Serious help needed

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
I have an in ground vinyl pool, 20X40 that has not been opened for many years. The pool had a heavy duty mesh cover in place. Over time, the cover began to deteriorate. I am trying to open the pool but it is loaded on the bottom with decaying leaves, some of which has turned to a thick muck. The pool water is a very dark green/black, so one cannot see the bottom. :confused:I have been scooping out as much as I can, but it is quite burdensome. I have broken an aluminum leaf pole, and have "lost" two leaf bags from leaf gulper type machines. The amount of organic material seems endless. I have read many posts on this wonderful site concerning similar problems in which it is urged to just keep on scooping. However, I can't help but think that their must be a better way.

One pool guy suggested evacuating partially to waste. However, I have read that vinyl pools should not be drained, and that one must be careful when doing some draining.

Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions. I am in the greater Chicagoland area.
 

tko

Well-known member
Apr 13, 2016
75
Portland/OR
When we moved in in the beginning of 2016, we had the same issue. I had to hire two guys to scoop out the majority of the leaves, then vacuumed the majority of the dirt to waste. I have a gunite pool, so can't speak to the liner, but I would think if you have a vacuum head that is appropriate for a vinyl lining, and fill as you vacuum, you should be ok. I'll let those who know better speak to that.

Oh, and after we vacuumed, I hired a "pool guy" who couldn't clear up my pool with his pounds of shock, and thank God I found this site. I kept slamming - it took two weeks (we have only one skimmer for the large pool), but I was able to clear the water in time for my daughter's graduation party. Keep at it, and don't listen to anyone who tells you that bleach will ruin your equipment. Trust the advice here, and the PoolMath calculator is your friend.

Don't be discouraged - you can do this!
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
I'm plugging away but it seems like a "bottomless cup of coffee"...decaying leaves, that has turned to a muck type material. I was wondering about using a trash/sludge pump that is made to handle solids etc. Does anyone have any experience using this type of machine? Other than that I worry that if I vacuum to waste, I might plug up a discharge pump line. Thank you
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
22,069
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
I'm plugging away but it seems like a "bottomless cup of coffee"...decaying leaves, that has turned to a muck type material. I was wondering about using a trash/sludge pump that is made to handle solids etc. Does anyone have any experience using this type of machine? Other than that I worry that if I vacuum to waste, I might plug up a discharge pump line. Thank you
A few years back someone used a leaf vacuum to remove 7 trash bags of soggy compost from a neglected pool. I wish I'd saved the link somewhere.

This is the thing:
Powered by the garden hose, not the pump.

Found it. Another swamp, is it worth it? Drain or gain?
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
11,766
Houston, Texas
I think a trash pump is a good idea for your situation. It will be like vacuuming to waste, so you will need to keep an eye on the water level while you are vacuuming so you can stop and refill as needed. Keep at least 1' of water in the shallow end to keep the liner from shifting. If you notice the sides of the liner start to puff up while vacuuming, stop and refill the pool.
 

samt

Well-known member
May 18, 2013
420
Long Island NY
If somehow you could get your backwash hose back to the pool, you could vacuum to waste, with the backwash hose into a leaf net, held over the pool. You could get the big debris out that way, then use the filter to get the small stuff.
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
I think a trash pump is a good idea for your situation. It will be like vacuuming to waste, so you will need to keep an eye on the water level while you are vacuuming so you can stop and refill as needed. Keep at least 1' of water in the shallow end to keep the liner from shifting. If you notice the sides of the liner start to puff up while vacuuming, stop and refill the pool.

I found a reasonably priced trash pump on the internet, but I have no experience using one. My main issue is how to vacuum with it so that I get the muck off the bottom of the pool. Apparently, the pumps use a hose setting that is larger than the typical 1 1/2 inch pool vacuum hose. Furthermore, I have no idea whether the pump's force will be too great for a standard pool hose. I also read somewhere along the line that one must be careful no to "pull" the liner from the floor of the pool with the pump. These are all "experience" issues, and I certainly don't want to create more problems for myself.

I did locate a locate company that specializes in pumps who I will contact tomorrow. Thanks for your help. I would likew tpo hear from people that have used a pump to clean a pool.
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
I was able to bring in a "pool guy" who got the pump running. He initially attempted to vacuum the pool with his stand alone pump, but the density of the gunk caused his machine to lock up. He began shocking the pool and the pool color has gone from black/green to a light/medium mint green. His approach is to continue to shock the pool until he is able to "see down" to view the debris. He then will attempt to vacuum a second time. However, despite gallons and gallons of shock, the pool has not really cleared an appreciable amount. In fact, I don't see any improvement since the pool improved to the mint green color. It seems to me, being a novice, that the gunk needs to be removed before the water will clear. Am I correct in my unschooled opinion, or is my guy on the right track? Secondly, can a pool be vacuumed "braille" like, and if so what is the proper equipment to use,considering one does not want to plug up their pool lines?
 

woodyp

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 17, 2010
10,628
East Texas
That muck needs to be raked/scooped out FIRST if it can't be vaccumed---------it's just costing you time and money in wasted chemicals. It may never clear with all that in there. Sometimes there's just no substitute for elbow grease.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
22,069
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
You are correct. A lot of that shock is being wasted trying to breakdown the compost.

A leaf rake is the first thing to try.

The leading edge is tapered, so you work it pretty much like a bamboo leaf rake and it scrapes up the stuff and it ends up in the bag.

If the stuff is too fine, some people have had good luck with a leaf bagger, especially with a fine-mesh bag. It's powered by the garden hose.


If you wish to vacuum by braille and let the pump do the hard work, an inline leaf canister, perhaps lined with a knee-high stocking, will keep wads of debris from clogging the underground pipes.
 

Tanner M

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 1, 2013
158
Oklahoma City, OK
I was able to bring in a "pool guy" who got the pump running. He initially attempted to vacuum the pool with his stand alone pump, but the density of the gunk caused his machine to lock up. He began shocking the pool and the pool color has gone from black/green to a light/medium mint green. His approach is to continue to shock the pool until he is able to "see down" to view the debris. He then will attempt to vacuum a second time. However, despite gallons and gallons of shock, the pool has not really cleared an appreciable amount. In fact, I don't see any improvement since the pool improved to the mint green color. It seems to me, being a novice, that the gunk needs to be removed before the water will clear. Am I correct in my unschooled opinion, or is my guy on the right track? Secondly, can a pool be vacuumed "braille" like, and if so what is the proper equipment to use,considering one does not want to plug up their pool lines?
You are correct. All of the organic material needs to come out for you to be successful.
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
We agree that the muck must be cleaned out, however, the pool guy is of the opinion that he wants to "see" what he is doing. Hence, the idea to shock until he can see down far enough to be able to vacuum. He attempted to vacuum at first but the muck clogged his pump. Step 2 was to shock, and then step 3 would be to attempt to vacuum again. Prior to his arrival 2 weeks ago, I raked out wheelbarrows full of muck. He does not want me to continue rake mucking now lest it further cloud the water that he is trying to clear. He believes the pool is clearing albeit its been a long and "costly" chlorinating experience. So the question is follow his advice and do not rake the stuff, and hope it will clear enough to vacuum, or rake it manually, and stir every thing up? The pump is working fine, although I'm sure the sand in my filter could use changing.
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
In another post "poolguynj" suggested using substances called 'MA", and "thick blue clarifier" to help clear a swamp. Can you tell me what the complete names of these products are, and what they purportedly do?
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
22,069
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
In another post "poolguynj" suggested using substances called 'MA", and "thick blue clarifier" to help clear a swamp. Can you tell me what the complete names of these products are, and what they purportedly do?
MA is Muriatic Acid. That is for pH control, not algae.

Clarifier is a chemical that mixes in the water and glues all the floating particles together so they settle out. Then they get vacuumed to waste so that it doesn't glue your filter into a blob. I've never used it. Wouldn't recommend it, either, as it seems to cause more problems than it solves. In your case in particular, it's a bad idea. You already have a layer of thick sludge on the floor. Do you want to make it even gummier?
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
42,142
Tallahassee, FL
If I were guess I would say "MA"=muractic acid. I have NO idea what he means by "thick blue clarifier" nor do we recommend their use. Your pool guys pump is already having problems. Anything like a clarifier will only make it worse if it did any good at all.

I would really think about getting one of those "filters" Richard posted that uses the hose to get the stuff up and out. It can be used without being able to see down into the water.

I get what your pool guy is saying BUT it will NOT clear up with all of the stuff in it. You are throwing money down a black hole without getting all of that stuff out.

Kim:kim:
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,837
Grand Rapids, MI
So Richard, I've been in your shoes precisely and I understand what the pool guy is trying to do. And what you're going through ;)

I actually did the equivalent upon finding TFP a few years back with a blackwater foreclosure swamp after watching the first $750 effort of a pool guy fail. Your guy is right about some things and wrong about others. I'll try to explain. I'll also suggest an easier option ;)

First off, a pool guy can't possibly hit a swamp hard enough with a SLAM Process because you need to be testing and adding every few hours over days. So you need to take that over. And to do so, you need one of the recommended TEST kits at TFTestkits.net.

Once you get a kit and post reliable full set of readings, you may need to make a few adjustments for ideal slam conditions, such as lowering ph if its above 7.2, and confirming that you're holding FC at all...hopefully since you've had color change, you've nailed the ammonia I suspect you opened with.

So, tell pool guy you'll have him back later once you get things sorted, though you may or may not wish to have him do the final bit...depends on how DIY you feel and how much time you have. I had mine back for final vac and equipment check.

As for the organics, if like me you scooped and hauled 20 wheelbarrows or so and can't "feel" any more major obstacles on the floor,
mostly close the bottom drain line and filter from the skimmer while slamming hard, but dont otherwise disturb the water by brushing or vacuuming for a few days.

In my case, i WAS able to see bottom after doing this as you will see in my pic, despite there still being a pile of sludge...but I was working COLD in April. You're working in summer.

If you prep yourself for the slam to go this route, i will check in and will want you to post progress pics and summaries of FC readings to gauge whether you can get there. You'll be looking at a possible few more weeks of commitment to get to the final stretch.

The other route is trash pump with sheet method if your water table is high or unknown. You want the big ones you rent from Home Depot for about $60 a day. You need the hp to get stuff off the deep end. This is a rent-don't-buy scenario, IMHO..

In this scenario, you are pumping off at least the bottom half of the water (pumping sludge, NOT vacuuming sludge...I make the distinction because there seems to be a bit of confusion on this...) and the grinder style pump is sucking up all the debris with it. Objects you've lost, like leaf rakes, may be a problem, so this is not necessarily a panacea. But its speedier. You would add a large tarp or visqueen to separate the water you're pumping from the fresh water you're refilling with, thereby keeping the water level high enough to avoid floating the liner or causing structural shifts in the walls.

If you decide to go this route, I will put you in touch with a poster whose done this for tips if I can raise him ;) You can tape together visqueen with duct tape, or buy a giant waterproof tarp.

In my situation, I would have slammed regardless because I wanted to knock down the odor and protect anyone working on the pool from contracting any illness. While it might seem wasteful, the proof was in my pool that you can hold and maintain slam level FC with debris in the pool, and you CAN clear it this way.

I have an early morning meeting and a long day followed by an event, but will be happy to pop in tomorrow am early if you have questions about my experience in hindsight and want to discuss which way to go. Just know its doable ;)

Cheers to clear!

PS ...Re pool terms, please start with ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - these are terms you'll need going forward anyway ;) and please work your way through pool school and make sure you're comfortable with your valves, pump and filter before we get rolling ;)

image.jpg
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
Thanks to everyone for their help, input, and support. Allow me to clarify an earlier post. I asked about "MA", and "thick blue" because that was what I read on this site posted by njpoolguy. The latter was not mentioned or recommended by the man that is currently helping me with my pool.

I am now at a point where I have manually raked/scooped out at least 10-20 wheelbarrows full of leaves, decompossed leaves, twigs, and assorted varieties of muck. Use of leaf gulpers, and other semi-mechanical devices were of little value given the extent of the debris. I found that raking/scooping, although backbreaking, worked best. As of yesterday, it "appears" that the greater majority of the larger solids have been removed leaving a semi-liquid of "dissolved" goop. The good news is that this matter is mostly a liquid, and I would think should vacuum with a professional stand alone pump going to waste. I am still seeing a small amount of compacted leaves with this goop, but it appears that 90 percent or better is "dissolved liquid". The pool is now a "mushroom" brown color, and is full of small "dirt/debris/dead algae" (don't know) in the water. I placed women's knee highs over the strainers and in a short time they became "caked" with these particles. I am running my pump 24/7 but the filter becomes (sand filter) clogged after a short while,requiring backwashing, rinsing and re-priming (the sand is likely 20-30 years old and has never been changed or undergone any deep cleaning).

At this juncture, my plan going forward will be to follow "Swampwoman's" thorough advice. First, hopefully, my pool guy will be able to vacuum the "dissolved liquid'. I will then obtain a taylor 2006 test kit, test, post the numbers, and follow the slam procedure.

In the meantime, is it likely that my sand should be changed? Thank you!
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
11,766
Houston, Texas
Two things, first I would either order the TF 100 with the XL option or order the Taylor K2006-C. The regular Taylor K2006 does not have enough reagents to clear a swamp and you will run out of testing supplies quickly.

Second, open up the filter and deep clean the sand. If the sand is hard and doesn't break apart easily then you will need to change it. Otherwise a thorough deep cleaning should be all you need. Follow the instructions listed here: Deep Cleaning a Sand Filter
 

richardc

Well-known member
May 26, 2017
485
chicago/Illinois
Two things, first I would either order the TF 100 with the XL option or order the Taylor K2006-C. The regular Taylor K2006 does not have enough reagents to clear a swamp and you will run out of testing supplies quickly.

Second, open up the filter and deep clean the sand. If the sand is hard and doesn't break apart easily then you will need to change it. Otherwise a thorough deep cleaning should be all you need. Follow the instructions listed here: Deep Cleaning a Sand Filter
I'm going to replace the sand. We opened up the filter, and my pool guy thought it could stand replacing. I will do this myself.