Pool amateur, seeking help!

Ourad

Member
Jun 25, 2019
6
Tulsa, OK
Hello all, I have recently purchased a home with a 17x36 ft gunite IG pool I am ballparking around 35k gallons (old school diving deep end) and I could use some advice in a few areas. We closed on the 10th of June, and the pool has not been serviced since then. I had the pool looked at by a local service and they sold me a taylor 2005 kit that I thought was the newer FAS kit but was in fact not, so I am stuck with that at the moment. I had the water tested by a local pool place around the 20th and the chlorine was 15+ (I think their test capped at that), the calcium was around 500, so they had me put some scale inhibitor in, the alkalinity was high (dont have exact #), and the ph was 6.8, and they had me put in some base. The stabilizer was also high, but they didn't have me do anything with that yet.

Since then, I have not done anything, and retested it myself yesterday. The free chlorine, even diluting it as directed with the kit, is off the charts pink. The ph has come up to 7.4, the calcium is still around 500+, the alkalinity is high but I forgot to make the adjustment with the kit to account for the high chlorine, so that may be off, and the stabilizer is, according to my kit, somewhere well over 100. I interpreted this, perhaps erroneously, as "someone has dumped a truckload of dichlor/trichlor type stuff into my pool", and the previous owner told me he did put a bunch of "chlorine" in since he wasn't sure when I would get around to managing it.

I am assuming at this point, per the chemistry guide, with the CYA seemingly that high, I am just going to have to drain it and refill? I was guestimating draining it 1/3 to 1/2 and refilling from there, not sure if I need to do more. Tips at this point would be appreciated.

Additional questions!
1. The pool has a caretaker 99 in floor system, with multiple missing heads, and most of the rest nonfunctioning. From my youtube deep dive, it sounds like I may need to replace the diaphragm things in the valve (5 port), and then try replacing the missing heads. One guy told me the sleeve threads into which the heads go were probably stripped and it would never work, and I should just lock them all in place, forget about it, and get a robot. Advice would be appreciated.
2. I have an old automatic cover system from cover-pools inc. I had a local guy take it apart and the drum and motor are good but the cover is obviously in terrible shape as the original owners stopped using it a long time ago. It sounds like it will be around 3500 for new cover/glide mechanisms/anchor screws etc. There seems to be a love/hate thing going on with auto covers around here. I have young children I need to childproof the pool from, so it's either get this thing working, or get a pool fence for about 4500. I think the additional perks of the cover sound nice, they already had the guts put in place, which is the most expensive part, and I don't love the pool fence look, but I would like to hear people's experiences. Am I just getting myself into a money pit and will have to repair this thing once a year or something?
3. The pump was left on 24/7 by the previous owner, and is a 3HP (3.45 with SF multiplier) one speed centurion pump. From what I have read it seems pointless to run it 24/7, so I was thinking about cutting it back. Per the chart in pool school, a 3HP pump should turn over the pool twice in 8 hours, so 24/7 run time seems majorly excessive. I put a 4 hour break on it the past few days, and was thinking about upping it to 12 on/off. Seems like it would be best to do something like run 4/off 4, x 3, rather than a solid 12 hour block of no pump action?
4. Does it make any sense to buy a variable speed pump if my current pump is running fine, or should I just wait till it breaks down the line and switch to the more efficient variable speeds then?

Appreciate all the help.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,224
Laughlin, NV
Welcome to the forum!
Let's unpack that lengthy post!
1. I have no experience with IFC systems. Let's ask @Dodger @jonpcar
2. I have no experience with auto covers. Let's ask @YippeeSkippy
3. Your pump is going through north of 3kW-h. So 72+kW per day. Wow.
See Determine Pump Run Time - Trouble Free Pool Turnover is meaningless.
4. Unless your electricity is nearly free, a VS motor/pump would be a very good idea.

Order a FAS/DPD Chlorine & CC's test. That will complete your test kit.

I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry and consider reviewing the entire Pool School eBook.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
21,224
Laughlin, NV
On your water chemistry, using liquid chlorine, you should target CYA of 40-50 ppm. As 100 is the limit of the CYA test, so you have to do a diluted test. Mix 50% pool water with 50% tap water. Use this mixed sample as your test water. Multiply the result by 2 for your CYA level.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,202
Tucson, AZ
You can buy the FAS-DPD chlorine test to add to the K-2005 and then have the equivalent of the recommended K-2006: FAS-DPD Chlorine Test
I think your interpretation might be correct that someone blindly dumped a lot of something into the water.

1. Assuming you have normal wall return jets, I would consider capping the floor system and getting a robot. Although there would be some concern that these heads could be a place for algae to take hold.
2. I can't advise on the auto-cover.
3. WOW!!! that is going to be an energy hog. A pump only needs to run for a couple hours to circulate the chemistry. You might need longer for adequate skimming, or if you added a SWG or cleaner, etc.
4. A 3 HP pump is pulling a lot of power, but a VS pump has a fairly high upfront cost. So even once you do switch it may take a few years to break even.

OH, and given your very high CYA and highish CH, at least a 50% water replacement is likely in your near future.
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
444
Columbus, Ohio
I like my auto cover since it does double duty as a winter cover as well. It's not old enough to need service yet so I may feel differently down the road. We swim more with the auto cover since my wife can easily open the pool. Before she struggled with the solar cover if I wasn't there to remove it for her. It cuts down on dirt in the pool and my chlorine usage. The only downside is that they do break and the replacement covers are expensive.

My pool is fenced and has an auto cover. The fence is required by statue in my area.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
463
Alamo, CA
2. I have an auto-cover maintained by a company called Pool Covers, Inc. How original. The vinyl does wear out after 5 years or so, depending on your individual installation. My motor and spool keep on running, and they're pretty old. Last time, I paid about $2200 for all new vinyl, ropes, pulleys, and rails. I love my auto-cover and will pay that willingly to keep it working perfectly. Obviously the cost depends on the size of your pool.
 
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Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
628
Silicon Valley, CA
1. The pool has a caretaker 99 in floor system, with multiple missing heads, and most of the rest nonfunctioning. From my youtube deep dive, it sounds like I may need to replace the diaphragm things in the valve (5 port), and then try replacing the missing heads. One guy told me the sleeve threads into which the heads go were probably stripped and it would never work, and I should just lock them all in place, forget about it, and get a robot. Advice would be appreciated.
The simplest thing to do would probably be to just get a robot. It may be in the same cost ballpark as getting parts for the Caretaker, though it's hard to know yet.

I'm not sure I understand the "lock them in place" advice. If you can share a picture of your equipment pad, that may help. I do think you need to address the missing heads, or you may have tripping hazards with holes in the floor.

If you are somewhat interested in tinkering with the in-floor to try to get it working, we could get into lots more detail after seeing the equipment.
 

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
628
Silicon Valley, CA
A couple things worth mentioning about your in-floor (in other words, here comes some detail :p ):

1) In-floor systems are pressure-based. If there is not enough pressure in the line, the heads won't pop up. If you have just one head missing in each zone, water will flow mostly through the missing head line (least resistance) and the other heads will not pop up, making them appear "nonfunctioning." I don't know if that is what is happening in your case, but it's worth considering.

2) Older Caretaker systems (pre-1992) have threaded pop-up heads rather than bayonet style. The threaded heads are reverse-threaded, so if someone tried to install a head and screw it in the normal direction rather than CCW, it could appear to have stripped or damaged threads.

If you want to pursue this a little, I would start with the missing heads before taking apart the Caretaker distribution valve. It would help to have a pop-up head removal/installation tool.
The cheaper, simple one is like this:
1562255158363.png

The more sturdy one looks like this:
1562255058603.png


You could start by moving heads you have to try to fill in the missing ones so that a zone is completely populated. Of course, you probably don't know which heads are grouped together in a zone, but for example, I would start in the shallow end and fill every one you can. Or, assuming your spa is attached to the pool and has pop-ups in the floor, it's reasonable to assume that all the pop-ups in the spa are in one zone and you can fill all of those. If the heads in either filled zone start popping up, then you can think about purchasing replacement heads for all the empty spots.

Last note, it may be helpful to label each head you remove with the position it came from. Each head may have a different nozzle size that was chosen for the position it sits in the pool. We can get into that detail later, but it would be helpful to know the original nozzle-to-collar position map.
 

Ourad

Member
Jun 25, 2019
6
Tulsa, OK
I replaced all the missing heads earlier today. I included a pic so you can see what I’m working with. I have no shortage of spare heads from the previous owner, they all seem to be the same nozzle tip with a round nozzle and horizontal bar inside.

Replacing the missing heads seemed to improve the others. They cycle appropriately starting at spa, steps, shallow, mid, deep from what I can tell. The flow was pretty good on most of them, but I wasn’t sure if they were popping up all the way. A not insignificant amount of the flow was going out the two slits on the top sides, particularly when the head was only partially popped up and the nozzle only half exposed. I could pull these up higher, but they weren’t doing it naturally.

They also didn’t rotate ever from what I could tell. I assume they rotate to a new position every time their valve opens up or closes, but I watched a few through multiple cycles and nothing. Not sure if this is something that would be fixed with a new valve.

My next step is to take out the valve strainer and maker sure that’s clear, and maybe take a look at the valve and see if anything is obviously wrong. Advice appreciated.

Chem update pending a new test tomorrow.
 

Attachments

Dodger

Silver Supporter
Sep 17, 2017
628
Silicon Valley, CA
That head doesn’t have any nozzle inserted into it at all. If they are all like that, then they likely won’t create enough back pressure.

The heads won’t rotate if they aren’t pushed up with high enough pressure to clear the teeth.

Do all the heads look that way?

The other back pressure problem may be coming from insufficient pump pressure. There are many possible causes of that. The key metric is what pressure is showing on the gauge at the top of the Caretaker valve dome?