Really want to enjoy my pool this year...

I am a "new" pool owner and have a bunch of questions. I bought my first home in December, 2011 and it came with a pool. (YAY!!) It's an 18' round, above ground pool with a Pentair Sand Dollar sand filter...which I ran pretty much 24-7 all season. The pool was installed in the summer of 2011, so it was pretty much brand new.

Last year, I fumbled through the season, checking this forum out to try to "fix" my problems as they arose. I'm hoping to get it right this year and avoid as many issues as possible, and maybe spend more time swimming than I spend vacuuming and adjusting chemicals.

The biggest issue I had last year by far was recurring problems with algae. My pool is in direct sunlight all day (no trees, so no leaves, so that's a plus!) so I'm sure all that sunshine helped that out a bit. I shocked, poured in algaecide (and lots of other chemicals as per the calculator), and vacuumed repeatedly over the course of the summer. Each time, the sides and bottom would be clean and the water would get nice and clear, but the algae kept coming back. When I closed the pool for the winter, I drained the filter and the last bit of water that came out was NEON GREEN!! eww!! I'm wondering if I never completely killed off all the algae? Is it normal for that water to be green??

One thing that I've learned is that I maybe should have backwashed...I kept looking at the pressure guage and it never rose to the point that indicated a backwash was necessary, but maybe I should have done it anyway (?) I guess I'm still not completely sure what backwashing is supposed to accomplish. At any rate, I never backwashed the entire season...could that be part of the problem? Is it possible some algae continued to live in the sand of the filter and that's why it kept coming back? Should I consider changing the sand in the filter? One site I looked at said to do it only every 3-5 years, but I was wondering if I should get rid of it to try to get rid of any residual algae.

Now, one thing I know for sure, I was not really "religious" about testing the water (probably only about once a week) and the chlorine did drop off from time to time, although I didn't think it ever got that bad. I'm considering getting an inline chlorinator as I think that will help me keep a more steady chlorine level.....any thoughts on that?

I really hope I can get out ahead of things this year. If I can't solve the algae problem, I'll probably sell the pool as the expense of running the pump and buying all the chemicals isn't worth the 8 or 9 times I was actually able to get IN the silly thing last year!

Thanks in advance for your help. I would really like to open my pool up this weekend. (It is the tradition to open the pool on Memorial Day weekend, right?) :-D
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
The key to a trouble free pool is knowing what your chemical levels are and keeping them balanced. And that starts with reliable test results.

Tablet feeders tend to raise your CYA level, which will eventually get too high and cause problems.

No, the water should never be green. That is usually algae, but could be metals in the water.
 
Thanks for your quick replies! I did switch to the BBB method late in the year, will probably go that route again, as it seems silly to spend a lot of money for the same/similar chemicals wrapped in "pool" packaging.

"Tablet feeders tend to raise your CYA level, which will eventually get too high and cause problems.
No, the water should never be green. That is usually algae, but could be metals in the water."

What types of problems would be caused by high CYA? (trying to compare the two evils) Would those problems outweigh the advantages of keeping good levels of chlorine, given the ongoing issues I had last year?

I never got high results for metals in my water, so I'm pretty sure it was algae. I'm going to have to remember Richard's tag line and "brush my pool's teeth" more regularly!!
 

MassNerd

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2013
174
Central Massachusetts
rfera said:
What types of problems would be caused by high CYA? (trying to compare the two evils) Would those problems outweigh the advantages of keeping good levels of chlorine, given the ongoing issues I had last year?
Higher CYA requires higher levels of chlorine to sanitize the pool. You should check out pool school:
http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/pool_water_chemistry
 

CindyG1

Well-known member
Jul 7, 2011
151
N. Ga Mountains
I had my CYA way too high a few years ago (before I went to pool school here, ) The higher the CYA, the more chlorine it takes to do any good...more chlorine = more $$ and more work. Lower CYA, less chlorine , less work and $! Just sayin'!
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
23,932
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
rfera said:
What types of problems would be caused by high CYA? (trying to compare the two evils) Would those problems outweigh the advantages of keeping good levels of chlorine, given the ongoing issues I had last year?
Without even touching on the chemistry, consider this: If your CYA is a fairly typical pool-store-adherent 80, your minimum FC should never ever dip below 6. Your target will be higher.

How high does the color block tester go? 5. The color block test is useless. All it can tell you is that you're too low. How much will it take to get it back up? Well, who knows? You need to know where you are to get where you're going.

That means you'll have to check your FC every single time with the FAS-DPD test. Every single time.

Now... on to chemistry. If your pool is 18' * 48" deep, it will hold about 7600 gallons. If you lose the average of 2 ppm per day, you'll need to feed it a pound of trichlor pucks the first week. Which will also add 9 ppm CYA. So now your CYA is essentially 90. Which means you need to maintain FC at 7. Still above the tester's ability to read. Better stop and order some refills for that powder. So you need to add a little extra to raise FC to 7, but still the two pounds a week of trichlor to account for normal loss. Week three, you're now at 98 CYA. So you need to bump the minimum FC up again. Do you see this endless spiral?

And then you have a big party. Or a windstorm. And the pool gets cloudy. The pool store guy will sell you a package of shock. Which may get you out of trouble, but which will add yet another 8 ppm of CYA, which raises the minimum FC up again. But maybe that one time dose of shock powder wasn't enough. Then the pool gets cloudier, maybe starts to take on a greenish tint. You're halfway through the summer and your pool now has CYA of 140 or so. That shock powder will just aggravate the problem. So you come here and everyone tells you to load up on bleach. But first...give us a test result. The pool store stopped counting and just listed 99+ You can't get a reading because the dot disappears halfway to the lowest line. Then what?

Drain half or more of your pool water, that's what. And go through the whole thing of adjusting pH, lugging uncountable pounds of liquid chlorine to the pool, weeks of posting asking how much longer will this take... By now the summer is over. The kids are back in school. And you're ready to fill the thing in with dirt and plant a garden.

That's why you don't feed a pool a continuous diet of pucks. They're great for vacations. If you live in northern Canada where your swim season is a month and you drain half the water because it freezes solid six months of the year, they're fine. But for the overwhelming number of pool owners, they are a dangerous habit. The occasional donut binge probably won't hurt you, but a steady diet of donuts is not good for you. It's much the same with your pool.