New homeowner, new pool, please help me get control

jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
I'm one week into my new home. I've never owned or maintained a pool before, and no one in my family had one when I was growing up. I'm starting with zero experience.

I've already read about 15 pages of the Pool School. I've got test kits on the way, but they're not here yet (TF-100 general test kit and Taylor K-1766 salt kit). I've installed the Pool Math app. I've put the information that I know in my signature. Maybe we can start by helping me figure out the rest of the information. Here is a table of pictures and questions. I can only add 10 pictures in a comment, so I'll put the rest in my next one.

frontend

The person who installed the SWCG estimated the volume to be 18k gallons. Does that sound right? This is a very irregularly shaped pool, kind of like a kidney with tumors. I did my own estimate and came to 16k gallons, which I figure is close enough. I'm planning to stick with the 18k estimate, since that person certainly had more experience than me.
20200306_104646.jpg
backend20200306_104826.jpg
salt water chlorine generator

The invoice for this system, installed in 2011, suggests it is model number NC-30. The website on the invoice, natureclearsystems.com, is defunct. I can't find any evidence of the manufacturer online, except for this third-party retailer selling replacement cells. "Nature Clear" is not listed in the Pool Math app, and I have no idea what the "24 hour SWG chlorine output" is.
20200306_105220.jpg
filter pump

Is this pump appropriately sized for an 18k gallon pool? How can I tell its age? I don't see a born-on date.
20200306_105007.jpg
filter20200306_104808.jpg
booster pump20200306_104837.jpg
booster pump motor20200306_104901.jpg
waterfall pump20200306_105036.jpg
heater20200306_105241.jpg20200306_105247.jpg
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
44,828
Tallahassee, FL
Welcome to TFP! You are so ahead of the learning curve it is not even funny! SO well done! You are going to LOVE having a pool and I hope you find it Trouble Free to care for!!

Kim:kim:
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
Welcome to TFP. Very nicely presented getting started post!

On pool volume - I agree with your decision to assume 18K for adding chemicals. It means you will likely undershoot your targets. Use PoolMath to calculate the effects of adding your chemicals and then test after adding the chemical. You will see how much you are undershooting or over shooting the PM calculations. In time you will be able to adjust your pool volume based on actual results.

It is nice to know your SWG cl output but not necessary. Adjust it the old analog way. Test your FC every day. If you see the FC dropping over a few days then increase the % a bit. If you see the FC rising then decrease the FC a bit. In time you will find a setting where the FC is pretty stable. You will still have to adjust the % as the seasons change and your pool requires more or less chlorine.

The site selling replacement cells gives you some clues. Do you have the 6" or the 8" cell? The cell names of 20 and 30 give a clue that the cells were likely sized for a 20K pool or a 30K pool. A 20K cell typically output 0.7 - 0.8 lbs/day of chlorine. A 30K cell outputs around 1.0 lbs/day.

I don't think Hayward puts a manufacturing date label on the SuperPump. A 2HP pump looks fine for what you have posted.
 
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jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
The SWCG has 8" cells. I'll tell Pool Math to assume 1.0 lb/day output for now. Thank you!

My filter and booster pumps were configured by the previous owners to run for 8 hours each day. I can see my daily energy use, and each day those pumps use about 30kWh. That's 11,000 kWh per year. That seems to me like a lot. Is it? If I had an efficient system, how much could I reasonably get that down to (ballpark estimate)? This blog estimates a 1hp pump uses 2500 kWh in a year; my system is about 3x that power, but that's still only 7500 kWh. My test kits are on the way. Once they are here, I can start to figure out whether I can run the pumps for less time each day while maintaining a good level of FC.

Sometime near the end of the pumps' schedule Saturday, the breaker tripped. I figured this out on Tuesday and reset the breaker. A plumber and an electrician came Wednesday. The plumber said the filter pump wasn't primed and used the garden hose to put a bunch of water down the suction pipe. He said the motor was probably struggling to pump out all the air and tripped the breaker. The electrician moved wires around in the breaker box, to put the filter pump on a higher-rated breaker. After it was primed, he said it was drawing 13 amps when it should only be drawing 10. He said it was old and that it might need to be replaced. How can I tell?

The pumps ran as scheduled the next day, Thursday. This morning, Friday, I notice the pump isn't running again. The new breaker has tripped. What should I do?

When I check the filter pump, I can see bubbles. Please see this video. Is this too many bubbles, or normal?

When I check the return jets in the pool, only one seems to be putting out any water, judging by turbulence visible on the surface. Could that be a symptom of a dying filter pump? Could it be from a leak in the suction or return lines?

If I replace the filter pump, do I need to replace the whole pump or just the motor? What power of motor should I get for an 18k gal pool? I think I'd like to get a variable-speed motor for the energy savings.
 

jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
Here are pictures of my blower. The label has blank spots where model, serial number, horsepower, volts, and amps should be written. Either they were never written, or they have rubbed off. How can I figure out what kind of blower I have?

The foam inside the cap is extremely dry and brittle. It disintegrates under the slightest touch. A piece of it fell out while I was reinstalling the cap. Does it need to be replaced?
20200306_122125.jpg20200306_104746.jpg20200306_124626.jpg
 

Flying Tivo

Well-known member
Jan 24, 2017
1,415
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
Have you inspected your DE filter? Open it up, clean it and recharge with DE. Make sure your write down the clean pressure, when it rises by 25% you will have to clean them again. Your pumps are single speed old tech, they are energy hungry. What we recommend when you have a Salt system is a VSP, its rated for 3HP but you never use the full power. I only use about 80-110 watts.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
The SWCG has 8" cells. I'll tell Pool Math to assume 1.0 lb/day output for now. Thank you!

My filter and booster pumps were configured by the previous owners to run for 8 hours each day. I can see my daily energy use, and each day those pumps use about 30kWh. That's 11,000 kWh per year. That seems to me like a lot. Is it? If I had an efficient system, how much could I reasonably get that down to (ballpark estimate)? This blog estimates a 1hp pump uses 2500 kWh in a year; my system is about 3x that power, but that's still only 7500 kWh. My test kits are on the way. Once they are here, I can start to figure out whether I can run the pumps for less time each day while maintaining a good level of FC.

With a SWG you need to run your pump enough to generate the chlorine your pool needs with the SWG at 100%. That will be your minimum pump runtime.

You need to see how much pump runtime your want for your skimmers to keep the pool surface clean to your standards.


Sometime near the end of the pumps' schedule Saturday, the breaker tripped. I figured this out on Tuesday and reset the breaker. A plumber and an electrician came Wednesday. The plumber said the filter pump wasn't primed and used the garden hose to put a bunch of water down the suction pipe. He said the motor was probably struggling to pump out all the air and tripped the breaker. The electrician moved wires around in the breaker box, to put the filter pump on a higher-rated breaker. After it was primed, he said it was drawing 13 amps when it should only be drawing 10. He said it was old and that it might need to be replaced. How can I tell?

The pumps ran as scheduled the next day, Thursday. This morning, Friday, I notice the pump isn't running again. The new breaker has tripped. What should I do?

If I replace the filter pump, do I need to replace the whole pump or just the motor? What power of motor should I get for an 18k gal pool? I think I'd like to get a variable-speed motor for the energy savings.
I don't understand the moving the breaker. Your Superpump can run on 115V or 230V. I am assuming it is connected to 230V based on the 10A/13A comment. That pump should have always been connected to a 20Amp breaker. Is the pump breaker a GFCI breaker? Post a pic of that breaker panel.

Is the pump the only thing connected to the pump breaker?

If you replace the pump you should get a VS pump. After July 2021 Federal law will require all pool pumps over 1HP will need to be VS. The HP doesn't matter. 2 HP or above. A VS pump is a variable HP pump and you adjust the speed for what your pool needs.


When I check the filter pump, I can see bubbles. Please see this video. Is this too many bubbles, or normal?
You may have a suction side air leak.



When I check the return jets in the pool, only one seems to be putting out any water, judging by turbulence visible on the surface. Could that be a symptom of a dying filter pump? Could it be from a leak in the suction or return lines?
The pump is binary. It either runs at full speed or doesn't run at all.

What is your filter pressure? My guess is you have a dirty clogged filter.


 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
Here are pictures of my blower. The label has blank spots where model, serial number, horsepower, volts, and amps should be written. Either they were never written, or they have rubbed off. How can I figure out what kind of blower I have?

The foam inside the cap is extremely dry and brittle. It disintegrates under the slightest touch. A piece of it fell out while I was reinstalling the cap. Does it need to be replaced?
View attachment 128587View attachment 128588View attachment 128589
I have the same blower. It is a Polaris QT Blower probably Model 1-460-02 1 HP 240V. It is no longer manufactured and parts are not available. When my top cracked I bought a new but inoperative blower on eBay and scavenged it for the top and foam insert. The foam is a muffler that reduces the sound.


You can try and do the same or post on TFP and see if someone is replacing a blower that burnt out but has good foam.

Your other option is to replace the blower with a new one. See Spa Air Blower - Further Reading
 
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jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
I have not yet inspected the filter. I found a few videos on YouTube for cleaning and recharging. It seems like a lot of steps. I'll have to set a big chunk of time aside. I'll try to do it this weekend.

Here is the filter pressure. I don't know if those markings accurately indicate its pressure when clean and pressure when it's time to clean, but I'm guessing it's time to clean according to the +25% guideline.

20200306_151554.jpg

Here is the breaker panel. The filter pump was connected to the red tandem breaker, now it is connected to the green one. They have the same rating. (I was mistaken about the difference. I must have misinterpreted whatever he said.) The filter pump and booster pump are connected to the same breaker. In fact, the booster pump cannot run unless the filter pump is on. Is that normal?

20200306_145404.jpg

Who should I talk to about choosing and installing a variable speed pump? Do I need to find a local professional? How do I compare options? I've seen mention that there are rebates for replacing a single speed pump with a variable speed pump. Does that come from the electricity provider, or a government entity? How can I determine the maximum speed I need? I've read that I should at least match the speed I have now, which is 2.2 hp.

My TF-100 test kit arrived today. The DPD powder is hard as rock (picture below). Judging from videos online, this isn't normal. The scoop cannot penetrate the top layer at all. I'm guessing moisture got in somehow and hardened it. Is there something I need to do to loosen it up, or should I just ask for a replacement?

20200306_150627.jpg

How do yall fill your tubes with water without soaking the paper labels? Since the CYA tube needs to keep the label in place for proper measurement, I don't want to risk it coming off.

I'll wait to see how loud the blower is before I do anything about it.

Thank you for all the help so far! This has been a relief.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
I have not yet inspected the filter. I found a few videos on YouTube for cleaning and recharging. It seems like a lot of steps. I'll have to set a big chunk of time aside. I'll try to do it this weekend.

Here is the filter pressure. I don't know if those markings accurately indicate its pressure when clean and pressure when it's time to clean, but I'm guessing it's time to clean according to the +25% guideline.

View attachment 128624
Every filter is different but my DE filter clean pressure is about 18. So between 26 and 30 I would be looking to backwash it. That is about where the green and white indicators are set on your gauge.

Backwashing the filter only takes less then 10 minutes. When you break open the filter and clean the grids it takes an hour or more. Usually backwashes are all the filter needs to dump the old DE and load in fresh DE. The filter grids need to be cleaned only once or twice a season.

Here is the breaker panel. The filter pump was connected to the red tandem breaker, now it is connected to the green one. They have the same rating. (I was mistaken about the difference. I must have misinterpreted whatever he said.) The filter pump and booster pump are connected to the same breaker. In fact, the booster pump cannot run unless the filter pump is on. Is that normal?

View attachment 128623
Yes, the booster pump should only run when the pool pump is running. But each pump should be connected to their own CB. The PB4 pump draws 6.4 amps. Your Superflow pump draws 10 or 13 amps. That is 16.4 to 19.4 amps on a 20 amp circuit. No circuit should be loaded more then 80% of capacity. A 20 amp circuit should not have more then 16 amps of load on it. Your breaker is likely popping when your booster pump starts.

What type of automation or timers does your pool have? The booster pump should be wired through a timer or automation to only run when the pool pump is running.

Who should I talk to about choosing and installing a variable speed pump? Do I need to find a local professional? How do I compare options? I've seen mention that there are rebates for replacing a single speed pump with a variable speed pump. Does that come from the electricity provider, or a government entity? How can I determine the maximum speed I need? I've read that I should at least match the speed I have now, which is 2.2 hp.
The gold standard pump is the Pentair Intelliflo 011028 VS pump. It is max 3 HP at 3650 rpm but both those specs don't matter. You never run a VS pump at maximum.

Pump rebates seem to come from the electrical utility. The catch is they require professional installation. The professional installation can cost much more then a DIY install and eat up all the rebate savings and then some. If you were going to buy the pump from a pool company with their installation then a rebate can save you a bit if you can get it.

My TF-100 test kit arrived today. The DPD powder is hard as rock (picture below). Judging from videos online, this isn't normal. The scoop cannot penetrate the top layer at all. I'm guessing moisture got in somehow and hardened it. Is there something I need to do to loosen it up, or should I just ask for a replacement?

View attachment 128625
That seems to be a common problem with a batch of R-870. Rebecca @OTPirate will send you out a new container. In the meantime the power can be used. Chip out a small chunk and drop it in the test vial and the water should turn red. As long as the water turns red the amount of powder used doesn't matter and you can proceed with the chlorine test.

How do yall fill your tubes with water without soaking the paper labels? Since the CYA tube needs to keep the label in place for proper measurement, I don't want to risk it coming off.
People have all sort of techniques. I take the plastic vials in my hand and dump them all in the pool and fill them up to the top. Then I can pour the excess into the CYA bottle as I get the vials down to the 10ml or 25ml level.
 
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jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
I'll try a backwash this evening then before the pumps run in the morning.

Each pump is on its own timer:

20200306_164704.jpg

I ran all the tests and the results are abysmal:

pH8.5
Free Chlorine0
Total Alkalinity220
Calcium Hardness175
Cyanuric Acid<20

Oh boy. Which chemical do I even start with? I'm guessing there is not enough salt for the SWCG. I ran it at 100% today. It was set to around 20% when I got the house. I don't yet have the salt test kit.

The previous owners left some chemicals for me:

- A phosphate remover. I'm guessing I can just throw this away.
- Jack's Magic Magenta Stuff. Is this only useful for a brand new pool liner? The plaster on my pool is showing signs of deterioration, and I want to resurface it with Pebble Tec soon.
- Sodium tetraborate pentahydrate. Labeled "enhancer". What does that mean exactly?
- This unidentified bag of white chips. Is it salt? I'm afraid to taste it.

20200306_155945.jpg
 

jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
I just backwashed the filter. I ended up doing 3 cycles of backwash (until the sight glass was clear) and rinse. The pressure dropped from 28 to 23. Do I need to keep doing backwash cycles, or is this a sign that the unit needs to be opened up and cleaned?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
I just backwashed the filter. I ended up doing 3 cycles of backwash (until the sight glass was clear) and rinse. The pressure dropped from 28 to 23. Do I need to keep doing backwash cycles, or is this a sign that the unit needs to be opened up and cleaned?
Did the water flow out of your returns improve?

Did you add DE after the backwash?
 

jfreeman

Active member
Mar 5, 2020
30
Houston, TX
Did the water flow out of your returns improve?
Yes!

Did you add DE after the backwash?
No. The guide I found said the stopping point for adding DE was when the pressure climbed back to the low mark, but my backwash never lowered it below that mark. If I should still add some more DE, how much should I use? I don't think much was cleared out by the backwash. The sight glass was clear each time after less than a minute.

I found a guide for replacing the pump filter with the one you recommended. I don't have the equipment or experience for cutting and installing PVC pipe or conduit. Maybe I should just get a professional for this step, and watch and learn.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
Each pump is on its own timer:

View attachment 128633
So both pumps should not be connected to the same 20A CB. That is what is overloading the CB. Right now I would remove the ON toggle from the booster pump timer and not run the booster pump until you get the wiring changed.

The cleaner PB4 booster pump should not be set to turn on and off at the same time as the main pump. What model pool cleaner is connected to it?

You should not need to run the pool cleaner more then 2 to 3 hours a day. The pool pump is set to run 7AM to 3PM. Once you get the PB4 pump on its own CB then set its timer to go on at 8AM and off at 10AM and see how well the pool stays clean.

I ran all the tests and the results are abysmal:

pH8.5
Free Chlorine0
Total Alkalinity220
Calcium Hardness175
Cyanuric Acid<20
Oh boy. Which chemical do I even start with? I'm guessing there is not enough salt for the SWCG. I ran it at 100% today. It was set to around 20% when I got the house. I don't yet have the salt test kit.


Your #1 priority is raise your FC to 5 PPM. Buy some 10% liquid chlorine. Assume you will be adding 1/2 gallon of liquid chlorine every day until you get your SWG sorted out. So stock up.

Your #2 priority is lower your pH to between 7.6 - 7.8 using muriatic acid.

Your TA will come down in time as you lower your pH.

Your CH is low but it can wait a bit as you have enough other times to deal with.

You should add stabilizer using the sock method to raise your CYA to 30 - 40.

So your shopping list is 10% liquid chlorine, muriatic acid, and stabilizer.

Use PoolMath to calculate the required doses.


The previous owners left some chemicals for me:

- A phosphate remover. I'm guessing I can just throw this away.
- Jack's Magic Magenta Stuff. Is this only useful for a brand new pool liner? The plaster on my pool is showing signs of deterioration, and I want to resurface it with Pebble Tec soon.
- Sodium tetraborate pentahydrate. Labeled "enhancer". What does that mean exactly?
- This unidentified bag of white chips. Is it salt? I'm afraid to taste it.

View attachment 128634
Sodium tetraborate pentahydrate is Borax. It is interesting that they were using it. Borax acts as both as a pH buffer and pH increaser when added to pool water, but because it is not a carbonate compound, it doesn't increase the pool's total alkalinity the same way that baking soda and soda ash do. Borates in pool - Further Reading

Jack's Magic Magenta Stuff is used to deal with scale. If the water chemistry is kept within TFP recommended levels you don't need such potions...


We also rarely see the need for phosphate removers...


The unknown white bag I would get rid if.
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
26,831
Laughlin, NV
If you want to see what the unknown bag of white stuff is, put one granule in a quart of water. Take a sample of that water and use the OTO kit (yellow comparator block) and see if that test turns yellow or orange in color.

It might be dichlor. Which adds FC and CYA to to your water. Or Cal Hypo, which adds FC and calcium to your water. You need all those components in your pool water.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,165
Northern NJ
Good progress then.

No. The guide I found said the stopping point for adding DE was when the pressure climbed back to the low mark, but my backwash never lowered it below that mark. If I should still add some more DE, how much should I use? I don't think much was cleared out by the backwash. The sight glass was clear each time after less than a minute.
Rookie mistake. Everytime you backwash you must add DE back to the filter. You never want to run the filter without DE for more then 5 to 10 minutes while you adding DE. If you run the filter without DE then dirt gets embedded in the grid and a backwash will not then clean it out. The only way to clean the filter at that point is to open it up and hose off the grids.

At 2:40 in the video it says to add DE power. The amount you add depends on the size of your filter. Your filter has a label showing the pounds of DE. You put in the full amount after a full cleaning. After a backwash you add 80% of the amount on the label.

If you have DE powder go out and add it now.

DE Filter.jpg


I found a guide for replacing the pump filter with the one you recommended. I don't have the equipment or experience for cutting and installing PVC pipe or conduit. Maybe I should just get a professional for this step, and watch and learn.
You have to decide what you are able to do. I don't think you need a new pump. You just need to rewire the CBs for your two pumps.