New Pool Fill ... What Should I Have on Hand?

Stoopalini

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Jun 8, 2020
469
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Pool Size
14060
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Chlorine
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We're scheduled for plaster and fill next week, and I want to be sure I have everything I need to get started on the TFP method.

I will be asking my PB what they plan to add to the water on initial fill, and want to be sure they're not adding anything that'll prove to be an issue with the TFP methodology. I also want to be sure I have whatever I need for that initial period of getting the water stabilized while the plaster cures.

I plan to use trichlor pucks during the plaster curing process, until my CYA get's to the desired level, then switch to liquid chlorine, until I get to a point where I can turn on the SWCG.

My coop water (which is what I'll fill with) tests out as:
  • pH = 7.3
  • FC = 1.5
  • CC = 0.5
  • CH = 300ppm
I do have a water softener, and have my autofill plumbed to it ... but could run a 2nd hose from a softened spigot if it makes sense to fill with both.

I'm sure we'll be running the waterfall quite a bit initially, since it'll all be new for me and my family .. so I know I need a good amount of muriatic acid on hand. But what else should I have on hand, or allow the PB to throw into the pool?

  • Muriatic Acid (how much?)
  • Trichlor Pucks
  • Bleach/LC to set initial FC (how much?)
  • CYA (what kind and how much?)
  • Soda Ash?? (Or something to raise pH if needed?)
  • Sequestering Agent maybe?? Just to be sure any metals in the coop water don't cause an issue?
  • Calcium Chloride?? (Or is 300ppm fine for the initial fill and curing of the pebblesheen?)
  • Anything else?

I just want to make sure I have whatever I need, already on hand, so I'm not reliant on the PB to be adding what is needed. I also want to make sure they don't add stuff I don't want in there ... Ideally, they won't add anything to my water at all, and I'll have everything they say is necessary already on hand, and aligned to starting off with the TFP methodology right from day 1.

I would guess the PB will plan to dump enough LC into the pool to bring the FC up initially, as well as a sequestering agent, and they'll probably want to drop a bunch of CYA into a skimmer. I believe I shouldn't allow them to do that though (based on what I've read), and I should use the sock method to hang the CYA in front of a return.
 

JJ_Tex

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Jul 17, 2019
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Prosper, TX (DFW)
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Assuming you have reasonable access to a walmart/lowes/home depot or even a pool store, I would stick with a few gallons of liquid chlorine and probably a gallon of MA for now. Then you can see what the builder is going to do and what else you need based on testing.

You do have a good test kit, right?
 

Stoopalini

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2020
469
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Assuming you have reasonable access to a walmart/lowes/home depot or even a pool store, I would stick with a few gallons of liquid chlorine and probably a gallon of MA for now. Then you can see what the builder is going to do and what else you need based on testing.

You do have a good test kit, right?

Thanks ... and ya, I have the TF-100 test kit, as well as a speed stir, and the K-1766 kit for when I turn on the SWCG.
 

Dtkokay

Well-known member
Dec 31, 2019
354
Houston, Texas
Fellow Texan here who built a plaster / SWCG pool in the spring. Here’s what I recommend buying based on my experience:

* A gallon of liquid stabilizer. You can use the trichlor pucks to slowly add CYA over time, but your pool will have zero CYA at the beginning, so chlorine will dissipate quickly. You can use the liquid stabilizer to bring your CYA up to 30 ppm. Also, if you’re getting pebbletec, check their start up procedure guide. I believe it specifically says NOT to use dry stabilizer.

* 6 gallons of muriatic acid. My pool guzzled MA in order to keep the PH level down for the first few weeks. And you’re going to need muriatic acid in the long term anyways because your SWCG will raise your pH. The MA will be used regardless.

* 3-6 gallons of liquid chlorine (Home Depo sells them in 3 packs). Even if you rely on the pucks to start and then the SWCG, I really like having liquid chlorine on hand for a quick chlorine boost. For example, if you have a lot of people coming over to swim, you can add some liquid chlorine before / after the party; or if your FC level drops for whatever reason, you can quickly raise the FC back where it needs to be.

* A 12 lb bag of baking soda. They’re cheap (~$13) and good have on hand in case you need to raise your TA. You don’t need this now though.

* Calcium chloride. Get the 25 lb bucket from Leslies.

That’s all I would buy. I doubt you’ll need to raise your pH. I also recommend testing your tap water now and post the results here if you like. That will help you figure out what you might need. And I’m assuming you aren’t on well water?
 
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ManiacalMama

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Jul 18, 2017
133
Antelope, CA
So, we had our pool replastered last year (Diamond Brite). The PB supplied us with the sequestering stuff, which he had us pour in after we got about a foot of water in the deep end. Once the pool was filled he had us brush brush brush. We didn't add chlorine until I think the 3rd day which was also when I added CYA.

Upon our initial fill the calcium was a little low and he had us add calcium, which was a MISTAKE because now it's too high. With your fill water of CH=300 I don't think you'll need it at all. Definitely get the muriatic acid. New plaster raises pH quite quickly, we were adding it almost every day for a couple of weeks.

So I would suggest:
Liquid Chlorine (Home Depot and Lowes sell it in 2 gallon cases)
Muriatic Acid 31% (Home Depot and Lowes sell it in 2 gallon cases)
Stabilizer
Test kit, which you already have
Pool brush, skimmer net, manual vacuum with brushes not wheels (the wheels can mar new plaster)

I had no need for trichlor, and can't really see you needing it if you have an SWCG.

Our PB gave us a startup instruction sheet which I followed because if we didn't it could void our warranty, but it was pretty industry standard I believe.
 

Stoopalini

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2020
469
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Fellow Texan here who built a plaster / SWCG pool in the spring. Here’s what I recommend buying based on my experience:

* A gallon of liquid stabilizer. You can use the trichlor pucks to slowly add CYA over time, but your pool will have zero CYA at the beginning, so chlorine will dissipate quickly. You can use the liquid stabilizer to bring your CYA up to 30 ppm. Also, if you’re getting pebbletec, check their start up procedure guide. I believe it specifically says NOT to use dry stabilizer.

* 6 gallons of muriatic acid. My pool guzzled MA in order to keep the PH level down for the first few weeks. And you’re going to need muriatic acid in the long term anyways because your SWCG will raise your pH. The MA will be used regardless.

* 3-6 gallons of liquid chlorine (Home Depo sells them in 3 packs). Even if you rely on the pucks to start and then the SWCG, I really like having liquid chlorine on hand for a quick chlorine boost. For example, if you have a lot of people coming over to swim, you can add some liquid chlorine before / after the party; or if your FC level drops for whatever reason, you can quickly raise the FC back where it needs to be.

* A 12 lb bag of baking soda. They’re cheap (~$13) and good have on hand in case you need to raise your TA. You don’t need this now though.

* Calcium chloride. Get the 25 lb bucket from Leslies.

That’s all I would buy. I doubt you’ll need to raise your pH. I also recommend testing your tap water now and post the results here if you like. That will help you figure out what you might need. And I’m assuming you aren’t on well water?

Great, thanks! I did test my fill water (posted above). Is there something else I should test in addition?


So, we had our pool replastered last year (Diamond Brite). The PB supplied us with the sequestering stuff, which he had us pour in after we got about a foot of water in the deep end. Once the pool was filled he had us brush brush brush. We didn't add chlorine until I think the 3rd day which was also when I added CYA.

Upon our initial fill the calcium was a little low and he had us add calcium, which was a MISTAKE because now it's too high. With your fill water of CH=300 I don't think you'll need it at all. Definitely get the muriatic acid. New plaster raises pH quite quickly, we were adding it almost every day for a couple of weeks.

So I would suggest:
Liquid Chlorine (Home Depot and Lowes sell it in 2 gallon cases)
Muriatic Acid 31% (Home Depot and Lowes sell it in 2 gallon cases)
Stabilizer
Test kit, which you already have
Pool brush, skimmer net, manual vacuum with brushes not wheels (the wheels can mar new plaster)

I had no need for trichlor, and can't really see you needing it if you have an SWCG.

Our PB gave us a startup instruction sheet which I followed because if we didn't it could void our warranty, but it was pretty industry standard I believe.

Thanks for this. My fill water will have 300ppm calcium, but my auto-fill is plumbed to my soft water line; so any make-up water going forward will have 0ppm calcium.

Recommended levels show:

1598023872589.png

So I was thinking I'd need to raise the CH up a bit, especially with new plaster?
 
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JJ_Tex

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Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
2,200
Prosper, TX (DFW)
Pool Size
13000
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Chlorine
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Do you know what your builder is adding? Mine cared for the water the first 2 weeks, then handed it off to me after pool school.

I still think you are fine with just liquid chlorine and MA on hand at first, then likely you will need to add some CYA at some point in the first month. The other stuff, time and testing will tell and you may never need them.
 

Stoopalini

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2020
469
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
350ppm of CH is fine for startup with regular fill water, after initial fill then you can use softened water with the autofill.

That's what I was thinking, and since my fill water is 300ppm CH, it looks like I should plan to add some calcium to bring it up to 350.

Do you know what your builder is adding? Mine cared for the water the first 2 weeks, then handed it off to me after pool school.

I still think you are fine with just liquid chlorine and MA on hand at first, then likely you will need to add some CYA at some point in the first month. The other stuff, time and testing will tell and you may never need them.

I'm not sure yet. I asked my construction manager what they plan to add, and he said the service tech can tell me during start up, and it'll depend on the water testing at that time.

Right now, plaster is being scheduled for Tuesday. My guess is, they'll schedule start-up some days following plaster/fill. So I'd prefer to have the water in line by the time the tech comes for the start-up and the pool school session; especially since my family is going to want to swim in it ASAP, and not be waiting on the PB tech to come and add chemicals.
 

Dtkokay

Well-known member
Dec 31, 2019
354
Houston, Texas
So, we had our pool replastered last year (Diamond Brite). . .I had no need for trichlor, and can't really see you needing it if you have an SWCG.

With a new pool (or new plaster), Pebbletec says not to add salt for the first 30 days while the plaster is curing, and therefore you can't use the SWCG during that time.
 

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Dirk

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TFP Guide
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Pool Size
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No salt for the first month. So no SWG for the first month. Don't rush that.

Fill with unsoftened water to get the CH you'll need for plaster, then top with soft (I think you know that already). Bring your CH up per installer spec (to maintain your warranty status). Hopefully that amount will be within the TFP range.

The PB will likely want to throw in some sequestrant. Mine did. I don't have an opinion on that. Didn't seem to do any harm. Just preparing you.

I burned my brand new plaster with liquid CYA. You HAVE to be VERY careful with it, and dispense it such that no clumps of any size dump into the pool. They'll sink and stain your finish, permanently. Mix small batches in a 5 gal bucket. Go slow, be patient. Be especially careful towards then end of the pouring, because no matter how well you mix or shake it, it will have a big chunk waiting for you at the bottom (that's what happened to me). I'll never use liquid again, or even expose my pool to the granules, sock or not. I add it in the skimmer, in a fine mesh bag (or a sock). By the time it makes it back into the pool, it's well dissolved.

Once they start the fill, don't let ANYTHING stop it. You'll get a ring if you do, permanent.

Cover the hose ends with a sock or towel so that they don't bang around. Put the hose ends at the very deepest point, don't let any water wash down the walls, fill from the bottom up. Don't allow any water to seep out of the returns. That'll create a stain down to the bottom. They should be capped tightly while they're plastering. Put the eyeballs in after the water is in. If there is a spa, you can fill that last, or during, but make sure no water spills over a spillway to wash down across the new plaster. Same for water falls, water features, etc.

Just BEFORE the fill, take a snapshot of your water meter, then start the fill. Talk to the PB so he doesn't start without you. Minimize water use. Turn off landscaping irrigation. No laundry. Minimize or count showers. Minimize or count flushes. Etc. Once the water gets midway up your skimmer opening, stop the fill and take another snapshot of your water meter. The difference between those two numbers will be the water volume of your pool. If you want to fine tune the number, subtract 20 or 30 for each shower, 1 or 2 for each flush, etc, or not, it'll be close enough either way. Guaranteed to be more accurate than any math you can do with dimensions, and way more accurate than your PB's estimate. You'll use that number forever, for calculating chemical dosing. You many never have the opportunity again to use this trick, as the pool has to be virtually empty for best results. If it were me, and I had a spa, I'd take three snapshots and fill each body separately, just so I'd have a number for each. Not really necessary, but I'd want to know.

Good luck! Glad to hear you're so on top of the startup. Arguably the very most import time in your pool finish's life to be so diligent.
 
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Stoopalini

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2020
469
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
No salt for the first month. So no SWG for the first month. Don't rush that.

Fill with unsoftened water to get the CH you'll need for plaster, then top with soft (I think you know that already). Bring your CH up per installer spec (to maintain your warranty status). Hopefully that amount will be within the TFP range.

The PB will likely want to throw in some sequestrant. Mine did. I don't have an opinion on that. Didn't seem to do any harm. Just preparing you.

I burned my brand new plaster with liquid CYA. You HAVE to be VERY careful with it, and dispense it such that no clumps of any size dump into the pool. They'll sink and stain your finish, permanently. Mix small batches in a 5 gal bucket. Go slow, be patient. Be especially careful towards then end of the pouring, because no matter how well you mix or shake it, it will have a big chunk waiting for you at the bottom (that's what happened to me). I'll never use liquid again, or even expose my pool to the granules, sock or not. I add it in the skimmer, in a fine mesh bag (or a sock). By the time it makes it back into the pool, it's well dissolved.

Once they start the fill, don't let ANYTHING stop it. You'll get a ring if you do, permanent.

Cover the hose ends with a sock or towel so that they don't bang around. Put the hose ends at the very deepest point, don't let any water wash down the walls, fill from the bottom up. Don't allow any water to seep out of the returns. That'll create a stain down to the bottom. They should be capped tightly while they're plastering. Put the eyeballs in after the water is in. If there is a spa, you can fill that last, or during, but make sure no water spills over a spillway to wash down across the new plaster. Same for water falls, water features, etc.

Just BEFORE the fill, take a snapshot of your water meter, then start the fill. Talk to the PB so he doesn't start without you. Minimize water use. Turn off landscaping irrigation. No laundry. Minimize or count showers. Minimize or count flushes. Etc. Once the water gets midway up your skimmer opening, stop the fill and take another snapshot of your water meter. The difference between those two numbers will be the water volume of your pool. If you want to fine tune the number, subtract 20 or 30 for each shower, 1 or 2 for each flush, etc, or not, it'll be close enough either way. Guaranteed to be more accurate than any math you can do with dimensions, and way more accurate than your PB's estimate. You'll use that number forever, for calculating chemical dosing. You many never have the opportunity again to use this trick, as the pool has to be virtually empty for best results. If it were me, and I had a spa, I'd take three snapshots and fill each body separately, just so I'd have a number for each. Not really necessary, but I'd want to know.

Good luck! Glad to hear you're so on top of the startup. Arguably the very most import time in your pool finish's life to be so diligent.

Great advice, thanks Dirk! I've already informed the wife we will not be using water during fill-day. She is a very data minded individual (Marketing Research Scientist by trade), so she's completely on board :)

Interesting on the CYA. So you would recommend the granules, in a sock, but in one of the skimmers instead of hanging it in front of a return? Sounds fine to me ... I'll add CYA granules to my shopping list.

Nice tip on using a sock over the hose end, and placing it in the deep end. I definitely plan to be very engaged during the end of the plastering, so I can ensure stuff like this happens. I may just take the day off, so I don't get stuck in a meeting at a critical time (this happened the day they poured the decking, and my drain exit is at the bottom of the slab .. I really wanted it 1/2 up the slab, so I would have height to run it out across the yard).

I get the sense the plaster application, and the 24-48 hours following, is a very sensitive time which has everlasting impacts; so I want to be sure I am particular about what goes on during this time, and what is added to the water during this time.
 

Dirk

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Nov 12, 2017
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Central California
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Very sensitive time, yes.

Regarding the CYA, in addition to wanting to do everything as best you can, you can't really ignore the folks that are holding the warranty, even if it goes against logic or best practice. If they say liquid CYA, then liquid it is. If you don't follow their spec, they could weasel out of the warranty. But if they're fine either way on the CYA, I'd use the granules. My ideas about this are mine. Plenty of folks here hang a sock in front of a return. But I don't take that chance myself, in case it came loose or opened up or whatever. Not much can go wrong in the skimmer. You just can't clean/backwash the filter until you're confident the CYA is distributed, as some will hang out in the filter for a while (up to a week sometimes).

If you can, be onsite through the whole process. Sometimes the plasterers will have a question about what they're doing. Your shell determines the rough dimensions, but those dimensions can be tweaked a bit during the plastering phase. Best not to leave anything like that to the plasterer's discretion. Not sure if they wait a day or not with your finish, but if you want to use the water meter trick, you gotta watch 'em. Get them on board with the plan (the plaster guys too, not just the PB). They can be done and filling in a blink.
 
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Stoopalini

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Whoops I missed the part where you posted your fill water test results. I would also test the TA of your fill water.

I tested the TA of the water coming out of my softener, and it was 160. I'll definitely test again, but being so high, I was thinking I wouldn't worry too much about it right from the start, and would wait until the plaster has had time to cure some before I tried to adjust the TA.

I assume normal course of MA will some some affect on it, correct? Or will that cause it to go the wrong direction?
 

Dtkokay

Well-known member
Dec 31, 2019
354
Houston, Texas
I tested the TA of the water coming out of my softener, and it was 160. I'll definitely test again, but being so high, I was thinking I wouldn't worry too much about it right from the start, and would wait until the plaster has had time to cure some before I tried to adjust the TA.

I assume normal course of MA will some some affect on it, correct? Or will that cause it to go the wrong direction?

MA will bring your TA down. No need to mess with trying to specifically adjust your TA at this point. It’ll drop naturally as MA is added. At some point, I predict the TA will drop low enough that you may need to increase it, but that won’t be within the first few weeks of adding water. My fill water TA is 180, so pretty much same as yours. You are way ahead of the game!
 
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Stoopalini

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Jun 8, 2020
469
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Very sensitive time, yes.

Regarding the CYA, in addition to wanting to do everything as best you can, you can't really ignore the folks that are holding the warranty, even if it goes against logic or best practice. If they say liquid CYA, then liquid it is. If you don't follow their spec, they could weasel out of the warranty. But if they're fine either way on the CYA, I'd use the granules. My ideas about this are mine. Plenty of folks here hang a sock in front of a return. But I don't take that chance myself, in case it came loose or opened up or whatever. Not much can go wrong in the skimmer. You just can't clean/backwash the filter until you're confident the CYA is distributed, as some will hang out in the filter for a while (up to a week sometimes).

If you can, be onsite through the whole process. Sometimes the plasterers will have a question about what they're doing. Your shell determines the rough dimensions, but those dimensions can be tweaked a bit during the plastering phase. Best not to leave anything like that to the plasterer's discretion. Not sure if they wait a day or not with your finish, but if you want to use the water meter trick, you gotta watch 'em. Get them on board with the plan (the plaster guys too, not just the PB). They can be done and filling in a blink.

Makes sense. I'm pretty sure I'll just take the entire day off.

I've a feeling the PB process is for the plaster company to drop a hose or two in when they're done, and leave. Then I'm under instruction to turn the hose(s) off when it's full, and the PB tech would come out a day or more after fill is complete.... to start up the pump, add chemicals, and give me their version of "Pool School". Still have to verify this is accurate, but if it is ... then I'd like to get the water balanced between the time it's full and when the tech comes out.

So when he runs his tests, the FC, pH, CYA, CH will already be in line, and hopefully there's not much he'll need to do. Except maybe add a sequestrant for any potential metals, and also go through the EasyTouch programming and schedule creation.

What I don't want them doing is adding some algecide, or clarifier, or other potion to the pool ... so if the water is already fairly balanced when the tech arrives, I think it'll go a long way to showing him I've done my homework and will have a handle on the chemistry.

The plaster is Pebbletec Pebblesheen

1598029978197.png

According to their startup guide, the recommended CH max is 250ppm. Maybe I should use a mix of the soft and non-soft water sources, just so they see a CH around 250ppm when testing the water?
 

Stoopalini

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Jun 8, 2020
469
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
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Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I also found this on Pebbletec's website:

Important DOs & DON’Ts:
  • DO NOT fill your pool with soft water. If any of your outside hose bibs are soft water please notify your builder/applicator. Soft water may be used AFTER the curing process has taken place.
  • DO NOT enter your pool (including pets) until it is completely filled with water and balanced.
  • DO NOT chlorinate your pool until water’s pH and carbonate alkalinity are within the acceptable range. Chlorine is highly reactive and high concentrations can cause metals or minerals to precipitate (cloud water, scale and/or stain). A number of retail stores have computerized testing equipment to help you monitor these factors as well as others (cyanuric acid, metals, etc.). Ask your pool builder or applicator for a location near you.
  • DO allow time (approx. 28 days) before assessing your final water and finish colors. The start-up and balance will allow the water and finish color to change over this time period.
  • DO brush your pool. It is recommended that you brush a PTI pool finish three times a day for the first three days and two times a day for the next ten days. Using a standard, nylon (very important) bristled pool brush. Brush the walls and the floor of the finish toward the main drain. After that, regular maintenance may include brushing the pool approximately once per week, depending on the amount of dust or debris that may fall into the pool.
  • DO realize pebbles and/or glass beads will come loose during the curing process (usually in the first few weeks). It is normal to experience a small loss of pebbles and/or glass beads during pool start up.
  • DO wait at least 14 days before heating the water and monitor chemical balance more closely after you turn on your heater.
  • DO wait at least 28 days before adding salt to the pool, if using a salt water chlorine generator. Salt left on the finish surface may scale, stain, or discolor the finish and is not covered by the warranty.

So, using 14,200 gal as my pool volume, it sounds like the process is:
  1. Wait until pool is completely filled
  2. Turn on pool pump to run 24/7 (what speed should I set it to?)
  3. Take a complete set of tests and record in Pool Math
  4. Adjust pH to 7.0 - 7.4 before adding any chlorine or stabilizer
    1. Add MA (or soda ash if too low), wait 30 mins, test again.
    2. Repeat until pH is in range
  5. To reach FC of 3, add 54floz of 10% bleach/chlorine, by slowly pouring it in front of a return (assuming 14,200gal and 0 FC)
  6. Fill the in-line chlorinator with Trichlor pucks
  7. Add some dry CYA by placing in a sock and dropping it in the skimmer
    1. Not sure how much to add here, as the Trichlor tabs will add as well. Should I shoot for 15ppm, considering Pebbletec wants to see 30 as the max?
  8. Wait 30-60 mins, and repeat 3-7 (adjusting amount per pool math) until levels are stable
I assume as soon as the FC holds around 3ppm, the family can go swimming?

My goal is to get the chemistry in line with what the PB wants to see, until after their tech comes and does the official start up. After that's over, and signed off ... then I'll adjust the parameters to be more aligned with TFP's recommendations.

Does the above plan seem sound?
 

JJ_Tex

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Seems like a solid plan, with one big question in my mind... Is this in line with what your PB wants you to do?

Your PB holds the warranty and they trust their startup guys (even if they go against TFP methods). I would hate to see you add a bunch of stuff to the pool and then there be an issue and you get blamed and it not covered by warranty.
 

JJ_Tex

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Oh, and my startup guy ran my pump full blast (3400 rpms) for the first few days, then switched it to something more reasonable.
 

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