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Thread: first time starting up after winter

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    first time starting up after winter

    Hi there: We are quite new to this wonderful pool business. We have an 18 ft. above ground pool that was new last year. We used Simplicity Hydrotech system and found this quite easy to do. We are eagerly anticipating the opening of the pool this year. Not sure quite what to expect as far as what the water will look like once it's uncovered. I have been reading the pool forum and I am happy to see this new forum since I cannot register at the old one. I don't see any mention of Simplicity, I see Bacqacil, which we chose to stay away from, what do folks think of Simplicity. It seemed to keep our water good and clear last summer, we also have a Nature 2 thing. I did start to have a skin rash at the end of the summer, don't know if this was water related or not. We regularly test the water at the local pool store. Any thoughts are appreciated - lots to learn yet! [/b]
    18 ft.52" Round Atrium AG -7600 gallons, Sand Filter, Vinyl liner, Royal Entrance Steps, 80 lbs.solarsalt

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    I'm not really sure what the Simplicity chemicals are, except that it appears to be chlorine-based. You will find that folks here use plain old clorox bleach to sanitize their pools, along with borax to adjust pH and baking soda to adjust TA.

    You need to invest in a good test kit. Drops, not strips. Don't rely on your pool store for accurate test results. While there are some pool store employees that can do accurate water testing, there many many more that don't have a clue.

    The Taylor K-2006 is a great test, and Leslie's markets a drops-based kit with Taylor reagents.

    From what I read, the Nature2 system is just a way to separate you from your money faster, and has no real benefits.

    I would definitely think your rash was due to your water, but without any numbers, or even a working knowledge of your system, this is about as far as my help can get you! Sorry!

    8000 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, 12" sand filter (don't have the specs on the pump), TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, CYA-Chlorine Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

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    thanks for the reply. Lots for us to think about. We are new to this and we just rely on the computerized water test that the pool store gives and then add the Hydrotech ph increaser or decreaser or whatever to make the numbers right. Our water was always very clear until the very end of the season when I think we got too much of something and made it cloudy when winterizing. We'll see what it looks like when the cover comes off.

    So, are you saying that these testing kits will give more accurate results than the computerized store tests? Forgive my naviete, but how will I know how much of something to add without the computer generated instructions?

    also can you begin adding borax bbb etc. instead of the Simplicity Hydrotech chemicals or does a conversion of some sort need to take place first? Or perhaps the simplicity stuff is the BBB with a fancier bottle and price tag?

    Thanks for any assistance, suggestions. Appreciate this forum very much.
    18 ft.52" Round Atrium AG -7600 gallons, Sand Filter, Vinyl liner, Royal Entrance Steps, 80 lbs.solarsalt

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    waterbug, I used to 'do' pools in Richmond (I lived in the 'Fan' for 5 yrs), so you've gotten my attention.
    Knowledgably using your own drop based test kit ( ie - Taylor 2006) will give you better and more consistant results. The folks here have gained a lot of experience from owning their pools or reading all the info @ www.poolforum.com. and www.poolsolutions.com.

    Before we can give you advice, we need to know what your chemical levels are, (don't worry, once you're used to doing this, it's really easy! )

    Help us to help you by doing your own tests, or at least posting the results (?) from the pool place
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  5. Back To Top    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by waterbug
    thanks for the reply. Lots for us to think about. We are new to this and we just rely on the computerized water test that the pool store gives and then add the Hydrotech ph increaser or decreaser or whatever to make the numbers right. Our water was always very clear until the very end of the season when I think we got too much of something and made it cloudy when winterizing. We'll see what it looks like when the cover comes off.

    So, are you saying that these testing kits will give more accurate results than the computerized store tests?

    Not necessarily. But probably. It depends on many variables, most of which I do not know! If you want to take charge of your pool, get a kit. Practice doing the tests. Then take a water sample to your pool store and compare the results. Don't let them talk you into buying anything. (See next section for definition of "Pool-Stored")

    Forgive my naviete, but how will I know how much of something to add without the computer generated instructions?

    There is a nifty little program that MSmith2 came up with, called BleachCalc. If he posts it here, that would be the best way. You plug in your pool volume, the current value, and how much change you need, and it spits out a number of how much X to add. Barring that, post your pool stats here (include all test #'s and your pool volume and material) and somebody can help you!
    There is a term you will see here: Pool-Stored. As in "I took a sample of my perfect water to the pool store, and the kid told me I need chemicals a,b,c,x,y, and z." I have been pool-stored. Like the Nature2, the printouts are many times a neat high-tech way to separate your wallet from your money.


    also can you begin adding borax bbb etc. instead of the Simplicity Hydrotech chemicals or does a conversion of some sort need to take place first? Or perhaps the simplicity stuff is the BBB with a fancier bottle and price tag?

    If I read the limited info on the website correctly, Simplicity is just a fancy, and probably expensive, substitute for chlorine. IF, and that is a big IF, this is the case, you can just start using BBB. No conversion. HOWEVER, if it is biguanide, or some other non-chlorine system, it will take a bit more persistance (and lots more bleach )

    Thanks for any assistance, suggestions. Appreciate this forum very much.
    You will have more questions... feel free to ask them all!

    8000 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, 12" sand filter (don't have the specs on the pump), TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, CYA-Chlorine Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Thanks for the great information, I will continue to read both forums and learn from your learned guys and gals. At this point we will continue with Simplicity as we know how to do that and the pool store has it on sale tomorrow only...............not enough time to learn all the new stuff, but maybe by next season.

    I did go ahead and order the Taylor testing kit recommended above so I can be practising how to test the water.

    Thanks again.

    aaw waste - lovely to live in the fan! We are actually in Colonial Heights, just south of that fan.
    18 ft.52" Round Atrium AG -7600 gallons, Sand Filter, Vinyl liner, Royal Entrance Steps, 80 lbs.solarsalt

  7. Back To Top    #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterbug
    thanks for the reply.

    So, are you saying that these testing kits will give more accurate results than the computerized store tests? Forgive my naviete, but how will I know how much of something to add without the computer generated instructions?
    Perhaps I can shed some light on this. I test pool water as part of my job in a pool/spa supply store. There are several 'flavors' of computerized water testing. Just because you have a computer printout does not mean you have accurate test results. The results are only as good as:
    1) the procedure used for testing (Human error and plain ignorance and incompetent is a BIG factor here, unfortunately!
    2) how well the software producing the printout is written.
    Where I work we use the LaMotte Waterlink Express colorimeter hooked up to a computer running LaMotte Datamate 8 software. IMHO, the chemical part of the testing is excellent. When done properly (THAT is the key word) it produces accurate, repeatable results and the colorimeter eliminates much of the human error in interpreting the test results. The software that produces the printout is a different story (and it is one of the best ones out there!) It is really very "stupid" and makes suggestions based on individual test parameters instead of looking at the whole picture (for example if both TA and Calcium are low it will tell you to adjust both at the same time. This is an easy way to end up with a cloudy pool!) It also tends to overdose some of the chemicals because it does not take into account such factors as the surface of the pool or the type of chlorine being used as the primary sanitizers. These things and others can affect the level you might want to run you TA or pH for example.

    If you get the Talyor K-2006 (or a comparable test kit from LaMotte) it will include a booklet with dosing tables. Such tables can also be found on the internet. The bleachcalc program by MWSmith2 is probably the easiest way to go and I would highly recommend this free program written by one of the member of this board if you can find it. If you post your test results here you will find several people on here can help you with dosing instructions! You will learn it soon enough. It really ain't rocket science!
    Believe it or not the BEST way to take care of your pool is to invest in a GOOD testkit (I Use a taylor K-2006 at home myself...along with a few other kits and certain strips for special purposes)
    IT really isn't hard.
    I would also try to find a good supply store with someone who understands water testing and that does NOT use test strips (with the exception of perhaps salt test strips and borate test strips). This is a lot harder to find than you might think! The store is who you would use for the tests that are not commonly done such as tests for metals. If you discover that you do need to test for something uncommon like metals or nitrates then get your own test kit for that also!
    Testing your own water is the best way to go for a trouble free pool!

    As far as the Hydrotech Simplicity program goes I can tell you this. The Clear is simply dichlor and it is made by Bioguard. The tabs are trichlor and the Initiator is just cyanuric acid! I do not know if this is another one of Biolab's companies such as Bioguard and Omni but I can tell you that the simplicity system is IDENTICAL to the Omni Synergy system! I know the Clear is made by biolab and suspect the tabss are also. I do not know if you have a cartridge filter but if you do then you will soon have levels of cyanuric acid so high that your chlorine will become ineffective, your pool will turn green, and if you had a plaster pool you would run the risk of damaging the finish! Even with a sand filter this will happen fairly quckly by using dichlor for shock! Their recommendation of keeping the stabilzier below 200 ppm is bogus! Even 100 ppm is way too high!

    As far as Nature2, this is a copper/silver system. Copper is an effective algaecide, Silver is bacteriostatic but has very slow kill times! These metals can stain both pools and people. (Green hair is from copper!) As opposed to electric ionionzers the N2 system is an erosion feeder that contains copper sulphate pentahydrate and silver nitrate. The main advantage of using any ionizer is that you can run slighly lower FC levels. The biggest drawback is the expense of the N2 replacement carts which run in the neighborhood of $100 or more every 6 months!. That $200/year will buy a LOT of bleach!

    I am going to make a guess about the testing done at the store that sells you the Simplicity system. They probably test with strips and then give you a computer printout. They might even have a fancy but, IMHO, worthless, reader to read the colors off the strips. I am basing this on the fact that I found out Biolab is the manufacturer of the product you are using so I assume your dealer is using their "ALEX" computerized testing sytem. This system goes under several names but it is famous for overdosing on the chems and maiimizing dealer profits! That is what getting "pool stored" is!

    Hope this info is useful!

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    Okay this poor girl is scratching her head! So much to learn......We do have a sand filter.

    I think we will not bother to replace the nature 2 cartridge, will go with Simplicity for now, till we can get the test kit up and running and will certainly try to find out what water testing system our pool store uses.

    You say Simplicity initiator is just cya - but what exactly is that and how do you add it to the pool? What is dichlor? and trichlor? Are these chlorine based tabs then?

    To switch eventally to BBB method - do we need to do anything in particular or just stop the Simplicity and start the other system......

    Thanks for all the information and sorry for all the questions, but we're a little lost here......I certainly don't want to end up with green water, but also don't want to do something that will damage the pool or US.....
    18 ft.52" Round Atrium AG -7600 gallons, Sand Filter, Vinyl liner, Royal Entrance Steps, 80 lbs.solarsalt

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    Quote Originally Posted by waterbug
    Okay this poor girl is scratching her head! So much to learn......We do have a sand filter.

    I think we will not bother to replace the nature 2 cartridge, will go with Simplicity for now, till we can get the test kit up and running and will certainly try to find out what water testing system our pool store uses.

    You say Simplicity initiator is just cya - but what exactly is that and how do you add it to the pool? What is dichlor? and trichlor? Are these chlorine based tabs then?

    To switch eventally to BBB method - do we need to do anything in particular or just stop the Simplicity and start the other system......

    Thanks for all the information and sorry for all the questions, but we're a little lost here......I certainly don't want to end up with green water, but also don't want to do something that will damage the pool or US.....
    Waterbug, don't sweat the questions - how are you supposed to find this stuff out if you don't ask?

    For adding cya, you probably don't want to until you know (by testing the water) what your current level is. This brings me to your question about di-chlor and tri-chlor - the 2 are very similar (which is why they sound alike) they are chlorine which has been stabilised and made into a solid form by combining it with cya (di-chlor is a lot faster disolving than tri-chlor ) so that it leaches out the chlorine (and cya) over the course of days. The trouble with using it exclusively is that they not only add a measured dose of chlorine constantly, they add cya constantly and drop the pH (because they are very acidic). Low pH is harmful to liners, metals and cartridge filters! so if you use di or tri- chlor exclusively and don't properly test frequently, you could do some real damage to your pool. CYA is like 'sunblock' for chlorine - it keeps it from being burned out of the pool on sunny days, however - it also slows down the chlorine's ability to kill germs and sanitize the pool, so for any given level of cya, you need to sustain a higher level of chlorine in the pool to keep the water algae free and safe to swim in.

    As for BBB - it's not a 'system' it's 3 chems you can get at the grocery store or Walmart etc. that do the EXACT same thing as the expensive pool store chems.
    1) Bleach -(unscented, no additives - Clorox that you'd use to make your whites 'whiter' in the laundry) it's liquid chlorine and doesn't affect the pH like the di- tri- chlor and doesn't add calcium like granular chlorine does - it's also very cheap! Use it when you want more sanitizer in the water
    2) Borax - (yup, 20 mule team Borax) it raises pH (and at higher concentrations in the water can inhibit algae and make the water feel 'softer/ silky' Use it when the pH falls to 7.2 or lower.
    3) Baking soda (Arm and Hammer that you'd use to make cookies) - this raises the 'Total Alkalinity' of the water and helps prevent large pH fluxuations.

    Waterbear or chem-geek can tell you much better than I why these things are important, but I do want to point out that you shouldn't be adding anything to the water without first testing (though keeping some chlorine in the water is always a good thing!) This brings us back to your needing to get a good test kit and learning how to use it. PLEASE go and get a kit and if you need some help in using it or interpreting the results, ask us and we'll help you!!

    I realise that you are new to this and it's a lot of info to assimilate all at once That's why this forum exists, to help people who need it (thanks Sean ) We will do all we can to help you have a 'trouble free pool', but we do need the chem #s so we can help you do the chemical side of the water. This is a beautiful time of year for central Va, enjoy it and enjoy your pool! - Waste
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Thanks Waste: Your explanations are helpful. We did hit the pool store earlier today for the big sale - stuff is 30% off. We could read that the chemicals are virtually the same as the BBB. WE do need to do more reading to understand just where and when to add what. We did order a test kit so that will help us understand further.

    We did go ahead and get the Nature 2 while it was on sale because it is plumbed into our system and we would have to replace pipes etc. not to use it I guess. Changing the pipe and changing over the system may be for next year. Also, it sounds like we may need to do some to covert to BBB because of the Simplicity chemicals or the Nature 2.

    I do see what people are saying about the cost as well, we will average out about 60 dollars monthly for the chemicals, whereas poolsolutions says you should be able to do BBB for less than 35 monthly. Now the larger cost is partially because a Nature 2 cartridge is 80 bucks on sale! Take that out and you are more like 50 monthly.

    I do realize too that we have a small pool, I can see where you lucky folks with the big inground pools would be much happier with BBB prices..

    Thanks again for all the suggestions. Pool opens May 4th, I'll have my water kit by then and can begin learning how to test!
    18 ft.52" Round Atrium AG -7600 gallons, Sand Filter, Vinyl liner, Royal Entrance Steps, 80 lbs.solarsalt

  11. Back To Top    #11
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    Let me tell you that the savings AND work are still quite noticable with an 18' pool, which we had in many forms for several years. We had been using the tabs for years (trichlor/bichlors) and spent so much time fighting the mess later on. Once you get your levels correct, keeping it there is SO simple and, with a smaller pool like yours, CHEAP.

    Also, keeping that pool covered when not in use will eliminate a lot of the mess too - keeps the bugs, debris, etc out of the pool and keeps the sun from burning off the free chlorine.

    Make it part of your maintenance routine. Test on a schedule like every one, two or three days (more often with heavy swimming like parties) and add what you need (usually only the bleach) based on your test results. Knowing how often to test and add will fall into place after you get your levels right in the beginning, then you will see how often it fluctuates or changes enough for additions - keep a log that includes air/water temps or events if you want - this will help that first year. Once you see the pattern, you will be able to do it on routine and not need to stress about when and how much. It really IS easy to do and will save you money. The only down side is finding a good craft idea to make use of the bleach jugs.
    18x33x52 Buttressfree Seaspray (Wilbar) AGP - 1.5hp Pentair Maxim w/22" Pentair Meteor Sand Filter, Aqua Rite SWG System, Biltmore Walk In Steps - 2/4x20 Solar Panel Setup - Doheny Jet Drive (RIP -Pool Rover Jr) - finally hard plumbed the whole darned thing -
    Beats Driving to the Lake!

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    Quote Originally Posted by waterbug
    Thanks Waste: Your explanations are helpful. We did hit the pool store earlier today for the big sale - stuff is 30% off. We could read that the chemicals are virtually the same as the BBB.
    Not virtually the same.....they ARE the same....Bleach is sodium hypochlorite, Liquid chlorine from the pool store is sodium hypochlorite...same exact thing, only somtimes pool store chlorine is more concentrated than bleach (and sometimes it's exactly the same strength!) The other forms of chlorine are Cal Hypo (often sold as Shock but ANY form of unstablized chlorine can be used as shock) which will continue to add calcium to your pool and create it's own set of problems and litium hypochlorite, which is very expensive to use and really has no advantages over liquid chlorine except that it is a powder. These are the three forms of unstabilized chlorine. Your stabilized chlorines are trichlor tabs and dichlor granules. If you add the cyanuric acid to the proper 30-50 ppm level you don't need to use stabilized chlorine. Just add bleach or liquid chlorine to maintain a 3-5ppm level of free chlorine in your water. EAch pool is different and you might have to add a bit each evening to maintain this or you might be able to go a few days between chlorine additions. This is why a good test kit is important.

    Borax, the 20 mule team stuff in the green box in the laundry aisle of the grocery is sodium tetraborate. Products like Proteam Supreme, Bioguard Optimzer, Pooltime Enhance (sold as water 'enhancers" and algae control agents are ALSO sodium tetraborate, they just cost a whole lot more!

    Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Another name for this is sodium hydrogen carbonate. At the pool store they call it things like Alkalinity First, Alkalinity increaser, Alkalinity plus, Balance, or some other fancy name and charge a LOT per pound of ordinary baking soda!

    You might have seen pH increaser or pH plus or something like that at the pool store. This is sodium carbonate and is not really the first choice for raising pH. Borax is better. Sodium carbonate will raise the pH but it also raises total alkalinity a LOT. Unless your pH AND your total alkalinity are low at the same time (it does happen) you are better off raising pH with borax. Oh, I almost forgot, this is also called sal soda, soda ash, or washing soda and you can find it at the grocery store in the Laundry aise as Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda......exact same thing but much cheaper!

    To lower pH when it is too high there are two choices, either sodium bisulfate (dry acid, pH minus, pH reducer, etc.) or Muriatic Acid. In a pool muriatic acid would be the first choice. It's not as easy to use as dry acid but it's much cheaper and doesn't add sulfates to the water. For a spa or hot tub the dry acid is much easer and safer to use.

    Now we come to calcium. I don't care what they call it, it's just calcium chloride AND YOU DON'T NEED IT IN A VINYL POOL UNLESS YOU ARE FILLING WITH SOFTENED WATER. In that case add enough to bring your calcium level up to about 125-150 ppm. If your local hardware store carries DowFlake road de-icer this is exactly the same thing!

    Finally we come to CYA (cyanuric acid, stabilizer, conditioner). You want a level of 30-50 ppm in your water. Less and your chlorine will burn off in the sun very quickly. More and your chlorine will not be an effective sanitizer. If you need it you will have to get it at the pool store, Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot , or Ace Hardware.

    The BBB method is just using the generic chemicals instead of paying high prices for things you can get much cheaper and it used sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine, bleach) for your chlorine source. All you have to do to use the BBB method is to use liquid chlorine and the EXACT SAME CHEMICALS YOU CAN BUY AT THE POOL STORE FOR A LOT OF MONEY but you buy them at your local grocery, Walmart, Kmart, etc as borax, baking soda and bleach! You can buy Muriatic Acid at most hardware stores.

    The Nature2 is putting copper and silver in your pool and, IMHO, is a waste of money (and we sell them where I work!) YOU DON"T NEED IT! If you don't want to replumb just don't bother replacing the cartridge. (Replumb when you can and get it out of there.) Nor do you need algaecices, clarifiers, defoamers, and most of the other stuff the pool store will try to sell you. You DO need a GOOD test kit! Don't try and save money here. Get a good one like the Taylor K-2006 or equivalent. Keep watching the board for info on test kits!

    WE do need to do more reading to understand just where and when to add what. We did order a test kit so that will help us understand further.

    We did go ahead and get the Nature 2 while it was on sale because it is plumbed into our system and we would have to replace pipes etc. not to use it I guess. Changing the pipe and changing over the system may be for next year. Also, it sounds like we may need to do some to covert to BBB because of the Simplicity chemicals or the Nature 2.

    I do see what people are saying about the cost as well, we will average out about 60 dollars monthly for the chemicals, whereas poolsolutions says you should be able to do BBB for less than 35 monthly. Now the larger cost is partially because a Nature 2 cartridge is 80 bucks on sale! Take that out and you are more like 50 monthly.

    I do realize too that we have a small pool, I can see where you lucky folks with the big inground pools would be much happier with BBB prices..

    Thanks again for all the suggestions. Pool opens May 4th, I'll have my water kit by then and can begin learning how to test!
    One final thing. Download the bleachcalc program from here.
    It will make your pool maintenance much easer and will be more accurate than the printout from the pool store!

  13. Back To Top    #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterbug
    I do see what people are saying about the cost as well, we will average out about 60 dollars monthly for the chemicals, whereas poolsolutions says you should be able to do BBB for less than 35 monthly. Now the larger cost is partially because a Nature 2 cartridge is 80 bucks on sale! Take that out and you are more like 50 monthly.

    I do realize too that we have a small pool, I can see where you lucky folks with the big inground pools would be much happier with BBB prices..

    Thanks again for all the suggestions. Pool opens May 4th, I'll have my water kit by then and can begin learning how to test!
    waterbug...have you asked around at the pool stores to see if they sell liquid chlorine? Many times you can find the higher concentration (>12%) at prices cheaper than 5% bleach. Also try some water filtration places in your area.

    happy swimming!
    dan
    21' Aqua-Leader AGP (10,200 gallons).
    Hayward cartridge filter and two speed pump.
    Aqua-Cal HeatWave 100k (HeatPump)
    Salt 3200ppm (in non-salt water pool)
    Borates 20ppm (slowly raising)
    Aqua-Rite SWG

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by waterbug

    We did go ahead and get the Nature 2 while it was on sale because it is plumbed into our system and we would have to replace pipes etc. not to use it I guess. Changing the pipe and changing over the system may be for next year.
    I am running my Nature 2 with out the cartridge due to it has a puck feeder built on. You shouldn't have to repipe the system just not replace the cartridge.

    Steve
    Echo Canyon II by Artesian Pools, 13.5 KGal AG Round, 22" Artesian Sand Filter 2 hp Artesian pump
    Med Lab Tech for 12 years in E.TN
    Chem testing by Trouble Free Test Kits

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