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!