Long absence - need your advice please

AnnaK

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Jul 15, 2007
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Eastern Pennsylvania
#1
We are going to have to be gone for all of September. I expect day time temps to be in the 80s and nights around mid to low 60s. There will be nobody available to check on the pool.

My plan was to sort of winterize the pool and put the solar cover on, but leave the water level up and run the pump on its timer for 6 hours. There's a trichlor chlorinator which would sanitize the water.

Then we had the posts fro NWMNMOM about mechanical malfunctions and I've been having nightmares about the pump failing, which will mean my entire scheme will fail. So tonight my husband asks, "If we don't run the pump, the pool will turn green, right? How long will it take you to fix that?" I estimated 4 - 7 days, max. And he suggested we just shut it down and leave.

THE HORROR!

But now that I've had a nice glass of Alsatian or two I'm beginning to wonder if that might be a reasonable approach. It would avoid all the pump issues and I can't even begin to tell you the what-if's that have been running through my mind. What if the timer tabs get loose? The pump either will run for 30 days straight and we'll have an enormous bill, or the pump won't come on at all. What if something plugs up the skimmer and the pump loses prime? What if some pipe connection comes lose and drains the pool below the skimmer? The pump will keep running and burn out. ARGH!

I really work on keeping the water clean and clear and I love doing this, I truly do, and it makes me sick to think of purposely letting it go green. But, on the other hand, I know how to fix green water. I do not know how to fix a burnt out pump.

Which way would you go?
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
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Silver Spring, MD
#2
It is going to be very difficult to get a pool to stay sanitized while you are away for a whole month without someone pool sitting. I would plan on having algae no mater what you do. And if you are going have algae in any case then why not turn the pump off and save money. I would cover it, as that will slow the algae a little and reduce any possible CO2 outgassing (and thus help to stabalize the PH).
 

The Mermaid Queen

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Mar 28, 2007
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Northern KY
#3
How much of the season will be left when you return? I think if it would just be a very short time, like a week or two, I would shut'er down. Is there no one who can look in on things every few days for you?
 

AnnaK

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Jul 15, 2007
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#4
We live pretty far out in the country and it's just too much to ask of anyone to come here and manage the pool. The one neighbour is rarely home; the other is happy to keep an eye on the place and mow but feels intimidated by 'that whole pool thing'.

We normally close at the end of October though only the dogs swim that late in the season. After thinking about this all night I've come to the conclusion that a partial winterization is the way to go. Clean it well, raise the chlorine level, add some Polyquat, put the solar cover on, and turn off the pump.

As Jason says, some algae will happen anyway, and I can deal with that easier than I can with mechanical failure.

Thanks for the nudge in that direction. My anxiety level is much lower this morning.

Anna
 

KurtV

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Mar 29, 2007
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SE Louisiana
#5
The risk of mechanical failure is low and not really any greater than it is at any other time the pump is running and you're not there; a catastrophic plumbing failure would probably burn up your pump in a matter of minutes or hours rather than days. I know it seems more likely you'll have mechanical problems but it really isn't. Besides that. many people run their filter pumps 24x7 for months (though I have difficulty understanding why) without incident . Unless your pH tend down significantly (which using tri-chlor would exacerbate) I'd load up the chlorinator and set it to a moderate feed rate (like 3 on a 1-5 scale), set the pump to run 3 or 4 hours in the evening (tighten the timer togs well) , make sure the main drain and skimmer valves are open (if you have those) so that a clogged skimmer or drain won't starve your pump, and enjoy your time away. Having someone clean out the skimmers every week or two would provide extra insurance.
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
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#6
Anna,

I realize we're making your decision difficult, but KurtV's logic and advice are on the money, IMHO.
 

AnnaK

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#7
It's a difficult decision either way. Kurt's comments reflect much of what I had been thinking. The pump could malfunction at this very moment and I wouldn't know about it until I go up there later to swim the dogs.

Today, I'm canning and freezing red beets from the garden, several bushels, which gives me plenty of opportunity to weigh my options and agonize some more.

Anna
 

NWMNMom

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Apr 8, 2007
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#8
Also, not sure about your pump but mine has a safety that shuts it down when it starts cavitating - before it burns out anyways. It can't drain any lower than the return if you blow a hose/pipe - this I know first hand (several times!)

Even with all the problems I have had, if my temps were going to be what yours are expected to be, I would leave it running on the timer. I have the SWG, but if I didn't, and even with it (due to reset requirements with power loss) - I would super chlorinate, dump in the Polyquat, then poke some pin-holes in a couple of chlorine jugs, suspend away from the liner/side and float.

JMHO - hate to make this anymore difficult, but there it is.
 

JasonLion

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#9
I'm not worried about the pump. I just don't think that the tablet dispenser will last a month. If it doesn't last the month then there will be algae. If there is going to be algae anyway then why spend the money to run the pump.

Has anyone had a tablet dispenser run for a month or more with out refilling?
 

AnnaK

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Jul 15, 2007
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#10
In my July test the tablet dispenser ran for 30 days on 7 tabs. It kept the FC at 3, CC at 0, pH at 7.6, CYA 30-40. Its value was set at 3/4 on a scale of 0 - 1 and the pump ran 6 hrs at night plus 3 hrs during the day.

Anna
 

AnnaK

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Jul 15, 2007
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#12
Now I'm going to complicate things even more :(

I checked the historical temperatures for my area on accuweather.com. They are much lower than what I had guessed. Daytime temps range from 79F at the beginning of the month to 69F at the end. Nighttime temps are from 57F to 47F.

I don't think my pump has a safety shutoff; at least, there's nothing in the pump documentation I have that mentions anything like that.

Anna
 
Jul 3, 2007
5
#13
green pool - something you can foresee it and you can handle it in short time.
pump - a lot of things you are not sure, nothing might happen, or something might happen beyond your control while you're away for one whole month.

most important part, you've doubt, and it'll hunt you while you're away and no one can tell you if the pump is ok back home.

I would say if you can "FORGET" about the pool for 1 whole month, run the pump. If you can't take it off your mind, shut it off.
 

AnnaK

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#14
That's about it in a nut shell, that last sentence.

Men are much better at compartmentalizing than are women. They can focus on one thing to the exclusion of all else. Women tend to juggle a gazillion things mentally and physically. No, I'm not likely going to be able to forget about the pool.

Thank you for putting it so succinctly.

Anna