Start-up time (again) - help me out!

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
This feels like Groundhog Day (the movie).

Every year, I say I am going to close my pool properly - I don't, and it turns green.

Ridiculously, I have been changing my pool liner EVERY YEAR in my above-ground pool, usually because it has fallen in.

This year, I left my pool "more full" and also installed a "liner lock" - my liner is still up!

BUT, the pool is VERY green. I have already drained it down to around 1/3 full (hopefully not a mistake). Last year, I went down to only a few inches left, and my liner fell in. This year, by leaving it fuller, and having the liner lock, it is all good for now.

My questions are:
1) Should I start applying chemical with the pool only 1/3 full? It is currently filling now, with a garden hose. It takes 1-2 days to fill with the hose. Should I wait until it's full and I can run the pump? Put in bleach now? Or shock? Or algecide?

2) After the pool is more full, i planned to do a lot of "vacuuming to waste." IF I have chemical in, this will dump a lot of the chemical anyway...thoughts on this? Wait until done filling/vacuuming to apply chemical? I worry though, the longer I wait to apply chemical...it's likely to just stay green I think...

3) Speaking of vacuuming, I do have some flocculent...should I do that now? Or wait until the pool fills so I can run the pump?

My pool is 48" deep x 20 feet across, if I remember correctly (it's either 18 or 20 ft).

At this time, all I have access to is around 5 gallons of bleach, some of those disinfectant "pucks" that you put in the floaters, a little powered "shock" (HTH smart shock) and a fair bit of algaecide....oh and some flocculent. I can run to the store today to see what else I can pick up.

I suspect the answer is going to be to get bleach in this thing ASAP, and maybe also start with the brushing, but I"ll defer to the experts.

I'm a bit worried I won't be able to get bleach during this COVID scenario, so I may have to buy shock or at least bleach from the pool section rather than the grocery/cleaning section.

Anyone else needing to adjust due to lack of bleach availability?

Maybe next year I'll close down properly, but at this point I'm leaning towards just letting it go every year and figuring out a good start-up procedure.
Our "down" time here in Iowa is around 9 months where the pool just sits. I get typically around 3 months where the pool can be open. I will gladly research more if there is an easy, cost-effective way to winterize for 9 months...but so far I've just let it go and tried to sort it out the next season. It's just a long time to sit unusued, and a short swimming season.

I'm open to any and all tips though!
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
31,139
Laughlin, NV
Wait until your pool is full and run a full set of tests with your test kit. Add based on that.
No algaecide or floc. You should just dispose of that stuff.
Follow the SLAM Process
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Wait until your pool is full and run a full set of tests with your test kit. Add based on that.
No algaecide or floc. You should just dispose of that stuff.
Follow the SLAM Process
Thanks, I'll do it!!!!!

I also forgot to mention, I have a salt water chlorine generator, but didn't even use it last year. I suspect don't mess with that at all, don't even add salt or turn it on, until everything else is "right."

Do you think it's reasonable, for my short swimming season, to do as I've been doing - to just "let it go" during the down season? Or are winterizing chemicals relatively cheap and effective, even for a 9 month down time? Do you have any direct experience with that? I know it's quite a bit different to operate a pool in say, Texas or California or Florida, vs. Iowa! Those places, it's almost reversed...9 months of swimming, maybe a few months downtime, I'd imagine.

If you have any input on that, please let me know. If not, I will do some internet searching, or maybe talk with the local pool supply store.
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Well we are making progress!
I started the SLAM on 5/27...started with pea soup.
First, adjusted pH to 7.2.
Then started adding chlorine.
After one day, the water was already very BLUE!
Today, still blue, but still cloudy as well.

I hope I didn't screw anything up by doing this, but I also have a floater of dichlor in the pool. I figured it would keep in chlorinated "in case" I slacked on my bleach additions, and also add some CYA to the existing very low CYA number.
I have tested CYA and it's at 30.

I also adde hth 7-in-1 shock on that first day.

Besides that, just continuing to SLAM with bleach, 2-3x per day.

Color is coming along nicely.

I may re-check CYA at some point, but I'm running low on those chemicals and need to re-order.
Do I need to worry about alkalinity at all?
I have a note from "somewhere" saying the pool won't clear unless alkalinity is within range.

Hoping to see some clarity in the water within the next few days.

Only other thing I have planned is to install a skimmer sock on the skimmer, when they arrive (I have a 20 pack of them in the mail). Was hoping this will help slightly with "fine filtration."

I have a sand filter, but no paper filter, and no DME in my sand filter.
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Still hanging out in that "bright blue" but CLOUDY appearance.
I messed up Saturday and went golfing. Added bleach in the morning on Saturday, but nothing again until Sunday afternoon. Of course by that time, FC was at zero.

This morning, starting at 12 FC overnight, I had 7.5 ppm FC yet this morning...awesome (I think, anyway, LOL).
But then just a few hours later, after bumping back up to 12 ppm, I went from 12 ppm to 1.5 ppm FC in just a few hours during the hot sun. That seems like a big drop.
Wondering if maybe I should test my CYA again. I'm running low on those chemicals though, need to re-order.

Started my SLAM on 5/27. Water turned from green to blue really fast. Now just needs to CLARIFY.
Hoping maybe this skimmer sock, along with more SLAM time will do the trick!

If so, this will be my first successful SLAM from pea soup to beautiful blue.
I really hope it works, I'd love to see the SLAM work with my own two eyes.
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Sand filters can be slow to clear.
Read Add DE to a Sand Filter - Trouble Free Pool
Thanks, I've been considering this, or adding a paper filter in-line.

Also, my vacuum set-up is cumbersome and hard to do on my own...a bit hard to explain, but I have a fence rail along the top of my above ground pool and it makes it hard to do everything I need to do, by myself (sink the hose using the return, turn the pump on/off, etc). The fence and the cobbled together make it difficult (again, long story, but I have a mix of Intex and Hayward parts that I need to try to make fit together).

Basically I need a helper, and I don't have one. So last night was the first time I vacuumed the pool. Let's just say...I need to do that more often...filled up the pump basket real quick with leaves and other debris. I suspect more vacuuming will help a lot too. I know it says to brush and vacuum daily as part of the SLAM.

Sometimes I wish I'd have drained the pool again, but risking the liner to fall in would not be good either.

Bad thing is this pool should be sorted out JUST in time for us to go on our 10 day vacation. Hopefully I can recruit someone to dump a jug of bleach in the pool each day while we're gone.
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Just ordered some DE, clarifier (just in case), and a "slime bag" from In the Swim.
I'll try anything to speed this up at this point. I wanna get in the dang pool! LOL!


Anyone around here ever tried the slime bag?
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Day 8 of the SLAM. Or you could say Day 5, since I let FC fall to zero for awhile on day 4...

Anyway, was feeling discouraged. Water has been blue since day 2.
Still cloudy, since day 2.
Not really looking any less cloudy to me.
I called in "reinforcements" - DE, clarifier, and slime bag...also skimmer sock.

I did find this thread from 3 years ago, where my SLAM took a month!

So I'm feeling a little less discouraged that I'm only on day 8...
Hopefully with my "reinforcements", I can cut down the month SLAM time down to a few weeks. Fingers crossed.

One thing I noticed, I only had to add 1/4 cup of DE to my sand filter to increase the PSI by 1 - per instructions I've read, that's all you're looking for...1 psi increase.

1/4 cup is not much though. I may backwash today and try adding 1 cup. Instructions also say this usually takes 1-2 cups.
 
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Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Day 12 of the slam today. MAAAAN THIS IS GOING SLOOOOOW...

Water is still cloudyblue, much like day 2. Some times I think it is clearing up a little, like I can see deeper into the pool, but still definitelycannot see thebottom.

I have added DE to the sand filter twice now.
I have installed the "slime bag" - essentially a 1 micron filter on the return.
I have dosed with clarifier once.
I am using a skimmer sock.

I know I could be brushing and vacuuming more.
I brush daily now, but have only vacuumed 2-3 times in 12 days...I'm sure this is slowing me down.

I also found my CYA...previously tested at 30...but now last tested at ZERO...
So I added stabilizer, also threw in another trichlor tablet...

Each day is reading about the same.
I shock overnight to 12 ppm chlorine.
Around noon the next day, I'm at 7.5 ppm chlorine...i shock back to 12.
By the late afternoon, I'm around 4ppm chlorine...so I lose around 8ppm FC over 5-6 hours during the hottest part of the day...

Is this normal?

Another disappointment...despite using liner lock, I have an 18" section of liner falling in, but at least it's between the skimmer and the return...hoping that will hold it up well and no more will fall in!
At some point I'm going to try to stretch it out and get itback in the track, but my history of success with that is not good.
I am hoping to wait until the end of the swim season to get this put back, because I hear you have to drain your pool quite a bit to have any hope of stretching it back...

Next year, I may have a professional liner installation. I keep thinking I'm doing it correctly, yet I have replaced 3 liners in 5 years due to falling in. I kept thinking it was because I drained my pool too low...and that may be it...but now I'm wondering if the "universal" liners I'mbuying are not correct, or if my track needs replaced...theys eem to click in okay but they never stay! Just hoping I can get through this swim season without having to replace yet another liner!

Every year I say "this is going to be the year...the year of the trouble-free pool"...it just ain't happened yet for me. "The devil's in the details" rings true I think, here.

Maybe next year...

Trying to keep my spirits up...
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Still stuck on "cloudy blue"...SIGH.
Thinking of going to the local pool supply store to see if they can offer me any advice.

I'm on day 16 of my SLAM, and I don't notice any difference vs. day 2. Or if so, not MUCH difference. Actually - okay - I do see A LITTLE difference, I think. When I do brush, I can almost see the brush head on the bottom of the pool now, I think...the water still just seems SO DARN CLOUDY.

Do I need to do anything beyond continuing to SLAM? I think I've gone through 40 or more jugs of bleach by now!
I've added a little clarifier, a little dichlor (floater), some diamataceous earth, a 1 micron filter...still cloudy.

Could the cloudiness be purely due to excessive hardness in the water? I see calcium scale on the walls of my pool, above the water line...
Should I be adding any muriatic acid?
 

splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
Hey, you have lots that are following! Sorry for all your liner issues, that doesn't sound fun!

On a full sunny day, can you run a full set of tests and post the results? Be sure that your CYA is actually there and helping your FC work on the pool water and not just being burned off by the sun.

Although it seems during the SLAM Process, that most concerns happen when the pool gets cloudy blue, and doesn't clear immediately. So lets check your full test results :)
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
What brand? You haven't used anything with the word "BLUE" in label, right?

The clarifier made harder work for your chlorine...
Hey thanks for the reply! Although I was getting used to talking to myself...

The clarifier I used was "Pool Mate Drop Down Liquid Floc."

But hey guess what?! I've got some news! I can see the bottom of the pool! At least in "sections." I'll tell you what i'm seeing now, some mistakes I think I made, and also a question of what to do now...

So what I'm seeing now is lots of white particulate on the bottom of the pool. I"m guessing this is calcium, as our water is hard and always measures high total alkalinity.

Mistakes I made:
- #1 obviously not winterizing the pool at all, and not starting to open soon enough.
-#2 the SLAM method says to get the pH "right" before starting. So in my test kit it "only" goes to 8.2...so i used the poolmath calculator to go from 8.2 to 7.2. I added pH decreaser in the amount instructed. And then I called it good without measuring again. I suspect I never even had my pH remotely correct before starting the SLAM! So going forward I need to be sure to do that. Don't just measure once and then trust that if you add the "correct" amount of chemical (per the calculator) that it's going to be "good"...need to test again!

So what I think has really lead to the improvement over hte past 24 hours is I have started adding 3 oz of muriatic acid, periodically (2-3x per day). This has helped the clarity DRAMATICALLY. I can now clearly see the bottom of the pool, when I had previously been struggling to do so since May 28 - 18 days ago! I suspect if I had done this...oh...18 days ago or so...I would have been done with the SLAM...probably 11 days or so ago...just a guess though.

Anyway, the question I have now is what to do with the cloudy precipitate at the bottom of the pool.
1) ADd metal and stain remover to help "sequester" it and filter it out?
2) Keep adding 3 oz muriatic acid every few hours as I've been doing?
3) Vacuum the precipicate up and out of the pool to waste?
4) Brush the pool and stir it up so it is filtered out through the sand filter?

I'm leaning towards just vacuuming and seeing how that goes. Any input appreciated!

Also - how long after adding acid to I need to wait to get into the pool? Probably should measure pH to see when to re-enter...and I'm not talking to swim, just to jump in and vacuum...this is the only way I can do it in my pool is to get in (long story).

Finally, I must admit - I ran out of chemical to test CYA. Will order more today. I "think" I'm around 30 but I can't be certain of course. Last I tested I was around 15, and added enough chemical to theoretically get to 30, but then could not re-test...

Things I tested yesterday or today:
- Total Alkalinity yesterday (before adding any more muriatic acid) - 170
- last night was at 12 ppm FC; this morning I was still at 11.5 ppm FC! Good!
- Combined chloramines was borderline 0.5-1.0

This afternoon I will re-test pH, probably vacuum (or whatever you guys recommend for the white precipitate) and go from there.

I think the end of the SLAM may be near. Unfortunately, we are going on vacation for 10 days, starting this Friday.
My wife will be here yet. Her only "instruction" I gave her was to dump a jug of bleach in the pool every day...or at least half a jug...hopefully that will suffice until I get back.

Unfortunately the pool is going to FINALLY be ready to swim, right as we leave for the beach...UGH.
 

splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
Glad to be here!
Have you done anything since adding the Floc? The instructions require ALL filters to be by-passed (or it to be vacuumed to waste), as it will gum and ruin most (all) filters.

But hey guess what?! I've got some news! I can see the bottom of the pool! At least in "sections." I'll tell you what i'm seeing now, some mistakes I think I made, and also a question of what to do now...

So what I'm seeing now is lots of white particulate on the bottom of the pool. I"m guessing this is calcium, as our water is hard and always measures high total alkalinity.
That is likely the floc working, you will HAVE to vacuum to waste (best case scenario).

Mistakes I made:
- #1 obviously not winterizing the pool at all, and not starting to open soon enough.
-#2 the SLAM method says to get the pH "right" before starting. So in my test kit it "only" goes to 8.2...so i used the poolmath calculator to go from 8.2 to 7.2. I added pH decreaser in the amount instructed. And then I called it good without measuring again. I suspect I never even had my pH remotely correct before starting the SLAM! So going forward I need to be sure to do that. Don't just measure once and then trust that if you add the "correct" amount of chemical (per the calculator) that it's going to be "good"...need to test again!
There are some that don't winterize or "close the pool". In our mid-west area, it's best to winterize if at all possible!

So what I think has really lead to the improvement over hte past 24 hours is I have started adding 3 oz of muriatic acid, periodically (2-3x per day). This has helped the clarity DRAMATICALLY. I can now clearly see the bottom of the pool, when I had previously been struggling to do so since May 28 - 18 days ago! I suspect if I had done this...oh...18 days ago or so...I would have been done with the SLAM...probably 11 days or so ago...just a guess though.
Whoa, Whoa, please tell me you have been testing the PH before adding the Muriatic Acid? The one thing our vinyl pools do not like, is low PH...

Anyway, the question I have now is what to do with the cloudy precipitate at the bottom of the pool.
1) Add metal and stain remover to help "sequester" it and filter it out?
2) Keep adding 3 oz muriatic acid every few hours as I've been doing?
3) Vacuum the precipicate up and out of the pool to waste?
4) Brush the pool and stir it up so it is filtered out through the sand filter?
  1. No more chemicals or "potions"
  2. Please don't do this without first verfiying/checking PH & FC (high FC can give false elevated PH results)
  3. YES!
  4. Not until we know for sure what it is...
I'm leaning towards just vacuuming and seeing how that goes. Any input appreciated!
Yes, vacuum to waste, as it's likely the remnants of the Floc product

Also - how long after adding acid to I need to wait to get into the pool? Probably should measure pH to see when to re-enter...and I'm not talking to swim, just to jump in and vacuum...this is the only way I can do it in my pool is to get in (long story).
You should always test PH & FC before swimming, for swimmer comfort & safety.

Finally, I must admit - I ran out of chemical to test CYA. Will order more today. I "think" I'm around 30 but I can't be certain of course. Last I tested I was around 15, and added enough chemical to theoretically get to 30, but then could not re-test...
So presume it's CYA/30 and dose FC to match that for now, until you can verify.

Things I tested yesterday or today:
- Total Alkalinity yesterday (before adding any more muriatic acid) - 170
- last night was at 12 ppm FC; this morning I was still at 11.5 ppm FC! Good!
- Combined chloramines was borderline 0.5-1.0

This afternoon I will re-test pH, probably vacuum (or whatever you guys recommend for the white precipitate) and go from there.
The CC's were likely due to the chlorine breaking down some of the lingering chemicals.

I think the end of the SLAM may be near. Unfortunately, we are going on vacation for 10 days, starting this Friday.
My wife will be here yet. Her only "instruction" I gave her was to dump a jug of bleach in the pool every day...or at least half a jug...hopefully that will suffice until I get back.

Unfortunately the pool is going to FINALLY be ready to swim, right as we leave for the beach...UGH.
Can you share a pic of the pool/water condition?
If a "jug" is the amount provided by Poolmath to reach between high target & SLAM level, that would "suffice" (and better than adding none at all). But overshooting is not good either.
 
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Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
Glad to be here!
Have you done anything since adding the Floc? The instructions require ALL filters to be by-passed (or it to be vacuumed to waste), as it will gum and ruin most (all) filters.


That is likely the floc working, you will HAVE to vacuum to waste (best case scenario).


There are some that don't winterize or "close the pool". In our mid-west area, it's best to winterize if at all possible!


Whoa, Whoa, please tell me you have been testing the PH before adding the Muriatic Acid? The one thing our vinyl pools do not like, is low PH...


  1. No more chemicals or "potions"
  2. Please don't do this without first verfiying/checking PH & FC (high FC can give false elevated PH results)
  3. YES!
  4. Not until we know for sure what it is...

Yes, vacuum to waste, as it's likely the remnants of the Floc product


You should always test PH & FC before swimming, for swimmer comfort & safety.


So presume it's CYA/30 and dose FC to match that for now, until you can verify.


The CC's were likely due to the chlorine breaking down some of the lingering chemicals.


Can you share a pic of the pool/water condition?
If a "jug" is the amount provided by Poolmath to reach between high target & SLAM level, that would "suffice" (and better than adding none at all). But overshooting is not good either.
Hey thanks for staying with me! I'll try to answer each as well as possible...

I haven't added any FLOC since June 6 or 7. I saw no improvement or result of any kind from the FLOC but I guess it could still be remnants of the FLOC. Since adding the FLOC, I did vacuum to waste, twice. Also since adding the floc, I have added DE to my sand filter (twice) and added skimmer sock, and also added the "slime bag" 1 micron filter on the return. None of these cleared the pool yet. I did not see any results really at all...well no noticeable ones...until I started adding the acid yesterday!

I just did a few checks...the pool looks cloudier than this morning...bummer. It may be partially the lighting...the past two days it's been cloudy...but I could FINALLY/EASILY see the pool bottom this morning...now...not anymore, just a few hours later.

Here's what I found though on my tests...

FC = 9 which I think is good because I haven't added any bleach since yesterday evening
TA = 200 - higher than before when it was at 170! Weird...
pH = 7.5 - although maybe not accurate since my FC is still relatively high...?

At this point, would you vacuum?
Then shock back up to 12 FC? I think I have to since my SLAM is not done yet?
So I won't be able to get a good pH reading until my SLAM is over...but my SLAM is not over until I can see the bottom of the pool...which I don't think is going to happen without lowering my pH several times and then aerating, to get TA down?

I will post a picture here in a minute...
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
I guess my thoughts are...

- vacuum - only bad thing with vacuuming is I lose a fair bit of water and then need to top off within the next week or so...adding more TA...(I think my constant struggle here with this pool is TA, due to the hard water)
- more acid - get pH from measured (accurate?) 7.5 down to 7.0...hopefully also starting to get TA down...
- then get FC back up to shock level of 12 (from current 9 FC)

I will need to get into the pool to vacuum...don't need to get head under water or anything, but I will have to get in...
I think okay at current levels, assuming I really do have 30 CYA (then I'm at shock level or below for FC, based on the FC/CYA chart).
pH of 7.5 I would think is okay to get in.
 

splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
At this point, would you vacuum?
You actually might need to do this: Deep Cleaning a Sand Filter

- more acid - get pH from measured (accurate?) 7.5 down to 7.0...hopefully also starting to get TA down...
With your higher TA, that should be okay, under usual circumstances, it's better to not aim lower than 7.2 with vinyl.

I will need to get into the pool to vacuum...don't need to get head under water or anything, but I will have to get in...
I think okay at current levels, assuming I really do have 30 CYA (then I'm at shock level or below for FC, based on the FC/CYA chart).
pH of 7.5 I would think is okay to get in.
You have FC reading, but it matters what your CYAis... The (main) reason for seeing the bottom is safety (and health), as long as kids aren't swimming, you are likely ok for cleaning purposes.
When did you add CYA? Also how did you add it?
 

Hawkeye83

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
47
Andrew, IA
You actually might need to do this: Deep Cleaning a Sand Filter


With your higher TA, that should be okay, under usual circumstances, it's better to not aim lower than 7.2 with vinyl.


You have FC reading, but it matters what your CYAis... The (main) reason for seeing the bottom is safety (and health), as long as kids aren't swimming, you are likely ok for cleaning purposes.
When did you add CYA? Also how did you add it?
Yeah I know CYA matters but I can't test it right now. Waiting on chemicals to arrive.

Last time I added CYA was June 8. I added 15 oz stabilizer powder (stuff you get from Wal-Mart). This was how much it said to add to go from 15 to 30 CYA.

I also have a dichlor floater going.