First time owner - Need help balancing water

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
I had my pool installed last fall, so this is my first time dealing with water chemistry. In the future I'll open it myself, but this year I had the pool company close it, and then opened it yesterday. Opening it up the water looked good (according to them). Not too cloudy, could see the bottom, just a little green to the water. Per their receipt, they added "A special cocktail of Turbo Shock, Algaekill II, Cannon Super Clarifier and Phosphate remover", along with 3 bags of salt as per my Autopilot recommendation. I let it run for 24 hrs and now the water looks pretty good.

I just went out to try testing the water for the first time with my TF-100 kit. The K-100 chlorine test shows zero chlorine, and a ph of around 7.2.
For CYA, I had the cylinder essentially full and I could still barely see the black dot. Cylinder maxes out at 20 so I called it a reading of 10
TA measured at 110.
I have Aquacheck salt test strips, and that is barely registering with a reading of 360ppm. My aquapilot reports 2700 ppm.
Only other item of note is that my Autopilot is only running at 1% right now, probably due to the water temperature being at 57. Not sure if that's relevant or not.

Just as a second test I used a all-in-one test strip that the pool company gave me. That one read a ph of 6.8, 0 chlorine, TA of 80, and stabilizer of 40

Anyway, seems like my water needs some help or maybe i need help in testing the water properly! I appreciate any insight!
 

Texas Splash

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Well, the pool company did you no favors that's for sure. I suspect you have no bypass for that cart filter, so the clarifier ran thought it correct? That probably messed it up. We almost never recommend the use of floc or clarifiers for that reason, so you might make preparations to replace that cartridge(s). As for the chemical cocktail - just a mess and waste I'm afraid. My main concern at this point is "hoping" that they didn't add too much copper to your water from all the algicides.

To kill and remove algae, use your TF-100 and follow the SLAM Process page. You can't go wrong there. Shop around for liquid chlorine/regular bleach because that's what you'll need. The SWG won't support the SLAM Process. Be sure to have at least a CYA of 30 ppm before starting. A pH of 7.2 is prefect to begin the SLAM. But read that page and you'll do fine. I know you had techs do stuff as part of your purchase plan and stuff, but in the future, probably best to do all this yourself and/or just ask us for help. Let us know if you have any questions.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
No, definitely no bypass on the filter. I'd really hate to have to buy all new cartridges so soon, what kind of damage do you think it would have caused?
How do you know I need to do the SLAM process vs just getting the numbers in the right range? I ask because the water actually looks pretty good, no green that I can see.
Is it typically easier/cheaper/better to use dry stabilizer or liquid? Pool math says I need 232 oz of liquid or 5 lbs 9 oz of solid to get to 40.

I still need to lower my water level some, I figure I should do that first before embarking on this chemistry effort?
 

Texas Splash

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what kind of damage do you think it would have caused?
Those products gum-up the paper media making them unable to filter properly. You can start the SLAM Process and see how things go, but just be advised those products are never good for filters of any type.
How do you know I need to do the SLAM process vs just getting the numbers in the right range?
You mentioned above "not too cloudy" and "just a little green", both of those indications of post-winter algae.

Is it typically easier/cheaper/better to use dry stabilizer or liquid?
Definitely liquid. Quicker & easier. But be sure to have a CYA of 30 by adding stabilizer via the "sock-soaking" method when you start. Then use chlorine/bleach to maintain an FC of 12 until you pass all 3 SLAM criteria. If the water reacts oddly (due to copper for example) or you have any questions, just let us know.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
You mentioned above "not too cloudy" and "just a little green", both of those indications of post-winter algae.
Yeah that was how the water looked when they took the cover off. 24 hrs after they added their chemicals and it doesn't look cloudy or green anymore. I can't say how perfect it really looks because I haven't vacuumed it out yet (no leaves or anything, just some dirt all over). I assume I should do that before starting anything?

Definitely liquid. Quicker & easier. But be sure to have a CYA of 30 by adding stabilizer via the "sock-soaking" method when you start. Then use chlorine/bleach to maintain an FC of 12 until you pass all 3 SLAM criteria. If the water reacts oddly (due to copper for example) or you have any questions, just let us know.
I'm confused because you said liquid was easier, but then said to make sure to add stabilizer with the sock method. So should I bring my CYA up using liquid or the sock method with solid CYA?
 

Texas Splash

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I can't say how perfect it really looks because I haven't vacuumed it out yet (no leaves or anything, just some dirt all over). I assume I should do that before starting anything?
Definitely do a good housekeeping of the pool. Once you get any residual leaves and junk out, if you believe that water is crystal clear to the deep end and have reservations about doing a SLAM right away, at least run an Overnight Chlorine Loss Test. The OCLT, coupled with water clarity, will tell you if you need to do a SLAM.

I'm confused because you said liquid was easier, but then said to make sure to add stabilizer with the sock method. So should I bring my CYA up using liquid or the sock method with solid CYA?
Remember that liquid chlorine has no stabilizer in it. While you could use tabs to add CYA, they are slow dissolving and you need a CYA of 30 now. A CYA of 30 is perfect "IF" you need to move forward with a SLAM. If you pass the OCLT and water is crystal to rule-out a SLAM, then you can use pucks for a couple weeks or so to slowly increase the CYA to about 40 in preparation for summer.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
Great. Appreciate the help. So my plan is to drain to the right level and vacuum and clean the pool. Then I'll use liquid chlorine to get the FC up to 3ppm which should take about a gallon. Then I'll do the OCLT and see how it goes and report back!

As a side question from my initial post, is it expected that my Autopilot won't go over 1% right now? (I realize that for the OCLT I need to turn it off)
 

Texas Splash

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As a side question from my initial post, is it expected that my Autopilot won't go over 1% right now? (I realize that for the OCLT I need to turn it off)
Oh right. Let's wait to see how it functions when your water temp creeps over 60, maybe even 65 degrees. If that doesn't change anything let us know. As for the FC, if I were you, I'd increase it (today) to about 6-8 ppm. I'm sure the water could use it. Plus, it will give you a little more room for error overnight if it should fall. You really never want the FC to fall below 3 ppm. When in doubt, always go back to our FC/CYA Chart to see how the FC should be balanced to the current CYA. Hope that helps.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
Alright, checking back in. So on wednesday per your suggestion I added enough chlorine to get about 6 ppm, which was 1 gallon at 12.5% chlorine. I did more cleaning and so far have it about 60% vacuumed and all the big stuff is out of the pool. I did the OCLT test starting last night and measured 1.5 ppm FC and 0.5 CC. This morning I went out and took another sample and got the same 1.5 FC and 0.5 CC. So I think that indicates I don't need to SLAM the pool, right? Visually the water does look quite good. I did the remaining measurements and got:

FC: 1.5
CC: 0.5
PH: 7.5
TA: 100
CH: 200
CYA: 10 (still could see the dot with the tube full, so I figure I need to add stabilizer at the very least)
Salt: 2540 via test strip, 2700 via Autopilot

So if I had to take a guess, I'd say I should start by adding about 11 lbs of stabilizer (according to pool math). And then I should remeasure CYA to see what FC I want to target, and add chlorine to get to that point. I should also add some salt to get to 3000 ppm. How's that sound? I know it doesn't address TA though...
 

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Texas Splash

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I would do two things right away:
1 - Add 20 ppm worth of stabilizer, with an "expected" goal of 30 for now. You can check it again over the weekend to see if you met that goal. Use the sock-soaking method to add the stabilizer. We normally have our salt pools take the CYA up to 70, but I wouldn't do that yet because the water is still chilly and we need to ensure you do not encounter any algae issues in the next few days.
2 - Increase FC right away to about 6 ppm. Never let it drop below 3 ppm.

Normally between the very low FC level and organic material in the water you would already have a green soup on your hands, but I suspect the chilly water is helping you. But don't take that for granted. Keep that FC around 5-6 ppm for now until you finish cleaning the pool really well. Make sure the water is crystal clear to the deep end, and if needed run another Overnight Chlorine Loss Test.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
Ok will do. While the water is cold, do I need to plan on just adding chlorine periodically until the water gets warm enough for the autopilot to work? How warm does it need to be for the salt cell to be functional?

And how about the salt? Should I increase that while i'm at it?
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
Time for an update:
Water temp: 73
FC: 2.5
PH: 7.5
TA: 120
CYA: 20
Salt: 3100

My main struggle is to get CYA up. After my post last friday I added 3 lbs of CYA. On the 16th I still couldn't get a good reading using the black dot test. So then I added another 2 lbs and measured today. I think that at a reading of 20 I'm starting to loose sight of the dot, but it's hard to say for sure. I suppose if I had 0 CYA to start, Pool Math says that 5 lbs would have increased it up to 27, so perhaps my reading of 20 isn't totally unrealistic. If I want to get CYA up to 75, that means I need another 10 lbs of stabilizer? Seems like a lot, but I wanted to check since I know it's harder to get rid of CYA than add it.

I have set my SWG to 50%, but it changes that percentage on it's own all the time so it's hard for me to really get a good sense of that.

The other note is that starting saturday I'm going away for a week, so I want to make sure it's in good enough shape to be unattended for that time.
 

Texas Splash

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Okay, since you are leaving in a few days that kind of changes things because I'm assuming you have no one around to maintain the pool. If that's the case, here's what I would recommend:
1. Add chlorine. An FC of 2.5 is too low. I would increase the FC to about 6-8 with liquid chlorine or regular bleach. Do that as soon as you can to avoid algae.
2. Go ahead and add more CYA in preparation for your SWG. Since you seem to be struggling with the readings right now, just add another 4 lbs which should increase the CYA another 25 ppm or so. This way you should definitely see a solid CYA reading of around 40-5 and not over-shoot your ideal CYA of 70. You can always add more later. We want to make sure you are getting that CYA accurate.

Had you not been leaving, I probably would've had you hold on the CYA to make sure there are no algae concerns (cloudiness), but there really isn't time. You need the SWG to operate while away. But bump-up that FC now so that the SWG doesn't work too hard. Once you increase the stabilizer (CYA) the elevated FC level is perfectly safe for the pool and could help to attack any excessive organics in the water.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
Ok, so I'll add about a gallon of bleach to get it to 8ppm and add 5 lbs of CYA which should increase CYA to 45.

What % should I set my SWG to for now?
I have tried the sock method for CYA, but it takes forever! Unless i continuously squeeze the sock, I saw pretty much no change to a sock with 2lbs of CYA in it over 24 hrs. Maybe my socks are too thick... Is there a better way to do this? Adding 5 more lbs will take many socks and days... :) Is there a reason that I really shouldn't just dump it in the pool and then sweep it around some? Or add it into the skimmer?
 

mknauss

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Use thin socks or panty hose. Put in skimmer with pump running. Should be able to squeeze it out after an hour or so.

Do not dump in pool. It will stain your liner.

If you dump in skimmer, do it very slowly. Test after a week or so. You may not get 100% of the CYA dissolved into the water, but most of it will.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
I have a bunch of Trichlor pucks left that the PB gave me in the fall when they finished the pool. Since I need FC and CYA, should I take the opportunity to use those and get rid of some? If so, is there a standard weight of a puck so I can use Pool Math to see how many I want to use?
 

Texas Splash

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A 50% starting point should be sufficient. Occasionally an owner will say they are struggling with getting stabilizer to dissolve. Not sure is it's a brand thing or what. I use a regular tube sock, let it soak for about 30 minutes, and it squeezes out like a cloud from the sock in a few minutes. Marty gives some ideas above you can try. Or you can try soaking that sock in a bucket of warm water and squeeze after about 30 minutes in that bucket to see if it will pre-dissolve better for you.
 

Texas Splash

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I have a bunch of Trichlor pucks left that the PB gave me in the fall when they finished the pool. Since I need FC and CYA, should I take the opportunity to use those and get rid of some? If so, is there a standard weight of a puck so I can use Pool Math to see how many I want to use?
The PoolMath APP will help to tell you what to expect with x-amount of pucks (Effects of Adding Chemicals), but since you are leaving this weekend you will still need some CYA faster. But you can mix & match between granular stabilizer via a sock and tablets to get a projected CYA once those pucks dissolve.
 

BlueWRXPride

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2020
99
Syracuse, NY
Ok I added 15 oz of trichlor which should bump my FC to 7ppm, and I added 3.5lbs of stabilizer which should get me to 35 or 40 ppm. 3.5 lbs was all i could fit in 2 old pantyhose. But they sure did work better than socks! I let them soak in front of a return jet for 30 min, and then it just took 10 min of squeezing and it was all distributed! I'll measure again in 24 hrs to see where the CYA is at and if I need to add more.
 

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