Help!!! Yikes!

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
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Auburn, KS
pH is also way high...over 8 by our kit, 8.4 by pool store... @duraleigh I haven’t posted (or officially run CYA) bc I wasn’t sure that verdict was I should do that before pumps/filters are running.... pool store got a reading of 0.3... salt read low too... want me to run a quick TFP battery??? CAN DO!!! 😊

we have 2 Dolphins, both of them running... one in the deep, one shallow... I’m thinking bring pH down by diluting the acid in 5gal buckets, thinking the dolphins will provide some circulation... then once down, start dumping chlorine... hoping that will be a jump start til the pad is all put back together—hoping to get that date soon!!!! I hate bugging them!!!
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
161
Auburn, KS
Did you fill the pool with well water?

If yes, does the fill water have high sulfur?

If you're getting hydrogen sulfide, it probably came from sulfates. Chlorine should convert it to sulfur and sulfate.

The sulfur will filter out and the sulfates are not ideal but tolerable.

Does it definitely smell like sulfur (rotten eggs)? Or, does it smell like decomposition of an animal?

If a larger animal, like a raccoon or possum got in the water and began decomposing, it would really stink. A tiny mole wouldn't be big enough to create a big stink.

A SLAM should work for you.
I’m so sorry! Thought I had responded to you! No well water, but we are at the end of our road... water’s too black to see if anything else is in there, and I don’t know how to really describe the stench... since pulling water samples, I can tell you my hand smells kinda like a match after you blow it out, but stinkier 😊... it’s just STRONG, lol...

In the summer, we’ve noticed that if we don’t run the laminars daily, they will emit a sulfury smell when they first come on... this is like that but stronger...
 

ajw22

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TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
6,836
Northern NJ
we have 2 Dolphins, both of them running... one in the deep, one shallow... I’m thinking bring pH down by diluting the acid in 5gal buckets, thinking the dolphins will provide some circulation... then once down, start dumping chlorine... hoping that will be a jump start til the pad is all put back together—hoping to get that date soon!!!! I hate bugging them!!!
Lets make it clear to those reading this thread that your pump is NOT running yet.

Don’t go adjusting chemicals until your pump is running. Get your pad back together. Now you know your situation. The high pH is not a problem or risk to any equipment.

Once you get the pump running you can work lowering the pH and breaking the ammonia.
 
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ajw22

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TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
6,836
Northern NJ
In the summer, we’ve noticed that if we don’t run the laminars daily, they will emit a sulfury smell when they first come on... this is like that but stronger...
Are you in farm country? You have fracking or drilling around you?

What could be in your water runoff into your pool?
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
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Auburn, KS
Well, I’m in KS 😏
We’re in the country-ish... our place is on 3.5 acres, brome fields south of us, pasture to our west, Neighbors on 7 acres to the north...

I think the way our area is graded prevents any water from the lawn from running into the pool, but I don’t know how I’d know that for certain...
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
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Auburn, KS
I went and poked around the forums and found the info about the ammonia protocol... pushing our guys to come get our pad up and running so we can get this thing going...
Once that happens—ammonia protocol first or lower pH/TA first?
 

ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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Northern NJ
Once that happens—ammonia protocol first or lower pH/TA first?
You can do them around the same time. Just space adding MA and CL 30 minutes apart.

So I would calculate an initial dose of MA and add it. Wait 30 minutes then attack the ammonia. Raise your FC in the water using enough liquid chlorine to get to 10 ppm using PoolMath. Circulate the pool for 15 minutes. Test FC and CC. If FC at 5 or below, add LC to get to 10 using LC, circulate for 15 minutes, repeat until your FC is above 5 ppm after the 15 minute circulation.

Get back to the pH when you defeat the ammonia or run out of CL.
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
161
Auburn, KS
You can do them around the same time. Just space adding MA and CL 30 minutes apart.

So I would calculate an initial dose of MA and add it. Wait 30 minutes then attack the ammonia. Raise your FC in the water using enough liquid chlorine to get to 10 ppm using PoolMath. Circulate the pool for 15 minutes. Test FC and CC. If FC at 5 or below, add LC to get to 10 using LC, circulate for 15 minutes, repeat until your FC is above 5 ppm after the 15 minute circulation.

Get back to the pH when you defeat the ammonia or run out of CL.
Thanks!!!! Will do!!! I’ll post as we go, once we get going... can’t say enough how much I appreciate you guys!!! ❤❤❤
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
15,019
If it is ammonia, the pH and TA will drop as chlorine is added.

So, that can help confirm that you have ammonia.

Get your system operational, get the pH to below 8 and begin SLAM.

Monitor TA as you go to see if it drops during the SLAM.

I suspect that you probably have ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
161
Auburn, KS
If it is ammonia, the pH and TA will drop as chlorine is added.
That is fascinating to me!!!!

The ammonia test certainly suggests there’s a LOT of ammonia, lol...

Stay tuned... 😊

Curious—if there IS hydrogen sulphide, will these steps take care of it, OR will there be additional things to do??? (Mental preparation and expectation management, lol)
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
15,488
Tucson, AZ
Your CYA converted to ammonia. Looks like a lot of it. You can dilute your water sample by half with distilled water to see if you can get a more accurate reading.

Two choices - (1) drain the pool and refill, OR (2) buy stock in the Clorox Corporation and buy a tanker truck full of bleach. It takes about 10X the amount ammonia in FC to convert an ammonia pool. So if, for example, your pool has 20ppm ammonia, it will take 200ppm FC to convert it all.

You have plaster issues to fix too so you might want to see what your pool builder wants to do. If they need to drain the pool to fix the plaster then your choice is easy.
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
161
Auburn, KS
Your CYA converted to ammonia. Looks like a lot of it. You can dilute your water sample by half with distilled water to see if you can get a more accurate reading.

Two choices - (1) drain the pool and refill, OR (2) buy stock in the Clorox Corporation and buy a tanker truck full of bleach. It takes about 10X the amount ammonia in FC to convert an ammonia pool. So if, for example, your pool has 20ppm ammonia, it will take 200ppm FC to convert it all.

You have plaster issues to fix too so you might want to see what your pool builder wants to do. If they need to drain the pool to fix the plaster then your choice is easy.
We were all set with that Clorox stock...24 gallons ready to go...

I hear now that market is crashed... 😏

Thanks, Cloramax. Grrrr... going to pick up an order of 24 gallons of liquid pool chlorine from Walmart tomorrow... will see if sams will take the other stuff back...

Would love to drain the pool & start over, but the ground is pretty wet around here... not sure if it’s feasible/environmentally friendly just now...
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
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May 23, 2015
15,488
Tucson, AZ
We were all set with that Clorox stock...24 gallons ready to go...

I hear now that market is crashed... 😏

Thanks, Cloramax. Grrrr... going to pick up an order of 24 gallons of liquid pool chlorine from Walmart tomorrow... will see if sams will take the other stuff back...

Would love to drain the pool & start over, but the ground is pretty wet around here... not sure if it’s feasible/environmentally friendly just now...
Ok.

Try to get a more accurate reading on the ammonia level. Dilute the sample with distilled or bottled water. Try 1:1 at first. Do further dilutions until you can get a good color reading.

You can use a 5 gallon bucket of pool water and add bleach a half-tablespoon or so at a time until you can get the FC to hold in the bucket. 1 tablespoon of 6% bleach in 4 gallons of pool water is 60ppm FC. So you can use the bucket as a proxy to see how much bleach you’re going to need. Ammonia and chlorine annihilate one another almost immediately so simply add the bleach, stir and wait 10min.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
15,019
That is fascinating to me!!!!

The ammonia test certainly suggests there’s a LOT of ammonia, lol...

Stay tuned... 😊

Curious—if there IS hydrogen sulphide, will these steps take care of it, OR will there be additional things to do??? (Mental preparation and expectation management, lol)
One good diagnostic for ammonia is falling pH while adding chlorine because oxidizing ammonia is acidic.

2NH4+ + 3OCl- --> N2 + 3H2O + 2H+ +3Cl-

When adding 12.5% sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) to a pool to oxidize ammonia, every gallon of liquid chlorine will create the equivalent of 15 ounces of 31.45% hydrochloric acid.

Hydrogen sulfide will be oxidized to sulfur and sulfate. Sulfur will filter out and the sulfates will stay in the water.
 

tessv

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Jul 3, 2015
161
Auburn, KS
@JoyfulNoise thank you for the additional procedural guidance to help us figure out where from here!

@JamesW thank you for the chemistry background!

So, the plan now is to drill down the problem a little further, using your recommendations.

Prior to the ammonia discovery, our pool builder was recommending grinding the plaster smooth on that tanning ledge for now, and then replastering the ledge at the end of the season when the water level is lowered and letting it cure over winter... part 2 of that is rigging a second type of cover to go over that end of the pool to ensure any moisture goes over that lip and onto the autocover throughout the off season.

BUT, when I showed him the pic of the ammonia test, his thoughts were like yours—drain & deep clean now...

As I said, it’s been a wet spring (hence our late start), and the forecast is for 2-5”+ of rain between today and Tuesday... the area where we would drain to is full with water that has drained from a pond north of us, and our orchard is just south of that, The ground there is very squishy. At this point, I’m worried the pool yuck would run or seep into the orchard and my heart would break if we kill those trees...

We’re feeling discouraged—in that, “why did this rare thing happen to US” kind of way...

So my next question would be, how can we make sure it never happens again????
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,488
Tucson, AZ
Your orchard will be fine. Any ammonia levels are minuscule compared to those found in commercial fertilizer and, in fact, the ammonia in the water is a source of nitrogen. So there’s really no worry there.

Bigger worry would be accidentally floating the pool out of the ground. Did your PB install a hydrostatic valve in the deep end main drain?

The conversion of cyanuric acid to ammonia is caused by a biological compound called cyanuric acid hydrolase (CyH). It’s an enzyme found in many species of soil and water bacteria as well as fungi and mold. Essentially the CyH converts cyanuric acid to biuret and then biuret is converted to allophanic acid. The first conversion releases CO2 as a byproduct (which will acidify the water) and the next step releases NH3 as a byproduct. So, when enough bacteria is present, your CYA can drop to zero and you’ll create a lot of ammonia. That is the rotten smell you are getting because ammonium compounds can form with all sorts of organic compounds and create very stinky water.

The fix is simple - close and open the pool yourself and follow the TFP guidelines for doing so. TFP always recommends closing late (after the water temp is below 60F) and opening early (before the water is above 60F). The recommended chemical treatment has you raising the water to shock levels of chlorine and holding it there until the pool is closed. This ensures that no algae or bacteria is in the water. Some even use a dose of polyquat-60 to help keep the water sanitary. In your situation you need to ensure that ledge is protected when it’s drained or else freeze/thaw will damage it. You also have to keep as much water out of the pool as possible because drag-in from the environment will bring unwanted bacteria with it.

Honestly, with the ledge, I’m not sure what to say. TFP had another post recently with this EXACT same issue - freeze/thaw plaster damage due to a drained ledge. I seriously question how much better draining is compared to leaving water on the ledge with appropriate covers to minimize freezing depth. It seems much more dangerous to me to have an exposed plaster surface freeze-cycling all the time. I know this is “standard practice” for pools like yours but it seems to be very risky if winter’s are harsh.
 

ajw22

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TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
6,836
Northern NJ
Prior to the ammonia discovery, our pool builder was recommending grinding the plaster smooth on that tanning ledge for now, and then replastering the ledge at the end of the season when the water level is lowered and letting it cure over winter...
My understanding is pool plaster needs to be hydrated to cure properly. I would not want to let new plaster on the ledge sit exposed to freeze and thaw cycles over the winter. If you go down that path let's disucss it more and seek input from @onBalance
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
15,019
You have an autocover. So, the water should not have been that low in the first place.

With a solid cover, the water should be clean and clear when you open if it was closed correctly.
 

tessv

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jul 3, 2015
161
Auburn, KS
Your orchard will be fine. Any ammonia levels are minuscule compared to those found in commercial fertilizer and, in fact, the ammonia in the water is a source of nitrogen. So there’s really no worry there.

Bigger worry would be accidentally floating the pool out of the ground. Did your PB install a hydrostatic valve in the deep end main drain?

The conversion of cyanuric acid to ammonia is caused by a biological compound called cyanuric acid hydrolase (CyH). It’s an enzyme found in many species of soil and water bacteria as well as fungi and mold. Essentially the CyH converts cyanuric acid to biuret and then biuret is converted to allophanic acid. The first conversion releases CO2 as a byproduct (which will acidify the water) and the next step releases NH3 as a byproduct. So, when enough bacteria is present, your CYA can drop to zero and you’ll create a lot of ammonia. That is the rotten smell you are getting because ammonium compounds can form with all sorts of organic compounds and create very stinky water.

The fix is simple - close and open the pool yourself and follow the TFP guidelines for doing so. TFP always recommends closing late (after the water temp is below 60F) and opening early (before the water is above 60F). The recommended chemical treatment has you raising the water to shock levels of chlorine and holding it there until the pool is closed. This ensures that no algae or bacteria is in the water. Some even use a dose of polyquat-60 to help keep the water sanitary. In your situation you need to ensure that ledge is protected when it’s drained or else freeze/thaw will damage it. You also have to keep as much water out of the pool as possible because drag-in from the environment will bring unwanted bacteria with it.

Honestly, with the ledge, I’m not sure what to say. TFP had another post recently with this EXACT same issue - freeze/thaw plaster damage due to a drained ledge. I seriously question how much better draining is compared to leaving water on the ledge with appropriate covers to minimize freezing depth. It seems much more dangerous to me to have an exposed plaster surface freeze-cycling all the time. I know this is “standard practice” for pools like yours but it seems to be very risky if winter’s are harsh.
Fantastic explanation!!!!!

I will share this with my significant other & PB...