Newbie questions: Bleach brands, test kits, chlorine tabs

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#1
After reading the forums for a while, I've finally decided to switch over to the BBB method but have a few questions that might have been answered somewhere that I missed.

Is there a difference in bleach brands? Clorox vs Target or Wal-Mart brands? Ones I was looking at all said 6 percent, so I assume it makes no difference. What about jugs that say regular Clorox and others that say commercial. Both are 6 or 6.12 percent Sodium Hypochlorite.

I have some chlorine tabs left and an automatic chlorinator. Anything wrong with continuing to use them up while I start using bleach? What about later -- any benefit or reason to continue using tabs at all?

I opened the pool a few days ago to find a nice green swamp. No matter how much I shocked it, the free chlorine level barely budged. It's a 35,000 gal in-ground vinyl liner pool.

Here's the test numbers from a local pool store:

Free chlorine: 1.0
PH: 7.0
Total alkalinity: 90
Calcium hardness: 160
CYA: 40

I added the last 2 bags of shock that I had yesterday after getting those numbers.

This morning I added a 1.42 gal jug of Clorox and another 1.5 quarts as well.

And that brings me to testing...right now all I have are the strips. The local Leslies only has the basic kits in-stock. Target didn't have anything. And another local store - Hustons - only sold the strips and the salesperson actually claimed "everybody uses the strips."

So, should I buy a basic kit for now until an advanced one comes by mail or save the money and uses the strips I have and store analysis until the suggested advanced models arrive?

Thanks,

Brett
 

jjdurrant

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2008
575
MN
#2
Is there a difference in bleach brands? Clorox vs Target or Wal-Mart brands? Ones I was looking at all said 6 percent, so I assume it makes no difference. What about jugs that say regular Clorox and others that say commercial. Both are 6 or 6.12 percent Sodium Hypochlorite.

*** NOPE, they are all essentially the same. 6%. Just make sure you get regular or unscented.

I have some chlorine tabs left and an automatic chlorinator. Anything wrong with continuing to use them up while I start using bleach? What about later -- any benefit or reason to continue using tabs at all?

*** You can still use them for now. You should eventually ditch them as they will increase your CYA.

So, should I buy a basic kit for now until an advanced one comes by mail or save the money and uses the strips I have and store analysis until the suggested advanced models arrive

*** Ditch the strips and invest in a nice kit like the TF-100. It's not uncommon for a kit like the TF-100 to be more accurate than what your pool store uses.
 

AnnaK

TFP Expert
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Jul 15, 2007
1,138
Eastern Pennsylvania
#4
Re: Newbie questions: Bleach brands, test kits, chlorine tab

Welcome to TFP!


brettl said:
Is there a difference in bleach brands? Clorox vs Target or Wal-Mart brands? Ones I was looking at all said 6 percent, so I assume it makes no difference. What about jugs that say regular Clorox and others that say commercial. Both are 6 or 6.12 percent Sodium Hypochlorite.

They're all pretty much the same. Check the sales and buy whichever 6% is the best price. Since you seem to have ready access to a pool store you might want to ask if they sell liquid bleach. It comes in a 3 or 5 gallon carboy which you buy and then trade it in for a full one, like exchanging propane bottles. The liquid bleach starts out at 12% but drops to about 10% from storage and heat. It can be a better deal depending on what your pool store charges and the coupon or on-sale price of bottled bleach. One major benefit is that you don't have the issue of disposing of large numbers of empty bleach bottles. The other benefit is that you add less.


brettl said:
I have some chlorine tabs left and an automatic chlorinator. Anything wrong with continuing to use them up while I start using bleach? What about later -- any benefit or reason to continue using tabs at all?

I use a combination of 3" trichlor pucks in a feeder and 10% bleach. My feeder is set to 1/4 and my pump runs about 8 hrs out of 24. At the beginning of the season I adjust the water chemistry with CYA (stabilizer) and liquid bleach until I have the numbers I like. Then I put the pucks in the feeder and run it at a low rate. I add bleach on an as-needed basis but don't need to do that daily. Depends on water temp and swimmer load.

The benefit of using trichlor is that you can leave the pool unattended for a few days and be assured that there's chlorine available. The drawback is that it does add CYA. However, in my experience (which is only 3 years) the CYA increase over the entire season has only ever been 10 ppm. So, I open with a target of 30 ppm and add whatever it takes to get there and then let it rise to 40 ppm by season's end. I do have to backfill frequently because our dogs drag out about 2 gallons each and every time they exit the pool, so I have a good dilution factor going.


brettl said:
I opened the pool a few days ago to find a nice green swamp. No matter how much I shocked it, the free chlorine level barely budged. It's a 35,000 gal in-ground vinyl liner pool.

Here's the test numbers from a local pool store:

Free chlorine: 1.0
PH: 7.0
Total alkalinity: 90
Calcium hardness: 160
CYA: 40

Calcium hardness is not much of an issue in vinyl pools. I don't know much about it and can't comment on the number. Your CYA and TA are good. Your pH is too low. Find some 20 Mule Team Borax at your grocery store in the detergent aisle.
Go toJason's Pool Calculator and have it tell you how much borax to add to get to pH = 7.4, then add that amount. Let the pump run for an hour or so to mix it in.

The FC (free chlorine) should be maintained at 15 ppm in a green pool with your CYA level. To do that, you keep adding bleach - again, check the pool calculator for amounts - wait 4 hours, test, until your test stays at 15 ppm. This is an ongoing process and might take a couple of days. Keep the pump on while you're doing this to filter out the dead and dying algae.

There are some wonderful Stickies written to cover just about any situation. Check them out; the link is on top of this page. The one you want is the Swamp sticky.



brettl said:
And that brings me to testing...right now all I have are the strips. The local Leslies only has the basic kits in-stock. Target didn't have anything. And another local store - Hustons - only sold the strips and the salesperson actually claimed "everybody uses the strips."

So, should I buy a basic kit for now until an advanced one comes by mail or save the money and uses the strips I have and store analysis until the suggested advanced models arrive?


I take it you've ordered a test kit? What kind did you get? The levels of FC you'll be maintaining until the green is gone are way too high to be tested with either the strips or a regular test kit. If you expect your mail order kit to arrive within a couple of days you can use the store test or just not test at all. I know, sounds like heresy, doesn't it? But in truth, you'll know when it's time to get some numbers because you'll notice the water colour change from green to turquoise to blue. It'll remain cloudy for a few days. By the time it goes blue, get a store test done. Maybe your kit will have arrived by then.

Oh, and as to the strips . . . throw them away. They are not at all reliable.

The Sticky on how to rescue a green pool is just about your best bet at this point. Best of luck! You'll soon see the bottom of your pool again and you'll be swimming in clear water by next week.

AnnaK
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#5
Thanks for all the help.

I ordered the TF-100. I don't think it's just a case of bad test strips since testing at Leslie's showed really low free chlorine levels as well.

I added a couple jugs of bleach tonight based on the numbers entered in Jason's Pool Calculator and plan to retest in the morning. I also picked up some Borax to address the PH. I'll try to get back to the pool store tomorrow for a re-test before adding the Borax.
 

Butterfly

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 30, 2007
10,045
South Carolina
#6
Hi Brett and welcome!

You have a bunch of good info already from JJ & Anna.

First, I would increase my pH to between 7.2 and 7.6 :)

Then, read Jason's "How to clear a green swamp......." here: http://www.troublefreepool.com/sticky.php?s=4147

Use the Pool Calculator, link in my sig, to figure the amounts to add to reach your goals. Based on your #'s, it'd take about 8 gals. of 6% plain, unscented bleach to reach 15ppm. Be sure to add it after the sun is off the pool!

As jj mentioned, please add all your pool and equipment info in your sig. Folks trying to help you need this to better answer your questions.

With your CYA at 40 (which is good), I'd stop w/the tabs soon. Cya of 30 to 50 is good.

If you ordered the TF Test kit from duraleigh you'll get it very quickly. If it was me, I'd stock up on some bleach and wait for his kit! Then hit it hard!

About the bleach, I'm not sure about the 'commercial' 6.12%. If it has ANY additives to the sodium hypochorite, do not use it.

Keep us posted!
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#7
Joyce,

I'll add the sig info. Quick question -- pool is 35,000 IG vinyl. I added Two 1.42 gallons of regular bleach a few minutes ago.

At this point, should I keep using the tab numbers plus store analysis when I can get over there and adjust based on the pool calculator....or should I just live with green until the kit arrives?

Some basic info until I add to the sig: 35k IG vinyl, two-year-old Hayward sand filter, not sure the power on my pump and I have a polaris with it's own pump.

Thanks again,

Brett
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
31,333
Sebring, Florida
#8
Hi, brett,

Adding a couple of jugs of bleach (if you do it in the evening) is helpful and will not be too much in that big pool.

That'll knock out some of the algae and make the real "push" a little more effective when you get your kit.
 

257WbyMag

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Feb 23, 2008
5,061
Denton, TX
#9
According to the MSDS, Clorox Commercial contains sodium hydroxide (lye). Don't use it. Stick with plain old 6% bleach. Matters not what brand as long as it contains nothing other than the sodium hypochlorite as the one active ingredient.

Craig
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#11
Good morning all. Just a quick update for you.

Test strips showed low chlorine levels again this morning. But the shade of green looked a little lighter until I stirred things up brushing. There was also a couple dark sections on the bottom Not sure if that's just dead algae or a mass, but I brushed it.

Otherwise, I hope to get out of work early and bring a sample to the store for testing.

And while I may not be winning the algae war, I can claim one victim: There's one less chipmunk digging holes in my yard.
 

AnnaK

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 15, 2007
1,138
Eastern Pennsylvania
#12
You ARE winning the algae war! The green is lighter, always a good sign.

Be sure to keep the pump running and yes, keep brushing the bottom. You dislodge live algae colonies that way and expose them to the free chlorine and you put dead algae into suspension and, ultimately, trap them in the filter medium.

Do you use skimmer socks? If not, pick up a package at the pool store. They're great for catching debris large and small, and in an algae pool will trap much brown stuff (dead algae) which would otherwise fill the filter. Change the sock once or twice a day until your pool is clean again, it cuts way down on backwashing.

AnnaK
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#13
I started using the filter socks over the weekend. They've been pretty disgusting, but better to get it out there than in the filter and then having to backwash more frequently.

I've been trying to clean the socks at least 3 times a day as they're getting full pretty quickly and I noticed that there appears to be less movement in the skimmers and less being sucked in. There isn't much leaves or other debris to speak of anyway, but I wanted to keep the water circulating as much as possible.
 

AnnaK

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 15, 2007
1,138
Eastern Pennsylvania
#14
The difference in apparent suction may only be visual, not actual. I see less of a vortex in my skimmer when I have a sock in the basket but there's no change in the psi reading on the pressure gauge. You can test surface water circulation by dropping in some pingpong balls, then time them with and without the sock.


AnnaK
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#15
I just went and had the water tested again at the local store. The snotty guy behind the counter told me not to bother bringing in a sample if the water is green. That seemed like the most idiotic thing to say -- and I told him so -- because otherwise I wouldn't know the chlorine level.

Anyway, here's the numbers:

Free Chlorine: 1
PH: 6.8
TA: 80
Calcium: 140
CYA: 30

He was telling me to shock -- duh and add 8 lbs of soda ash and 30 lbs of calcium up or whatever it's called. I'm not worried about the calcium levels so much as everything else since we have a vinyl liner.

I plugged the numbers into Jason's Pool Calculator.

I get the amount of bleach to add, but do I really need to add 308 oz of borax? Seems like a lot. Plus baking soda, etc?

Water's looking a bit better today, but still green.

Thanks
 

Butterfly

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 30, 2007
10,045
South Carolina
#16
Wow, I thought pool stores LOVED to see green water samples! :shock:

Adjust the pH before shocking. You do need to get the pH up to the 7.2 - 7.6 range. Try adding 1/2 the amount from Jason's Calculator and (of course, with pump running) re-test in 30 mins. Adjust as needed.

Your TA looks fine at 80 and I would skip the baking soda for now.

Keep us posted! How about some pool pix? Before and after pix are a favorite :lol:
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#17
You do want to raise the PH at least a little. You shouldn't let the PH go below 7.0 with a vinyl liner. There is no need to raise the PH all that much, just get it to 7.0 or higher for now.

You are right, no need to add CH.

If you use bleach for chlorine the TA level can be lower than it needs to be for people who use trichlor tablets (almost everyone). They are recommending raising TA because they are simply assuming you use trichlor. TA around 80 is just fine.
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#18
Had a fun trip to Costco tonight. You could just tell by the looks that people were dying to ask me why I was buying so much bleach.

I just added 10 of the 182 oz jugs tonight as well as some borax earlier to raise the PH.

Will check again in the morning and let you know how it's looking over the next day or so.

Still not much progress in the battle with the algae, but another chipmunk bit the dust. :-D
 

brettl

Active member
May 27, 2008
30
Northern Virginia
#19
Now I'm really confused.

My test kit arrived Friday, but I started loading in the bleach Thursday night based on the levels that Dave and Jason's Pool Calculator recommended. Chlorine was basically at zero at that point.

The pool is 35,000 gal vinyl liner.

I added 10 of the 182 oz jugs Thursday night and another eight Friday morning based on Dave's suggestion. I also added some baking soda this morning to get the PH up since it appeared low.

I'm not sure how fast things should improve, but the pool looks like thicker pea soup now. I haven't added any more bleach since chlorine levels are definitely high.

I tested with the TF-100 kit last night. I'm not sure if I messed up or what because the numbers seem screwy. I haven't retested today since it's raising and thundering outside.

As of last night:

FC was at 38.

PH 7.1 or 7.2ish.

ALK 160

Calcium 90

CYA just below the 100 mark.

Did I screw up? Suggestions? I'm reluctant to add anything at this point. Tempted to dump a lot of water and refill.

Thanks,

Brett