Algae getting worse early in SLAM?

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Anne, we understand. It does not make sense to encounter setbacks, but when we do, we take a moment to recap what we know:
- You appear to have been maintaining the proper SLAM chemistry
- You have been brushing and following the SLAM protocol
- Light niche cleaned
- Sand filter deep cleaned
- Increasing the MA level to clear otherwise cloudy, dark water won't work. No sense wasting your chlorine; something else is off.
- The biggest unknown here - the water. Abandoned pool for 2 years and you began the initial SLAM on 1 May. In hindsight, a healthy water exchange may have been prudent simply because no one knows what chemicals or additives were added to the water by the previous owners. With chlorine levels accurate to the current CYA, that is one thing that concerns me.
- Did you try the Vitamin C test on the stairs?
- When the water was a bit clearer before, were you able to clearly see all the way down to the deep end bottom?
- Is there a main drain?
- Does the gauge fall to zero when the system is off? It's possible the gauge is defective if it was left out in the elements for two winters. It's an easy repair (swap) if so.
- How is the water circulation? You mentioned the sight glass and stuff. Are you getting good water flow out of the return jets? Good suction at the skimmer?
- I almost never recommend this, but if you don't see positive changes in the next 24 hrs or so, you might take a water sample to the local store for a free test. Not for advice or to question your TF-100 testing, but only to see if they show any iron/copper in the water.

I'd like to see what responses you have for these and we'll go from there. Worst case scenario is that products were added by previous owners or perhaps real estate agent at some point that really hurt the water chemistry to the point a healthy water exchange may be required. But I don't want to jump the gun on that just yet. Hang in there.
 

ald7973

Member
May 19, 2020
22
Prairie Village, KS
Anne, we understand. It does not make sense to encounter setbacks, but when we do, we take a moment to recap what we know:
- You appear to have been maintaining the proper SLAM chemistry
- You have been brushing and following the SLAM protocol
- Light niche cleaned
- Sand filter deep cleaned
- Increasing the MA level to clear otherwise cloudy, dark water won't work. No sense wasting your chlorine; something else is off.
- The biggest unknown here - the water. Abandoned pool for 2 years and you began the initial SLAM on 1 May. In hindsight, a healthy water exchange may have been prudent simply because no one knows what chemicals or additives were added to the water by the previous owners. With chlorine levels accurate to the current CYA, that is one thing that concerns me.
- Did you try the Vitamin C test on the stairs?
- When the water was a bit clearer before, were you able to clearly see all the way down to the deep end bottom?
- Is there a main drain?
- Does the gauge fall to zero when the system is off? It's possible the gauge is defective if it was left out in the elements for two winters. It's an easy repair (swap) if so.
- How is the water circulation? You mentioned the sight glass and stuff. Are you getting good water flow out of the return jets? Good suction at the skimmer?
- I almost never recommend this, but if you don't see positive changes in the next 24 hrs or so, you might take a water sample to the local store for a free test. Not for advice or to question your TF-100 testing, but only to see if they show any iron/copper in the water.

I'd like to see what responses you have for these and we'll go from there. Worst case scenario is that products were added by previous owners or perhaps real estate agent at some point that really hurt the water chemistry to the point a healthy water exchange may be required. But I don't want to jump the gun on that just yet. Hang in there.
Gosh, thanks so much for your time/input/analysis! Really really appreciate it.
  • Haven't tried the vitamin C test yet...need to get tablets tomorrow.
  • Yes, we were able to see clearly to the bottom at the end of our initial slam and yes there's a main drain in the middle of the deep end which is open. Opened the pool on 5/1 and I think we started the slam on 5/12? It took us a few days to find this community, get the TF Test kit, etc. From 5/1 to 5/12 we were scooping sludge off the bottom and adding tons of 1-lb packaged shock (before we knew anything!) and replacing the pump. After spending $$$ on PowerPowder and realizing that was an unsustainable ripoff, we found TFP, bought all the bleach we could, and started the slam. Water was swimmable on 6/3 after passing OCLT. Crystal clear to bottom but I did have just a little dead algae every other day or so that I vacuumed up. Didn't realize at the time this meant the slam wasn't over because the *water* was crystal clear. The CYA was virtually zero the entire first slam because we needed to backwash so frequently....it didn't make sense to dissolve CYA and not backwash for a week just to protect $2.99/gallon 10% bleach. We brought the CYA up to 40 as soon as we thought the SLAM was done using powdered CYA in the sock.
  • I'll have to assess the gauge and circulation tomorrow. My instinct is that circulation is fine because the vacuum suction feels normal and there's a good strong cyclone in the skimmer. But I need to stick my arm in front of the jets to make sure the flow is strong coming into the pool.
  • We bought the house with the pool closed up....I don't believe anyone put anything in the pool for the last couple years. The house is a total fixer so most everything is a mess (and why I wish at least the pool wasn't!)! They didn't clean or fix anything in the house so I can't imagine they tried to make anything better in the pool. That said....who knows how the pool was maintained before. Supposedly the liner is ~4 years old. We have two bleached out areas in the shallow end and I can't tell if they're growing or not...the light makes it tricky to tell. I'm honestly not sure if they were there when we opened it or not. There are three or four 6-8" sections of the liner that have pulled out of the coping.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Okay, so we wait for a few more pieces of info, here are some follow-ups to watch and keep in mind:
- Didn't know your first SLAM was with no CYA. That means the chlorine was incredibly strong and the liner/equipment unprotected. Also changes the dynamics of what may have been in the water before (i.e. chemicals, ammonia, etc). We'll never know if any liner discoloration was from that, the powdered shock that may have sat on the floor undissolved, or simply from the previous owners. Certainly sounds like the pool wasn't cared for properly in the past.
- Did you happen to find any old pool chemicals laying around when you moved in?
- When you say the main drain is open, do you mean water flowing through it (operational) or that the drain "cover" is off/exposed? Drain covers can cause a real mess as well underneath.
 

ald7973

Member
May 19, 2020
22
Prairie Village, KS
Okay, so we wait for a few more pieces of info, here are some follow-ups to watch and keep in mind:
- Didn't know your first SLAM was with no CYA. That means the chlorine was incredibly strong and the liner/equipment unprotected. Also changes the dynamics of what may have been in the water before (i.e. chemicals, ammonia, etc). We'll never know if any liner discoloration was from that, the powdered shock that may have sat on the floor undissolved, or simply from the previous owners. Certainly sounds like the pool wasn't cared for properly in the past.
- Did you happen to find any old pool chemicals laying around when you moved in?
- When you say the main drain is open, do you mean water flowing through it (operational) or that the drain "cover" is off/exposed? Drain covers can cause a real mess as well underneath.
Main drain is operational. Only found a few 3" pucks from the previous owner....no weird bottles or buckets. Husband just took water to Leslie's and results below. Completely bewildered by the FC level! I feel like I need to post a video of me doing the test so you know I'm not an idiot! I did just run out of the DPD powder and I've been using a new batch from TF test kits but with the old reagent. Just tried using a new bottle of the reagent and got very similar results. So confused!
download_20200630_181616.jpg
 

ald7973

Member
May 19, 2020
22
Prairie Village, KS
Main drain is operational. Only found a few 3" pucks from the previous owner....no weird bottles or buckets. Husband just took water to Leslie's and results below. Completely bewildered by the FC level! I feel like I need to post a video of me doing the test so you know I'm not an idiot! I did just run out of the DPD powder and I've been using a new batch from TF test kits but with the old reagent. Just tried using a new bottle of the reagent and got very similar results. So confused!
View attachment 150280
Oops I should have also said that I tested water at the same time and got FC of 17!
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
You're funny Anne, but don't be so hard on yourself. One thing's for sure though, you need a speedstir, and you should be continuously mixing as you add the drops which makes the speedstir like gold. :stirpot:

So it's good to know there doesn't appear to be any excessive iron/copper in the water, but I would still do the Vitamin C test on the steps. Aside from not continuously mixing during the FC test, you used the 10 ML with one generous scoop, mixed until clear, then divided in half. Not sure why you had higher results before, but now you know the FC was not at the proper SLAM level, so you can increase that for sure. Hang in there!

 

ald7973

Member
May 19, 2020
22
Prairie Village, KS
You're funny Anne, but don't be so hard on yourself. One thing's for sure though, you need a speedstir, and you should be continuously mixing as you add the drops which makes the speedstir like gold. :stirpot:

So it's good to know there doesn't appear to be any excessive iron/copper in the water, but I would still do the Vitamin C test on the steps. Aside from not continuously mixing during the FC test, you used the 10 ML with one generous scoop, mixed until clear, then divided in half. Not sure why you had higher results before, but now you know the FC was not at the proper SLAM level, so you can increase that for sure. Hang in there!

Ha! Thanks so much - speedstir is on order! Still gotta get the vitamin c tablets. If you're ever in KC we'll take you out for BBQ!
 
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mariane

LifeTime Supporter
May 8, 2012
1,011
Southeast Michigan
Loved the video. :thumleft: You did great.
I also add you need to swirl while adding the drops. 29 drops = 14.5 FC
I would have put one more drop in to be sure it was clear. 30 drops = 15 FC.
That .5 doesn't make much of a difference but if adding the one more drop helps your confidence level go for it. :wink:
 

calinb

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2018
116
N. Central, ID
<snip>
So it's good to know there doesn't appear to be any excessive iron/copper in the water, but I would still do the Vitamin C test on the steps.
Hey Texas Splash,

How about a trichlor puck test on the steps too? I've never had organic staining but seems like yellowish stains could easily be organic (not that color is all that great of a diagnostic aid for stains in general, IMHO).
 

ald7973

Member
May 19, 2020
22
Prairie Village, KS
Hi everyone! Pool has been out of commission for just about 3 weeks now and my family is restless to say the least. Water has been crystal clear for a week now but we're still having algae drop every day. Appears to be yellow/brown and granular in nature. We've been religiously maintaining the SLAM, vacuuming, brushing. I tried the ascorbic acid test on the steps but honestly I can't tell if it made a difference. Some elbow grease helped, but maybe the acid helped too? Going to get a few pucks to see if trichlor helps. We'll soldier on but welcome any thoughts!
IMG_20200712_102911.jpg
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
29,738
Laughlin, NV
Pool has been out of commission for just about 3 weeks now and my family is restless to say the least.
Why?
You can safely swim in a pool as long as the FC is above the minimum and at or below SLAM level based on your CYA. You must also be able to see the bottom of the pool in the deep end of the pool.

Have you deep cleaned your sand filter recently? Is the material gritty?
 

ald7973

Member
May 19, 2020
22
Prairie Village, KS
Why?
You can safely swim in a pool as long as the FC is above the minimum and at or below SLAM level based on your CYA. You must also be able to see the bottom of the pool in the deep end of the pool.

Have you deep cleaned your sand filter recently? Is the material gritty?
Swim at SLAM level FC? It honestly didnt occur to
me that that would be safe or comfortable. I can count the holes in the deep end return so it definitely passes that test.

We deep cleaned the sand filter a few weeks ago and it was dirty, but not slimy or gritty. We've been backwashing regularly during the SLAM.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
33,835
Sebring, Florida
Oh - here's a better picture of the yellow/brown/granular fallout...
That doesn't look like dead algae but looks like sand. Can you pick it up? If it's sand, you have some internal tear or pipes loose inside your sand filter

BTW, please go swimming anytime you like. pool is perfectly safe.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
29,738
Laughlin, NV

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