New to Pool Maintenance - Need Help

thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Thank you for viewing my post. I will try to give you a brief summary so that you understand where I am in my pool journey.

Purchased house that had a pool already installed. House was built in 2016, I don't know for sure but I believe the pool was installed within a year or two of the house being built. So the pool is less than 5 years old. It is a pebble tech (i believe that's what it's called) it is gunite and has specks in the plaster of the pool that is multi-colored. We have a Jandry in-floor pool cleaning system and clean & clear filter system with a pentair varible pump, and I believe is roughly 14,000 galloons (that's what the plans that were left here state). House has a separate above ground spa that I believe is around 600 galloons in size (Atera is the maker). I purchased the home in January of 2020.

This is my first pool so I didn't want to mess anything up. I hired a pool service company to handle both. In March we dumped the spa and the pool water. The pool company also cleaned the filters as I wanted to get everything going correctly. I was only planning on keeping the service for 6 months until I got the hang of what they were doing and to get me over the summer months. The pool company stated that the filters had to be changed twice a year or every 5-6 months regardless and they handled all the chemicals. They also stated that spa should be dumped 3-4 times a year if you can. They also stated they would be using Bromine in the spa, and chlorine in the pool and that it wasn't a problem if that was done even if bathers jumped from pool to spa and vice versa. Fast forward to October 15, I knew I was going to cancel the service at the end of October so I went to Leslie's and took a sample from my pool to be tested. I was quite shocked that it came back at like 50% (they stated it had high phosphates ~1500ppm, high CYA like 140, and high FC). Thinking they were just trying to sell me something I left and didn't really think anything about it. My pool water has been sparkling all year, no cloudiness/haziness, we had one period in the middle of our Phoenix summer when there was what I thought a very light algae film on the walls on one section of my pool, after the next service (2 days later) it was gone never to reappear. That's why I easily dismissed the report. My last pool service by the company was on 10/30.

11/02 - I'm now managing the pool I go and get the water tested again. Pool is @ 40% with these numbers:
FC = 18 is what they wrote, but said the machine maxes out at 15
TC = 15
ph = 6.9
TA = *.*
CH = 331
CYA = 168
Iron = 0.1
Copper = 0.4
Phos = 1421
TDS = 1400

Obviously I freak out after I go back home and research CYA and FC levels. I'm mad, and think that this report can't be correct. So now I go and start order supplies including a Taylor K-2006 and doing more research. I didn't keep the spa results as I knew I was going to dump the spa water anyway since I hadn't since March. I took all the chlorine tabs and the floater out of the pool, so there are currently no chemicals in the pool at all except for what is dispersed in the water already. I dumped the spa, and refilled with water. I let the spa run without adding any chemicals for about a week and a half as we weren't going to have anyone in the spa for a few weeks. On 11/13 I added bromine tablets to the floater, and then hit the spa with non-chlorine shock (I did not add bromide) that I got from another pool store near me. I then went to get the pool and spa water tested and here are the results (pool first, then spa in the below):
FC = 15, 1.99
TC = 15, 3.66
pH = 7.1, 8.5
TA = 30, 110
CH = 388, 156
CYA = 122, 5
Iron = 0.1, 0.1
C = 0.2, 0
Phos = 1387, 296
TDS = 1500, 600

These numbers look bad to me and based on what I'm reading I either need to try a CYA reducer or dump AT LEAST half the pool. Seem crazy after only having been filled for 8-9 months. So next I finally received my test kit and I'm and amateur so here is what I got today 11/21, again having not added anything to the pool since taking out all chemicals on 11/2.
FC = 32 drops in 10ml test = 16ppm
Combined Chlorine = was barely pink but added 1 drop= 0.5ppm
pH = maybe i'm colorblind but looked way light added 4-5 drops of R-0006 before it looked to be in 7.2-7.4 range
TA = 8 drops before it turned clear 9 before it turned red = 90
CH = Couldn't get this to work, started over with 10ml test added 40 drops = 1000?
CYA = solution got to 1.8 line on little tube and couldn't see the black dot = OFF THE SCALE

Please HELP, what do I need to do, what do I need to do first?
I did not test the spa with this kit yet the pool is most important to me. I will test the spa sometime this weekend.
Thank you for reading my monologue.
 
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ajw22

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TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,938
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
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Welcome to TFP.

Things are not as bad a you think. You figured out your problems and got yourself a good test kit.

Yes, you are going to need to drain your pool by 2/3 or more to lower your CYA. To get a better handle on your CYA level do the following:

CYA > 90 dilution Test
For CYA > 90ppm, repeat the test adjusting the procedure as follows:
  1. Fill the mixing bottle to the lower mark with pool water.
  2. Continue filling the mixing bottle to the upper mark with tap water.
  3. Shake briefly to mix.
  4. Pour off half of the contents of the mixing bottle, so it is again filled to the lower mark.
  5. Continue the test normally from adding R-0013, but multiply the final result by two.
If you need to dilute the pool water further then apply these ratios:[4]

Pool waterTap or distilled waterMultiply result by
112
123
145

Note that when doing a diluted test not only do you multiply the range of the test you multiply the error rate of the test, so results are a ballpark - not an absolute.

See CYA Testing for tips in how to read the test results.

Read Draining - Further Reading for your options in how to drain your pool.

Once you drain your pool we can discuss the Recommended Levels
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
21,250
Bedford, TX
Guy,

Unfortunately, you have two problems that can only be corrected by draining and starting over.. CYA reducer does not lower the CYA by any appreciable amount. Its main goal is to remove money from your pocket and give it to your pool store. Your CH level is due to your location where the tap water is high in CH..

Sorry, but it really makes no sense to focus on the other chemicals until you fix your CYA and CH levels..

Your pool guy was taking great advantage with you over you filter cartridges.. I have had the same cartridges for over 6 years and they work just fine.. I do "clean" them twice a year, but I certainly do not replace them.

I suggest that you take a look through our pool school and see what we are all about..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Welcome to TFP.

Things are not as bad a you think. You figured out your problems and got yourself a good test kit.

Yes, you are going to need to drain your pool by 2/3 or more to lower your CYA. To get a better handle on your CYA level do the following:

CYA > 90 dilution Test
For CYA > 90ppm, repeat the test adjusting the procedure as follows:
  1. Fill the mixing bottle to the lower mark with pool water.
  2. Continue filling the mixing bottle to the upper mark with tap water.
  3. Shake briefly to mix.
  4. Pour off half of the contents of the mixing bottle, so it is again filled to the lower mark.
  5. Continue the test normally from adding R-0013, but multiply the final result by two.
If you need to dilute the pool water further then apply these ratios:[4]

Pool waterTap or distilled waterMultiply result by
112
123
145

Note that when doing a diluted test not only do you multiply the range of the test you multiply the error rate of the test, so results are a ballpark - not an absolute.

See CYA Testing for tips in how to read the test results.

Read Draining - Further Reading for your options in how to drain your pool.

Once you drain your pool we can discuss the Recommended Levels
Thank you for this information. After performing this test again and based on the other test I used the 2 tap water measurement and it came up somewhere between 50 and 40. So using this math my pool is somewhere between 120ppm and 150ppm for CYA. This would put it at 3x recommendations I've seen here and elsewhere of 40-50ppm is that correct?

Guy,

Unfortunately, you have two problems that can only be corrected by draining and starting over.. CYA reducer does not lower the CYA by any appreciable amount. Its main goal is to remove money from your pocket and give it to your pool store. Your CH level is due to your location where the tap water is high in CH..

Sorry, but it really makes no sense to focus on the other chemicals until you fix your CYA and CH levels..

Your pool guy was taking great advantage with you over you filter cartridges.. I have had the same cartridges for over 6 years and they work just fine.. I do "clean" them twice a year, but I certainly do not replace them.

I suggest that you take a look through our pool school and see what we are all about..

Thanks,

Jim R.
Jim - Thank you. I've read that most of the CYA remover causes more issues than it fixes, so I figured I would have to drain, I'm just shocked that pucks put me over this limit in less than 10 months. I would assume my pool service was adding some other kind of stabilizer throughout the year that added to that number? Or could it just be the extremely low amount of rain we received this year so no chance for it to be splashed out of the pool.

I was incorrect in my first statement. What I meant by changed is that the cartridges had to be removed and sprayed down twice a year regardless of what the PSI guage on the filter stated. So to clarify they did not get me new cartridges or recommend that I replace them. They did however clean them in March, and I cleaned them in mid-October for both my pool and the spa.

So with that said, do I start by draining 1/3 or 1/2 the pool or more?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,938
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Thank you for this information. After performing this test again and based on the other test I used the 2 tap water measurement and it came up somewhere between 50 and 40. So using this math my pool is somewhere between 120ppm and 150ppm for CYA. This would put it at 3x recommendations I've seen here and elsewhere of 40-50ppm is that correct?

That is all correct and about what I expected. You need to drain about 2/3 of your water to get to CYA 40.

Jim - Thank you. I've read that most of the CYA remover causes more issues than it fixes, so I figured I would have to drain, I'm just shocked that pucks put me over this limit in less than 10 months. I would assume my pool service was adding some other kind of stabilizer throughout the year that added to that number? Or could it just be the extremely low amount of rain we received this year so no chance for it to be splashed out of the pool.

In your 14,000 gallon pool every 8 oz Trichlor tablet gives you 3.9 ppm of FC and 2.4 ppm of CYA and lower your pH by 0.21.

Your 150 ppm of CYA came from about 60 trichlor tablets. I will bet you went through more then 60 tablets in 10 months.

The average pool uses 3 ppm of FC. You can get your CYA over 100 in about 2 months going through trichlor tablets.

So with that said, do I start by draining 1/3 or 1/2 the pool or more?

More like 2/3. Get it done and get your CYA down around 40. Then chlorinate your pool with liquid chlorine or get a SWG to generate the needed chlorine. Unless you ant to drain your pool every few months.

 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
37,177
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
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Your CH should not have gone to 1000 + ppm in the time frame you state. Your tap water CH is most likely 250 ppm or so. I suspect your pool service used calcium hypochlorite as 'shock'.

You should confirm the CH reading. If above 800 ppm, a full drain and refill is warranted.
 
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thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Ugh, that's what I thought I was going to hear. Looks like I'll be emptying it right after Thanksgiving. So that pool service cost me even more than I was paying them.....
 

thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Ok I have purchased the parts I need (discharge hose) to dump the water. Where can I find what I need to do once I fill the pool back up. I'm sure it has something to do with me testing the water, but while I await a hose arriving I want to have all the chemicals I am going to need so that I can start immediately after the pool is full. Any direction or links you can provide to how I should get on the right track after refilling would be greatly appreciated.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
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Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
37,177
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
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Surface
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Chlorine
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
You will need cyanuric acid (stabilizer), liquid chlorine, and muriatic acid.

You do not have a signature so we do not know the volume of the pool. Start with dissolving 30 ppm of CYA using the sock method. Maintain FC of 3 ppm. And keep the pH in the 7's.
 

thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
You will need cyanuric acid (stabilizer), liquid chlorine, and muriatic acid.

You do not have a signature so we do not know the volume of the pool. Start with dissolving 30 ppm of CYA using the sock method. Maintain FC of 3 ppm. And keep the pH in the 7's.
I fixed my signature, sorry. With a 14,000 gallon pool how much of each do you think I will need for the first month? I'm in PHX, high of around 75* low of 43* for the next couple of weeks.
 

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mknauss

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Laughlin, NV
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Use PoolMath

As sun angle is low, your FC loss will be much less than in summer. I would guess 1 ppm per day loss of FC. Your pH will rise quickly at start with the elevated TA of the fill water. I would suggest testing pH every few days and lowering the pH to 7.4 or so, as necessary.
 

mknauss

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4 pounds of stabilizer will add just over 30 ppm CYA. A half gallon of 10% bleach adds just over 3ppm FC.
 

thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Ok, I'm back. Pool dumped and filled with water. Due to the suggestion that CH was going to be a problem with fill water I used my water softener to fill the pool. Filled the last 20% with city water, other 80 was softened. Guess I overshot on that one, so below are my numbers and I'd like some advice on what I add first and what I need to add. I've got the pool math app installed but want to make sure I do this correct, and add items in the correct order.

FC = 0 ppm
Combined Chlorine = 0 ppm
pH = 7.6
TA = 110-120
CH = 60
CYA = 0
Water Temp = 58*

I've got 6# of Stabilizer on hand, 4 gallons of 12.5% bleach, 1 galloon of muriatic acid, and 15# of baking soda on hand.
 
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mknauss

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Really should have filled with your raw water before the softener.
After adding chlorine and some stabilizer you need calcium. Raise it to 250 ppm as long as you will be using the softener for fill water due to evaporation.
 
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thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
So start with chlorine based on the Pool Math numbers. Then add stabilizer, per the sock method, then calcium? In the order?

Lastly, the automatic filler is tied to "hard water" I had to rig up system to fill with soft water temporarily. So going forward it will fill with hard water. Should that change the amount of calcium I add?
 

mknauss

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Good plan on the chlorine and stabilizer.
If you have higher TA and let the pH run in the high 7's, you can raise your CH to 200 ppm or so. But it would be far better to use the softened water for the make up water whenever you can.
 
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thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Ok I just finished getting the balancer added and the Chlorine here are the results from my test this morning:
FC = 2 ppm
Combined Chlorine = .2 ppm
pH = 7.0
TA = ~145
CH = 70
CYA = Less than 40, but higher than 30
Water Temp = 58*

So I am going to get Calcium Chloride now. Looks like I need 30 pounds to get to 300 (since fill water is hard). Can anyone suggest the best way to add this, in what increments? To raise pH it states to add Borax or Soda Ash, why not baking soda, can that be used? TA is high, but says to get add acid and then aerate? Isn't that the opposite of direction to raise pH back to 7.6? Lastly I need to add chlorine, which I have. Is there an order of operation here? Is the Calcium going to alter the readings again?

I'm starting to get confused.........lol.
 

ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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If your CYA is less than 40, but higher than 30 we round up and call it 40.

Don't touch your pH. It will rise naturally with your high TA.

Leave your TA alone. It is fine for now. It is helping your low pH.

Raise your FC to 5-7 for CYA 40. See Chlorine / CYA Chart - Trouble Free Pool

You can add chlorine and calcium at the same time. The only chemicals you need to space at least 15 minutes apart are adding chlorine and acid. Adding calcium will not affect any other values.
 

mknauss

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Laughlin, NV
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Can anyone suggest the best way to add this, in what increments?
Only add 1/3 of what is needed. Broadcast across the deep end and brush to be sure any granules that survive are dissolved. Wait a couple days and test CH. Add more as needed to get to your goal CH. Do not go above 250 ppm CH.
 
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thatguyAZ

Member
Nov 21, 2020
11
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Ok here is where I checked in today:
FC = 4.5 ppm
Combined Chlorine = 0 ppm
pH = 8.0
TA = ~150
CH = 175
CYA = 40
Water Temp = 58*

This is after only adding chlorine and calcium (20# pool math stated I would need 23#s so I'm aware of that just don't want to overshoot). When should I become concerned with the TA and pH which are still out of whack, and to me, seem to be swinging wildly?
 

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