Newbie who just brought back a 27 yr old pool to life and now afraid I maybe shouldn't have

Chad_in_TX

Member
Jul 24, 2019
15
Plano, TX
Hi,

I have so many questions, but here's a quick backstory. I recently moved my family back into the house that I grew up in. The plan was to take care of my mother with Alzheimers, but it just became too much and we recently put her into memory care. The pool was built in 1992 and is completely faux rock. It is a very unique pool for the Dallas area as every pool company/person who's seen the pool is always quite shocked. The builder I believe did resorts and putt-putt golf water features, so he was reputable and construction wise, the pool has withstood time pretty well.

About 4 years ago, shortly before she started getting bad, my mother completely drained the pool. She battled probably a good 5 years prior having lots and lots of algae issues. When I moved into the house this summer, the pool/backyard was completely terrible. I really never sat down and asked her in detail what all the problems she had were and i wish i would have before she got sick. What I do remember in the visits we would come over, is that she always complained about algae getting into the rocks that were submerged in the water. The main thing I remember her saying is that she wished she didn't have half the rocks on the edge submerged in the water because they were impossible to keep clean. Anytime I would go over, I passed it off that most of her issues stemmed from having fence high bushes that constantly dropped leaves and debris in the pool. I also thought it may have been her water feature as she had lots of buildup in the basins.

So, before I redid the pool this month, I went back and forth whether to even keep it. I though long and hard about doing a complete demo of the pool, but because of a super small lot size, it was going to cost upwards of 20k to manually break apart all the rock. I just couldn't justify spending that much money to knock something down. Something that really brought our family a lot of joy during the mid to late nineties when I still lived there.

Prior to starting this project, I ripped out all the trees and bushes in the yard. The neighbor still has quite a few, but none that are directly over the pool. I also drained and completely sprayed down all of the waterfall basins with bleach and they dried out for many weeks prior.

I hired a company and they began working on the pool the first of this month. Up until today, everything has gone smooth. Water has been clear, everything fairly good..... And today I noticed GREEN ALGAE all along the waterline of the submerged rocks!!! I've gone ahead and cleaned it off completely with a metal brush, but now I'm getting seriously concerned. Am I in for constant problems by getting this pool up and going again? Granted, I know very little about water chemistry. Growing up, I cleaned the pool up and things, but never messed with the water. I wish I would have.....

The Taylor k2006 kit finally came in the other day, and I've been doing some tests. The water has been crystal clear, but my question to you guys (especially people who have these faux rock pools), is it something with the rocks/concrete that I'm always going to have an issue with algae? Is it the waterfall? That didn't actually start running until a few days ago because of a pipe issue. Because all the time prior to turning it on, there was no algae. Is the waterfall bringing in the algea and do I need to only run it when we swim and people are over and otherwise turn it off and drain the water from the basin? Is it simply not enough chlorine? I also haven't done a shock or anything to the pool yet. I guess I just want to know what I"m in for. If it's water chemistry related, that can be solved. But if it's because of the rocks, I just don't know what to do. Cleaning the rocks below the water is hard enough in the pool, I don't know how it's even going to be possible come winter and I can't get in it!

Please help... Here is a timeline of what's been done so far, my water tests, and I have my equipment listed in my signature. Sorry for the long post!

Attached is a pic when it was at it's worst state (after cutting down the trees) and a pic of now with the waterfall and a close up of one of the rocks with the algae.
 

Attachments

  • Like
Reactions: markayash

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
1,254
OV, CA
Just sounds like you need to get your FC cranking. Post up your tests results. Thats a cool looking pool. I see why you wanted to keep it. I don't think the rocks are causing algae issues. Yeah the are a substrate for algae to grow on just like an pool service. I think you just need to get your chlorine levels up and monitor them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

aeh0603

Well-known member
Apr 6, 2016
315
San Diego, CA
My guess is that it is a chemical issue, your FC is hovering at or just below the minimum (TFP) recommended levels for FC based on your CYA (FC/CYA chart). Since your results changed from 40 to 30 it's probably better to call it 40 to be safe as we generally round up for CYA. This means your minimum is 3 FC and your target is 5-7 FC.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
Those faux rocks look just like rocks! Those are awesome. I haven't seen a lot, but many I've seen in pics or on tv the one time I saw a pool show, don't look that natural. I like them, I can see why you wanted to keep it.

Also, I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I did something similar 5y ago, moved my kids and me to the parents' place after they both passed in a span of 7mos. I'm renting now, and on the tail end of thousands of $, my garage is full and I actually have about 1.5% of what was. Hugs. I get it.

But there's room for a small pool here, so I got a big one. hehe

How are you doing with Pool School?

Can you post your test results of late?

FC
CC
pH
TA
CH
CYA

I don't think your rocks are any different than any other rocks. There's just a lot of places for algae to hide and grow. Brushing is important for all pools, but maybe you will have to pay particular attention to the rocks in this pool.

Chances are you will need to do the SLAM Process since you have visible algae. The test results needed so we can help you are noted above. Check out PoolMath too.

Also, read ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,111
Northern NJ
Welcome to TFP.

Why are you not testing for CC? Your FC dropping below 2 is a problem when it should be 5-7 with a minimum of 3. That means FC never dropping below 3. You must keep your FC above 3 at all times with CYA 40.

At this point you should see if your water passes an Overnight Chlorine Loss Test. If it fails you have algae in it and need to follow the SLAM Process to clear it up.

I think your pool would be easier to maintain and keep your FC up and algae at bay if you had a SWG maintaining a consistent FC level.

Also I think the plants on the waterfall are contributing to quick algae growth. I would get rid of all of them. Spores from those plants + low chlorine + waterfall pools of water = algae breeding grounds that flow into pool.

You have to create more sterile sanitary conditions in and around the pool to keep algae from taking root.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
672
MA
Awesome looking pool. I would have loved to have that look, However for cost reasons I used all on-site boulders to achieve the goal. I have a submerged boulder grotto and have never seen any algae at the waterline with the my TFP water. There are a few significant differences in our pools. My granite might be less porous then the faux rock and I also have a IFCS that will push water up the sides that most likely helps as well. The one thing I have seen 2 years in a row was my back Boulder started to get a little green (above the waterline) so both years now I just sprayed it down with a 800ppm mix of chlorine, let it set for a while then rinsed it down with pool water no scrubbing necessary. I have just had to do this once per season so far.

I agree with the others that the proper chemistry should be all you need, However if the algae does return perhaps a similar spraying of the waterline once a month or so could help.. I do not know if that concentration of chlorine could harm the faux rock. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
44,822
Tallahassee, FL
You DO need run the waterfall at least 15 mins a day to keep chlorinated want in the pipes and basins.

Having that test kit will help a lot. Now lets get things fixed up so it will be smooth sail from here on out!

Do the overnight test talked about above to be of the safe side BUT I would push your FC up to SLAM level for your CYA one late afternoon AND scrub the rocks to get all visible green off the rocks. Then keep the FC at SLAM level for the following day to kill all of the stuff that you scrubbed into the pool.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
410
SW PA
I agree with Kim, if the waterfall is used only on occasion, it doesnt take long for the shallow, stagnate water in the basins to potentially develope algae. It then gets pushed into the pool when you do fire up the water feature or even by heavy rain. If it's has a dedicated pump, set a timer so it runs as Kim suggested. If not, and you know that it wont be run for a while, maybe an extra shot of bleach directly into the basins will help.

I too have faux rock with one big basin at the top which 'overflows' to create the waterfall. The PB designed it to be self-draining so no water can pool up there when not in use, for exactly the reasons we're talking about.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Chad_in_TX

Chad_in_TX

Member
Jul 24, 2019
15
Plano, TX
Wow. Thanks for all the responses!

I did forget to add that when I put the chlorine pucks in the other day, they were from a bucket that was like 4 years old and been sitting in a TX hot garage for like 4 years... I know, i know the chlorine in these is probably very ineffective.... I'm going to the pool store today to get stocked up, and I'm going to do more tests tonight and will post. I've been pouring liquid chlorine w/o cya the past few days to try and keep it up.

I think you guys are right, and this probably is just a water/chlorine issue. I think my plan of action for right now is I'm going to turn off the waterfall completely and pump out the standing water with my wetvac. Unfortunately, it's not on a separate pump or timer. Its piped with the return line and simply has a jandy valve with the return jets to turn on or off. So, its an all or nothing kind of deal, and I have no way to run it for only a few minutes at a time. I know there are valve actuators, but i'm running old school intermatic timers and don't know if I need a more up to date automated system for those... I also have to only open the valve a portion for the waterfall, because the pressure gets too high, so I'm no sure if the valve actuators can only open a portion? I think for time being, I'm going to keep it off and get the water chemistry and chlorine levels balanced with simply the pool first.

I also think I need to do something with the waterfall basins. For some reason, when they did them, they didn't smooth the concrete out. So its really rough and jagged and seems to be a perfect breeding ground for algae and mold. My thought is to pour some new concrete in each of the basins to create a smooth finish on the bottoms, to somewhat eliminate the spores from hiding in crevices. And then simply spray and clean them out with chlorine every few weeks to keep them clean (even if i'm running the waterfall or not). I'll post a pic of the basins (the pic almost look like there's stuff growing already, and i had thoroughly scrubbed those down with bleach and let them sit for weeks before the waterfall went on just the other day). Let me know if you think it's worth the effort to smooth them out? Also, that was interesting to see the comment about the succulent plants in the waterfall. I hadn't thought about that. I ripped out so much of the foliage in the yard, that was the only place I put some greenery back in lol! But it does make sense. Maybe I'll look for some small artificial plants to put in the planters in the waterfall.

I'm also kinda kicking myself that when the pool was drained and I had some of the rock repaired and restained, I didn't add a good commercial sealer on the bottom half of the rocks in the main pool that are submerged in the water. I don't know if would have made a difference in at least somewhat preventing algae from forming?

Thanks again everyone. I'll post my water results tonight. I appreciate hearing feedback positive or negative lol!
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Chad_in_TX

Member
Jul 24, 2019
15
Plano, TX
Those faux rocks look just like rocks! Those are awesome. I haven't seen a lot, but many I've seen in pics or on tv the one time I saw a pool show, don't look that natural. I like them, I can see why you wanted to keep it.

Also, I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I did something similar 5y ago, moved my kids and me to the parents' place after they both passed in a span of 7mos. I'm renting now, and on the tail end of thousands of $, my garage is full and I actually have about 1.5% of what was. Hugs. I get it.

But there's room for a small pool here, so I got a big one. hehe

How are you doing with Pool School?

Can you post your test results of late?

FC
CC
pH
TA
CH
CYA

I don't think your rocks are any different than any other rocks. There's just a lot of places for algae to hide and grow. Brushing is important for all pools, but maybe you will have to pay particular attention to the rocks in this pool.

Chances are you will need to do the SLAM Process since you have visible algae. The test results needed so we can help you are noted above. Check out PoolMath too.

Also, read ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry.
Yeah, ALZ is horrible. What made it really hard is she has early onset. So, I'm pretty young, and she just turned 65 this year and her mind is already completely gone. Within about 4 years she went from living alone and handling everything to taking a complete nose dive to today literally not being able to do a single thing on her own. We had no idea this was coming, as she's adopted and had no way to know her biological family medical history. Definitely been stressful.
 
  • Sad
Reactions: kimdurg

Chad_in_TX

Member
Jul 24, 2019
15
Plano, TX
Yeah, all the pool companies that came out to give me bids to update the pool were pretty shocked at all the rock. They all said it must have cost a fortune (due to the time and manpower required to make all of the custom rock). I found the Pool Agreement in her records and back in 1992, here in TX, they charged $17.5k to do the entire pool... Pretty crazy. That was another reason why I couldn't justify knocking it down for more than what it costs to build it... lol
 
  • Wow
Reactions: Oly

Chad_in_TX

Member
Jul 24, 2019
15
Plano, TX
Awesome looking pool. I would have loved to have that look, However for cost reasons I used all on-site boulders to achieve the goal.
Yeah, all the pool companies that came out to give me bids to update the pool were pretty shocked at all the rock. They all said it must have cost a fortune (due to the time and manpower required to make all of the custom rock). I found the Pool Agreement in her records and back in 1992, here in TX, they charged $17.5k to do the entire pool... Pretty crazy. That was another reason why I couldn't justify knocking it down for more than what it costs to build it... lol
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
16,111
Northern NJ
I didn’t realize how deep the basins are. I think lack of circulation in the basins with stagnant water on the bottom losing its CL and developing algae. Water hits the top of the water in a basin and overflows but does not turn over the water in the bottom.

I would fill in the basins so they are just saucers for water to fall on and overflow.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kimkats

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
1,254
OV, CA
Wow. Thanks for all the responses!
...
I think you guys are right, and this probably is just a water/chlorine issue. I think my plan of action for right now is I'm going to turn off the waterfall completely and pump out the standing water with my wetvac. Unfortunately, it's not on a separate pump or timer. Its piped with the return line and simply has a jandy valve with the return jets to turn on or off. ...
...
I'm also kinda kicking myself that when the pool was drained and I had some of the rock repaired and restained, I didn't add a good commercial sealer on the bottom half of the rocks in the main pool that are submerged in the water. I don't know if would have made a difference in at least somewhat preventing algae from forming?

Thanks again everyone. I'll post my water results tonight. I appreciate hearing feedback positive or negative lol!
If you have Jandy valves you can just turn them so a trickle goes to the WF. I do this with my spa, 1/8 turn is pointed the to spa, and then it spills over into the pool, the rest goes to the pool returns. I too have a waterfall and it has its own pump and switch. separate from the pool equipment. I just turn it on every few days to flush out the lines... usually when I'm having my morning coffee The hardware guys on the forum might have some solutions for you as well if you could post a pic of your equipment pad so we can plainly see the valve layouts.

I don't think the contribution of two small succulents is going to affect your pool chem significantly, especially compared to the organics that just get blown in from the wind. My pool has a jungly landscape behind it and giant redwoods and oaks around it.. I just have to deal with the chem to counter act it. no biggie. I have moss rocks around my pool, which actually used to have moss on them. But as I have kept my Chlorine levels better over the years, the moss doesn't grow there anymore.. Once you get your pool chem stabilized most of the issues you are having will go away.

I liked the plants you had against the fence in the before pic. There are good plants you can put back there that are tolerant of pool environments and don't drop leaves.
 

kimdurg

Well-known member
May 26, 2014
86
North Canton, Ohio
Beautiful pool. Stay away from the pucks, they also add CYA to the water. Grab liquid chlorine (aka, bleach). With a waterfall, maybe a bottle of Muriatic Acid (keep it away from the chlorine, they don't play nice) to keep your PH in-line, the waterfall will cause the PH to rise.
I may have missed it, but what size SWG do you have? That will depend on how long you run the pump and set the SWG and you'll only need liquid chlorine to get you through a SLAM (you have algae, you'll need to do this) and then to occasionally to supplement the SWG (I don't have one, so someone else will have to chime in on that).