Help choosing chlorination method for pool inherited from previous owner

arib0nd

Active member
Apr 5, 2010
27
Gilbert , AZ
Hi everyone
I am relatively familiar with TFP and have been using the recommended chemicals and levels on this site to maintain my current pool and things have been great.

However, we just purchased a new home and am inheriting a pool from the previous owner. Unfortunately the owner was not follower of TFP and using pucks to maintain the pool. Here are my test results - I wanted some advice on how best to proceed. The pool is pretty new - roughly ~4 yrs old.

Test Results
FC - 12
PH 8.2
TA 280 (Assume he never tested and this is from the pucks?_
TH 500-1000 (we have high TH in fill water in AZ)
CYA - Higher than 100 (I can't see the dot around halfway between bottom of tube and the 100 line!!)
Salt - 2200 (assume this is from fill water, unless owner added salt to improve water feel)

Additionally I see some staining of the grout in the tile below the water line - any idea what could be causing this?
There is also the standard calcium ring on the tile from the high Calcium

How to drain/refill safely in Phoenix summer to lower TH and CYA?
Since the only way to lower TH and CYA is to replace water, I was planning on draining and refilling the pool.
However - it is ~120 degrees in Phoenix right now and probably not going to get under 100 for a few months!
I read that it is risky to drain pools in the summer here, since it can lead to cracking and sun damage on the pool surface.
Is this a valid concern? Can this be done safely.. or do I need to find the name of a Pool RO company and see if they can help me with initial startup without draining?

Other Questions
Assume I can figure out a way to safely lower TH and CYA (by drain refill or RO), I will just need to retest the water and start over then.
I am also interested in adding Borates - I have them in my current pool and I don't have empirical evidence but my water has been very clear

Are there other things you recommend I check or test (water balance or others) - with a pool inherited from an owner who may have been suspect (or clueless) on maintenance?

Chlorination recommendation
I also wanted to ask for recommendations on how to handle chlorination going forward (perhaps this is better as a separate thread?
I definitely want to avoid pucks, and don't think adding bleach daily will be manageable with our busy lifestyle.
The two options I am considering are a (1) some sort of liquid chlorinator (b) adding a SWG to this pool
Any pro's/con's to these approached in Arizona? I have been generally happy with my SWG, but have had to spend ~1000 on a replacement PCB and cell in the 7 yrs of ownership. Also ended up having to drain/refill the pool twice to lower salt levels (I think this was a combination of salt in fill water and adding unnecessary salt due to blindly trusting the salt level read by the SWG)
I am keen on trying a liquid chlorinator, but want to make sure they can handle the Arizona weather - heat, UV, and chlorine loads before I spend on this options.

Thanks!
 

arib0nd

Active member
Apr 5, 2010
27
Gilbert , AZ
Moderator note, this thread is actually two threads merged together. The two beginning posts have slightly different questions that are interrelated

I posted for help with water chemistry in the other subforum - including the link here to avoid double posting all the information
Help with water balance on pool inherited from previous owner

Test Results
FC - 12
PH 8.2
TA 280 (Assume he never tested and this is from the pucks?_
TH 500-1000 (we have high TH in fill water in AZ)
CYA - Higher than 100 (I can't see the dot around halfway between bottom of tube and the 100 line!!)
Salt - 2200 (assume this is from fill water, unless owner added salt to improve water feel)

Question
Previous owner used pucks for chlorination and as you can see, Chlorine is at a healthy level (too high I guess) but everything else is out of wack. I travel a decent amount so adding liquid chlorine manually is not a feasible solution. My previous home had a SWG which I liked, but ended up requiring over $1000 in PCB and salt cell replacements in the 7 yrs I owned it, not to mention multiple drain and refill to handle rising salt levels.
I am very intrigued by an automated liquid chlorinator option - but wanted to check if these are viable in Arizona - due to high temps, UV and high chlorine requirements in the summer. Any experiences using these in AZ? Are any local pool stores familiar with these and provide these for sale, or do you have to purchase online?
Any recommendations on what pump I should be looking at based on my pool specifications in my signature?

Thanks for the help!
 

Schadenfreude

Gold Supporter
May 26, 2016
128
Phoenix AZ
Re: Help with water balance on pool inherited from previous owner

I definitely would not drain the pool right now. The weather over the next couple of weeks is going to be insane.

Can you drain and refill a few inches at a time - say just down to the bottom of your tile? It would be a PITA and might take you a month to get to the level you need for the CYA, but would save your pool surface.

I am also in Phoenix and quite happily use a SWG. The only thing I have to watch for is pH. Your CH levels are manageable. The fill water here is at a rough average of 225 ppm, and with the rate of evaporation, it's nearly impossible to keep it below 500 for long.
 

arib0nd

Active member
Apr 5, 2010
27
Gilbert , AZ
Re: Help with water balance on pool inherited from previous owner

I definitely would not drain the pool right now. The weather over the next couple of weeks is going to be insane.

Can you drain and refill a few inches at a time - say just down to the bottom of your tile? It would be a PITA and might take you a month to get to the level you need for the CYA, but would save your pool surface.

I am also in Phoenix and quite happily use a SWG. The only thing I have to watch for is pH. Your CH levels are manageable. The fill water here is at a rough average of 225 ppm, and with the rate of evaporation, it's nearly impossible to keep it below 500 for long.
Thanks for the input, have you also noticed salt levels going up over time? Does your fill water have salt that accumulates over time ?
 

oldguy70

Silver Supporter
Jun 26, 2015
159
Glendale, AZ
Re: Help with water balance on pool inherited from previous owner

Thanks for the input, have you also noticed salt levels going up over time? Does your fill water have salt that accumulates over time ?
Salt level could be Auto water fill hooked to soft water, what are you using to test the water?
 

Schadenfreude

Gold Supporter
May 26, 2016
128
Phoenix AZ
Re: Help with water balance on pool inherited from previous owner

Yes. I'm not sure if it's the fill water or a combination of sodium in the fill water + chlorine in the muriatic acid.

ETA: Or just measurement error.
 

danny_b

Active member
Sep 13, 2015
30
Phoenix, AZ
Im in Phoenix as well, and just bought a house with a pool 9 months ago. Same deal, it was maintained with pucks, so the CYA was through the roof. So, first order of business was a drain, acid wash, and refill. I also could not do daily dosing of chlorine. So I installed a stenner chlorine pump, a woods timer that allows on and off by the minute. I chose the 40GPD stenner, so I would only need to running chlorine pump for 5-15 minutes a day, as to minimize wear and tear. I have a 15 gallon chlorine reservoir that fill monthly. I have my CYA at 50 currently, and I use 52 oz of 12.5 chlorine a day. Comes out to 45$ a month for chlorine a month. My pool receives full sun all day.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,810
Bedford, TX
$1,000 for seven years sounds pretty darn good to me.. that is only $150 a year!! Danny's Stenner is costing him about $500 per year.

A SWG or the Stenner, either way should work just fine, but neither is going to be free. My guess is that the average cost per year will be about the same for both of them, with the SWG being a little more up-front. Neither will make your pool maintenance free. Both are open loop systems, so you still have to monitor your FC to make sure you are not under or over shooting your goal.

Jim R.
 

arib0nd

Active member
Apr 5, 2010
27
Gilbert , AZ
Re: Help with water balance on pool inherited from previous owner

I definitely would not drain the pool right now. The weather over the next couple of weeks is going to be insane.

Can you drain and refill a few inches at a time - say just down to the bottom of your tile? It would be a PITA and might take you a month to get to the level you need for the CYA, but would save your pool surface.

I am also in Phoenix and quite happily use a SWG. The only thing I have to watch for is pH. Your CH levels are manageable. The fill water here is at a rough average of 225 ppm, and with the rate of evaporation, it's nearly impossible to keep it below 500 for long.
Any other ideas on how to get CYA down? I haven't done the math, but my guess is that my CYA is significantly higher than 100, so doing a partial drain/refill (just down to tile) will take forever and also waste a lot of water.
 

arib0nd

Active member
Apr 5, 2010
27
Gilbert , AZ
Im in Phoenix as well, and just bought a house with a pool 9 months ago. Same deal, it was maintained with pucks, so the CYA was through the roof. So, first order of business was a drain, acid wash, and refill. I also could not do daily dosing of chlorine. So I installed a stenner chlorine pump, a woods timer that allows on and off by the minute. I chose the 40GPD stenner, so I would only need to running chlorine pump for 5-15 minutes a day, as to minimize wear and tear. I have a 15 gallon chlorine reservoir that fill monthly. I have my CYA at 50 currently, and I use 52 oz of 12.5 chlorine a day. Comes out to 45$ a month for chlorine a month. My pool receives full sun all day.
Danny - Why did you go with a chlorine pump over a SWG? Jim makes a good point - if I spent ~$1000 in replacement parts.. and lets say $1000 for the initial chlorinator
And assuming I run it 8 hrs a day at 100% (I ran it less) - that would be approx ~$6 a month in electricity. So my run costs in my home were ~$30 a month.
vs your cost of chlorine being $45 a month, not to mention the initial investment on the chlorine pump, timer + ongoing maintenance?

Also - I have been reading about chlorine losing effectiveness at high temps, have you noticed this impacting your 15 gal of stored chlorine during the summer? Just curios what your experience with chlorine pumps has been and if it has reaffirmed or changed your point of view regarding using a SWG vs chlorine pump?
 

Cinic

Silver Supporter
Jul 24, 2015
194
Tempe, AZ

JoeRJGR

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2013
138
Freehold NJ
Just to put my two cents in here, I am trying to decide which way to go here as well. This year however is the first time I have used the TFP methods correctly with daily additions of bleach. My pool has never looked better and at almost 40,000 gallons i feel I am pushing the limits of a Hayward SWG AQR15 which would be the only one I would purchase. Because of this I am nervous to go with a SWG just because my pool has been so perfect thus far.
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
11,062
Franklin, NC
I will just point out a couple of things.

First, you infer that your FC is too high. To be honest, I think it is way too low. With high CYA comes the need for high FC to have any active chlorine in the water. When my CYA was over 200, I had to maintain FC around 19 to avoid algae. Do the diluted test recomended above, but understand that with dilution you increase the error rate in the test.

Second, while you live in a desert area, if at all possible capture any rain water from your roof and recycle it into the pool. I rigged up such a system to help get free water to reduce my CYA.

The math was done a couple of years ago about the cost comparison between a SWCG and manual dosing with bleach or liquid chlorine. At that time considering up front costs of the SWCG and regular replacement of the cell it was almost a wash as over the life of the SWCG the costs for each method ended up being about the same. Add the cost a Stenner pump into the equation and using liquid and even with the cost of liquid having dropped a little lately, I think the SWCG wins on a dollar to dollar comparison.

How does the pool look now? As long as your pool is clear, you can take your time slowly lowering the CYA. I took over two years to get mine down. The biggest problem is that you have to be vigilant about keeping the FC level where it needs to be. Any oops requiring a SLAM is out of the question at those levels.
 

danny_b

Active member
Sep 13, 2015
30
Phoenix, AZ
I choose the stenner because thats all anyone talks about on here, and say its the cheapest way etc. I had no idea I would be dumping so much in. Perhaps i should bring CYA up to 60, and try that. My chlorine barrel is opaque white, and is pretty well shaded by trees most of the day, and as of now, when add chlorine, it comes up to what it is supposed to per calculator.
 

arib0nd

Active member
Apr 5, 2010
27
Gilbert , AZ
I will just point out a couple of things.

First, you infer that your FC is too high. To be honest, I think it is way too low. With high CYA comes the need for high FC to have any active chlorine in the water. When my CYA was over 200, I had to maintain FC around 19 to avoid algae. Do the diluted test recomended above, but understand that with dilution you increase the error rate in the test.
How does the pool look now? As long as your pool is clear, you can take your time slowly lowering the CYA. I took over two years to get mine down. The biggest problem is that you have to be vigilant about keeping the FC level where it needs to be. Any oops requiring a SLAM is out of the question at those levels.
I diluted the pool water 1:1 and am still reading over 100 - I will try dilute further in additional tests this weekend to see what the actual number is. But I guess its safe to say that its over 200.
My FC is still 12 . I am slowly using acid to lower PH and aerating to get the TA back down.

The pool itself looks clear - other than scaling on the water tile and also looks like some staining of the grout in the tile.

Any advice on what to do?
Since my CYA is over 200 - what FC should I maintain the pool at?
Is the consensus that I should avoid draining the pool, but keep the water in balance (except for the high CYA) this summer and revisit draining it as soon as it cools down?
Or is the situation dire enough that I should find a safe way to drain the pool - (1) drain just to the bottom of the water tile, refill and repeat.. (2) Get an estimate from a Pool/RO company in Arizona - my pool store thinks that service typically runs around $500 (3) Try the CYA reducing enzyme the pool store is pushing (although based on reading here, it seems like nothing can reduce CYA)
 

mnewstadt

New member
Jun 21, 2015
1
Plano, TX
I've heard the CYA tends to stay in the top of the pool... don't know how much credence to put into that... but pulling water only from the skimmer and filling from the hose.. I landed myself in the opposite problem... 0 CYA (at least <20)
I'd love to know if anyone can confirm the CYA at the top concept and I'm thinking arib0nd would find that very useful as well...
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
11,062
Franklin, NC
I've heard the CYA tends to stay in the top of the pool... don't know how much credence to put into that... but pulling water only from the skimmer and filling from the hose.. I landed myself in the opposite problem... 0 CYA (at least <20)
I'd love to know if anyone can confirm the CYA at the top concept and I'm thinking arib0nd would find that very useful as well...
nope, CYA is in solution throughout the water column, not "floating" near the top.


Now, if the water is clear and the CYA is 200 or more you need to bring the FC up to a minimum of 15. Getting algae right now would be very difficult to eradicate.

Don't rush to borates until you can together the pool under control and have a good feeling for how it works.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,332
Pacific NW
There are smaller increment cya tests for dilution but it's different to the 50% ratio you just tried and still showed 100, can't remember
it maybe someone can post that and it will be even more inaccurate but at least you will have an inkling of what it might be.

Mine at the time was 300+ on a 20,000 gallon tab fed (in the skimmer yikes!!) pool I got with the house.

It took 3 partial drain down / refills (to the top of the pool light) to get the CYA to 80.

then on top of that I had a mustard algae out break after trying that bio-active cya reducer (doesn't work for anyone)
even at cya of 80 that was a painful and expensive slam I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. ;)