BBB Method -- does it save $$

DougR

New member
Jul 13, 2010
3
Indianapolis, IN
A newbie question I haven't seen answered going back a few pages -- does this method save you money? I'm mostly talking about chlorine here -- I can see where the borax and baking soda is cheaper than the stuff they sell in the pool stores, but based on your experience, have you saved money by adding bleach to the water vs. say trichlor pucks?

Thanks --lots of great information here.
 

lindaspoolboy

Member
May 23, 2007
23
north NJ
to me, the BBB isn't about the money. its really about understanding your water and controlling it yourself.
before BBB i was taking water samples to the pool store. despite keeping chlorine at "pool store" recommended levels,
i was getting unending algae outbreaks. i was buying huge amounts of shock and algaecide. it was constant stress.

when i ordered the taylor test kit, i saw my CYA was through the roof. i had to drain over half the pool.
it changed my life :-D
now i always know my CYA, so i always know what my chlorine level should be, so my pool is picture perfect.
no more algaecide. no more shocking.

- lindaspoolboy
 

lindaspoolboy

Member
May 23, 2007
23
north NJ
oops, forgot to mention...
using those pucks really drives down your ph.
so on top of everything else, i was constantly throwing in tons of ph up.
 

Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
It may or may not save money in a cost per X rise in FC per dollar depending on where you buy your supplies, but it does save in the long run, as use of pucks also raises CYA which in turn raises the level you need to keep your FC at to maintain safe chlorination and therefore raises your chlorine use. Or if you don't raise your FC level to stay inline with increased CYA levels you likely end up with an algae bloom, which again grately increases your Chlorine useage. This is not to say that pucks don't have a place, but there use should be limited to when you need to raise your CYA (remember in normal conditions the only way to lower CYA is through water replacement), or if you must be out of town for several days and need an easy slow release chlorine option.

Ike
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
If you consider what the BBB method really is: Testing your own water with a reliable test kit and knowing how to interpret the results, then I don't see how anyone could dispute that it saves you money over the alternative. In fact I would say it saves you great big gobs of money over relying on the pool store for testing and advice on what to add this week.

However, if you're talking solely about the cost advantage of bleach vs other methods of chlorination then that's a different matter and there is no clear cut answer. I believe bleach is cheaper for my pool, but that might not be true for yours.
 

Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
Regardless of what the BBB method is, it helps to understand the pool store method and the world it came from.

In my oppinion the "pool store method" came about with the explosion of backyard pools across amerca in the 1970's, in my part of america this explostion was fueled by the desegrigation of the public pools, and parents wanting a "safe" place for their kids to swim. At the time water was generally cheap, there were no restrictions on draining pool water either into the sewer system or otherwise. As a result there was a lot of water exchange, sand filters were the standard, usually undersized and needed regular backwashing, vacuuming was done by hand not by robot and common practice was to set the pump to waste while vaccuming so as to not clog up that undersized sand filter again. The pool store method of adding trichlor pellets, sticks and later pucks evolved in this world. Many of these pools were concrete, plaster, gunite, or other similar product as the IG vinyl pool revolution was still a few years off, as were AG and Fiberglass pools. These pools were often an open system that would be drained in the winter, filled in the spring, start with some inital balancing, then add tri-chlor and shock every week. Later on as these pool stores had to compete with each other they started offering free water testing, and came out with more and more water fine tuning products. For the typical pool owner the process was simple, you have a cute little test kit that lets you test for "chlorine and pH", you dump in a scoop/stick/puck of "chlorine" and something to adjust the pH, and then blindly "shock" once per week and keep everyone out of the pool for 24 hours. Repeat until there is a problem with the water (kids eyes burning was not really considered a problem). You would then take a water sample to the pool store with their fancy lab and they would sell you a list of things to dump into the pool. A few months later at the end of the swim season you would drain this chemical concoction out of your pool and start over again with fresh water the next year.

The world is not like that anymore, pools are becoming more and more of a closed system through a number of factors (higher water costs/restrictions (both supply and dumping) better filters that don't require as much water waste while back washing, etc.) Simply put the pools have changed and the pool store model of selling chemicals to counteract the side effects of the chemicals they sold you last week/month until the pool reaches the must refill braking point has not changed.
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 5, 2008
2,598
I buy Clorox in the big jugs, 182 oz. at $8.41 for 3 jugs, that jug adds 2.7 FC to my pool for $0.73/FC
I buy trichlor pucks at the 2x40 lb bucket deal for $182, or $2.275/lb which adds 4.8 FC to my pool for $0.47/FC.
I buy cal-hypo in the big bucket, 100 lb, for $182, or $1.82/lb which adds 3.8 Fc or $0.49/FC.

If I use pucks only, and after the CYA goes from 30 to 60 I dump half my water, that will occur after 10 lbs of trichlor since 1 lb of trichlor adds 2.9 CYA to the pool. Since my pool uses about 2.5 FC a day on average I think, I will need 59 oz of trichlor a week to keep it stable. That will raise CYA by 11 each week so I will need to dump half my pool every third week. (Actually, given that we are on water restrictions most summers now that would be totally irresponsible but let's assume that I can do that although the cost for excess water use is about to skyrocket so let's assume water cost is at $35 instead of $25/10K gallons) So, half of 23k gallons is $29 for the pool water every 3 weeks, that's $10 a week. So I will expect to use $10 for water, plus $8.39 for pucks. Since my water has high TA and I am refilling so often, I will probably not need pH increaser or acid, not sure on that really. But my CH will go lower so I need to all Calcium Increaser, a lot, since my water is super low in CH. Assume with each dump of water I need to add 130 ppm CH. 45 lb Calcium increaser at $62 is $1.38/lb, I need 27 lbs so that is $37 with each water dump every 3 weeks so every week is $12.40. Um, where are we... $10/week for water, $8.39 for trichlor, $12.40 for calcium = $30.79/week.

if I use Clorox only ( I know, Walmart is cheaper but Sams is closer), if I use Clorox, I use 17.5 FC/wk as above, at $0.73/FC as above, is $12.77/wk for chlorine. I do have to add MA since my water has high TA, it varies with rainfall but I will assume 1 gallon a week. At 2 gal for $14.something, that is $7.50 a week. Total now is $20.27/week. That is it. No dumping water with all the angst over wasting precious water resources, no calcium needed. (really that seems high since I usually use 2 jugs a week maybe 3, but let's continue with these assumptions since I do not want to recalculate all this)

If I use cal-hypo it adds 2.7 to CH per lb, so if I can tolerate a swing of 100 ppm CH from 250 to 350, then I have to dump water and rebalance. I use 17.5 FC/wk so I need 4.6 lbs/wk at $1.82/lb of $8.37/wk. CH climbs by 12.4ppm/wk. I dump 28% of the pool after 8 weeks to get back to 250ppm. Cost for 6.4K gallons is $16 or $2/wk. TA will climb so I need a lot of acid, several times a week to rebalance, I dunno how much that is and I am getting tired of the calculations so let's just assign a PITA cost to that of 2 gallons a week at $15. So, we are at $8.37 for cal-hypo, plus $2/wk for water replacement, plus $15 for acid. Total $25.37/wk.

So, as far as I can tell, once you include the incidentals like acid and water and calcium, you get
bleach = $20.27/wk
Cal-hypo = $25.37/wk
trichlor pucks = $30.79/wk

And then you need to add in the PITA costs of dumping water and rebalancing. And the psychic trauma of sending water down the drain when in water restrictions.

-----
I have to admit, I really was not sure what the answer would be here. My real time cost analysis tells me that I don't spend much on the pool, even including Polaris parts. Pool store costs have been $500 over the past year, for chemicals like trichlor pucks and cal-hypo and liquid chlorine an testing reagents and Polaris parts. Chlorine bleach and acid are hidden and harder to find in my records as it is Walmart or Home Depot or Sam's spending. I have assumed that I spend about $5/wk on bleach, and about $3/wk on acid. I have never bought clarifiers or algaecides or scum enzymes or ion generators or flocculants. My pool is clean and clear and I am so happy that it is.

So, IMO, the answer is that YES, TFP methods do save money, they also save water and time. I do spend a few minutes testing water every other day. I also spend a few minutes cleaning skimmers every other day. I do a full test maybe every week or so. I also clean the pump baskets every week or so. I hardly ever brush, but that is Ok since my pool is clean and clear and sparkly.
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
anonapersona said:
I buy Clorox in the big jugs, 182 oz. at $8.41 for 3 jugs, that jug adds 2.7 FC to my pool for $0.73/FC
anonapersona, that 182 oz. jug should add 4ppm FC to a 22,000 gal pool, so there is something wrong there. Either you're coming out better financially than you think, or your pool is considerably bigger than you think. :wink:

EDIT: I see the problem now, 1 gal(128 oz.) would raise your FC by that amount.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
There is a detailed cost analysis of various possible sources of chlorine in this topic. The prices are a little out of date, but the price increases have been fairly uniform across different types of chlorine. The conclusion then was that bleach/liquid chlorine is less expensive once you take the cost of increasing the PH after using trichlor into account.
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 5, 2008
2,598
Beez said:
anonapersona said:
I buy Clorox in the big jugs, 182 oz. at $8.41 for 3 jugs, that jug adds 2.7 FC to my pool for $0.73/FC
anonapersona, that 182 oz. jug should add 4ppm FC to a 22,000 gal pool, so there is something wrong there. Either you're coming out better financially than you think, or your pool is considerably bigger than you think. :wink:

EDIT: I see the problem now, 1 gal(128 oz.) would raise your FC by that amount.
Aww, about halfway through the second martini I realized I was going to mess up somewhere on all that math. :cheers: Although actually the error was in the typing not the math it appears.

OK, 182 oz in 23k pool adds 3.8 FC at $2.80/jug = $0.74/FC x 17.5 FC ppm/wk = $12.89/wk add $7.50 for acid = $20.39/wk

So, that'd be Bleach with acid for $20.39/wk
Cal-hypo with water changes every 8 wks and a lot of acid at $25.37/wk
Trichlor pucks with water changes every 3 weeks for $30.79
And I can assume that if I'd used both pucks and cal-hypo evenly for the weeks FC usage, that the combo would be at $28.08/wk or about 38% more expensive than bleach.

Hmm, well unless I've messed up again somewhere, always possible, this appears to say that bleach is less expensive.

Of course, all this assumes that with cal-hypo or pucks I've dumped water instead of going to the pool store to be sold algaecide, phosphate remover, clarifier, flocculant, scum reducer, and magic potions that let me delay cleaning my filter and make my water smoother. All that stuff that I might buy, were I not testing all the time with a top notch test kit and dumping water as required, would have certainly added to the cost of the non-bleach methods.
 

Steve456

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 3, 2008
132
Texas
Doug, one simple answer is that people that use BBB have crystal clear water and do not spend very much on their pool. This is due partly to the fact that they do their own testing, understand the importance of maintaining the water balance, and do not purchase unnecessary pool chemicals.

People that use trichlor pucks generally are doing so at the recommendation of the pool store. They are not warned about the need to increase FC as CYA increases. They may not maintain a proper pH level. If you drain your pool at the end of every season trichlor may work for you.

If you find trichlor more convenient than bleach than use them. However, you will need to obtain a CYA test using a view tube to monitor your CYA level.

You do not show the size of your pool. If you have a small pool the price difference may not be much.
 

lightingguy

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 17, 2010
513
Glendale, CA
Same story here. I'm at $20/mo for all my chems, crystal water, happy home. Shopping around for chlorine helps as there can be a bit of a swing in prices.
 

Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
Chemical cost here for typical month:

8-10 gallons of 5.25% bleach at $1.50 per gal =$12 to $15

acid to lower pH = $2 (very low demand with my fill water)

MPS non chlorine shock about $10 per month

Assorted other seasonal adjustments (CYA, Clarifier, CH, etc.) probably average $3 to $5 per month


(the MPS is needed for supplemental oxidation with an indoor pool, on the other hand chlorine demand is lower so it evens out)

Ike
 

DougR

New member
Jul 13, 2010
3
Indianapolis, IN
Thanks everyone -- this is great information. I am hopefully in the final stages of clearing up an algae problem, and I have dumped enough bleach in to my pool in the past week to own a good share of P&G. We just moved in to a new home with an 18,000 IG fiberglass pool this spring, and I stumbled on this site trying to clear the algae problem that seemed to bloom over night. Just ordered a good test kit, but based on the numbers I got from the pool store, my CYA is over 100 -- probably due to the trichlor pucks the previous owner left that I've used in the chlorine feeder.

Looking forward to getting everything balanced and letting the kids enjoy the pool again.
 

Durk

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2007
654
New Jersey
anonapersona said:
Beez said:
anonapersona said:
Of course, all this assumes that with cal-hypo or pucks I've dumped water instead of going to the pool store to be sold algaecide, phosphate remover, clarifier, flocculant, scum reducer, and magic potions that let me delay cleaning my filter and make my water smoother. All that stuff that I might buy, were I not testing all the time with a top notch test kit and dumping water as required, would have certainly added to the cost of the non-bleach methods.
Even if you dump water, and water is free (my case), you still have to add back the cost of renewing CYA, Calcium (for-non vinyl folks), and baking soda (if required), and possibly sequestrant (for some wells) . We did the pucks and dump every year thing for over 30 years. BBB (bleach or LC) and keeping your water is cheaper at the end of the day, I now realize. It was, however, a whole lot easier the puck way. The great popularity of pucks is due to the once-a-week dose and no-brain approach, not cost. Too bad it flames out the second season on the same water.
 

poolgirl22

Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 14, 2010
595
Stephens City, VA
I think in the long term it will save me money. I think the first year or if you are clearing a swamp, it may be a wash. I know this year my total expenditures on the pool will be about what they usually are, but I've added some equipment, had some issues to solve, had to shock twice so far, need new winter cover etc. The issues I had this year hopefully will not be issues in the future because now I know what I'm doing.

I'm monitoring my chemical expenditures separately from the other stuff and I am nowhere near what I usually spend in that respect.

Frankly, I really don't care if it cost more, because it works.
 

ride525

Gold Supporter
Jun 17, 2010
316
Pleasanton, CA
Liquid Chlorine or Bleach cheaper ????

I've been reading with interest about using bleach. I've been using tabs forever, and my CYA levels have always been high.

I just did a cost comparison between Liquid Chlorine and Bleach. The regular price of liquid chlorine at OSH is $6.99 for two gallons or $3.50 a gallon. It's 10%. Safeway had Chlorox on sale for $1.99 for 96 oz. (cheaper than Safeway brand.)

The pool calculator says I would need 1.1 gallons of 10% liquid chlorine to raise 1 FC to 5 FC for my 28,000 gallons pool. Cost $3.85. Using bleach, it said I would need 2.4 jugs (96 oz) of 6% bleach. Cost almost one dollar more at $4.78.

I calculated that if I could find 6% bleach for $1.60 per 96 oz at Walmart, then it would be break even.
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 5, 2008
2,598
Do check Sam's and Costco. I pay $8.40 for 3 big 182 oz jugs at Sam's, others have reported lower costs at their Sam's.
 

ride525

Gold Supporter
Jun 17, 2010
316
Pleasanton, CA
Thanks for the suggestions. Found liquid bleach at Walmart, it's 6% also. It's $2.47 for 182 oz bottle. (Cost much less per oz. than the "sale" at Safeway, $1.99 for 96 oz.)

Jeff
 

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