New Owner - What to do Next!?

Em0Abstracts

Member
Jun 5, 2020
10
Indianapolis, IN
Hi All,

We recently moved to a new home in the Indianapolis, IN area that came with an approx. 20'x40' in-ground pool. We have been working since late April to get the pool open, clean and ready to swim, but still experiencing some issues that could use the expertise from the folks here. Let me summarize where we've come from and where we are:
  • Home was built in 1991 and pool is original to the home
  • Previous owners did not take good care of the pool; wasn't regularly maintained and cleaned
  • Previous owners used a professional company to close the pool but used a simple tarp as a cover without using the proper amount of water tubes to keep the cover secured and did not use a cover pump
    • By the time we moved into the house, the pool cover had ripped and was entirely in the pool, along with whatever debris was on top of the cover
  • Before scheduling a pool company to open the pool, we spent weeks scooping the deep end of the pool to collect all the leaves and debris that had likely been dumped there when the pool cover failed
    • We scooped more than 10 contractor trash bags full of leaves out of the pool before we got to a point where the net wasn't constantly overloaded with leaves
    • We contacted the pool company once we were able to scoop the bottom of the pool without bringing up a net full of leaves
In late April we hired a pool company to open the pool and begin the long process of cleaning. Here's where we are so far:
  • I had pool company replace both the filter and the pump (replaced with new 300 lb Hayward glass filter & new 1HP Hayward SuperPump); the filter sand looked as if it hadn't been replaced in many years
  • Pool company removed and replaced all above-ground pool plumbing PVC pipes and valves
  • We have a Dolphin robot vacuum that we run fairly constantly (more on that later)
  • I backwash the filter every 2 days
  • I test the water almost daily but have been doing the testing at my local pool store and adding whatever chemicals they suggest
  • We have discovered that our hose water contains ammonia and can introduce ammonia in the pool water
  • The pool company suggested that we get our liner replaced (it seems to be very old and discolored, etc.)
At this point, we are still having problems getting the water clean and clear. Sometimes we can see the bottom of the shallow end (after leaving the water alone for 2-3 days), but we have still never seen the bottom of the deep end. The dolphin vacuum filter cartridges continue to have leaves and also a sludgy, sandy type gunk that I have to spray out of the filters. Without being able to see the bottom of the deep end, its impossible to see what I need to target down there and where to concentrate my efforts.

Whenever I run the Dolphin vacuum or sweep the bottom of the deep end, the entire pool will turn very cloudy and make it impossible to see the bottom of the shallow end as well, until we leave the water alone for 2-3 days and let everything settle again.

I just had my water tested today, and here are the results:

Free Chlorine: 0.23
Total Chlorine: 0.42
Combined Chlorine: 0.19
pH: 7.4
Hardness: 179
Alkalinity: 148
Cyanuric Acid: 48
Copper: 0.6
Iron: 0.1
Phosphate: 0
 

kevinskii

Gold Supporter
Aug 6, 2019
94
Los Angeles, CA
It sounds like it may be worth your while to get a little sump pump and completely drain the pool, then get down in there and scoop and scrub and hose down as much as you can until the pool shell looks clean. Maybe even hire a professional to come in and do it. While this is going on, order a test kit so you can test your own water. I've never had my pool water tested at the store, but a common view around here is that store test results can be pretty unreliable. Most folks here use the TF-100 or the Taylor K-2006C.
 

kellyfair

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 29, 2016
2,773
Tampa, FL
Hi, Em! So, first thing, you need a good test kit. Pool store numbers are questionable. We recommend the one in my signature, which can be found at TFTestkits.net.

Second, stop adding stuff that the pool store recommends. You need to know your numbers - that will tell you what to add.

I would NOT drain the pool unless you decide to go ahead and replace the liner.

You need to test, continue to net out debris (wouldnt use vacuum until big debris is out) and SLAM. You can read about SLAMming in Pool School - just go to this site’s menu.

And please, post pictures! We love to see your progress and offer assistance where needed!
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
13,921
Evans, Georgia
WOW....you've been taken to the cleaners by pool stores and pool service folks-
To start-
-Sand never needs replacing unless a chemical like clarifier or bacqua has been in it gumming it up. A deep clean now and then does wonders for a sand filter. Pool stores tell you it needs changing cause they sell you the spanking new sand.
-Backwashing should be done only when the filter pressure rises 25% over clean pressure. A *slightly* dirty filter works better believe it or not! often
-Some folks here have been unhappy with glass replacement media. I'm a cheapskate and figure sand has worked well for eons so why would I change it? If you put skimmer socks in your skimmer basket it will collect beaucoup schmutz before it hits your filter. A quick rinse out and throw 'em back on the basket and you're good to go.
-You are the only person who cares about your pool to make the testing accurate. Pool stores do free tests cause they then tell you what you need to buy. I cringe when I hear how much folks have spent on *often unnecessary* chemicals, and ones that do more harm than not. Get your OWN accurate test kit. Either the Taylor K2006C OR THE TF-100. Personally I find the TF-100 is a better buy.
-Scoop carefully any solid debris out of the pool. Be careful not to gouge or rip the liner. Doing this lets your chlorine work on the water, and not be wasted trying to oxidize the solids.
-I've never heard of a hose having ammonia so I can't comment there?

Keep us posted please. Ive typed this all out with two fingers as my are ius in a huge cast because I really know we can help you.

maddie
 
  • Like
Reactions: fields_g

fields_g

Well-known member
Dec 25, 2014
153
Rockville, MD
I think it is time for you to take full reigns of this situation. Sand almost never needs to be replaced (usually only when destroyed with improper chemical usage). It usually can be deep cleaned with a garden hose when it gets bad. Replacement of a filter or pump can wait until there is a likelihood of failing or has failed. Another reason, is to upgrade to a Dual/Variable speed pump (that can pay for itself). So, you may have needed new equipment... you might not... hard to tell across the internet.

Make sure you trust the people who are inspecting your liner. Have them explain their precise rationale for replacement (feel free to run the justification and relevant pics by this forum also).

Like others have said, get a trusted test kit. This is how you read the pool.

You mentioned a lot of sediment in the robot. Is it also stuffed full of leaves?

Backwashing can be done too frequently. Firstly, crud helps filter crud. A slightly dirty filter can actually grab finer stuff out of the water. Secondly, when your pool is especially dirty, backwash process can put dirt on the "clean half of the sand stack". It is harder to later flush that stuff all the way up through the sand later to get it out the waste. Backwash based on the pressure gauge. Aim for doing it when the PSI increases by 20 to 25% from the "clean" pressure. This may be every 2 days... might not. This is especially important if you are concerned about your fill water. In a clean pool, once a month is probably a short duration. You'll get there.

Many here use liquid chlorine (bleach) to sanitize. Start scoping out places with good deals. Be sure to check the % strength. It is the purest way of adding only what you want to the pool.

You have already done the first step.... being curious and finding a knowledgeable and unbiased source of advise. Keep letting us know what is on your mind. And by the way... we love pictures and for you to put pool/equipment information in your message signature.

Best of luck!

Edit: Wrote this over an hour ago. The website has been wonky and wouldn't let me submit.... glad I match up so closely to @YippeeSkippy!!
 

Em0Abstracts

Member
Jun 5, 2020
10
Indianapolis, IN
Hey everyone...thanks for the posts so far. I'll start adding my equipment to my signature and post photos of everything I have for reference going forward.

I wanted to clarify a couple points on the rationale for why I bought new equipment. Both the filter and the pump were in very bad shape and very old, and both leaked VERY badly. When I took the cover off the pool, the pool sat for about 14 days without losing any water level. The moment we started the equipment, water was flowing out from both the filter head and the body of the pump and i was losing ~1.5 - 2 inches of water per day. So, I decided on my own to just replace the pump, filter and plumbing just so I would know that I was dealing with fully functional equipment that didn't keep me up at night. The pool heater is also not functional (doesn't even fire up) and I am not planning to replace that anytime soon.

You are all correct that I'm getting tired of getting my water tested at the pool store and being sold a basket full of chemicals every time I go. I've placed an order for a TF-100 bundle with the Speed Stir so I can start testing these levels myself and get a better understanding of what's going on.

Someone asked if there were leaves present in my robot vacuum along with the sediment in the filters, and the answer is yes - usually there are leaves in the filters also, but those are getting less and less. I actually took a more aggressive (and likely not recommended option) of diving down there myself with goggles on to see the floor of the deep end with my own eyes, and its relatively clean...just the normal sediment that you would typically vacuum up, and the main drain was clear of debris.
 
  • Like
Reactions: splashpad

fields_g

Well-known member
Dec 25, 2014
153
Rockville, MD
Besides cloudy water, that pool looks good. Those pictures look like they're 70% through many people's swamp to pool slideshows. Since the plumbing is working and the TF-100 is on order, you need to find a good source of liquid chlorine (sounds like that is harder for some people this year). If you find a good source, you can liberally stock up. You can use it for maintenance after the cleaning.

I see there is safety cover anchors on your deck. You said it was tarped and bagged. I switched from tarp to a mesh safety cover this past year and it was a breeze to open. Since your tarp is destroyed, it might be worth spending the time this summer seeing if you can get a cover to match your mounts. The easiest way, is finding the original vendor and order/serial number (difficult in your situation). Is there writing on your anchors? Even if you can't get that info, remeasuring to match your existing mounts shouldn't be bad, since you have a rectangular pool. www.poolcoversdirect.com gave me great quotes, but I went with a local company because I wanted someone else to do the deck drilling.

Remember, only backwash when the gauge says you need it.

Soon you will be testing several times a day and brushing (you got a pole brush, right?), while dumping chlorine to keep the levels elevated. Sound like fun right?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Em0Abstracts

Em0Abstracts

Member
Jun 5, 2020
10
Indianapolis, IN
I was thinking of trying some pool FLOC to get the particulates to settle and then vacuum out. But my concern is the ammonia I have in my hose water. If I use FLOC and then vacuum to waste, I’m going to lose a lot of water and will have to top off from the hose, introducing a lot of ammonia back into the pool that I’ll have to treat with more chlorine. Im worried that might make things cloudy again.
 

kellyfair

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 29, 2016
2,773
Tampa, FL
First, please don’t add anything to that pool besides chlorine until you get your test kit! You may make things worse, not better.

How do you know your tap water has ammonia?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Em0Abstracts

Em0Abstracts

Member
Jun 5, 2020
10
Indianapolis, IN
First, please don’t add anything to that pool besides chlorine until you get your test kit! You may make things worse, not better.

How do you know your tap water has ammonia?
Absolutely, I agree with that. I wouldn’t add anything until I start testing! I found out I had ammonia In the hose water because we used it to refill our pool when it got very low (After running the pump that was leaking like crazy until I replaced it last week with a new variable speed Pentair pump) and next day my pool water looked like Mt Dew. I took a sample of the hose water to the pool store (since I don’t have my kit yet) and it tested positive for ammonia (turned very green in their dropper test).
 

Em0Abstracts

Member
Jun 5, 2020
10
Indianapolis, IN
Happy Tuesday everyone. I finally received my TF-100 kit today and have completed by first test using the kit. I wanted to share the results based on today's tests:

FC 13
PH 7.8
CH 250
TA 240
CYA 35

I'm reading the TA to be fairly high. Any thoughts?
 

kellyfair

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 29, 2016
2,773
Tampa, FL
Actually, things look pretty good. Call your CYA 40 (round up to the next line) and don‘t worry about TA right now. Ph is not accurate with FC over 10. You are ready to SLAM, and your FC is almost at SLAM level anyway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Em0Abstracts

splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
Good job on the test results! And the CYA is always the larger 10 (so if the dot disappears in-between 40 & 50, it's 50 :)

Your PH is likely near perfect, since FC over 10 can give a false high PH result

You don't need to mess with TA until your pool is clean & clear, and only then, IF the PH tends to drift up "quickly"

Do you have your liquid chlorine on hand to proceed with SLAM Process, using this FC/CYA Chart and PoolMath
 
  • Like
Reactions: Em0Abstracts