third, how long has your pH been low? Remember, that if the pH is actually below 6.8 it will still read 6.8 on the strip or a drop based test.

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    What are your current water test numbers? Is this a clear transparent green, or a is the water murky or cloudy?

    I won't have exact numbers until tonight, but it is definitely a transparent green, which is why I suspect copper and not algae.
    17G IG gunite with SWG

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    [color=blue]Couple of questions. You mentioned that the water looked green but you had rust (iron stains) forming. What color is the surface of your pool and exactly what color are the stains? (Iron colors the water yellow but if you have a blue surface to your pool it will look green. Iron stains are yellow to brown. Copper will color the water green and can produce stains that are black, grey, or copper (rust) colored.) IF the metals have precipitated out of the water as stain or particulate matter then the water test will not show any metals. If they are in the water in their colorless oxidation state they will show up on testing. If they are in the water in their colored oxidation state (your water has colored from the metals) they might or might not show up on testing. If you have added a sequesterant then they most likely will not show up on testing.

    The surface of the pool is white, the stains are orangish brown, could be iron or copper, and the water is clear, but green. I showed the pool store a picture on Sun but they could not identify the specific metal from sight. Given the state of affairs, I am hearing the water test will probably not give me useful information.

    Second, do you have a heater on your pool and if you do what is the heat exchanger made of?

    No heater.

    Third, how long has your pH been low? Remember, that if the pH is actually below 6.8 it will still read 6.8 on the strip or a drop based test.

    Hard to say exactly. On Sun. the pool store test read 7.7. By Tuesday morning the strips definitely showed a low reading. So maybe about 3 days?

    Thanks for the help! We are a bit frustrated!
    17G IG gunite with SWG

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    It's already been said, but I'll repeat because it's VERY important. A cya of ~150 is WAY too high and you will absolutely need to drain some water. To get to the target 60-80 range you basically need to drain and refill HALF your water. I don't have a comment on how this affects your short term problems of green water and stains, but for any long-term potential of pool maintenance, you're going to need to get that CYA down.

    The problem is with CYA that high, your chlorine is very very weak and you'll have great difficulty preventing algae.

    You mentioned some confusion about the SWCG... the % setting is just a run time %... if you set it to 50%, it'll run 50% of the time and be off 50% of the time... this is how it controls the amount of chlorine generated. Once you get your CYA down, you should be able to use a trial and error approach to find a good run time % over a week or two.
    My Pool:
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    I can tell you that when I added salt to my pool after my SWG install, it turned the water a light green also, almost an emerald green color. I bought my Salt from the local pool store and it is salt made for pools, i.e. no metal etc. I looked for water softener salt, but could not find any that did not have additives.

    The green color to my water eventually cleared. I did get some discoloration on my pool walls also where the salt lay on the plaster while I was brushing it. This discoloration also faded in about 3 weeks time.

    I have not had any issues since then, until I added another bag of salt this year when I opened my pool. Same salt as I had two extra bags from last year. This year I again got the green color in the water, but I was careful to not let any of it lay on the pool bottom and so I did not get any discoloration on the plaster.
    15,500 gal, inground gunite pool with 7 ft spa, 2 speed pump 2hp/.33hp, 3/4 hp booster pump, Intermatic P1353 timer, AutoPilot SC-48, Sand filter with ZeoBest, Heater, that I never use . . .

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    Interestingly, I asked the pool store person on the phone last night about how to get that number down and she claimed Chem Out will do it (along with taking down my FC level). I also find it funny that the two times I have been there getting my water tested and have come back with high CYA (~147 on 5/4 and then ~151 on Sunday) the clerk said nothing about it at all

    I did not entirely believe her advice last night that Chem Out will take it down. Uggh! I don't know what to do... Unless I can convince my husband that this is going to fix things for sure, draining and refilling is not a good option right now. We don't have anywhere to go with the pool water and all we have is well water to refill (don't want to go to the expense of bringing in water!).

    I am so mad that we used those trichlor pucks in the first place I even asked the pool store if they were okay to use and she said they would be fine!

    I really appreciated everyone's feedback.
    17G IG gunite with SWG

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    From what I've read on this forum, there is a chemical product for reducing CYA (I doubt it's Chem Out), but it's very expensive, and per the inventor, only effective in dropping your CYA a very little bit. A large drop like you need is only achieved by a water swap.

    Can't you just pump the water into the street? A garden hose and a sump pump should do fine.

    I'm curious how much you've spent on chemicals from the pool store... My guess is it's in the $100's... they'll continue to try and sell you more and more chemicals that you don't need (it's how they make money). The best (and really cheaper) solution is to bite the bullet and follow the advice given.
    My Pool:
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    Equipment: Sta-Rite 300' Cartridge Filter, Intellichlor IC20 SWCG, Sta-Rite 400k BTU heater, Intelliflow 4x160 main pump & Sta-Rite 3/4 hp waterfall pump, EasyTouch controlls w/ wireless controller, TF-100 Test Kit w/ salt test.

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    Well, we live out in the country, farmland to be specific, so there may be environmental concerns surrounding draining chlorinated water into the ground. The pool is nowhere near the road. I will have to investigate this further if this is my only option.

    And yes, we have already spent hundreds on pool store chemicals this year!
    17G IG gunite with SWG

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    Update: water test results

    I got my water analysis done at the pool stoor tonight. They use the bioguard system if that means anything to anyone. Here are the results. Note the water was taken from the pool this morning before adding 2 cups of soda ash since my pH appeared low according to the strips.

    Saturation Idx: -.5 (sheet says ideal is -.3 - +.3...what is this?)
    CYA: 104 (down from 151... probably due to much rain this week, thank God!)
    TC: 9.5
    FC: 9.5
    pH: 7.1 (sheet says ideal is 7.4-7.6)
    TA: 129
    Adj. TA: 98 (sheet says ideal is 125-150)
    Tot Hardness: 198 (sheet says ideal is 200-275)
    Optimizer + : 7 (sheet says ideal is 30-50...what is this?)
    Copper: 0
    Iron: 0
    Manganese: No
    Green Algae: Light
    Black Algae: None
    Mustar Algae: No
    Slime/Mold: No

    All they told me to do was raise my Adj. TA with 2 boxes of Balance Pak 100 (have not yet done) and add a 1/4 lb. of Balance Pak 200 to raise my pH (the 2 cups of soda ash I threw in this morning should have more than taken care of that, correct?).

    They were perplexed by the clear green water and didn't even mention the presence of algae on the test results. In fact I just noticed it now (the last 2 times the water was tested there was none, even on Sunday when the pool was tinted green)

    When I got home tonight, which was after I got my water tested, I discovered the green tinted water was nearly gone . I have to assume this may have something to do with running the SWG at 60% today. Recall that yesterday we ran it at 0% thinking it would lower the FC level in order to do the ascorbic acid treatment. So maybe the green was the beginning of algea forming? Does that sound reasonable given the numbers I am reporting?

    To deal with the CYA issue, we drained about 2 inches of water out tonight (we took it from the bottom). I don't think our ground can handle any more water right now. Hopefully this will get the CYA closer to range and we can get the chlorine level down then. The guy at the pool store swore that my CYA level is fine though. I dealt with the owner tonight. He seems pretty knowledgable and has a degree in biochemistry.

    As for the rust stains, I bought 4 pouchs of oxalic acid to rub along the pool surface and that helped a bit. But the stains are everywhere...I need about 400 of them!

    So my question is what to do about this TA issue. The analysis says I am low, but my adjusted number is in the range you all suggest. Should I follow the BioGuard's printout of instructions and add 2 boxes of Balance Pak 100, or should I let it go?

    And in the mean time I guess I will run the SWG at 60%??? We do turn the filter off completely at night though.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
    17G IG gunite with SWG

  18. Back To Top    #18
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Don't raise your TA. With a SWG it is best to keep TA between 60 and 90. That is TA directly from the test, not adjusted TA. We always use TA directly from the test, not adjusted TA around here.

    The slightly high TA level you have now along with the SWG will tend to raise the PH over time, so you probably don't want to be raising the PH manually in the future, unless it is below 7.0.

    The Optimizer+ level is really the borates level. It doesn't matter very much unless you decide to raise borates to between 30 to 50 as some people do.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  19. Back To Top    #19

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    I'm surprised no one has mentioned this, but you shouldn't be testing with strips because they are very inaccurate. You really need a good drop-based test kit like this one:

    http://www.tftestkits.com/

    The Taylor kit that you said you were thinking about is a good one as well (very similar to the TF kit).

    Quote: "and surprisingly, CYA is about right according to the color indicator "

    If your CYA had previously tested at 150 then one rain definitely would not be enough to bring it down to normal. As Eskimo said you're looking at needing to drain 50% of your water to correct that. See if you can verify what your CYA really is, if it's around 150 you need to solve that problem first or you'll be fighting a losing battle trying to get the water clear.

    It shouldn't be an issue draining your water out, the chlorine content isn't high enough to hurt anything. Salt would be more of a concern because if you have a high salt content it could affect your landscaping.

    Good luck!!
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  20. Back To Top    #20
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    What TresW said!

    The salt level is swimming pools is only an issue for a few very salt sensitive plants. Most plants have no problems. The chlorine level isn't a problem at all.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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