Ammonia - SLAM or Drain and Refill

Jcent

New member
Jun 16, 2019
4
Kansas City
Hello TFP Gurus: First time posting here. Looks like an awesome community and I look forward to giving back in the future. Sadly I need your help first.

I've been the proud owner of a 19k gallon in-ground painted gunite pool since 2014 (pool came w/ house). In prior years I've had great luck maintaining a balanced and algae-free pool using my Taylor FAS-DPD kit. Unfortunately this year is a bit of a head-scratcher. I'll start with my levels. Zero FC | 3.5 CC | 7.7 ph | 90 TA | 320 CH | 40 CYA
You might think the pool looks cloudy or green... but it's crystal clear. I have a 10' deep end and I can see all the way to the drain. It's beautiful... but clearly something is using up the chlorine. I got an ammonia test kit from the fish store today and the reading is somewhere between 5ppm and 8ppm (it's a "read the color" test vs. titration). So - given that I failed to hit breakpoint previously by shocking to 10x the CC level - I'm hesitant to try that again. My gut says just drain/refill. My wife and kid are going to think I'm crazy since it looks perfect and I'll just be making it cold for another week. Thoughts? It's been open for 3 weeks in this state with two failed breakpoint shocks (unstabilized granular shock, not bleach which I'll switch to after reading about it here). Thanks for any input.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,266
Laughlin, NV
Welcome to the forum!
With ammonia, CYA is normally consumed. Have you added any CYA recently?
Does the pool stink like chlorine?
Any non-chlorine shock or other potions added?
FYI - breakpoint is a pool store term that is somewhat meaningless.
If you really have 8 ppm ammonia, it will take 80 ppm FC added to eliminate it.
I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry and consider reviewing the entire Pool School eBook.
 

Jcent

New member
Jun 16, 2019
4
Kansas City
Wow - that was fast! I only added CYA at opening to get it to 40. No CYA added since. Pool doesn't smell like chlorine at all, which is what I find odd. I've always prided myself on my crystal clear and no-smell pool... and this year is no different. The only "potion" I added is a poly-quat algaecide at open and two 4-oz doses since. I'm above average in my pool knowledge (read the full Taylor manual front to back... various other professional guides) and I've read through the ABCs but not the full eBook. Not claiming to be an expert or I wouldn't be needing help ;) I'll review the eBook and make sure I didn't miss anything. As I said I'm also willing to ditch the 3" tabs and move to bleach - but in past years the hardness and CYA creep haven't been an issue thanks to splash-out and backwash and fill from city.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,266
Laughlin, NV
Nothing you are adding should be showing as CC. If the pool does not stink, I doubt your real CC is 3.5.

Do this for me --
Raise your FC in the water using enough liquid chlorine to get to 10 ppm using PoolMath. Circulate the pool for 15 minutes. Test FC and CC. Post your results here.
 
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Jcent

New member
Jun 16, 2019
4
Kansas City
OK, picked up 6% bleach at Lowe's. Checked date and it was about a month old. Added 3.1 gallons, which per app calculator *should* have raised to 10ppm FC. Sadly I only got to 2.5 FC and now my CC reads 11.5. No chlorine (chloramine) smell. Really appreciate the near real-time help here @mknauss. What's my next move?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,266
Laughlin, NV
That is every indicator of ammonia. Odd it does not smell, but the CC is quite volatile when sun is on the pool.

Your choice now. You can try to defeat it with liquid chlorine (about 15 gallons of 10%) or you can drain and refill. Is it safe to drain a pool there? No ground water? Pool shells can pop out of the ground if drained with surface water around the pool.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,266
Laughlin, NV
Be aware the pH will drop a lot if you use chlorine to defeat the ammonia. Have some borax available to raise your pH.
 

Jcent

New member
Jun 16, 2019
4
Kansas City
Understood. Sounds like I have a fight on my hands either way. Draining is an option - I did it once before when we renovated the pool in 2017. It sat unfilled for a couple weeks while they sand-blasted, patched, rebuilt tile bed, deck, etc. - so no concern about it popping out (pool was built w/ house in 60s). Truth be told I'm mostly concerned about the wife acceptance factor. If it was cloudy and green it would be a no-brainer to drain it. As it stands now she'll think I'm just being a perfectionist :rolleyes:

I'll sleep on this and consult my better half. Any thoughts on how it could be looking so good yet in horrible shape chlorine-wise? Is the poly-quat "potion" keeping me from algae **** perhaps? Thanks again for your input and the quick response. I'll report back once we're up and running.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
22,059
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Your ammonia test might be picking up the Poly 60.

It is, quote, "Poly [ oxyethylene(dimethyliminio) ethylene(dimethyliminio)ethylene dichloride ], aka POD, is a quaternary ammonium cationic polymer...." emphasis added.

 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,266
Laughlin, NV
Thanks Richard - I am hoping they find something that is effecting the CC. Plus we did a quick hit of chlorine and spiked the CC.
Any thoughts?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,266
Laughlin, NV
Jeff - following what Richard posted. Discontinue the Polyquat (it is a waste of money anyway during swim season) and see if your CC drops.
 
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