Frustrated New User of TF-100 and BBB System Has Questions

bamm

Member
Oct 20, 2009
20
I am brand new this year to the TF-100 test kit. After reading this forum I felt foolish paying the outrageous prices for the Bio-Guard Mineral Springs products at my pool installers local store. I am becoming frustrated trying to balance my water.

1. How long does it take for the TA to drop after adding muriatic acid (amount estimated by pool calculator)? I waited a couple of hours and I see almost no reduction at all.

2. I am having difficulty reading the results of the ph test. Should I be comparing color/tint or the deepness (or darkness) of the colors? It seems my water has a tan tint, but, the color chart on the block seems to have more of a pink tint.

3. In general how long should I wait after Borax, Baking Soda, Muriatic Acid, etc?

I just took a sample to my pool store for analyzing on their computer. Could I take their recommendations and do a cross-over to the BBB system? They recommended the following:

5 lbs of stabilizer 100 to raise CYA
7 lbs of Balance Pak 300 to raise Total Hardness
7 lbs of Optimizer plus + 3.5 lbs of Lo-n-SLo to raise borates

Can I do equal amounts of products from my supermarket instead of bio-guard? What would the equals be?

Here are their readings:

Saturation -0.1
TDS 4300
TC 4.1
FC 4.1
pH 7.6
TA 98
adj TA 90
Hardness 173
Minerals 3000
borates 29

My home test shows a TA of 110. I am having difficulty reading the pH. My best guess was 7.3

What is strange about the computer analysis is that last week my CYA was 35. I added 4 lbs of stabilizer slowly into the skimmer, and now, their saying my CYA is 28!! I have not backwashed or lost water. That confuses me.

I am trying to bring my TA and pH into proper levels so that I can add borax and muriatic acid to increase borates.

I am becoming so frustrated and losing confidence in my ability to do this on my own. I greatly appreciate any comments, answers, and/or tips you guys can offer.

Thanks,
David
 

chris4150

LifeTime Supporter
David,

Welcome to the forum and glad to see that you have a quality test kit. First thing first is to try not to get over whelmed, I know it gets frustrating and at times disheartening, however, keep in mind we have all been there.

As far as your test results, your PH appears to be somewhere between 7.2 and 7.5 based on the color description and the information you provided. In verifying the correct PH reading hold the tester up to a white background such as a wall or towel and then look at the color that was produced by additon of your test regent and then compare it to the colors on the left to verify which color closely resembles the color produced by the pool water and additon of test regent.

Your TA could come down a bit to get it between 70 and 90. But keep in mind I dont know if you have any water features etc that may cause a fluctuation. As far as how long it takes for TA to drop, Im not exactly sure how long to wait as I usually check my TA less frequently as I do my PH. When I had MA to drop my PH I usually waite approximately 45 minutes to give it enough time to circulate and then test it again to make sure it has dropped to the desired level. When adding baking soda to raise TA, I usually waite 24 hours before checking the fluctuation. But thats just me.

As far as your CYA, if you followed the instructions correctly on your TF 100 test, then it does need to be brought up to at least 30 and possibley a bit higher depending on the region you live in, sun light exposure etc. Some of the moderators will probably guide you to a more suitable CYA level given your other factors.

Your hardness may be a bit low, but Im not familiar with vinyl liners, sorry.

Ill finish here so that those in the know can provide further information.


Chris
 

Bama Rambler

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2009
23,062
SouthWest Alabama
1. Lowering TA sometimes takes a little while and several applications of MA. One thing that makes a difference is aerating the pH up to 7.8 and then lowering it to 7.2 or even 7.0. The bigger the step you make the more you affect TA.

2. I'm not a lot of help on this one but you do get better at it if you look at it as what it's close to rather than an exact color.

3. Wait about 30 minutes after adding to add more or swim.

Use and trust your TF-100. Don't trust the pool store. A prime example is the CYA. You added enough to bring your CYA up 37 points to what should be 72 and the PS said it was 28. They are obviously wrong.

The one thing you can't do is follow the pool store's advice and follow ours. We're going to conflict on some things. You'll just confuse yourself if you try. And you'll just get more frustrated.

Read Pool School here and learn to use Pool Calculator and you'll find things a lot easier.
 

bamm

Member
Oct 20, 2009
20
Thanks for the comments. I plan to add a fountain; For both looks and aeration. I am using the white paper behind the test block, but, still having problems comparing the colors.

Tonight at the pool store I was honest and told them I was trying to learn how to test my own water and use generic products. The Manager there threw his nose up in the air and actually got an attitude saying that "you cant trust what's on the internet" and that "Bio-Guard has been testing water for years". He even went as far as to say that I am taking chances on ruining my system by not using BioGuard products as they are specially designed for it.

I can't wait til I am comfortable with the BBB system and doing my own testing so that I can spend more time enjoying the pool. I do not want to depend on the Bio-Guard guys for anything. It is obvious their interest is in keeping their profits high.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,977
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
bamm said:
I am brand new this year to the TF-100 test kit. After reading this forum I felt foolish paying the outrageous prices for the Bio-Guard Mineral Springs products at my pool installers local store. I am becoming frustrated trying to balance my water.

1. How long does it take for the TA to drop after adding muriatic acid (amount estimated by pool calculator)? I waited a couple of hours and I see almost no reduction at all.
Could be days. You can speed it up by aerating. I just divert all my return to the spa section when I want to aerate.

2. I am having difficulty reading the results of the ph test. Should I be comparing color/tint or the deepness (or darkness) of the colors? It seems my water has a tan tint, but, the color chart on the block seems to have more of a pink tint.
I go more by hue than intensity. But it seems that when pH is real high, it's also really intensely colored. The background does make a huge difference. Blue sky doesn't substitute for white.

3. In general how long should I wait after Borax, Baking Soda, Muriatic Acid, etc?
A few hours, if you have good circulation. I generally add stuff and check it again the next day. But then again, I'm not making huge changes, either.
I just took a sample to my pool store for analyzing on their computer. Could I take their recommendations and do a cross-over to the BBB system? They recommended the following:

5 lbs of stabilizer 100 to raise CYA
7 lbs of Balance Pak 300 to raise Total Hardness
7 lbs of Optimizer plus + 3.5 lbs of Lo-n-SLo to raise borates

Can I do equal amounts of products from my supermarket instead of bio-guard? What would the equals be?

Here are their readings:

Saturation -0.1
TDS 4300
TC 4.1
FC 4.1
pH 7.6
TA 98
adj TA 90
Hardness 173
Minerals 3000
borates 29

My home test shows a TA of 110. I am having difficulty reading the pH. My best guess was 7.3

What is strange about the computer analysis is that last week my CYA was 35. I added 4 lbs of stabilizer slowly into the skimmer, and now, their saying my CYA is 28!! I have not backwashed or lost water. That confuses me.

I am trying to bring my TA and pH into proper levels so that I can add borax and muriatic acid to increase borates.

I am becoming so frustrated and losing confidence in my ability to do this on my own. I greatly appreciate any comments, answers, and/or tips you guys can offer.

Thanks,
David
No. It's like the old saying, "A man with two watches never knows what time it is." Besides, Pool Calculator will do the work for you. If you start buying all sorts of catchy-named pool store products with inflated prices, someone here will have to try and determine what's actually in it, and then work from there. Not worth it. We're just steps from your pool; how far is the pool store?
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 5, 2008
2,598
When I do the pH test, I first try to determine which values it is between, that is usually easy. Then look at the degree of yellowish versus the degree of pinkish. Look carefully, you should be able to see that it has just a bit more yellow, for example, than the color match block.

So, ask yourself, is it above or below 7.5? Is it as high as 7.8? As low as 7.2? Is it closer to one than the other - a bit more pink or a bit more yellow than 7.5? then it is either 7.7 or 7.6, whichever seems closer to correct. Take a bit of time to judge where it is, it is not really a quick call, ever. Well if it is dead on 7.8 that is pretty easy. Every other value takes some consideration.

And with the TA lowering process, I find that when I lower the pH from 7.8 to 7.2 all at once, I drop the TA by about 10. That is only one drop difference using the test kit, so don't be surprised when it doesn't change much with one go-round. I don't even bother testing TA again until I've done the big pH decrease 3 or 4 times. I don't rush it, just when I do normal testing and chlorine addition every other day, if pH is up to 7.8 I'll force it down. I guess one time I did force it as low as 7.0 and then got worried about whether it was even lower so I did aerate the heck out of the pool to hurry it up. I've decided to not waste the energy on that. Guess I've developed some POP, Pool Owner Patience, along the way.
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
11,094
Houston, Texas
Pool water testing is one area where computers do not make things better! They are actually worse than test strips for determining CYA levels! If you have not had torrential rains or drained water since the addition of CYA it would not drop unless you had ammonia conversion going on and then you would see all kinds of nasty things happening! Trust your own testing! If you are having trouble seeing when the dot disappears, this article from Taylor technologies may help.

Since you have a vinyl liner CH levels between 50 to 300 are fine. Plaster pools need the CH to prevent the water from pulling calcium out of the finish, thus greatly decreasing the life of the plaster.
 

Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
Just one more thing to clarify here, most good pool filtration systems are designed to filter all of the pool water every 8-10 hours, this is also a good safe number to use for time between testing, so you are assured that any adjustment you made to the water has had time to mix with the water and be equal throughout the pool (in reality it may take much less time than this, but it does not hurt to be safe). THE ONE BIG EXCEPTION is CYA, stabilizer it will take a week or more to show up on tests, it also can only generally be removed by switching out water or professional reverse osmosis treatment.

Ike

p.s. some people add an extra drop on the pH test to make the colors more intense, and yes it is color your trying to match, just remember you have a fairly big window of acceptable numbers, don't try to micro manage, just keep it the range.
 

bamm

Member
Oct 20, 2009
20
How important is it that I have the pH and TA dead nuts where they are supposed to be before I had the Borax and MA to bring up my borate level?
 

PaulR

LifeTime Supporter
Jan 11, 2009
1,966
Cupertino, CA
The borates will make it harder to budge the TA and pH, so you want them pretty close.

The test results in the first post show you already have about 30ppm borates? Is there some reason you want that even higher?
--paulr
 

257WbyMag

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Feb 23, 2008
5,061
Denton, TX
bamm said:
How important is it that I have the pH and TA dead nuts where they are supposed to be before I had the Borax and MA to bring up my borate level?
Well, it's fairly important because with the borates in there, it's going to be tougher to budge the numbers. Without borates, you essentially have one buffer system preventing pH swings (TA). With borates, you have two separate buffer systems, making it doubly tough to effect pH and therefore, TA changes.
 

Johnny B

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 19, 2009
563
Charlotte, NC
Bamm it sounds like you are doing great so far considering how new all this is to you. Keep asking away here, the guys here will provide WAY more help than most pool stores.
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
bamm said:
The Manager there threw his nose up in the air and actually got an attitude saying that "you cant trust what's on the internet" and that "Bio-Guard has been testing water for years". He even went as far as to say that I am taking chances on ruining my system by not using BioGuard products as they are specially designed for it.

.
Actually pretty typical for a Bioguard dealer. Not sure why, but every pool store i've been in that sold Bioguard products (been in 4) has the same kind of attitude. Their pH up, alkalinity increaser, hardness increaser, etc, is the same stuff as everybody elses, including good old grocery store stuff. As I'm sure your aware, your "system" will do just as well without the expensive Bioguard stuff. Learn to use your test kit and trust the results. It's all about knowing how to test the water, and what to do with the results interms of what to add, or not to add. Use the pool calculator too. Its easy to use and will help keep your chemistry spot on.
 

bamm

Member
Oct 20, 2009
20
PaulR said:
The borates will make it harder to budge the TA and pH, so you want them pretty close.

The test results in the first post show you already have about 30ppm borates? Is there some reason you want that even higher?
--paulr
Pool school says borate levels should be in the 30-50 range for SWG. Mine is only 29. Considering the margin of error to be +/- 10 points this could put me below the minimum. Should I bring my levels up to mid-range (40 or so)?
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
Yes, it is better to be near the high end of the range in the spring, so that you are still somewhere reasonable in the fall. The level will fall slowly through the season due to splash out, and backwashing (if you backwash).
 
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