New Owner, Old VERY Neglected Pool

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
Picture album on imgur:


Pool is new to me, and I’m very new to pools. This is a house we are flipping and so we don’t live there. I can get by this pool up to 5-6 times per week to check skimmers, test water, leaf rake, backwash, add chemicals etc. I have been using a local pool guy (LPG) for this pool for the last 3.5 weeks, he's the same LPG I have used to rehab pools in the past, but it’s taking some time to really get things cleared up. The LPG has done well for us in the past, but I just want to make sure that we are getting the best results as fast as possible on this pool. Several pool rehabs ago I had a laborer go get a water sample from pool, take it to pool supply house, buy chemicals and quantities they told him to and add them. After doing this 2-3 times per week for 3 weeks and not seeing improvement I got tired of this and called LPG who sorted the pool out in two weeks. This pool has been a much tougher project for him so I’m just coming here to get a second opinion.
What has been done by LPG so far: Early July, pool was dark black but still full of water and LOTS of leaves from probably 2+ years of not running. July 11 LPG installed new Pentair pump and “shocked the sh*t out of it”, started raking leaves and visiting 1-2 times per week to (possibly add chemicals and) rake bottom. I have no idea the quantities of chemicals that have been used so far, but I know LPG has used powder chlorine, large chlorine tablets (both when it was being shocked) and then an some type of iron treatment to deal with the iron from all the leaves.

I have been to the house 5 times to rake leaves and backwash the filter this week and Friday I finally felt like I had removed 99% of the leaves that were in the pool at the start of the process. There is probably a fair amount of sludge that settles near the drain after I leaf rake each time, but I can't see the bottom and I was getting less gunk with each leaf basket each pull and each visit. I felt like it was time to get educated and maybe start adding chlorine while the LPG took the weekend off. Read almost all the pool school articles and bought the pro subscription to Pool Math and felt ready to go get a water test and probably ignore most of what the pool store tried to sell me.

Note: The IMGUR album shows the state of the pool before I started adding chems, and all the equipment I currently have. The pictures attached below are from this weekend.

ON Saturday morning 8/3 I took a water sample to the local pool store (LPS) and the results were:

Current status of the pool:
FC: .22
TC: .22 (guessing these may be the lower limit of the tester)
Combined Chlorine: 0
ph: 6.4
Total Alkalinity: 18
Calcium Hardness: 94
CYA: 8
Copper: 0
Iron: 0
Phosphates: 3554 (not a typo)
Salt: 580
Saturation Index: -1.9
Endure: 0

They recommended and I bought all the following:
25lbs of Baking Soda to Raise Alkalinity then 30 mins later
5 lbs of ph UP then 30 mins later
Add 90 day algaecide
5 gallons of 10.5% bleach, scrubbing pool and backwashing filter once per day until the water clears up.

I asked about adding CYA to the pool since I read here that it helps the chlorine last longer, but they said you don't need CYA yet because you are going to be backwashing so much this coming week it's just going to be a waste.

I followed all the directions above (with the exception of adding the algaecide) as the seemed consistent with the articles here, Pool Math and didn't include any super expensive chemicals or additives on the "naughty list." I used 6 2.5 gallon jugs my pool owning buddy (POB) bought, and the price of the baking soda saved me time from going to Lowes or Walmart and having to go to multiple places to chase down other chemicals.

I added the 5g of 10.5% bleach around 4 PM yesterday and then 30 minutes later using test strips, and a liquid dropper kit also from my POB, I tested again and got the following results

Total Hardness: ~250 but really hard to read this on a test strip
Total Chlorine: 10+
Free Chlorine: 10+
pH: 7.6-7.7
Total Alkalinity: ~120 but hard to tell for sure on test strip color chart
Stabilizer: ~0

I came back this morning and the pH may have dropped slightly to 7.6 but the TC and the FC were reading 0 both on the test strips and the dropper kit. Water may have been slightly clearer in the first 12-18" but hard to really tell.

I added 2 more 2.5 gallon buckets of chlorine into the pool and then measured again to make sure the TC and FC had risen and they were both 10+ again.

At this point I know that my pool is eating chlorine at an alarming rate, which is not surprising considering the neglected state of this pool.

I LOVED the pool school articles and feel very thankful that I was able to find this site before spending hundreds of dollars at the LPS. I will say one area of the pool school articles I personally found to be lacking in sufficient clear direction: What to do with a completely neglected pool, and specifically, do you RAISE a low CYA before attempting a first SLAM? There was lots of information about attempting to LOWER CYA if it was too high (by partially draining the pool), but nothing saying specifically, "You shall raise CYA to a minimum of XX before starting to SLAM the pool." or "Don't adjust CYA before starting to SLAM the pool." If I missed the location of this information I would appreciate someone linking me to an article about it

Questions:
1 - What should I do, if anything, with a CYA of 8, prior to SLAMming the pool?
2 - I know most posts here say not to, but given the SEVERELY neglected state of this pool, should I add the algaecide?
3 - What else should I do at this point?



Thanks in advance for your help and advice.
 

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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
11,651
Evans, Georgia
Hello, welcome to TFP!

Your pool is vinyl, and it is holding water- that's a good first sign! Any chance you can drain the pool down to a foot in the shallow end (to hold the liner in place) and clean and do a fast refill? With a jump start like that you'll fix this pool faster than working with the filter and chemicals.

Maddie :flower:
 

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
Hello, welcome to TFP!

Your pool is vinyl, and it is holding water- that's a good first sign! Any chance you can drain the pool down to a foot in the shallow end (to hold the liner in place) and clean and do a fast refill? With a jump start like that you'll fix this pool faster than working with the filter and chemicals.

Maddie :flower:
I could do that, but LPG said that the liner might give if we drained it. I'm not sure if the answer would be the same if he knew i was asking about a partial drain and refill, though. The liner is pulling away from the edge in 6-8 places around the pool, but LPG says he can fix that (rather than replace the liner) once we get the water cleared up. I'd hate to do anything that would cause the liner to totally give way and cost me a $2,500 liner. But I can ask him. Should i drain the pool partially if the liner is pulling away in a few places?
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
Listen to Maddie!

Also, check out this thread. While the pool wasn't quite the state yours is, I think you'll find some good information.

To answer your one specific question about CYA. With no CYA you're going to lose all of your chlorine to the sun, likely before it can get a chance to do much of anything to the algae. So... Some CYA may be in your best interest.

Some draining with careful watching of the liner would be helpful. Then you can add some CYA. 20-30ppm will help the SLAM process to be sure.

I think your pool guy might be able to fix the liner before the pool is cleared. He probably just doesn't want to get into it right now.
 

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
Listen to Maddie!

Also, check out this thread. While the pool wasn't quite the state yours is, I think you'll find some good information.

To answer your one specific question about CYA. With no CYA you're going to lose all of your chlorine to the sun, likely before it can get a chance to do much of anything to the algae. So... Some CYA may be in your best interest.

Some draining with careful watching of the liner would be helpful. Then you can add some CYA. 20-30ppm will help the SLAM process to be sure.

I think your pool guy might be able to fix the liner before the pool is cleared. He probably just doesn't want to get into it right now.
Ok from a practical standpoint how would I drain the pool if I have both a main and a skimmer? Do I need to have a skimmer plug or something to keep the pump from loosing prime? Is fixing the liner something I can do or is that better left to the LPG?
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
To drain the pool you can purchase and/or rent a submersible pump. However, you really need a better test kit. If your pool guy added that much shock you might have a CYA problem. The typical pucks and powder both add CYA. The only solution to that is to change water. If you are worried about the liner than do a partial change. Try lowering the water level half way to the shallow end instead of 12 inches. You can do this several times with diminishing returns but it works.

You can also pump cold water in the deep end and pump the warmer water out from the shallow end. It's a little tricky but if you do it right the water level doesn't change much at all.

The first thing is a better test kit so you know what you are dealing with. Try the
TFTeskit or the Taylor 2006C.
 

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
Read you loud and clear on the test kit. I actually mentioned in my first post that I have ordered it, I'm crossing my fingers that it will be here Wednesday.

I don't have a high CYA problem currently because all those chemicals were added before the tests results I got this weekend.

I think I might have some valves on the intake that go to the skimmer and the main, but they are missing the handles. I'm hoping I can replace the handles or have enough spare room between the concrete and the valves to cut out the valves and install new ones.
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
I missed that you ordered a kit in your signature. Keep in mind that test strips and pool stores are notoriously bad at the CYA testing. With a full set of tests you will have a better idea of what to do next.
 

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
I went to the house again today and discovered a poorly connected union on the suction side of the main drain line. I fixed that and drained the pool down until it was below the skimmer, closed the skimmer valve and continued to drain from the main drain until the pump would no longer prime. I got down to around 3" above the second step. I did this twice. Then I put 5 g of 10.5% bleach and started raking off the bottom. I pulled about 10 nets full of thick, brown decaying organic matter including leaves, sticks, at least one medium sized frog and who knows what else. Some of the stuff was like sludge. Returned the pump to circulate and turned on the garden hose to refill. I didn't bother checking any chemicals. I'll check the water level tomorrow.
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
That sounds like a good start. You are not going to make a lot of progress until you get all the organics out of the water. With the lower water level you can really get in there to clean it out.
 

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
That sounds like a good start. You are not going to make a lot of progress until you get all the organics out of the water. With the lower water level you can really get in there to clean it out.
Should I expect my 1HP Pentair to be capable of draining the pool or do I need to buy/rent the submersible pump you mention? What about vacuuming to waste off the bottom of the pool?
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
I lowered mine using my pool pump. I blocked the skimmer and returns and vacuumed to waste. However, it was pointed out to me that I was stressing a $1,000 pool pump when I could be using a $100 trash pump to do the same thing. In your case, I'd use the cheap pump to lower the water, clean manually as much as I could and then refill. You can always vacuum to waste at any time as long as the pool is full to avoid stress on the pool pump.

You are trying to flip this so you don't want to have to replace the pump along the way.
 

TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
I lowered mine using my pool pump. I blocked the skimmer and returns and vacuumed to waste. However, it was pointed out to me that I was stressing a $1,000 pool pump when I could be using a $100 trash pump to do the same thing. In your case, I'd use the cheap pump to lower the water, clean manually as much as I could and then refill. You can always vacuum to waste at any time as long as the pool is full to avoid stress on the pool pump.

You are trying to flip this so you don't want to have to replace the pump along the way.
True. However, I just replaced the pump as the old one was quite dead. So I have a brand new pump. But your point is well taken. Is there a minimum GPH or pump head submersible you would recommend I buy or rent? There is also the question of time. Emptying the pool at 1,000-3,000 gph vs 300 gph is a big difference in terms of babysitting the process
 
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DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
A .5 or .75 HP pump seems to be mentioned often. I'd search the forum here, do a quick google check and call a rental place. I'd be looking for a minimum of 1,000 gph and not spend more than $100.

Looks like Harbor Freight or Northern Tool might have one. I'd check a rental place first. They will probably have the hoses and fittings as well. A .5 HP you start to get up to 3,000 - 4,000 gph. I don't purchase one off tools if I can help it. For the same money the rental places often have heavier duty stuff anyway.

Post a comment here for recommendations. You are not the first person to have to do this.
 
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TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
So I have drained the pool down below the first step for the third time and I'm really not comfortable draining it again or any further. Based on the age of the liner and recommendations from two others who have an assumed vested interest in wanting to sell me a liner, I should not partially drain the pool as it is highly likely the liner will tear. So from here on out I'm just going to limit my efforts to vacuuming to waste small amounts at a time, using the leaf rake net, backwashing the filter, chlorine and other TFP recommended chemicals and elbow grease. I got 6 more 2.5g jugs of bleach but have not added any of it right now. The current state of the pool is that it is filing up with tap water and looks like the picture below. The TF100 kit arrives tomorrow. The guy at the pool store said I might have a problem with the filter media in my sand filter as my filter should be pulling a lot of the gunk out of the water. Is there any way to test the filter? Should I bother adding any bleach today or just wait until i can test the water tomorrow? Keep in mind each time I have added 5g of bleach by the next day the TC and FC are back to 0. Basically I'm open to any amount of work and suggestions that don't put my liner at risk.
 

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DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
I'd worry about the sand filter later. Yes, you may have to open it up but it's not your first priority based on what you know right now. You need to test the water and get a handle on your CYA level. You have two issues that I would address right off the bat. Without CYA the sunlight will burn out your FC quickly. You need some CYA to buffer things so the bleach has time to work.

The second problem is you stated the FC goes down very quickly. You had a lot of organics in the water for some time. There is a bacteria that converts CYA to ammonia. The ammonia kills the bleach as fast as you pour it in. If you have ammonia you have to deal with that before you do anything. There are two ways to determine this. Buy a cheap aquarium or similar test kit that checks for ammonia. The other way is to test for FC to get a baseline. Add enough bleach to raise your FC at least 5 PPM. Give it a couple of minutes to mix and test again. Wait 30 minutes or so and test again. If you have ammonia your FC will be gone that quickly. The only way to neutralize the ammonia is to keep adding bleach until your FC holds. After that you can add CYA and get on with the show.

You changed water so if you had ammonia and/or a high CYA as was suggested earlier it all helped. The good news is ammonia is not all that common and relatively easy to fix. Having a good test kit and a plan will move you right along. I only brought it up because it seems a lot of shock and bleach when into the pool for limited results.

We harp a lot about test kits but you really can't make a plan without knowing what you have and how the pool is reacting to what you add.
 
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TurbineTester

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2019
158
Warner Robins, GA
Are you willing to bet a Case of Beer? Guinness is my favorite! Im in! Probably not sky high but at least not what the PS Test says!
My favorite is Ballast Point, Watermelon Dorado, Double IPA.
😁

FC-1.5
pH-7.4
TA-90
CA-90
CYA- Big Fat Goose Egg 0

I also used a salt water aquarium test kit and the ammonia level is zero.
 

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