CYA through the roof

blehke

New member
Jul 7, 2010
3
Houston, TX
Hi, all. We bought a house a couple months ago with a pool. After scouring the net, I found this site. Well, not really scouring - it's pretty high up there on Google, thankfully!

Anyway, the pool is about 12 years old - specifics are in my sig. I'm pretty sure the previous owners were using stabilized pucks exclusively - that's the only thing he left, and the only thing he mentioned when I talked to him about the pool in general.

I've had a heck of a time getting anything to balance. Leslie's recommended test strips over a test kit. I didn't know any better, so that's what I got. They also dismissed that the strips always read high for stabilizer, and their tests only showed it at 100. After doing some reading here, I dug around in the garage and found a test kit - it's a Taylor K-2005, and unfortunately the scale only goes to 100 for CYA. However, I can tell with certainty that it's higher than that. I also tried diluting the water and using a test strip - diluted it was 150, although I'm sure I wasn't very exact. If I had been thinking, I would have done that with the test kit, but now I'm out of chemicals.

So... now what? To get CYA down to 50, I would need to drain 83% ?!?! Are there other options? Can I even do that? I live in Houston where the water table is high to begin with, and we've had a lot of rain lately!

I contacted http://www.poolservicestech.com/ - unfortunately, they're in San Diego. Oops! Seems like reverse osmosis would be a good solution, but I haven't been able to find anyone else that does it???

Help!!!

Oh - here's what I've been able to get for numbers:
FC: .5 (I shocked it after that - only thing that seems to be able to get the level up at all)
TC: .5
pH: 7.5
TA: 110
CYA: 300???

The pool looks OK most of the time - doesn't seem like it should with problems like this! I do have a persistent "dust" that coats the steps, and sometimes the bottom - it's a brownish-greenish color. There is also occasionally algae on the sides - I have to brush it every 2-3 days or so, but I was told that's normal with an older pool.

Thanks!
--Blake
 

zea3

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Jul 10, 2009
10,966
Houston, Texas
Well, next time we are due for another tropical depression, you can drain down the pool a bit and allow it to refill with rainwater. I drained out about 4" yesterday and it is right back at the top of the skimmer again today!

Unfortunately there is not a reverse osmosis provider I know of in our area, so to get the CYA down you need to drain and refill. You should do a series of partial drain and refills to get the CYA down. You do not want to completely drain the pool all at once.

Algae is only normal in ponds and other natural water sources! You will use a lot of chlorine, but you can maintain an algae free pool even with high CYA levels. You need to find out what your CH (calcium) is. If your CH is low you can use calcium hypochlorite for your chlorine source until you are able to drain and refill. You may also you liquid chlorine. Do not use dichlor or trichlor, or any other "stabilized" chlorine products. They will raise your CYA even more!

Welcome to TFP!
 

anonapersona

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Nov 5, 2008
2,598
Heater -- yes! That's how you will enjoy your spa all winter. Keep your eyes open for a few cozy terry bathrobes, makes a nice Xmas gift for the adults for those late night dips when it is cold outside. I love my LLBean robe, heavy enough for winter use. Do be sure to understand how circulation changes for spa heating, you don't want to try to heat the whole pool, we pay a lot for energy here compared to cold places, go figure!

You will want to go ahead and do a partial drain now, even dropping a few feet, 2 or 3 or 4, will help the CYA a lot. With all this rain you do not want to drain deeply. When the water table is lower later in the summer we will probably be on water restrictions.

I was in the same spot at about that point with this house, a few months in, a bit of green algae in the sun here, a bit of mustard algae in the shade there, brushing a lot to no effect, CYA well over 100, using pucks and shock products on no particular schedule. Testing with strips that told me that FC of 2 was "Ideal", that CYA of 100 was not "Too High".

So, best advice, get a top notch test kit http://tftestkits.net/cart.html?m=splash and add the SpeedStir. While you are waiting, drain 2 or 3 or 4 feet from the pool and refill. Be clever and note what the water meter says before and after your fill so you really know what you added. Call the MUD and see what the TA and CH of the water is expected to be.

Then take a fresh sample of water after the refill (before adding bleach) to a pool store to see what they indicate the TA, CH, and CYA might be. Take no action on that info, just get that data point to evaluate. While you are there take down prices of liquid shock, see the % chlorine, price Muriatic Acid (MA). When you stop using pucks the pH will go up to 7.8 - 8.0 until you get the TA lowered down again with MA. I expect that the TA of fill water will be higher than what is in the pool now. Look at pool toys and other goodies that you can afford since you won't need most of the chemicals that they sell. Price their test kits and congratulate yourself for the TFP kit you got at such a good price. Then, consider getting another fresh sample to take to another pool store just for comparison and looking at toys. If the test results are different you will understand why you need your own drop based tests. There are LOTS of pool stores, mom and pop places, Warehouse Supply, Leslies, TexSun, etc.

Given how bloomin' hot it is here, CYA of 60 or 70 is not out of reason so if you can get to there, stop. Normal rains will bring it down later.

Meanwhile, based on CYA of 150-ish, you want to bring FC up to something like 18 to 11 or better yet, just drain now and after the refill, adjust per the Chlorine/CYA chart or the Pool Calculator. If CH is low (probably not but could be) you can use Cal-Hypo as zea3 said, otherwise use bleach 6% or liquid shock 10% or 12% if you find it. I use Leslie's brand, Power Powder Pro or Plus, whichever is 73%. I invested in the big 100# as it keeps well.

Osmosis is probably not available here, water is relatively cheap and available, at least for now. Once we go to surface water things will get real expensive.
 
G

Guest

What; no R/O in Texas??! Sounds like a business opportunity to me :-D

Do you know if your pool has a hydrostatic relief valve by chance? If you are in an area with a known high water table they may have installed one. That would help you with the drain portion to keep it from floating.

Good for you for finding the site :goodjob: Lots of great folks here that will help you take control of your pool!
 

duraleigh

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Sooner or later, you will want to drain that pool. You can do so now by siphoning of the bottom at one end and refilling from the top of the other end. Will explain more if youwant to get started.

Your very high CYA makes that pool troublesome. Regardless of the age of a pool, NO algae should ever be present.
 
G

Guest

Dave-are you saying that harder materials (CYA, etc.) would be sitting lower in the water than at the surface of the pool?
 

blehke

New member
Jul 7, 2010
3
Houston, TX
Bruce - I think it was Sal I spoke with? He said there was some interest from someone in Texas (although, I forgot to ask which part of Texas - if it's El Paso, that would actually be closer to San Diego than Houston!), but nothing yet. Also - how would I know if I have a hydrostatic relief valve?

Regarding the partial draining - I thought, especially with as high of a level as I have, that this wasn't recommended? Doing so just dilutes it and it'll end up taking much more water to do the same thing.

Dave - as Bruce asked, is siphoning necessary to get the stuff out of the bottom, or just to try and separate input from output as much as possible? Regardless... How do I go about siphoning an in-ground pool?

One other thought - the pool is 12 years old now, and is starting to show it - stains, discoloration, etc. - I was told we may get another couple years out of it, but no more. Would it be worth accelerating that schedule and doing a re-plaster sooner? Of course, that brings up the question again about how to drain it for plastering...
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
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You can syphon off water using a garden hose (or something similar). First, put the hose in the pool and fill it completely with water. One good way to be sure the hose is full of water is to hold one end in front of a return jet till air stops coming out the other end. Then seal one end of the hose, cover the end or kink the hose, so no water will leak out, and move the sealed end to somewhere outside the pool that is below water level, while keeping the other end in the pool. Then release the seal or unkink the hose and water from the pool should start flowing out. Water will continuing flowing out by gravity alone until the water level in the pool goes below the height of the free end of the hose. This process may take a while.
 

zea3

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Jul 10, 2009
10,966
Houston, Texas
If you choose to re-plaster then the contractor will handle draining the pool.

The siphon/fill method Dave was talking about enables you to drain the problematic water out of the pool while putting in fresh water at the same time so you will not have any problems associated with draining only, such as "floating" the pool.

Diluting the CYA is exactly what you need to do. CYA and Calcium do not evaporate out of the water and can become highly concentrated over time. It may take several partial drain and refill cycles to get the CYA to a manageable level.

Algae occurs when water circulation is poor and/or chlorine levels are not high enough to sanitize the water. Algae is not automatic an older pool. Pools of any age can be algae free as long as they are properly sanitized and the pump and filter are sized appropriately for the pool and functioning normally.

You and your family deserve a clean, healthy pool to enjoy. Don't let someone tell you that you should expect to have algae just because you have an older pool.
 

Richard320

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Jan 6, 2010
20,406
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
You're lucky - you get real rainstorms to dilute the pool. If there's one coming, drain some water. Pull the downspout off a raingutter and divert it to the pool (put a stocking over the spout somehow to catch the debris) and really dilute things! That's what I did last winter, and got CYA down from 240ish to your current level.

An ABG pool is easy to empty. Slowly feed a hose in so it fills up with water. Cap the end with your hand, then quickly pull one end out and down then uncap and watch the flow! Imagine how much you can get using the vacuum hose!
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
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Nov 5, 2008
2,598
Siphoning is nice but won't work in Houston in general since almost no homes have an area to drain to that is lower than the deep end of the pool. The rise from street level to the back yard may be only 4 or 6 feet total and the deep end of the pool is probably more.

If your overflow is piped to the street, you can just let the hose run in the deep end or the opposite end of the pool with the circulation off and let it overflow that way.

Otherwise, that leaves doing it with the pump. My system has a hose bib near the pump so I can turn the system on and open that to run water via a hose to the driveway. When I needed to drain water, I used that. My system is set up for all water coming off the skimmers (I think) so I using that hose bib meant that I drained from the top and so I added at the bottom with a hose. With the system running, there was still a lot of water going back in and mixing at the returns but I guess that mixing was mostly at the surface.

Again, take note of the water meter at the start and end to know what you've added so you can predict the change in CYA. Start by timing the filling of a 5 gallon water bottle to estimate how long to run the hose.

Go on and tackle this draining thing, it will pay off handsomely. Get the TF100 and a SpeedStir from http://www.tftestkits.net, it will pay off handsomely. You will quickly get to the point of adding to the pool only what it needs, when it needs it. No random chemicals tossed in because someone wants to sell you something. Remember that a lot of the help at the pool store gets their education by reading the ads for their products.

But like zea3 said, algae is NOT a normal thing in an older pool. And, if the person who told you that is the same one who told you that you need to replaster, then you may want to talk to someone else. I recommend PoolWorks, at http://www.houstonpoolrenovations.com. They are the guys that actually do the work for many other companies, so using them cuts out the middle man in those cases. I did not use them yet, but when it comes time I will. They came out to look at a replaster along with some other work and reassured me that the plaster was fine for a few more years, my pool is as old as yours. I really appreciate someone who will tell the truth about what is needed. They had some very helpful comments about the waterfall as well, again putting me at ease about some things I've been concerned about, so they earned my trust.
 
G

Guest

blehke said:
Bruce - I think it was Sal I spoke with? He said there was some interest from someone in Texas (although, I forgot to ask which part of Texas - if it's El Paso, that would actually be closer to San Diego than Houston!), but nothing yet. Also - how would I know if I have a hydrostatic relief valve?

One other thought - the pool is 12 years old now, and is starting to show it - stains, discoloration, etc. - I was told we may get another couple years out of it, but no more. Would it be worth accelerating that schedule and doing a re-plaster sooner? Of course, that brings up the question again about how to drain it for plastering...
If you can dive down and remove the drain cover in the bottom of the pool, you will be able to see what is under there. Typically there is a pipe that leads to the skimmer only (not that you will be able to tell where it goes, but there is usually one pipe in there). If there is a hydrostatic valve, it would also be below the drain cover, and would have some type of "cap" on it. In the case of a high water table, that cap can be pulled and a pump attached to it to draw the ground water out at the same time that you would be draining the pool. Is it possible for you to dive down and pull the cover to look?

Pool plaster formulations today should give about 10 years of usable service (this is just for plaster. PebbleTec or similar, or quartz products will last much longer). It can go longer with proper care though. It sounds as if you may be near the end of your serviceable life on the plaster, although if it is just discoloration and stains then that would not be the case. When plaster "fails" it starts to delaminate or get very rough/porous. Scale build up from hard water or high pH can also cause plaster to look old, but does not necessarily mean that you need a re-plaster. The plaster company, as stated earlier above, will take the responsibility for the draining as part of their scope, when and if you decide to go that route.

I hope that helps! Keep the questions coming and you will find the answers here!
 

duraleigh

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Siphoning is nice but won't work in Houston
A small submersible pump will work. Just lower it into the bottom of the pool and start to drain while simultaneously filling from the surface on the opposite end.

The pump will drain faster than the spigot will fill, thought, so you'll need to shutoff the pump from time to time.
 
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