Nitrates

VAwaterboy

Active member
May 10, 2014
27
Falls Church, VA
I've had my saltwater chlorine generator set on maximum, but zero chlorine in the water. Leslie's tested my water and found nitrates, at a level of 50 (presumably parts per million).

The Leslie's manager said there are only two solutions: add large amounts of chlorine, maybe as much as 200 pounds, or drain, acid-wash and refill the pool.

Any other ideas?
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,415
Franklin, NC
My first idea is to stop going to the pool store. Their only response it to try to sell you something.

How does the water look and do you have a set of water test results from your test kit, not a store test?

************* On Edit *********

Looking at your history, it apears the SWCG is about 3 years old. Have you checked the plates and cleaned it? What size SWCG is it?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,661
Bedford, TX
vwb,

Yes!!! Quit going to Leslies... :p

The TFP pool care process is all about testing your own water so that you know exactly what needs to be added and what does not. To do this we use one of two test kits, either the TF-100 (what I use) or the Taylor K-2006C (and yes, the 'C' is important.)

Without valid test data we are just guessing and hoping... Just like the guys at Leslies do... :D

If you have your cell set to 100% and have no chlorine in the pool, then either your cell is bad, or more likely, you have an algae bloom which is consuming your chlorine as fast as your cell can generate it.

The way to tell is to perform what we call an Overnight Chlorine Loss Test or OCLT.. See this link.. Overnight Chlorine Loss Test

Unfortunately, to do the test, you need an accurate way to test your chlorine level or FC..

You should look through our "Pool School" and see what we are all about.. Pool School - Pool School

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
988
Arizona
There really are two good reasons to go to Leslie's however.

1. Get a free sample bottle. Those bottles are great for doing your own testing with TF-100. Nice "squirt" cap for getting the levels in the sample tubes just right and after-test rinsing of the tubes!

2. Asking them questions about chemistry and chemicals while playing dumb :stirpot:. All the while LMAO inside when they try to explain why I need this or that "magic potion" or when they try to explain things like phosphates and nitrates etc. :wink:.

Sorry, I must have some sort of evil streak in me :jocolor:eek:r maybe it's just my way of "getting back" for all those years when I allowed them to lead me around by the nose before I got on board with TFP.
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,415
Franklin, NC
Asking them questions about chemistry and chemicals while playing dumb :stirpot:. All the while LMAO inside when they try to explain why I need this or that "magic potion" or when they try to explain things like phosphates and nitrates etc.
Just remember, if you try this you must not argue. It will only frustrate you as they (OK, most - there have been reports of Leslie employees who get it) do not believe our methods work. I had one store manager call me a "bleacher".
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,599
I've had my saltwater chlorine generator set on maximum, but zero chlorine in the water. Leslie's tested my water and found nitrates, at a level of 50 (presumably parts per million).

The Leslie's manager said there are only two solutions: add large amounts of chlorine, maybe as much as 200 pounds, or drain, acid-wash and refill the pool.

Any other ideas?
Chlorine is an oxidizer, which means that it takes electrons from other atoms.

Chlorine can not take electrons from the nitrogen in nitrate because the outer shell is empty.

So, the advice that chlorine can do anything to nitrate is ridiculous.

Chlorine will work on ammonia because the nitrogen has 8 electrons in the outer shell. Chlorine takes 3 electrons, which causes the nitrogen to form nitrogen gas.
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,415
Franklin, NC
Chlorine is an oxidizer, which means that it takes electrons from other atoms.

Chlorine can not take electrons from the nitrogen in nitrate because the outer shell is empty.

So, the advice that chlorine can do anything to nitrate is ridiculous.

Chlorine will work on ammonia because the nitrogen has 8 electrons in the outer shell. Chlorine takes 3 electrons, which causes the nitrogen to form nitrogen gas.
James,

You are trying to fight Leslie's advice with science - it will never work!
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,599
James,

You are trying to fight Leslie's advice with science - it will never work!
Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking.

The fact that Leslie's can tell someone to add 200 lbs of chlorine to their pool is scary.

200 lb trichlor raises the fc by 1219 and the cya by 739.
200 lb dichlor raises the fc by 738 and the cya by 671.
200 lb calcium hypochlorite raises the fc by 858 and the calcium by 606.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,895
Tucson, AZ
I vote JamesW’s answer the best!! Anytime you can start a post off with outer shell electrons and some college level physical chemistry, you know it’s going to be a good thread

:rockon:

All it needs is a small side discussion of orbital mixing and some spin-orbit coupling and I’m in heaven....
 

PoolguyinCT

In The Industry
Jul 21, 2014
3,083
Connecticut
Why give them a hard time, they are not experts & likely college kids working for book & beer money.

They will never marvel at the “customer” who left the counter..
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,895
Tucson, AZ
Next, we'll discuss the 6 flavors of leptons and quarks.

My favorite is strawberry.
I’m kind of partial to Rocky Road myself.....there’s a giant pit at Fermi Lab currently being filled with hundreds of gallon of liquid Argon to do some neutrino detection. I tried to tell them to add some chlorine or they might get algae but they just looked at me funny....
 

VAwaterboy

Active member
May 10, 2014
27
Falls Church, VA
I recently had the cell replaced under warranty. Of course I have my own test results -- except for nitrates, which I don't have a test for. I just re-tested and found .5 free chlorine, 1 total chlorine, pH off the charts high (had to add two quarts of muriatic acid), total alkalinity at 120, and CYA oddly high at about 90.

The Leslie's manager is not a youngster and was not trying to sell me anything. He recommended draining and acid-washing, which would earn him nothing.

I've read enough on this site to know that what some people describe as "trouble free" -- carting around jugs of industrial-strength bleach (probably ruining lots of clothes in the process) and tending to the pool every day -- seems to me to be the definition of trouble.

I can't do that overnight chlorine loss test because the chlorine level is too low. And yes, I do have some algae, although not as much as I would expect with almost no chlorine.
 

domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
As soon as you found the FC so low, why didn’t you add chlorine right away?

Why do you find it odd that your CYA is 90ppm? What have you been adding to the pool?
 

Leebo

Admin
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
8,972
Eastern Ohio
So let me start by welcoming you to TFP! We really do hope to assist in helping you learn more about your pool.

I’d like to start by commenting on the advice from Leslie’s. It’s horrid. That’s more chlorine than many users use in a year, let alone to fix a small issue. Draining a pool to clear it of algae?? Unless you’ve got a black swamp, draining is not really practical in my honest opinion.

So what is your problem? It’s an easy one, lack of chlorine. Your SWG for whatever reason wasn’t producing enough chlorine to kill that algae as fast as it could reproduce. If you add more chlorine it will kill the algae faster than the algae can grow. Repeate that process enough and in a few days your pool will be algae free, regardless of your Nitrate levels.

Now how do ya do that? Most SWG’s won’t produce enough chlorine fast enough to keep up with the algae. That leaves either solid chlorine or liquid. All forms of solid chlorine add something to the pool, be it CYA or calcium. Both cannot be removed from the water once they’re in the water. This is why we use liquid chlorine, it only adds salt, which while it cannot be removed, is harmless at the majority of levels.

So let me ask this, what test kit do you have? Can you post a photo of your water?? We’d love to help you clear this pool and get ya back up and running.
 

VAwaterboy

Active member
May 10, 2014
27
Falls Church, VA
As soon as you found the FC so low, why didn’t you add chlorine right away?

I did, with little effect -- but if the salt system is working properly, I shouldn't need to add chlorine, right?

Why do you find it odd that your CYA is 90ppm? What have you been adding to the pool?
High CYA seems odd because I haven't added any in a while, and often need to add some.

- - - Updated - - -

So let me start by welcoming you to TFP! We really do hope to assist in helping you learn more about your pool.

I’d like to start by commenting on the advice from Leslie’s. It’s horrid. That’s more chlorine than many users use in a year, let alone to fix a small issue. Draining a pool to clear it of algae?? Unless you’ve got a black swamp, draining is not really practical in my honest opinion.

So what is your problem? It’s an easy one, lack of chlorine. Your SWG for whatever reason wasn’t producing enough chlorine to kill that algae as fast as it could reproduce. If you add more chlorine it will kill the algae faster than the algae can grow. Repeate that process enough and in a few days your pool will be algae free, regardless of your Nitrate levels.

Now how do ya do that? Most SWG’s won’t produce enough chlorine fast enough to keep up with the algae. That leaves either solid chlorine or liquid. All forms of solid chlorine add something to the pool, be it CYA or calcium. Both cannot be removed from the water once they’re in the water. This is why we use liquid chlorine, it only adds salt, which while it cannot be removed, is harmless at the majority of levels.

So let me ask this, what test kit do you have? Can you post a photo of your water?? We’d love to help you clear this pool and get ya back up and running.
I could add chlorine manually, but it seems like I shouldn't need to do that. That's what I bought the salt system for.
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,415
Franklin, NC
High CYA seems odd because I haven't added any in a while, and often need to add some.

- - - Updated - - -



I could add chlorine manually, but it seems like I shouldn't need to do that. That's what I bought the salt system for.
Have you used any solid forms of chlorine at all? Tabs or granular shock are almost 50% stabilizer/CYA.

Salt Water Chlorine Generators are wonderful at "maintaining" a level of chlorine, but are almost useless at achieving a level once they get behind. The metal plates inside the SWCG that allow the chemical reaction to create chlorine have a finite lifespan. When you run it at 100% yo are just hastening the death of the salt cell.

At this point you need to turn off the salt system and go to liquid chlorine to perform the SLAM Process of your pool. As you have already discovered the salt cell cant keep up with the chlorine demand and all you are doing is hastening the replacement of the cell by trying to get it to "catch up". it can't catch up, the chlorine is being consumed as quickly as it is being produced.
 

Leebo

Admin
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
8,972
Eastern Ohio
I could add chlorine manually, but it seems like I shouldn't need to do that. That's what I bought the salt system for.
I completely agree, and once we get you set back up you will switch back to the SWG. The only issue is, currently the system isn’t making enough chlorine to kill the organics in your pool fast enough. Spend a week or so of labor and kill off all the organics in your water so the system can produce enough chlorine. Right now the algae simply is reproducing faster than the chlorine can kill it, thus you’re seeing it. Keep in mind all a salt system does is produce chlorine, unfortunately most systems cannot produce enough to SLAM Process a pool. Spend a week or so doing the work manually and you’ll kill off everything, then your system can produce enough chlorine.
 

jseyfert3

Well-known member
Oct 20, 2017
253
Janesville, WI
The Leslie's manager is not a youngster and was not trying to sell me anything. He recommended draining and acid-washing, which would earn him nothing.
It looked to me like he was trying to sell you 200 lbs of chlorine...

I've read enough on this site to know that what some people describe as "trouble free" -- carting around jugs of industrial-strength bleach (probably ruining lots of clothes in the process) and tending to the pool every day -- seems to me to be the definition of trouble.
Forgive me, but I'd have to disagree that you've read enough on here. Perhaps you missed:
Certified106, who's ecstatic that their spa pH has been rock solid for the first time since they got their spa.

Akathisia, who hasn't had any issues with their spa since they joined 3 years ago.

I could go on, but these were two completely different, random people who just posted they are enjoying the fruits of the TFP method in the last two days, in the spa forum (which is smaller than the pool one).

I've read enough to know that when someone is toting around carts of chlorine, it's usually because they've followed pool store advise, added dichlor or trichlor constantly, jacking up their CYA until the FC isn't effective and they suffer an algae bloom. This means they find TFP for the first time when their pool is a mess, and it takes a lot of chlorine to kill an algae bloom. Also, they usually have to do it if they let their FC drop to zero...such as it appears you did. The happy people usually don't make threads all the time saying how happy and trouble free their pool is. My point is if you gloss over a bunch of threads without really digging into them and watching them to conclusion, you may get the wrong viewpoint that everybody on TFP carts jugs of chlorine around all the time, which is most certainly untrue. Those with SWG, who monitor and ensure their FC always stays at the proper level, almost never have to add any chlorine. Those who add liquid chlorine may have to add 1/2-1 bottles of regular bleach a day in the peak of summer...hardly carts full of "industrial" strength bleach!

Trouble free isn't maintenance free. With a SWG you have to test on a regular basis to ensure it's working and keeping up. When I change the oil on my car, that's maintenance done to ensure the engine stays trouble free. Skip the maintenance, loads of trouble (in both the car and the pool).

I can't do that overnight chlorine loss test because the chlorine level is too low. And yes, I do have some algae, although not as much as I would expect with almost no chlorine.
You need to SLAM your pool. After that, you can go back to using your SWG, and as long as you test regularly, you will be trouble free.