New guy looking for some guidance

Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
So a couple months ago we had a guy install a pool for us. It's an IG 14x30 Latham fiberglass pool. Guy runs a small business and while I appreciate trying to support people like that, to say it has been an adventure would be quite an understatement. So the pool has been complete since about mid September and sadly I'm just now getting around to testing the water. During the process the builder swore that a little salt and maybe an additive for alkalinity would probably be the only thing we would ever have to add. Having previously had a small above ground pool a few years ago I knew that was too good to be true, but somehow I held a little hope he knew what he was talking about. Water has stayed clear and with nobody getting in the pool since it was already cooling off after it was completed, testing the water hadn't really been a priority. Obviously I now realize I should have started much sooner getting a handle on things, but I'm hoping now I can get headed in the right direction. So last weekend I got my TF-100 test kit and ran some tests.

FC - 7.0
pH - 8.2
TA - 280
CYA - 20
CH - I ran this test later without logging my measurement but I remember it was a good bit lower than the recommended amount

So needless to say, my parameters were not exactly ideal. The only thing I have changed so far is turning down my swg to bring the chlorine level down. It is now at 1.5 so I feel like I'm at least getting closer to having one number where it should be.

So my first question is do these numbers seem accurate for a new pool that has had nothing but a swg running at 70% for the last couple months. Coming from a background with saltwater aquariums Alkalinity and pH have always been numbers that you had to work at to keep at higher levels. Is it normal for my water to have levels this high just on its own? And most importantly, where do I go from here? I obviously know getting those 2 numbers in check are probably my first priority, but I don't want to do too many things at one time. Plan on getting some acid this weekend and start working on getting those numbers down as soon as possible. Should I also go ahead and start adding stabilizer now, or wait until I've got the alk & pH in check?

Sorry for all the questions but I'm just trying to cover it all at once. If it matters I plan to keep the pool open during the winter, but we don't have a heater so nobody will be swimming anytime soon. I'm also currently running my pump 24/7 on the lower setting as well if that matters.

Thanks!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
21,166
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Welcome to TFP.

Your numbers don't look that bad, especially since it is a FG pool.

  • Your FC is a bit high but with CYA 20 you are safe to swim up to FC of 10. See FC/CYA Chart
  • Your pH is a bit high. Add some acid to get it into the 7's.
  • High TA is not a big issue for you with a FG pool. The main reason you need to manage your TA and CH is to prevent scaling inside your SWG. It is not an issue with your pool.
  • You should raise your CYA up to at least 40 this time of year and then up around 70 come spring.

Have you read ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry?

Have you downloaded PoolMath?

See ...

 

CrystalRiver

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2020
334
Massachusetts
Test the CH and TA of your fill water. That will give you a good idea of where that's coming from. Calcium never leaves your pool except through splash-out or draining. When water evaporates, it leaves the calcium behind, so it will accumulate over time.

Go ahead and add stabilizer (CYA, cyanuric acid) at the same time you manage your pH by adding acid. Adding the CYA will help pull down your pH just a smidge, as it is an acid.

Be careful not to turn your SWG down too far. I won't let my pool go below the safe drinking water max of 4. That's 4 ppm without CYA - with CYA in the water, that ties up some of the chlorine so it's not as effective. Your current 1.5 is really low.

What's your current water temperature? SWG won't work below 60 or so, at which point you will need to dose with liquid chlorine instead. It won't need to be done frequently as the low water temps inhibit growth of things that consume the chlorine.

You can mostly let your TA ride. As you add acid, the TA will drop. Then the pH will drift up due to your TA and SWG, and you'll add more acid and TA will drop again.

I can tell you are well on your way to being an expert in caring for your pool.
 

gingrbredman

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
186
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Sounds like we both have similar issues, so I will tell you what has worked with me, especially with a 14 x 30 Latham Fiberglass pool.

My PB did a great job at least with the construction part, but like many PBs, isn't the expert on water chemistry. When the water was in, they told me to "take a sample to the pool store and have them tell you what we need to add". Of course, learning here on TFP, there was no way that was going to happen, so I cracked out my TF100 test kit and my Taylor salt kit.

Since you already have the test kits, the only real thing missing here is the pool math app. Besides the knowledge here on TFP, the pool math app is the best thing I have to know what to do to make sure I add the right chemicals.

For me, it was a little overwhelming at first. But, the simple thing really is first making sure you set up the app for your specific pool. Once you do that, the app will tell you exactly, and I do mean exactly, what to add next, and how much to run your SWCG at to get the water perfect.

You tell the app what kind of pool you have (FB), how many gallons (mine is 11,200), what kind of SWCG you have to start with, and what you want to test for.

Once you add all the test results into the pool math app, the app will tell you what to add, based on your specific test results, to get the water where it needs to be. For example, my chlorine was 0 on my first test. The app told me to run my SWCG at xx% to get to say 7. My CYA was also 0, it told me I needed to add stabilizer, x number of lbs. Certain additions will also ask you "what" are you going to add, and based on that, how much to add. For example, when I needed to add muriatic acid in the beginning, there is a drop down to select which kind are you adding. Powder, liquid, percentages, so the app knows the exact amount to add, based on what you are about to put in.

Like others have mentioned, you are not far off. Download the app, and get started with it, it will not be long before all your results are perfect where they need to be.

As CrystalRiver mentioned, SWCGs will not produce chlorine under a certain temperature, so if during the colder months you need to add chlorine, just make sure to select "liquid" from the dropdown menu in the app, and select the correct percentage chlorine you have on hand to add.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
34,475
Sebring, Florida
There are additional instructions with the TA test. When your kit is REALLY new (less than a couple of weeks old), the test often indicates abnormally high. Wipe the dropper tip in between every couple of drops with a damp cloth and I think your TA result will be quite a bit lower.
 
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Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
Thanks for all the replies! I think I overreacted a little when I saw my initial chlorine level being what I thought was too high, and turned down the swg a little too much. I have turned it back up with the hopes of getting the level back up. I guess just like with saltwater aquariums, nothing good happens fast.

I did download the pool math app last weekend and started logging my test results. I haven't really started trying to use the adjustment parts yet, but that is my project for this weekend. My plan right now is to get some muriatic acid and cyanuric acid and start working on getting everything evened out. So it sounds like the main thing I need to do is get my chlorine level up a little and my pH down a little. I understand that bringing the pH down will also lower total alkalinity, but at this point is it worth worrying too much about the actual amount of TA, or just let it do it's thing as I'm adjusting pH? I did the trick about wiping the tip off after every drop when I tested, but I'll try again and see what results I get.

And my other main question is, what is the ideal FC level for me to shoot for once I raise the cya level up? If I raise it to 40 as ajw22 recommended, what FC level would be ideal for now? Water temp is getting close to where swg will stop producing, but we are supposed to get warmer weather this weekend so that's not an issue right now. With the crazy back and forth weather we get in NC I'll definitely have to keep an eye on that though.

gingrbredman where did you get the water volume for your pool? It looks like we have the same pool, but when I put the dimensions into pool calculators I get anywhere from 14-15k gallons. I know with the steps and ledges taking up a good amount of area the actual volume would definitely be less, but I didn't think it would be by quite that much.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,963
Evans, Georgia
At this time of year you can run your pump minimally and your SWG may stop producing when the water goes below 50-60°
and you'll need to switch to plain liquid chlorine. The best part is that in this time of year the chlorine will last a really long time as the sun isn't directly over the pool and things go dormant.

I do run my pump overnight for 12 hours on nights that we expect a freeze but otherwise in winter just a couple hours. My SWG is turned off just to save its lifespan and I'm dosing with liquid chlorine. I'll crank it up again once the water is over 60°.

So do we get to see a pic of this pretty new pool?

Maddie :flower:
 

Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
Thanks Maddie. The water temp is showing 53 after a couple pretty cold nights, but the SWG is still showing it to be generating chlorine. I believe I read somewhere that it stops generating below 50, but I'm not sure if that is correct or not. Sounds like I might be better off to switch to manual dosing for now and save the wear and tear on the SWG until spring rolls around. I had considered using the chlorine tabs, but would like hear if anyone can tell me if I would be better off using liquid chlorine instead? Also when you manually dose like that, how often are you adding it to the pool? I assume you are obviously testing along the way, but I didn't know if there was a rule of thumb to go by to get me started.

Thanks again for all the help. Hopefully after this weekend I will feel much better about where things stand with my water.

And here are a few pictures of the pool soon after it was completed. Looking forward to spending a bunch of time in this thing once the weather warms back up!
 

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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,963
Evans, Georgia
Such a nice backyard! A perfect yard for a pool, huh?

That black fencing on the backside is perfect :goodjob: - black seems to disappear from view, whereas if it had been silver colored it would stand out and really diminish the view.

Some brands of SWG cut off at 60° while others 50°.

Maddie :flower:
 

gingrbredman

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
186
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
gingrbredman where did you get the water volume for your pool? It looks like we have the same pool, but when I put the dimensions into pool calculators I get anywhere from 14-15k gallons. I know with the steps and ledges taking up a good amount of area the actual volume would definitely be less, but I didn't think it would be by quite that much.
I got my pool volume from my PB, and I did double check it across several sites to make sure. It is difficult to find from Latham, they don't have that info on the site so easy to find. But it does look like you have the "Majesty", looks like you even went with the tile upgrade, very nice!

The perimeter calculations and depth may lead you towards a 14k gallon pool, but it really is closer to 11,200. There are a few PB websites out there which show the gallons, here is just one example:


Looks like you are starting to get a handle on this. When I first started up, I had my SWCG set at 50%, but my cell is almost 3 times rated for my pool, so it shot my chlorine up to 15 in no time. I will have to figure out the right settings, but I also went back to 0% to let the chlorine drift back down, now have it in the right area in relation to my CYA, just in time to close.

Also, from my intense reading here on water chemistry, if you want to keep the pool open, do not use the tabs, just use liquid chlorine once your SWCG shuts down for the winter. The tabs will add other stuff back to the pool, and it becomes more difficult to keep the test results in the range you want, because you aren't sure exactly what is being added each day because you aren't actually adding it, the tabs are. Once you have the FC, CYA, TA, etc. all dialed in, I would test every week to see what the FC results are, then just add the liquid as needed. The chlorine will not burn off very quickly in the winter, and your CYA should remain consistent.
 

Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
Thanks Maddie! Most of the reason we moved here last year was to get further out of town, and to get away from looking at nothing but other houses behind us. We decided to do the black fence across the back just for that reason. It's nice to look out and just see all the trees back there!
I have discovered this fall though that all those leaves and pine straw falling isn't much fun with the pool, but it will be well worth it once we actually get to enjoy the pool! :)

gingrbredman it's funny because when I asked my builder he said it was probably around 16k gallons. I think we've established though that everything he says should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I actually considered emailing Latham to see if they could give me an exact amount, but it sounds like you've already got it figured out.

I did a little reading about the tabs and figured out they also contain CYA in them. So it sounds like using them over the course of the winter would definitely raise that level much higher than it needs to be. Sounds like I'll be going the liquid chlorine route instead, and just adding as needed. Thanks for all your help!
 

JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
1,859
Prosper, TX (DFW)
I did a little reading about the tabs and figured out they also contain CYA in them. So it sounds like using them over the course of the winter would definitely raise that level much higher than it needs to be. Sounds like I'll be going the liquid chlorine route instead, and just adding as needed. Thanks for all your help!
Yes, the tabs absolutely have CYA in them, but I also see that your CYA is 20. I was in a similar boat as you last year with a new pool and CYA much lower than recommended for salt water. I used tabs over the winter to help raise my CYA, and even had to add some supplemental CYA in the spring to get it to my target range by swim season. This winter, my CYA is where I want it, so I will use much more liquid chlorine than tabs.

Bottom line, as long as you have the knowledge of what you are actually adding to your pool and the proper test kit (which you have both), tabs can be used. The people that get in trouble are the ones who exclusively use tabs without understanding and testing for CYA.
 

Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
Yeah I guess since my current level is so low using the tabs for now probably would be alright. Kind of kill 2 birds with 1 stone in providing chlorine, and also raising CYA at the same time. Is there any way to know how much CYA each tab has, or is it just a test and keep an eye on the levels kind of thing? Obviously I will be testing anyway, but knowing about how much each tab contained would help keep up with what is being added to the water.

So do you put the tabs in the skimmer or in one of those float things? And I assume you just use 1 tab at a time, or does water volume have something to do with that?
 

JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
1,859
Prosper, TX (DFW)
Is there any way to know how much CYA each tab has, or is it just a test and keep an eye on the levels kind of thing?
Pool math has an "Effects of adding feature" that will tell you what everything is going to do to your pool.

For your pool (11k gallons), each half pound trichlor puck would:
FC adds 5.0
CYA adds 3.0
pH lowers by 0.3
salt adds 4.1

So by that math, 20 pucks all winter will add 60 CYA to your pool.
 

Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
Awesome! Thanks for that information!

Man y'all pool folks have this stuff down to a science! I work in the automotive world where you think things would be that way, but I feel like all we do every day is make educated guesses 😂
 

Trey302

Member
Nov 14, 2020
11
NC
Just a little update after a week or so of trying to get my levels in check. I added a 4 lb bag of clorox stabilizer, and have been adding acid every few days to keep the pH down in the mid 7 range.

pH - 8.0
This measurement was taken before the last time I added acid this afternoon. I usually try to add enough to get the pH down to around 7.2-7.4 before letting it come back up so that's where it should be right now. It seems that every few days I'm adding more acid to get the pH down.(do they sell this stuff in a 55 gallon drum?) I'm hoping this is just a temporary thing because of my TA level still being pretty elevated, but please let me know if this doesn't sound right.

FC - 7.5
Once I added the stabilizer the chlorine went up to 10(hey this stuff really works!) so I have shut down my SWG for the last few days and just let the level come down on it's own. Seems to drop between .5-1 per day, so I plan to let it drop to around 5 and then start manually dosing with liquid chlorine to keep it at that level until I turn the SWG back on in the spring.

TA - 220
This is obviously still high, but adding the acid has seemed to start bringing the level down from where it started. As mentioned before I'm assuming this is the reason my pH rises back up so quickly, so hopefully getting this down to correct levels will help with that.

CH - 75
Obviously low but to be honest I've been concentrating on the other levels so much I haven't even attempted to address this yet. Seemed from responses this was the least of my worries so it was put on the back burner. Seems like an easy fix though so I will be working on this soon.

CYA - 60
So the 4 lb bag seemed to bring my level up to close to where I need to be. I assume I need to raise it up to around 70 at some point, but I hoping it's good for now since the pool isn't getting any use and demand seems to be pretty low as the water temp drops.

At this point my plan is to continue adding acid when the pH hits around 8 and slowly work that TA level down. Hopefully the lower that gets the less often I will have do this. So, am I missing anything? Does having to add acid this often make sense because of my TA level? And last, if all this sounds right, is there anything else I need to work on?

Thanks!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
21,166
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Plan your work and work your plan. It sounds good.

Your high TA is causing the rapid pH rise. If you get your TA down to 50-70 your pH should rise slower.
 
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