Newbie: Pool problems and urgency to fix

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
Just bought a home, for the first time with a pool. It was green when the appraiser saw it and demanded that it be drained, cleaned and refilled. The seller brought in a pool service company and they did something to it to make the water clear/blue and overcome appraisal hurdle.

We are in the process of moving in and I wonder what have I gotten myself into. I am removing leaves every day and learning about pool maintenance at the same time. I have been reading through your forum and have ordered the recommended test kit which should be here in a week. The trouble is that my grand kids will be visiting next week so I need to do something quick to have the pool ready for them otherwise I will be in big trouble.

I took water sample to Leslie's today and here are the results they provided me:

Chlorine: 0
Ph: 7.4
Alk: 140
CAL: 610
TDS: 1,600
CYA: 100+

The guy didn't try to sell me anything. He said I need to have at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the water drained and refilled to bring the last three readings within acceptable range.

Please bear with me as my questions may expose my lack of knowledge about pool maintenance. I promise I am going to read much more and learn as time goes by.

1- Is he correct that I need to drain and refill the pool?
2- If it had to be drained, how do I do this? Is there a valve I could turn for the pump to send water to the sewer/rain water drainage system or do I need to bring in professionals to pump it out and refill it?
3- Where do I get a diagram of the various pumps/pipes/controls so I can understand how the whole contraption works? The previous homeowner left us nothing. (It was a short sale.) Can someone please point me to other resources on the internet for this information?
4- I see only one of the three pumps running when the timer runs it. Should all three be running at the same or various times?
5- The one pump that runs shows much turbulance/air through its window. I understand this is not good. How do I find the leak and fix it so it pumps effectively.
6- How long should the pump run every day?
7- There is a natural gas based water heater (I assume for the attached spa). How do i turn it on? I only see one timer that has a manual override switch to run one pump.
8- When the pump runs, the spa is filled with water that then flows into the pool. I have changed nothing but for the past few days, the water level goes down to the upper row of water jet nozzles (there are two rows at different levels). Where can I find and prevent the spa leakage?
9- Should I start adding Chlorine so the water does not turn green while I am figuring it out?

I have attached a few pictures and may have more questions as I am provided advice. Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge.

Best regards,

Clueless in Stockton, CA.
 

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duraleigh

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At your current knowledge level and looking at the condition of your equipment, I suggest you bring in a professional to fix your pool or forego the swim session with the grandkids.

There's a ton of stuff to do and learn and I do not think it is realistic to expect you to learn/fix everything in a week.

Given more time, there is nothing about pools that is super-secret or hard to understand but your time frame makes it a daunting task. If you try and give up after a few days, a pro will not have enough time, either.

PS - The weeds and junk growing around your equipment is problematic. Someone is going to need to clean out that area.
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 5, 2008
2,598
Locate that pool service company that has already seen the pool. Follow them around and take notes of everything. They can tell you what the lines are and even make labels to show what is on either side of a valve. The snipets of advice are very worthwhile, when to know to clean the filter, where the water level needs to be to not suck air into the skimmers, how to drain water and refill.
 

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
Thank you for the realistic advice for the short term. While I bring in a professional, answers to specific questions will be appreciated to add to my knowledge.

Information is a great enabler for people like myself against fear of the unknown.
 

dattia

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2008
520
West Chester, PA
With 0 Chlorine, I think it is a good idea to at least add some bleach until the pool service can get out there and explain the workings of the mechanics.

The only way to lower your CYA is a partial drain and refill, so I would say the pool store advice is correct on that one. I just drain into my yard and let the water soak into the ground, not sure what your situation is.

You are correct in that reading Pool School will give you all the information you need to be king of your pool, the test kit will give you the tools.
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
1) Yes.
2) It looks like you have a cartridge filter, which makes rapid water replacement tricky. A sump pump is probably your best bet.
3) You will have to figure it out and draw your own diagram. Every pool is different.
4) Each pump has a different function. One circulates the water. The other two probably run water features, perhaps a waterfall or spa.
5) Check that there is enough water in the skimmer so no vortex forms. A vortex can draw in air. Also check the o-ring on the pump strainer basket cover.
6) Impossible to predict, you need a great deal more information about your pool to even guess.
7) Usually the heater has controls directly on the heater. If you have an automation system it will control the heater.
8) That might be a valve in the wrong position, or a check valve that needs maintenance.
9) If the water is currently clear, add at least 10 ppm of chlorine. If the water is already green then wait till you get the CYA level down before trying to fight the algae.
 

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
I had a professional pool company person visit my pool today and he thinks there is no need to drain/refill the pool even with these readings:

CAL: 610
TDS: 1,600
CYA: 100+

He says water is perfectly safe to use. Do I need to drain it?
 

duraleigh

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New2water said:
I had a professional pool company person visit my pool today and he thinks there is no need to drain/refill the pool even with these readings:

CAL: 610
TDS: 1,600
CYA: 100+

He says water is perfectly safe to use. Do I need to drain it?
I would not seek his advice again. It may or may not be safe (I don't see a chlorine reading, which is mandatory to determine if the water is "safe") but your CH is too high and your CYA is WAY too high.

Drain 50% and replace and then retest. Once your pool water gets around 50ppm CYA, you can successfully manage your pool.

Can you provide a chlorine test result? How about pH?
 

Suziqzer

TFP Expert
Sep 21, 2009
914
Greentown, IN
I wouldn't call it safe to swim in right now, no chlorine in a pool is asking for trouble. It might be safe given high enough levels of chlorine are able to be maintained but I doubt anyone would want to try and manage a pool with those CH and CYA levels for very long. It's difficult with really high cya to get an accurate reading of it.. but it can be done w/your test kit with dilution when you get it.

Best bet to save yourself any further problems is to do a partial drain and refill w/fresh water. Whatever you do... don't add any kind of pucks! You'll simply add to the problem.

Good Luck!
 

zea3

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Jul 10, 2009
12,670
Houston, Texas
Please post a complete set of test results if you have them.
FC
TA
pH
CA
CYA

Based on the CA and CYA values you have posted so far, yes you need to drain about 1/2 the pool water. You can manage with high CA if you keep pH and TA on the low end of the acceptable range, but to manage high CYA is more trouble than it is worth. Since he said CYA is 100+, do not be surprised if you still have 100+ CYA even after draining and refilling. The test only reads up to 100 and it is possible to have CYA over 300. CYA does not evaporate out, instead it becomes more concentrated and will continue to rise as long as stabilized chlorine products are used.
You may want to check and see if there is a reverse osmosis pool service available in your area. Reverse osmosis treatment of the pool will remove excess CYA, CA, and just about anything else in the water without having to drain and refill.
 

dmanb2b

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 4, 2009
3,734
NY
Run now...with CYA at 100, FC needs to be above 10ppm and is very difficult to shock. The pool store gave you solid advice to partially drain which should help you reduce CYA and CH. Most CYA test only go up to 100, so there really is not telling how high the level is.
 

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
The results I received from Leslie's last week were:

Chlorine: 0
Ph: 7.4
Alk: 140
CAL: 610
TDS: 1,600
CYA: 100+

I have since that time added 2 gallons of Bleach (10%) and haven't yet tested it again. I see some green matter starting to deposit along some surfaces. I haven't yet received my test kit so I will take water sample to Leslie's later today.

People claim to be professionals and then they end up giving advice like this which may not be valid. He also told me buy some pucks and have them in the floaters. I haven't done that because of the advice I have seen repeated on this forum against it. Difficult to figure out if a pool service company is providing good information.
 

JasonLion

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With CYA over 100 you are going to have problems until you get the CYA level down to something more reasonable. Even if your CYA level was lower, trying to fight algae with trichlor floaters almost never works. Trichlor dissolves too slowly to effectively fight algae.
 

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
Thank you so much for all the advice I am receiving. I will add two more gallons of bleach this afternoon.

How do I know the pool is safe for use? I have grand kids coming to visit and can't take any chances.

On a related note, any recommendation for vacuum devices that I should buy to clean stuff accumulating at the bottom?
 

zea3

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Jul 10, 2009
12,670
Houston, Texas
You can purchase a manual vacuum set up for a vinyl pool fairly inexpensively or you can look for an automated pool vacuum that costs significantly more. It shows in your signature that you have a kreepy krawly, does it work?

As long as the water is clear and you can see the bottom of the deep end, and you have your chlorine and pH levels in the recommended range for your pool, the water is safe to swim in.

In order to find out what your FC level needs to be, we need a better estimate of your CYA. Take 1 cup tap water and mix it with 1 cup pool water and take that solution to be tested for CYA. Double the result and post it here.
 

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
The Kreepy Krawly only goes in a certain pattern and does not clean all of the bottom surface. I have seen manual vacuum attachments at Home Depot, one with wheels and another with brush at the bottom. Any thoughts on either?

I will have water tested as suggested and will report back in about an hour. Thank you.
 

zea3

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Jul 10, 2009
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Houston, Texas
The wheeled vacuum heads are for plaster pools. Make sure the vacuum head you buy is for vinyl liners. It should say on the packaging.
 

frogabog

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Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
New2water said:
People claim to be professionals and then they end up giving advice like this which may not be valid. He also told me buy some pucks and have them in the floaters. I haven't done that because of the advice I have seen repeated on this forum against it. Difficult to figure out if a pool service company is providing good information.
The general rule of thumb around here is that no one here is trying to sell you anything, thus there is no reason to provide you with information that is not honest. Even the test kits that are recommended here are compared equally and honestly so that the pool owner can decide which they would like to buy. It just so happens that one is a much better deal than the others and the customer service is top notch because the owner actually cares about your pool enough to go out of his way to provide a quality kit for an appropriate price.

Apparently the pool guy has an alternate agenda which includes you having future issues keeping chlorine in the pool with pucks, so then your pool will go back to green, and he'll be called out to clear it up. At that point he might try to sell you all kinds of products that you don't need, charge you for all the labor he can possibly get, and leave you with a pool that is still incredibly difficult to manage. Any pool professional that doesn't communicate the importance of appropriate CYA levels is either a dolt, or up to no good (doesn't have your best interests at heart). Did he do or check anything with the mechanics or did he just tell you your water was fine and take off?

I think you could get your pool swim-able if your only problem right now was water quality but with the mechanics issues you have maybe talk to some other pool people/outfits and ask them to come and help w/the mechanical side, get that all fixed up and running properly and when you get your test kit, the fine folks here will be able to help you fix the water up. Water you CAN do by yourself, easily and there are lots of cool pool clearing things to do with the grandkids should water issues persist into their visit with you.

Such as... You could all play jr. chemist with the test kit (test tap water, pond water, pool water, river water, used bath water...), have skimmer contests (count the bugs and leaves), get dollar store safety goggles, cut holes in plastic bags to wear for protection and measure cups/ounces out, make bleach bottle floaties (tie empty bottles together, make rafts), throw a "pool guy can't have our cupcakes" party and have a picnic poolside... kids are easygoing when you're the grandparent, thus the possibilities are endless here, lol. You could even get some work out of them if you offer up some of that grandparent cash us parents cringe over cuz you said helping was part of being in a family when we were kids... I don't know their ages but I'm certain even a 7yo could run a pool vacuum cuz I've had such a 7yo do it before (you can see her slaving away in my avatar pic, for no pay... muuuuhahahaahaaaaa!).

You may or may not have to shock, but even if you do have to... swimming in water that is at or below shock level apparently isn't much of an issue.

Draining at least 1/2 to 2/3 of the pool and refilling is going to be part of your process no matter what you do though unless the reverse osmosis thing is a possibility.
 

New2water

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 28, 2011
78
Stockton, CA
This is amazing. Thank you.
Advice like this cannot be bought @ any price at the pool supply stores. It will keep my 8 year old twin grandsons busy and interested at the same time.

My pool guy is the same person the sellers hired to turn the green pool into a blue one before my lender's appraiser would appraise the property. In that process he replaced four cartridge filters which he said were worth $400. He said there is no need to change water since my pool's water is not very old. I have no idea how he figured out the age of this water. I think he is just a dolt since he doesn't seem malicious. He mentioned a few times that the Lord has saved him from smoking and drinking. He didn't check the equipment and referred me to another person who has expertise with equipment as well.

Water in the pool is clear in that I can see the bottom of the pool on all sides. There is a small amount of algae forming along some surfaces that I will try to clean with a brush. Height of my ignorance is that I don't even know for sure what kind of pool I have. I assumed it is vinyl lined since the surface looked like that. It may be plaster. I will ask the next pool person I am having look at it tomorrow and then get the right manual vacuum device

I followed the suggestion from another kind forum member (I think it was zea3), mixed a cup of tap water with a cup of pool water and took it to Leslie's for testing this afternoon. They had run out of test materials for CYA testing so did only the tests they could. Then I took the same samples to their store in neighboring town and had them test it as well. It's interesting to note that their results were significantly different in some cases with the same water sample which tells me these are approximations. For what it is worth, here are the test results:

Last week's results:
Chlorine: 0
pH: 7.4
Alk: 140
Calcium: 610
TDS: 1600
CYA: 100+
Their advice: Drain

Since then I added 4 packages of shock powder, 2 gallons of 10% Chlorine liquid.

Today's results using pool water at first Leslie's store

Chlorine: 2
pH: 7.6
Alk: 110
Calcium: no test
TDS: 1,500
CYA: no test
Their advice based upon TDS: Drain 1/2 pool

Today's results using diluted water at first Leslie's store

Chlorine: 0.5
pH: 7.2
Alk: 100
Calcium: no test
TDS: 800
CYA: no test
Their advice: Nothing needed.

Today's results using pool water at second Leslie's store

Chlorine: 3-5 (range)
pH: 7.4
Alk: 150
Calcium: 830
TDS: 1,000
CYA: 150
Phosphates: 500
Their advice: Drain 1/2 or more

Today's results using diluted water at second Leslie's store

Chlorine: 1.5
pH: 7.4
Alk: 120
Calcium: 460
TDS: 1,000
CYA: 50
Phosphates: 200
Their advice: Nothing Shock.

Now I have a second 'professional' coming tomorrow to look at the pool and its mechanics. In the meantime, I am exploring through ServiceMagic if I can find a local Reverse Osmosis service provider. If that is not feasible then I will verify with the city so they don't have any objection to my draining the pool and refilling it with tap water. I will get one of these done in due time to bring down the CAL, TDA and CYA levels.

Should I add more liquid bleach to the pool and/or more packets of shock powder to keep the water safe for the grand kids?