Santa Rosa - first time pool maintenance

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
We moved into a place a year ago with a pool. First time in my life with a pool. End of summer last year, our pool guy fired us. I think he saw my TFP test kit I had ordered, plus I had started asking about some questionable things like a missing weir (‘oh you don’t need those’). I have ignored the pool all winter long, closed up with the filter running on auto 3 hours per day but otherwise literally haven’t opened the cover in about 4 months.

Today was my pool maintenance inauguration. Will be posting some updates and a log as I go through the process of trying to figure out this pool thing. Please do make fun of me, and hopefully pointers or feedback too. :)

Pool is a ~29,000 gallon 30 year old in-ground gunite pool with solar heating. Some updated components in there too, will post pics as I come across them.

After opening the cover, things looked fairly decent. Some leaves at the bottom in the corners, a little green algae on the shallowest step, some dark debris on the other stairs. I scrubbed the stairs and walls, skimmed, emptied the poor vacuum that was stuffed with basically soil at this point. Checked chems and got 0 chlorine (no surprise).
387CFC24-CFD3-4C27-9B50-3837221F246D.jpeg

Next step was getting the solar working again. I didn’t have any instructions, so hopefully I did it right. I closed the pipes (left open and draining over the winter), and called for heat. Then I went to the solar panels and manually bled the two vacuum port things (no idea what they do, they certainly don’t release air on their own). The pool was a balmy 52, and the return was showing 80. The panels felt ’cool to the touch’, but clearly something was off.

I tried cranking the pump speed up, but at ~2700 rpm or so some of the equipment started leaking at the seams. I stared at our filter for a while, and decided that maybe I should open it up and see what I was dealing with. It’s a system:3 DE 54‘ filter. I took the clamps off (what a pain), popped the cartridge out. I don’t know how to evaluate the state - but it seems off. There was serious bridging. The butterfly bolts crumbled in my hand to dust as I tried to loosen them. The bottom of the tank was so full of DE the entire exit pipe was covered.

24A25C64-0D89-4C5B-9CD6-42AF40BDBDB2.jpeg
BB60893D-AC6A-4A44-AE55-A74E943A5890.jpeg

I hosed off the filters (in a huge plastic bucket to catch the DE - is it safe to run into the gravel, or do I need to figure out how to get this into the trash?) and reassembled. Had to use some zip ties chained together to keep the cartridge together since the bars and nuts are destroyed while I get new ones on order. I forgot to put the bleed valve back in - which may foreshadow an issue in a bit. Also noticed that the o-ring holding the cartridge in is broken - ordered a new one. Lots of deferred maintenance apparently.

Got it all back together, whacked with a mallet to get the dumb clips back on, and fired it up. Holy cow, water flow! Where the returns where barely putting any water out before, now all 3 returns in the pool are jetting water. Mixed up ~5 lbs of DE slurry, and dumped that slowly into the skimmer.

Next up, dumped 2 gallons of HDX chlorine that I bought today. Waited an hour, and tested the water with the TFL kit. Only 1.5 FC. Dumped another 2 gallons in. Wondering if my chlorine is old, but not sure how to read this label:

B6C9FCE3-C7B6-48F5-A2E8-632E0E3A81D2.jpeg

Leaving the filter running overnight, will check on things tomorrow.

Current issues: the filter is only showing ~3 PSI pressure. When I open the release valve at the top it isn’t super-squirting water the way it did previously, more a 1 or 2’ stream, which seems to line up with only 3 PSI. Not sure what’s going on, but hope that replacing the air bleed valve in the cartridge + a new o ring will help. Water volume is amazing in the returns and the skimmer has never worked so well, so it’s like there is no friction, not no flow.
 

BenB

Gold Supporter
Jul 24, 2020
106
San Jose, CA
Good evening! The real cleanup experts will be along shortly but you should definitely pre-read this article covering the SLAM process. Make sure you working witha a reliable test kit and are prepared mentally and also with mega supplies of bleach.


The chlorine boxes you read as YYDDD or 2 digit year, then the day in the year it was made.

So 20286 is the 286th day of the year, or October 23. It's almost 7 months old at this point and will have lost most of it's potency.
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
@BenB thanks for the pointer on chrlorine decoding. That explains the low results I was getting. :)

Yes, my plan is to SLAM it. First I want to make sure the filter is working properly. After taking apart the DE grid I had to order 4 new parts (thanks Inyo pools!) Waiting for those to arrive, double check I actually understand how my DE filter works, then start the SLAM. Hopefully will be done in 3 weeks or so, just in time for The pool to be warmed and ready.

Been getting familiar with the TF-100 test kit, checked yesterday 4 times through the day. FC went from 8 to 7 over the course of a very sunny nice day, so I think that means there likely isn’t too much algae in there. Will check again in an hour or two when it’s warmer.

Spent a few hours trying to debug an air leak yesterday to no avail. I’ve got a fairly large solar array, and it’s about 20’ vertical above the pool On a hill. I kind of think something in the loop is introducing air. In addition to occasional bubbles in the returns, I bled air out o the DE filter 3 times over 10 hours yesterday. Each time there was a lot of air in there. Will check this AM after the solar has been off all night if air got in somehow.

041DDA10-E6CE-4595-9054-C894D2A6F6EA.jpeg
 

BenB

Gold Supporter
Jul 24, 2020
106
San Jose, CA
You *should* have some air in the solar loop when first turning it on every day. At the end of one of the rows instead of a simple end cap is a vacuum relief valve that when the pump is no longer pushing water through will allow air to come in and for the water to partially drain to avoid dangerous overheating of the water and potential collapse of the pipes under a vacuum that would happen otherwise. Based on your photo it might be the sticking up thing at the top left?

However, the air should purge out within a few minutes of the pump running. If it doesn't then the valve might still be letting in air, which could be because the pump isn't running fast enough to keep it shut.

Though not ideal, does it bubble endlessly even when running on full speed?
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Great info, thank you. The pool keeps bubbling through the day. I've been trying to figure out the right speed for the pump on solar. I have it set to 2200 RPM right now. I went up to 2800 RPM, at which point some of the various piping joints started leaking from the pressure. I was also aiming for a ~5-8 degree temp differential between the input and output based on what a friend told me (no idea if that is correct).

Not only do the returns bubble all day, but the DE filter also gets a lot of air in it - valve wide open it can take 60 seconds to push all the air out.

Latest fun - my automatic pool cover seems to have broken. Thing is only 15 months old, and this is the 3rd time it's stopped working. time to figure out what happened this time. :/
 

BenB

Gold Supporter
Jul 24, 2020
106
San Jose, CA
Lots going on there :)

Leaking under moderate pressure isn't good. Plan to fix that for sure.

The solar should be plumbed after the filter, not before. If so, air in the filter would be unrelated. If not, plan to change that otherwise those tiny tubes could get clogged with unfiltered stuff in the water.

2200RPM sounds reasonable. Certainly in line with what I've seen others state on here.
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Suggestions on what to tackle and in what order?

FC: 4.5
PH: 7.0 (tested with a commercial PH meter used for wine)
TA: 90
CH: 250
CYA: 60
CSI: -0.78

The water is crystal clear. There is 0 FC loss overnight. I have a homemade aerator going to see if that lowers the TA, and thus also leaving the PH alone for now. The CSI is clearly low because of this, but seems like that’s the trade off right now?

Does CYA go down over time, or _only_ if I drain some water out and refill?

What would a TFP expert do next?

Thanks!
 

CRAD_oz

Bronze Supporter
Jan 13, 2020
96
Sydney Australia
Pool Size
48000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
teich
Sounds possible you have a suction side air leak.
Until you get some expert advise I would keep your FC at or above the target for your Cya level.
I have a homemade aerator going to see if that lowers the TA, and thus also leaving the PH alone for now.
MA lowers pH and TA, aeration raises the pH without changing the TA.
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
@CRAD_oz good clarification. I'm aiming to raise the PH without chems so I can lower it to also lower TA. Primarily to address the low CSI.

Didn't touch anything past 24 hours to see how things evolved. This morning:
FC: 4.0
CC: 0.5
TA: 100
CH: 200
CYA: 60
CSI: -0.81

Added 1 gallon of bleach (from my 200 day old supply, so not 6%), will check again mid day and add more to bring FC in levels with CYA. Trying to learn how he pool reacts so going in stages right now.
 

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wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
2,115
Spring Valley, NY
@CRAD_oz good clarification. I'm aiming to raise the PH without chems so I can lower it to also lower TA. Primarily to address the low CSI.

Didn't touch anything past 24 hours to see how things evolved. This morning:
FC: 4.0
CC: 0.5
TA: 100
CH: 200
CYA: 60
CSI: -0.81

Added 1 gallon of bleach (from my 200 day old supply, so not 6%), will check again mid day and add more to bring FC in levels with CYA. Trying to learn how he pool reacts so going in stages right now.
What happened to your PH level
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
@wireform great question. Just tested,

PH: 7.2

Aeration going now. Will see if this 1/4 HP pump is enough to have any impact in the next day or two, if not perhaps go the home made PVC thing I've seen a few do here.

IMG_0266.jpeg

Very open to any suggestions on what I should be doing. Beyond aeration and bringing FC to ~7 based on CYA, leaving everything else alone for right now
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
After adding a gallon of bleach yesterday, and keeping my anemic aerator going for ~8 hours each day my current #:

FC: 5.5
CC: 0.5
pH: 7.3
TA: 100
CH: 200
CYA: 50
CSI: -0.51

A slight bump up in PH, FC up because of chlorine.
Will keep aerating, and see if I can get up to 7.4 before bringing it back down.
Debating if I need to bring the CH up since my CSI is low too. If I do will be only to 250. Ironically I have insanely hard water supply, that goes through a 5 stage water filter before going into the pool fill. So I'll be hardening my softened water. :)
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I don't have an auto-fill - we have one of the aux ports tied to a fill line, that kicks on a schedule. I've got it off right now. But, our water straight out of the well is disgusting. Not something I'd put into the pool. It's full or iron and smells. I don't think I can get it halfway through the water filter system (or perhaps it's possible, but also beyond me)
 

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
2,115
Spring Valley, NY
No reason to be busy dropping PH until you reach 7.8ish. The FC is low and needs to be 6-8 with CYA 50 and I'd prefer the 8 to be on the safe side of the target. Adding 50 ppm on the CH will move the CSI slightly less negative but not a big deal either.
 

teich

Gold Supporter
Aug 18, 2020
22
Santa Rosa, CA
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
@wireform thanks, great input. I was planning on bringing FC up some more - I'm taking it real slow to see how things respond and try to learn. So far I seem to have basically 0 algae. Water is as clear as I've seen it, and sweeping the bottom has almost no bloom. But I know that could change in an instant, so will bring the FC up tomorrow. Maybe aim for 7 in case I vastly overshoot by mistake.

On the PH - I was hoping to get it up right now because I want to lower my TA. Maybe that isn't important? The pool school app is calling my TA @ 100 out as outside recommended (90 upper end), and also the CH at 200 as low (ideal 350)
 

mguzzy

Gold Supporter
I don't have an auto-fill - we have one of the aux ports tied to a fill line, that kicks on a schedule. I've got it off right now. But, our water straight out of the well is disgusting. Not something I'd put into the pool. It's full or iron and smells. I don't think I can get it halfway through the water filter system (or perhaps it's possible, but also beyond me)
That makes sense.. its easy to bump up the CH a bit.. What @wireform said on the other chems. Get your FC up a bit more. It doesn't hurt to ride on the high side of the FC/CYA Chart
 
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wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
2,115
Spring Valley, NY
I wouldn't worry about the PH and TA now at all. At some point when the PH reaches the high point ,MA will be in order and knock down the PH and a little the TA. I'd prefer to see your FC at a minimum of 8. Don't raise the CH more then 300 so you still have a buffer when it can climb naturally. Over all these numbers are very decent.
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
Just to add to Wire's .. The TA will typically find it own level with respect to your pH. If its wildly off then you can adjust it. Get the pH in line first and then see where the TA ends up.... chasing the two of them at the same time is like playing pool chem wack-a-mole.

So.. I really want to hear the story about what your pool guy said when he saw your TF-100 and fired you!
 

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