Pulling my hair out...

Jun 26, 2008
15
#1
Not sure if this is the right forum, but my bottom line question is "what else can I test" so I'm posting here.

I have a 23,500 gal vinyl pool with a high CYA - 136 (high, I know) and a new SWG. I would rather not dilute if I can - it will happen naturally with all the rain we get in the summer and I just spent a ton on salt.

I can't seem to keep my chlorine up even though the pool is clear. My test at the pool shop yesterday showed (they use these little square vials in the computer):
CH 135
TDS 0 (I assume due to the salt)
Alkalinity 136
CSI -.09
pH 7.5
FC .05
TC .75
CYA 136
Copper . 03
Iron .01
Clarity Clear
Algae None

Per their recommendation, I did 7 gal of 12% bleach last night to no avail - 1 at 6p (0FC), 3 at 7p (0FC), 3 at 8p (no test - ran out of strips!). I bought more strips today and had 0FC at noon. SWG was on superchlor all this time and you could see the gas entering the pool. Foam did form on top of the pool (as it did last week when I did 3lbs of HTH Shock-it cal-hypo - 0FC 4 hours after). The foam was gone this morning and the pool is a clear as I have seen it.

I bought a cheapo OTO test kit in case my AquaCheck strip was bleached out - no reading there either. I bought an FC/TC strip at the pet store- no reading there and no bleaching - one was white and one was yellowish - both zero. I bought an ammonia test at the pet store - never moved off the initial 0 yellow color.

Any suggestions on figuring out how much I need to get my chlorine up? Is there another test I can run?

Is the amount cumulative (that is, will I get credit for the 7 gallons, or do I have to start over?). Should I just buy30 gallons of 6% and put a couple or three in every half hour? My wife is hating all the time I am spending on the pool and I am pulling my hair out.

Thanks for any input.

Regards,
Michael Risch
 

Butterfly

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 31, 2007
10,045
South Carolina
#2
Hi Michael,

A CYA of 136 is unmanagable. I think this is your biggest problem.

With a SWG, a CYA of 60 to 80 is usually recommended (maybe closer to 80), but what does your SWG manufacturer recommend?

Getting yourself a good test kit is the BEST investment you can make in a pool! Without it, you will have NO control over your water chemistry. I recommend the TF Test kit sold by duraleigh, a member here at TFP. There is a link to his TF Test kit site in my sig and also on the main page. Here is a link to compare test kits: category/pool-school/pool_test_kit_comparison

Here is a link to Water Balance Tips for a SWG by Waterbear: category/pool-school/water_balance_saltwater_generator

Where do you live? City and State? Is your pool in full sun?

More members will chime in soon.

Welcome to the forum. We are here to help :-D
 

teppy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2007
120
Louisiana
#3
I'm by far an expert and am just learning myself, but, that CYA is way high. If you look up the CYA and chlorine level charts here, you will see that your chlorine needs to be very high with that CYA level. I can't remember which one, but one of the charts says that the target FC level should be 11.5% of the CYA. So, if your CYA is at 136, that means that your chlorine is going to need to be around 15. That is shock level. I don't think thats a safe level to keep your chlorine at for swimming. Maybe someone with some experience will chime in here. I don't have a SWG either, so maybe its different and can take higher CYA levels. It just seems to me that you might hear that you will need to empty some of your pool water.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#4
In the fifth message of this thread I explain a procedure for figuring out about how much chlorine it will take to clear things up. You need to keep adding chlorine until the pool will hold a FC level. The only question is how much.
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#5
Thanks for the replies, all. I know the CYA is high, but I live in WV, where it rains all the time (rained all night), so I add a bunch of water and do a partial drain in the winter. My SWG manufacturer says CYA of 50 and FC of .5-1.5. Thus, I'm not too concerned about the CYA of 136, as I have read lots of advice on boards that say that higher CYA with higher FC (maybe 4 or 4.5 for me) will keep the algae away.

I use a solar blanket (which is deteriorating - plastic pieced are showing up in the water- I don't think it took winter well. Could that be part of the problem?

The blanket has been off while I am circulating the chlorine, so the pool is getting more sun during those times.


Let's assume I need the 96ppm (scary). What's the appropriate plan? 30ppm every half hour?
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#6
With CYA at 136 and a SWG you need to maintain a FC of at least 6 for normal usage. When shocking you can add up to 31 ppm of chlorine at a time, measure the current FC level and add enough chlorine to bring FC back up to 31, as frequently as once very half hour.

Caring for the pool would be much simpler if you lowered your CYA level.
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#7
So, I measured today, and all of my tests showed - miracle of miracles - between 2.5 and 4 FC.

I even did a bucket test with 1/3 Pool, 2/3 tap and that showed about the same (when multiplied by 3) to make sure I wasn't bleaching out.

So, either:
1. The FC was so high yesterday that it bleached out the OTO and the strips or
2. The FC was zero yesterday in a total shock burnoff, and now the SWG is generating

Suggestions? I am thinking give it a couple days to see if the SWG can increase the FC.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#8
Most strips will bleach out but the OTO test doesn't bleach out. If the OTO test shows zero chlorine then you have zero chlorine.

You must of had a chlorine demand from something like ammonia, which requires a fixed amount of chlorine to burn off. Between all the chlorine you added and the SWG you finally met the demand and are now able to hold a FC level.

As long as you don't get algae, the SWG should be able to catch up from here. Adding some chlorine manually would remove any risk, but probably isn't required.
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#9
I have a gal of 12% and 4 x 1.42 gal of 6%. Maybe I'll put some of that in in the morning if the FC levels aren't up enough.
 
G
#10
You really need to bite the bullet and lower your CYA! It will make your pool matenance much more manageable. You are deluding yourself if you think otherwise.
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#11
No delusions, just gun-shy given the pain I've already had. I'd have to drain 40% of my pool! My plan is to struggle along this year (CYA will drop as it rains) and do a big drain at winter close in Sept. and let rain and snow refill. If it is too hard to keep things in check I'll drain earlier.
 
G
#12
I work in the industry which give me a bit of practical experience with more than just my own pool. I am telling you again to bit the bullet and drain!
If you want to take control of your pool instead of your pool controlling you then you have come to the right place but if you ignore the good advice given we can really be of no help at all.
If you want to continue 'pulling your hair out' it's your pool but you have been given the same good advice by more than one person here.

You also stated that you 'spent a ton on salt'. What kind did you buy because salt is one of the cheapest things you can put into a pool. All you need is solar salt, not pool salt; and certainly not one of those propriatary rip off mixtures of salt and borax that several companies are now selling with names like 'beginnings' and 'salt water magic'!
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#13
Solar salt - that's good to know! I can get it at Lowe's, right?

You are convincing me. I assure you that my hesitation is not that I don't believe you or the advice.
 
G
#14
mvrisch said:
Solar salt - that's good to know! I can get it at Lowe's, right?

You are convincing me. I assure you that my hesitation is not that I don't believe you or the advice.
Yes, it's sold for water softeners. You can also use the pellet salt but it's slower to dissolve. Most pool salt is just solar salt that has gone through an additional grinding to produce smaller crystals. You want to use a NON food grade salt without any additives or anti caking ingredients that is at least 99.5% pure. Solar salt fills the bill. You can get the Morton or Diamond Crystal. Just don't use rock salt, not pure enough. You can get it at Lowes, Home Depot, most hardware stores like Ace and many supermarkets. I have even seen Morton Pool salt in supermarkets but it's more money than the solar and not any purer.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#15
waterbear said:
mvrisch said:
You want to use a NON food grade salt without any additives or anti caking ingredients that is at least 99.5% pure. Solar salt fills the bill. You can get the Morton or Diamond Crystal. Just don't use rock salt, not pure enough. You can get it at Lowes, Home Depot, most hardware stores like Ace and many supermarkets.
The kind you want is normally in the blue bags, crystals, no rust fighter, no iron inhibiter, just salt.
 
G
#16
JasonLion said:
waterbear said:
mvrisch said:
You want to use a NON food grade salt without any additives or anti caking ingredients that is at least 99.5% pure. Solar salt fills the bill. You can get the Morton or Diamond Crystal. Just don't use rock salt, not pure enough. You can get it at Lowes, Home Depot, most hardware stores like Ace and many supermarkets.
The kind you want is normally in the blue bags, crystals, no rust fighter, no iron inhibiter, just salt.
Sun Gems is a solar salt in yellow bags!
 

Casey

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 17, 2007
10,516
SW PA
#17
I too agree, drain some water off and refill. You won't regret it!

I just bought Mortons Solar Salt at Lowes today and paid under $5 a bag. I bought a few bags but only used 2. It came in a blue bag at 40 lbs and is 99.5% salt.
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#18
Update -

1. FC was 7 or 8 today (hard to tell - I need a better kit) - I actually dialed back the SWG a bit.
2. Pool water tasted salty. As soon as my new salt strips come in (pool store sold me defective ones) and I get a better CYA test kit, I am definitely going to be draining.
3. I just rolled my solar blanket out - I'm pretty sure that this was the source of the demand - it totally has mildew, etc. on it. . Maybe the chlorine will kill it all off in the next few days; if not, I will have to stop using it

Thanks again for all the help!
 

dfiletti

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2008
76
Thornton, PA
#19
You and I have +/- the same size pool. 2 weeks ago, I added 600+ lbs of solar salt (from Home Depot -blue bag- for less than $5. / bag) cost: about $80. I added the salt over about two hours, simply pouring it around the edge of pool as I walked. The filter was running. Took maybe 10 minutes to fully dissolve each bag and I had about two bags in at any given time. I did not brush it as I was concerned it would mar my finish.

Really was easy/ cheap. Does not seem like much of a reason to not drain.

Also, I think I read where your testing your CYA/ rest of the chems with strips. They are just not accurate. Based on this, your CYA may be vastly different (possibly way lower) than what you think it is. Before you do anything else, 1) either get a good test kit and/ or 2) have a pool store double check your findings, if they're different, you'll need to go back to option #1 or visit the PS weekly.

Myself I like to see similar findings from more than one source if possible. I simply stopped going to one PS because their strip reader was showing results I simply KNEW were wrong, and differed from my kit. (Relevant Example: they showed my CYA at "90 ppm" when I had added '0' CYA and used very little stabilized CL). I found another store with a different reader that was much more in line with my results.

The folks on this list like the TF-100, I bought one. It's a good kit which makes me feel more in control of my pool's chemistry. There is also the Taylor kit which is apparently about as good, and more well-known outside of this list, although I think it's more expensive -worth looking into.

There are many threads on this forum that discuss you options in detail -worth surfing around.

Good Luck.

Dan
 
Jun 26, 2008
15
#20
Update and request for more help...

Pool size: 16x34 - 3' deep in the shallow, 7.5' deep in the deep end

I drained and refilled the pool about 18" over the last couple of days.

CYA (black dot test) shows at about 60. The strip shows a little more maroon than that, which implies a higher CYA.

First question - how "not visible" should the dot be? No dot at all? Obscured but can see black? Any help here is helpful.

PH (phenol red) shows a pinkish color, which I read to be somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6. However, the strip seemed to imply 7.8 or higher with an much more orange color.

Second question: What does a pink PH mean? High or low? We had a lot of rain, which I assumed would lower the PH.

Salt read 5.0-5.1 on the strip (2750 PPM or so). I added 50lb bag, and now it reads a clear 5.6 (3380). Here's the strangeness - if my pool is the dimensions above, it is about 21000 gallons, which means that 50lbs should up salt by 300, not 600. There is no way (I don't think) that this is a 10,000 gallon pool.

Third question: Why is my salt going up so much with so little? This is not the first time - I initially added 550lbs, and it took my salt to 4300, which was much higher than it should have. Do I just have extra potent salt?

Fourth question: My target salt is 3500. I'm afraid to add more as it will likely put me over. Does the SWG lower the salt lever when it is in operation (it is off now), such that I should add more, or should I just leave the salt at 3400 and be done?

I will likely go to a pool store to get everything retested, but your tips on the above so I can read my own test results accurately would be helpful.

My free chlorine was insanely high (16) and remains high after the drain. I suspect it is the high CYA that did it, as the SWG was only on 30%. I am going to leave it off a couple days, re-test, and then go to 10%.