Do I have ammonia issues?

Timmygreen

Active member
Apr 22, 2017
31
Yardley, PA
#1
New pool owner....Ok 24 hours into SLAM, have added 18 gallons of bleach already, 6 a time, and cannot get FC above 2. Does this likely mean that I have ammonia in the pool? I did not get a CYA reading above 20 before starting, and havent added any yet. Pool is already relatively clear and see through water...Should I just keep adding dozens of gallons of bleach until I get FC to hold??
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
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LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
41,197
Tucson, AZ
#2
What are your CC test results?
With no CYA in the water, the FC will disappear to the sun everyday.

CYA should be raised to 30ppm for the SLAM process.
 

kcindc

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TFP Guide
Sep 2, 2011
1,282
Fairfax, VA
#4
The amount of bleach to remove ammonia depends on how much CYA was converted to ammonia. The key is to add bleach and test 15 minutes later if you do not have any FC you are battling ammonia. You have a large pool like mine and I've battled ammonia before. It can take a lot of bleach at first, but you are probably close to getting rid of it.

At some point your FC will hold, DO NOT ADD CYA until after you have eliminated the ammonia otherwise the newly added CYA will get converted to ammonia, too.
 

woodyp

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Apr 17, 2010
10,214
East Texas
#6
How about this......get an ammonia testing kit from a local aquarium supplier and test for it to be sure? But it's still gonna take what it takes of chlorine to extinguish it. Agreed on cya addition with no confirmation on ammonia levels.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,845
Grand Rapids, MI
#7
If you dont want to get a kit, or even if you do, these are the steps to break own ammonia quickly (been there, done that ;):

Diagnosing:
1. Test CYA level and record result
2. With pump running, dose FC to Shock (SLAM) per level per Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart, then retest FC after 10 minutes. If FC level drops by more than 50%, then proceed with treatment for ammonia.

Treatment for Ammonia:
1. Begin a SLAM and dose FC up to SLAM level. Do not add additional CYA at this point.
2. Retest FC at 10-minute intervals.
a. If FC loss is greater than 50%, add FC to bring back up to SLAM level and continue retesting FC @ 10-minute intervals.
b. IF FC loss is 50% or less, add FC to bring back up to SLAM level. Go to Step 3.
3. If CYA is below 30 ppm, add enough CYA to bring level up to 30 ppm.
4. Continue SLAM as directed in the SLAM article until the SLAM Criteria of Done are met. Test as directed in the SLAM article - no longer need to test FC at 10 minute increments at this point.
 

woodyp

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Apr 17, 2010
10,214
East Texas
#8
Swampy to the rescue--------(as usual). I swear I thought I had that procedure tabbed someplace, but I do now!
 

Dz7

In The Industry
Jun 20, 2016
32
Florida
#9
The amount of bleach to remove ammonia depends on how much CYA was converted to ammonia. The key is to add bleach and test 15 minutes later if you do not have any FC you are battling ammonia. You have a large pool like mine and I've battled ammonia before. It can take a lot of bleach at first, but you are probably close to getting rid of it.

At some point your FC will hold, DO NOT ADD CYA until after you have eliminated the ammonia otherwise the newly added CYA will get converted to ammonia, too.
If that was true about the added CYA being converted to more ammonia, then wouldn't adding ammonia to your pool be a viable option for lowering CYA levels without draining water?
 

Donldson

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In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,285
NW Ohio
#10
If that was true about the added CYA being converted to more ammonia, then wouldn't adding ammonia to your pool be a viable option for lowering CYA levels without draining water?
No. CYA doesn't spontaneously turn in to ammonia in the presence of ammonia. There is a bacterial process that consumes CYA and excretes ammonia. The bacteria responsible is not killed by ammonia but is killed by chlorine, so the ammonia must be eliminated and FC level held to assure the bacteria is killed before adding additional CYA to the pool.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,845
Grand Rapids, MI
#11
^which brings up a good point to share about ammonia formation and people who are wondering if they have it.

Two conditions are required before this bacteria can be a factor...

1. The FC must be at zero, and typically for much longer than a few days.

2. Your CYA would read as zero, or at the very least, dramatically reduced.

If you open a pool with zero FC, it doesn't mean you have ammonia.
If you one a pool with zero FC AND zero cya...it still doesn't mean you have ammonia...it just means that the conditions were right for the conversion to occur if the bacteria is present. The majority of the time, the bacteria will not be present unless there is also a lot of debris. Technically speaking, the conversion is supposed to be anaerobic...but obviously, since it still happens in a pool, there's more going on than we, or at least i, currently understand ;)

With that said, since the test is SO simple and you dose up on opening anyway, I feel its not a bad idea IF one opens at ZERO FC and CYA to do a quick check before adding cya.

Other things that cause chlorine to disappear quickly include ascorbic acid, pool antifreeze in sufficient quantities, etc. plus chlorine will naturally dissipate in the sun with little FC, so losing 50% on a swampy pool in a few hours also does not signify ammonia necessarily.

That's why the quick succession of application/test is important...it shows the rate/speed of loss, which is dramatic in the case of ammonia.
 

Timmygreen

Active member
Apr 22, 2017
31
Yardley, PA
#12
Thank you so much everyone for you input. This thread is getting bookmarked for the future by me....I was able to bleach HUGE overnight to get a steady reading of FC = 6 now....so starting to add CYA to get to 30...and then onto SLAM levels for FC! Really you are all awesome...hope some of you get to enjoy the weather this weekend!!!