New "spool" very cloudy water -- Seeking help balancing

jorodo

Member
May 9, 2021
5
Houston, TX
Hello all,

We filled our new in-ground spa/spool last Thursday, and the water has since become very cloudy. From what I've read so far, it seems like the high alkalinity could be the culprit, but I wanted to get some advice from some of the more experienced folks here to be sure that this isn't something else. In particular, I'm wondering if there's a filtering issue in addition here.

Short summary of the "spool":
  • In-ground
  • Plaster
  • ~3,000 gallons
  • Houston, TX area
  • Cartridge filter, Jandy CV340
Pictures of cloudiness:

cloudy_spool2_resized.jpg

The picture should give some idea of how cloudy it is. The brush is on the bottom step, and the depth is 4 feet.

Water test results:
  • Leslie's:
    • FC (ppm) - 4.84
    • TC (ppm) - 5.19
    • pH - 8.0
    • TA (ppm) - 238
    • CH (ppm) - 161
    • CYA (ppm) - 8
    • Iron (ppm) - 0.1
    • Copper (ppm) - 0.2
    • Phosph. (ppb) - 1758
  • ColorQ
    • FC (ppm) - 2.81
    • TC (ppm) - 3.40
    • pH - 7.9
    • TA (ppm) - 168
    • CH (ppm) - 7
    • CYA (ppm) - 31
Quite some differences there, but generally I do believe the alkalinity and pH are high and the calcium is low. FC and TC are also a bit high, as is CC.

Question 1: Would it be safe to swim in this? Obviously not right after I'm adding chemicals, but say given sufficient time after an adjustment, making sure FC is in between 2-5 ppm, pH is OK, etc.?

Question 2: What steps would you recommend to get this pool water balanced and clear?

The person at Leslie's advised us to:
  • lower the pH and reduce alkalinity with acid addition (liquid muriatic acid, 33%)
  • increase the Calcium with CaCl2
  • add Fresh and Clear (potassium peroxymonosulfate) to help with cloudiness
Amounts are given in the report, but right now I'm just looking for general direction. She said to hold off on adjusting CYA or Phosphates for now. My plan so far is to add acid first and adjust pH, then once that's done add some CaCl2 to bring up calcium. Beyond that I'm not sure, but I know I need to work on CYA at some point.

I also wonder if my filter is doing its job or not. Could it need cleaning already? There is quite a bit of sediment on the bottom of the pool that you can stir up when brushing.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:

kellyfair

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The builder didn’t leave you any instructions on how to care for your plaster? Also, what is your fill water? I’m a little alarmed to see the iron and copper number, if the store testing is accurate. You really need your own test kit, either a Taylor K-2006C or the one linked in my signature.

Hang on, going to get you some new plaster help in here.
 

Texas Splash

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Welcome to TFP! :wave: A few things concern me on this project. Here are a few:
- The builder shouldn't leave you high & dry. New plaster requires a specific start-up process. Did they do anything at all after filling?
- What chemicals (if any) has the builder added to the water?
- TA wouldn't be the reason for the cloudiness and Fresh & Clear won't help either.
- The testing concerns me. We never place much reliance on pool store testing, and the ColorQ isn't what we consider one of our recommended kits either. Specifically the CH is very troubling. New plaster must have a minimum amount of CH in the water to prevent it from being pulled OUT of the new plaster.

Accurate test numbers are extremely important for you right now to protect that investment. We don't care which kit you use (TF-100 or Taylor K-2006C), but you really need one. You can order the K-2006C from a variety of online services (i.e. Amazon) and may get it in a day or two via Prime. Or you can order the TF-100 (link in my signature) and get it shipped in 2-4 days or so.

Due to the nature of your situation and what I would consider timeliness of it all, there is one other possibility, although perhaps not the most economical. Your local pool store probably has the Taylor K-2005 test kit (it's called "complete", "deluxe", or something. You could get that for now to run an accurate CH, pH, and TA test. I think those have a CYA test as well. Those K-2005 kits do not have the FAS-DPD, but you could order that separately from TFtestkits.net and essentially make your K-2005 kit a K-2006 kit. So you have some options, but you need one of those to ensure an accurate test.

Until you obtain one of those kits, I would focus on keeping the FC at about 3-5 ppm as best as you can with the testers you have right now. My biggest concern is really the CH, but I wouldn't go dumping calcium into the water just yet until you can get an accurate test. I would also follow-up with the builder about this issue and the start-up process. The surface requires brushing quite often during the first 30 days as it cures. This will create quite a bit of plaster dust, so I'm not sure if that is what you are seeing at the moment. But let's start there and address any other questions you may have. Keep us posted on a good test kit and what the builder tells you. FYI - Avoid any pool store snake oil remedies like Poolrx, phosphate removers, etc. Those won't help. Be sure to have a couple gallons of liquid chlorine handy (or regular/plain bleach) to maintain the FC level.
 

jorodo

Member
May 9, 2021
5
Houston, TX
Very much appreciate the replies.

Yeah, so the builder came out, started up the equipment, dumped in a little chlorine, talked about maintenance a little, and left me with a very minimal set of guidelines--a 1-page document that basically says brush it often the first 10 days, and then keep FC, pH, TA, CH, and CYA in the recommended ranges (all of which are very similar to the recommended ranges on this site).

I'll order one of those kits tomorrow. How much time do you think I have before the plaster starts getting damaged? Another option would be to just call in a pro to dig me out of the hole here (if the builder won't). In the long run I'll learn this stuff and manage it myself, but in the short term I want to get this problem solved promptly.
 
Last edited:

kellyfair

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Very much appreciate the replies.

Yeah, so the builder came out, started up the equipment, dumped in a little chlorine, talked about maintenance a little, and left me with a very minimal set of guidelines--a 1-page document that basically says brush it often the first 10 days, and then keep FC, pH, TA, CH, and CYA in the recommended ranges (all of which are very similar to the recommended ranges on this site). Said just go to Leslie's with a sample and they'll tell you all you need to know. Done and gone in about an hour.

I'll order one of those kits tomorrow. How much time do you think I have before the plaster starts getting damaged? Another option would be to just call in a pro to dig me out of the hole here (if the builder won't). In the long run I'll learn this stuff and manage it myself, but in the short term I want to get this problem solved promptly.
The problem is that calling in a “pro” won’t necessarily get you out of the hole. But you can get yourself out, and that starts with getting your hands on a test kit ASAP.
 

jorodo

Member
May 9, 2021
5
Houston, TX
Interestingly, I think a large part of the cloudiness may be entrained bubbles. They are tiny, like an air-in-water emulsion almost. If I scoop up a glass of pool water it clears up after a while, without any sediment accumulating at the bottom. And if I turn off the pump for a bit, the water gets much clearer (though still somewhat cloudy). I suppose this could be due to a small leak on or upstream of the pump?
 

Texas Splash

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I suspect there's a lot of activity in the water simply from the effects of the plaster curing. Add to that the constant brushing and it will stir-up pa lot of stuff. The filter "should" catch the plaster dust, but you may need to clean the filter more often that normal. By the way, don't forget to update your signature with all of your pool and equipment info. Be sure to include which test kit you end up getting. I think you have some time until the kit arrives to make chemical adjustments, so just maintain a decent FC level to avoid algae and post a full set of your own test results once it arrives.

Here's some good reading you might find helpful.

 

jorodo

Member
May 9, 2021
5
Houston, TX
Alright, Taylor K-2006C test kit arrived last night. First test results:

FC: 1.0
CC: 0.6
pH: 8.0
TA: 250
CH: 380
CYA: < 30 (could still see dot even with tube full)

Interesting that CH was so different than the ColorQ and Leslie's. I was wondering how alkalinity could be so high without having calcium, because doesn't TA mostly come from CaCO3, at least in municipal water (which is what I used to fill the pool)?

I'm thinking to work on TA first by adding acid and dropping pH to 7.2, then aerating (one benefit of the bubble issue is I have a pretty good aeration system now).
Then after that, work on FC. Unfortunately there's not much chlorine to be found where I am; Leslie's only had dichlor and calhypo, and no stores seem to have regular bleach, only bleach with additives I don't want.

Would it be alright to use dichlor for now since my CYA is low? I know the tabs have some CYA too, but I think it's not much (?). I don't think I want to use calhypo with CH where it is, right?

I'm also thinking I probably need to SLAM it after I get TA and CYA in a good range. Will need regular bleach for that though, I think.

Also, the start-up/service person from the builder has been very helpful. Will be out today to troubleshoot the bubble issue, which we think is due to the pump pulling air through the air blower. And while he cannot balance the water himself due to policy, he will also provide advice on what a good course of action will be for this specific plaster.
 

mknauss

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Good job on getting a quality test kit. In the future, use a 10 ml water sample for FC testing. One scoop of powder and each drop to clear is 0.5 ppm FC.

First thing is to get CYA to 40 ppm and FC to target level. Now. TA can wait. Has any CYA in any form been added?
 

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jorodo

Member
May 9, 2021
5
Houston, TX
Thanks for the advice. Makes sense about the 10 mL water sample.

I added a little dichlor once already to bring FC up, so there would be some CYA in that. Other than that, only what's in the tab that was put in on startup.
 

mknauss

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With your small volume I would suggest only adding 20 ppm CYA worth of stabilizer using the sock method. Assuming only one puck and one small amount of dichlor have been added to date. Raise your FC to target level for 40 ppm CYA based on FC/CYA Chart
 
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