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Thread: I should have known better... now trying to fix it all!

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    I should have known better... now trying to fix it all!

    Good afternoon,

    I've been cruising the forum for several days and I must say I absolutely love this forum! It is hands down the most informative, helpful and reliable forum for pools and spas I've come across since starting my hobby (career!?!) as a backyard chemist with my AG pool

    First a bit about me: I bought my pool (and the house that came with it, hehe) 3 years ago. Literally the main reason I was even interested in it was because it already had a pool installed and I was jonesing to swim! It's an aboveground, 15x30x4 so 11k-ish gallons. I live in SE Virginia (20 minutes from the ocean, but I prefer not getting beached by a wave in front of tourists) so my pool challenges include random and long bouts of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tons of direct sun & UVs, bugs galore and pool stores that are so thronged with customers that you're lucky to get in and out in under an hour, 2 if heavens forbid you need to ask someone something.

    I did alright my first 2 years with the pool. Read a ton, learned a lot of hard lessons, felt comfortable enough with my newfound knowledge and experience to decide I needed to replace my ancient sand filter with a cartridge filter and decided I wanted a SWG since most of my former catastrophes were the direct result of low chlorine + sun or rain.

    This spring when I opened the pool, I ran the old sand filter while shocking and clearing out all the winter gunk & leaves. I got the water mostly cleaned up, though it was still milky white/cloudy. I had already added salt to the water last summer so I decided instead of constantly having to backwash, refill and add salt, to retire the sand filter (which was leaking a good deal by this point, and had sand that was who know how old in it) and to have my husband install the SWG (Aqua-trol) and the cartridge filter (Hayward C500... 50sqft).

    That's when it all went bad.

    My list of transgressions includes 1) adding way too much soda ash in an attempt to raise TA, 2) using A LOT of cal-hypo to shock my pool in a misguided attempt to clear the water up despite the fact that I had noticed calcium scale on the liner and 3) going on vacation over Memorial Day weekend and coming back to clear-if-green-tinged pool with all sorts of junk settled on bottom and not vacuuming it to waste like I probably should have.

    I may have done some other stupid things, but I'm in the process of working out what they might have been.

    My current situation is this: I have milky white water that from a distance looks very blue, glassy and clear, but I can barely see the 2nd step of my pool ladder and the water itself feels sort of soapy. Little flakes and rods of what I think is calcium float around in the water and you can see the flat flakey ones floating on the surface, as well as little hard white bumps on the liner that have been there since I opened the pool. I've tried brushing them off to no avail and I can't even really scrape them off with my fingernails.

    I have to clean my cartridge filter 2-3 times a day because it gets covered in light yellow/brown/grey slimy stuff as well as the stuff that I think is calcium; I say this because when I remove the filter, the water inside the filter is much much milkier than the pool and you can clearly see chunks of white particles swirling around in there.

    I've just ordered the test kit so I don't have any reliable numbers just yet. My "guess strips" have always showed CH at 250, but I am highly suspect of that reading given the amount of calcium I'm visibly seeing, and the fact that I've added maybe 30 lbs of cal-hypo over the past 2 months and it's never budged. I wound up WAY overshooting TA to where it's off the strip's chart (>240ppm). I'm going through the TA lowering process now using muriatic acid and aeration; it is just now coming down into measurable range. My CYA was showing as 100 ppm but the strip bottle says it is most accurate when TA is <240ppm so I suspect it's off as well. Now that I've got TA coming down, it's reading CYA at closer to 60.

    My FC has been anywhere from 5ppm - 10+ppm (off the strips' chart) since I've got the pump running 24/7 and the SWG running at 100% in concert in case it was algae at first, now for aeration.

    As I patiently aerate and await the arrival of my test kit, I wanted to ask for some general advice.

    1) I'm using HCl and aeration because I need to lower TA anyway, but I was hoping lowering it would help the calcium precipitate redissolve. Is this even possible, or do I need to go ahead and drain and replace water?

    2) Even with test strips being unreliable and CH typically being among the first to go wonky, would it ever give an accurate CH reading of dissolved Ca AND calcium precipitate/scale? Or does once the Ca drop out of solution and turn into scale, can it no longer be detected by a strip?

    3) Do you think a 50sqft cartridge is too small for my pool?

    4) What the heck else use can I find for what's left of my 50lbs of Soda Ash since I definitely can't be trusted with it near the pool!

    Thanks to all for a fantastic forum and particularly the super-helpful sticky authors!
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Welcome to TFP!

    Keep working on lowering TA. As the TA comes down the calcium saturation index will come down and at some point the calcium clouds will start re-dissolving.

    The tests don't measure either the calcium deposited as scale or the calcium powder clouding up the water.

    A larger filter is always better, but a small filter is usually good enough. The crucial number for the filter is to not exceed the design flow rate. Sadly, figuring out your current flow rate is rather complex unless you have a flow meter (very rare). Most likely you are fine where you are but would be happier with a larger filter.

    As soon as you get your test kit you should post a full set of numbers and then we will be able to tell you a lot more.
    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

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    Thanks for the welcome. I'm hotly anticipating getting the test kit (got the shipping email already, wowee that's fast!) and can't wait to give it a go.

    I was a hair's breadth away from studying chemistry in college and combining that with swimming and lounging in my own private blue sparkley lagoon just makes it all the more fun -- give me little tubes and reagents and charts and I'm all about it!

    Aeration still going strong. I've got the return jet turned upward and it sounds like Victoria Falls or something, plus I threw this bubblespa bathmat thing I got for the tub for Xmas a few years ago in there with sandbags tied to the suction cups. It looks kinda funky but boy does it bubble!

    I also found some greenish yellow algae clinging to the wall behind the pool steps and brushed it all off and brushed the pool again, but it seems to only have been lurking behinds the steps. Definitely wouldn't help with the cloudiness, and it also gives me a place to check in the future to judge how well the chlorine level's sanitizing.

    Patience is the key... it's just so hard not to shake my fist at the pool when it's supposed to be 93 degrees tomorrow! Arrr!!
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Wow and I thought I was having a bad day! It sounds like you are gun ho, getting the test kit will really help you take control and give you that chemist feeling you seem to long for Keep up the good work soon you will be basking in the glory or sun.
    AGP, 21'x41'x52", Vinyl liner, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Just remember, this too shall pass....

    Personally (and I'm NO expert) I think you would be better off with at least at 100 sqft cartridge system. I have a 150sq ft myself my pool is about 13,500 gallons.

    I just think you will constantly be cleaning it and dealing with flow/pressure issues you will end up frustrated.

    Don't make any rash decisions, try clearing this current problem and decide if it is adequate once your water issues are under control.

    Good luck!
    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

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by frustratedpoolmom
    Just remember, this too shall pass....

    Personally (and I'm NO expert) I think you would be better off with at least at 100 sqft cartridge system. I have a 150sq ft myself my pool is about 13,500 gallons.

    I just think you will constantly be cleaning it and dealing with flow/pressure issues you will end up frustrated.

    Don't make any rash decisions, try clearing this current problem and decide if it is adequate once your water issues are under control.

    Good luck!
    Yeah, I've been rethinking my decision to go with the smaller filter but I think I'm past the hump worrying about it until I'm running "normal". So much has gone wrong clogging up the poor filter (cal-hypo, CYA, scale and algae galore) I've decided not to pass judgement until I eliminate other factors.

    Plus, after reading and following the sticky on cleaning the filters, I've become a total pro at getting them clean (I have 2, I rotate between them... helps a lot!) so that's actually fallen off my list of things I'm currently stressing over The pump I have is definitely robust enough for what I've got and probably also for 100sqft or more... even if it's not, I could use it and the filter elsewhere down the line....

    My hope is that we'll be able to get a spa either late this year or early next year and I'll move the filter over to it and get a bigger one for the pool. Husband wouldn't even bat an eye if I snuck it on him like that, since he wants a spa as badly as I want the pool, hehe.

    Checking my DHL tracking number I should get the test kit tomorrow (later today, ack it's late/early!) Freedom is just around the bend, I can feel it.

    However, the reason I'm up at 2am is because the power to our neighborhood keeps going on and off for the past 6 hours... no idea what's going on but with everything cycling on and off and computers/UPS's beeping and all I just can't sleep. Darn power outages are going to slow down my aeration too. Boo.

    Well, better post this before I lose power again! Thanks again all for the encouragement, advice and well-wishes!
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Test kit is here; it is so awesome too! I'm such a nerd but I swear it makes me want a lab coat and one of those things that swirls stuff automatically for you :O

    Anyway, here's my test results. Even worse than I anticipated, clearly I've got some work cut out for me!

    FC: 18 ppm
    CC: 2 ppm
    TC: 20 ppm

    pH: 7.0

    TA: 300 ppm
    CH: 210 ppm

    CYA: 100+ ppm (just a little bit off the scale)

    My main question before going forward is, should I drain and refill to bring down the CYA reading (and TA as well)... or could the CYA test be thrown off by the high TA (as I mentioned before, my test strips said accuracy of CYA was best with TA <240ppm)?

    I do have a SWG so I know I might get away with running at a higher CYA if the 100+ ppm is true.

    Guess I'm just looking for validation of my priorities here - TA first then CYA?
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  8. Back To Top    #8
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    If you are using the CYA test that involves filling a tube till the black dot disappears then you don't need to worry about TA interfering, the result will be right regardless.

    Yes, get the CYA down below 100 first. 90 would be good enough for now.

    When working on lowering TA, don't let the PH go above 7.6 until TA comes down a bit.
    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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    Yup, it was the black dot test. Partial drain it is! Hopefully it'll help dilute the TA a little bit too.
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Drained off about a foot of water, now refilling so I can retest and see if I got the CYA down enough or if I need to drain more.

    Unfortunately it's extra hot and humid today so my yard is still soggy from draining and I'm gonna want to be IN the pool, not working on it.

    Pretty heinous when the weatherman says it's 85 degrees, but feels like 103... AT 8:30 IN THE MORNING. :O

    I'm going to have to make like my cat and lay tummy down on the AC vent when I come inside from checking on the pool
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by frustratedpoolmom
    Personally (and I'm NO expert) I think you would be better off with at least at 100 sqft cartridge system. I have a 150sq ft myself my pool is about 13,500 gallons.
    Just as another example, my pool is 16,000 gallons and has a Jandy CL340 4-cartridge filter with a total of 340 square foot area. I only have to clean it once a season, but I also have an electric opaque safety cover that keeps the worst stuff out of the pool. Even so, I'm glad I only have to clean it infrequently -- for me it's a pain, but that's a personal choice and if cleaning a cartridge filter isn't a big deal for you then that's great. Just loosening the screw to take apart the filter and waiting for the water to drain from the filter, let alone the spraying and soaking are too time consuming for my impatient personality!

    My Pool Builder (PB) put the oversized filter in initially and I am SOOOOO glad that he did. In fact, I periodically call him up to thank him for the outstanding job he did on our pool as there are many items like that which I've learned to appreciate (I also had him more recently install an Intelliflo VF pump and IntelliTouch system so he gets my continued business).

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    On a sort of related note, we have never "soaked" our filter...just hosed it off, about once a month or so. But then we've never had a "green swamp" to deal with, and if that were to happen I'd probably soak it. We Replaced it after 3 seasons, we're about due for another new one. Maybe I'll find one on clearance?
    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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    My pool store's price for the filter was 2x what I could find online, but I ponied up for it anyway because I was trying to figure out if I had grossly undersized my filter, thus leading to water issues.

    It was something I was planning on doing anyway but at the time I was wandering aimlessly throwing random solutions at an unknown (no longer!) problem.

    If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd have bought online.

    Incidentally, I do think my pool store sold me a pretty good quality filter. Filbur, I think it is? I like it better than the Hayward OEM one that came with my filter when I purchased it. Then again, that poor filter was thrown into the middle of the pool equivalent of all out war. I shouldn't judge it harshly; I was never planning on purchasing an extra OEM one regardless of performance, as they're just ridiculously expensive to start with.

    Thanks to the cartridge cleaning sticky and the brass sweeper nozzle recommended therein, both my filters are running like champs and clean as a whistle!
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Sooo, yesterday DH and I hopped in the pool despite some lingering cloudiness -- we could see the bottom of the pool though which was the most progress this year!

    Brushed the sides while I was in there, picked up a handful of leaves that had been eluding my leaf net salvos and installed a 3-tier fountain I got off eBay to help aerate.

    Fast forward to today and DH wakes up and checks the pool around 7:30am this morning -- AND IT'S CLEAR!!!!

    For the first time this year my pool is actually clear, woohoo! I couldn't have done it without TFP; you guys not only saved me from spending even more $ on needless chemicals but the helpful advice and supportive atmosphere really helped turn my frustration into optimistic action.

    Thank you all from the clear blue bottom of my sparkling oasis!

    Latest numbers:

    FC - 27.5
    CC - 0.5
    TA - 90
    pH - 7.0 (still aerating)
    CH - 140
    CYA - 90
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Congratulations!
    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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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Glad to hear it!!! Hope you enjoyed the swim....
    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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    NCFlyersFan's Avatar
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    WTG! Having recently dealt with my own cloudy pool (not the same as yours...recent baquacil to chlorine convert), I can honestly say there is very little as saisfying as getting that clear, sparkling water. Great job. Hmmmm...20 minutes from the beach in SE Va??? My guess is Chesapeake or Norfolk???
    13,000 gal AGP, Hayward X-Stream 100 sq ft cartridge, 1 HP Hayward Power-Flo Matrix Pump, all on two 6-hour on cycles per day. Baquacil to BBB convert.
    "It is necessary for us to learn from others' mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself." - Hyman G. Rickover

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Yup, Chesapeake it is!
    ~12000 gallon 15x30x4 On-ground Pool
    Aqua-trol SWG
    Polaris 65 Pool Cleaner
    Hayward C500 Cartridge Filter (50 sq ft.)

    Working on being troublefree!

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: I should have known better... now trying to fix it all!

    Hello
    I have a similar problem, I added too much soda ash and now have a cloudy water in the pool. Can you advise me on what I should do to lower the TA
    Regards
    Mike
    Regards
    Mike Court
    In ground Pool size 12m x 5m x 1.3m av
    Concrete construction with tiled base and sides
    750 Sand Filter
    1.5k Pump
    I don't have a skimmer, around the perimeter of the pool is a plastic grate above a concrete channel that directs overflow into holding tank.

  20. Back To Top    #20
    linen's Avatar
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    Re: I should have known better... now trying to fix it all!

    Quote Originally Posted by mikethaisun
    Hello
    I have a similar problem, I added too much soda ash and now have a cloudy water in the pool. Can you advise me on what I should do to lower the TA
    Regards
    Mike
    TA takes awhile to lower unless you do a water change with lower TA fill water. See: http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-...l%20alkalinity It will come down naturally as you add MA to lower pH, but that can take quite awhile.

    If you want, post a full set of test results, we are always happy to look at test results
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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