TF100 Test Results Inconclusive- Now What?

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#1
I am new to this pool testing process. I am going to have to "take over" for my husband. He has been adding soooo many chlorine pucks and bags of shock to try to combat algae. Therefore, my sister in law offered to come test using the TF100 kit. She has never seen the results I'll list below. I am wondering if we need to drain or 1/2 drain the pool, fill up, and retest to get some actual viable data to move forward?

FC- did not turn colors...stayed clear, but cloudy
pH- yellow...should have been orange or red
TA- turned pink, not green
CH- 300+ (only added 30 drops, still pink)
CYA- 100+ (immeasurable?)

How bad is it? We have a gunnite pool, approximately 15,000 gallons, clean with a polaris 360 vaccuum, currently using chlorine pucks, shock, and baking soda.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#2
Welcome to TFP!

Your FC is zero. Your PH is way way way too low. Your TA is zero.

The extremely low PH can damage the pool. And you won't be able to deal with the algae until you get the CYA level down to something reasonable.

I suggest you start adding borax (or soda ash, or PH Up) to try to get the PH up to at least 7.0.

Meanwhile, work on replacing some water to get the CYA level down.
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#3
Wow....I knew it's bad when I'm seeing sandy material in our vaccuum bag that is from the gunnite being eaten, I'm sure. Do you think draining and replacing 1/2 the water is the first step. Then, add borax and retest? Continue the process until the PH is up?
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
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Silver Spring, MD
#4
The PH is really really low. You want to start working on raising it right away. However, it is going to take a number of cycles of add borax, wait for it to mix in, test the PH, and repeat as needed. So you can mix that in-between cycles of draining and replacing water. That is to say, do one round of raising PH, do one round of replacing water, repeat as needed.
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#5
Thanks so much. I've read up on this. So, how much borax do you recommend adding at one time and where is the best place to put it into the pool? How long do I let it circulate before replacing water and testing water again? I'm ordering my own TF100 kit but will use a storebought PH tester for now.
 

Deb04

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 12, 2008
338
Seacoast, NH
#6
I am an amateur at this and I defer to the experts, but might baking soda be better since her TA is zero? Cheaper and gets TA up a little.

EDIT: after playing with pool calculator, I see why not baking soda. Raises TA, but doesn't do much for pH.

According to pool calculator, 2 lbs of borax would raise your pH .23. One of the experts might tell you more, but you would certainly be safe with that if you want to start tonight. I spread it around the deep end and then brush if it doesn't all dissolve right away, but it usually does.
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#9
Ok...it's been 5 days since my beggining this post. I have since done the following:
Drained approximately one fourth of the pool water and refilled. I've also put in 12 boxes of borax over the course of these days and allowed it all to circulate in order to get my pH up. My test kit came in today, and here are the numbers I think I've accurately gotten:

I first used the K-100 Basic pH tester and got:
pH 6.8 and the Cl Br side stayed clear

I then used the TF 100 kit tests:
FC- When I added the poweder, it turned very light pink only. Therfore, it only took 2 drop to turn it back to clear, so that's a 1 for FC, I believe.
CC- again, ever so light pink, 2 drops, so a 1 again, I believe.
TC- FC and CC combined, I guess, 2
TA- The color turned a dark pink after 12 drops, so 120? Wasn't sure if this is considered "red" or it will be bright RED.???
CH- It did turn Red, but when I added R-00012, it never turned BLUE, only light purple at 60 drops, so 600?
CYA test- I know this and the pH was of biggest concern now. It is halfway between 100 and bottom of vile, 200 maybe? Still really high after draining one fourth of pool and replacing water.

Do these numbers make sense together? Sorry it's so detailed....first time testing with kit, but followed the directions to the T. What do I do next? Drain more water and replace. Another round of 3 boxes of borax? I'm excited the pH has come up, but I think the other numbers are a mess. Thanks for the advice!
 

duraleigh

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In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
31,326
Sebring, Florida
#10
1. drain at least 1/3 of your pool water...preferably half then refill and test pH and CYA.

2. If CYA is still too high, you will need to drain/refill again to get your CYA down to around 50.

3. Then you will need to shock the pool once your pH is in the 7's and your CYA is 50 or less.

read "The ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry" up in Pool School, then read "How to Shock Your Pool".

Disregard CH and TA for now.
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#11
Ok...drained yet more water...one half, and refilled. Ph dropped a bit to 6.6 and CYA Improved some I believe to about 120. This test is tough because it's difficult to say exactly when I don't see a hint do the black dot, but I know it's not near 50 yet. To summarize, we've drained one fourth, replaced and now one half and replaced. Do I have to drain more? Did add 3 more boxes of borax today for pH. I'm sure there is little to no chlorine now too. We get are getting 9 full hrs of 93+ degree sunlight too. Will this increase my CYA levels too? What do I do now? Starting to get a bit frustrated....Still emptying ALOT of plaster gunnite material from our vacuum bag daily. :(
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#12
Ok...a new day of testing

FC 1.5
CC 1
TC 2.5
pH 7.2
TA 110
CH 390
CYA still above 100 (120ish?)

To this point, we drained and refilled one fourth, added borax to get pH up, drained one half more and replaced water only to have the CYA still be so high. We have full sun for 9+ hours daily at temps in the mid 90s. Is this adding to the high CYA too? I know we need chlorine, but Im not sure if i should put it in now or wait. I am deeply concerned because we are still vacuuming a handful of gunnite material from the pool daily. Please advise my next steps to ease my frustration. Thanks so much.
 

UnderWaterVanya

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 14, 2012
2,589
Mint Hill, NC
#13
kwhyde said:
Ok...drained yet more water...one half, and refilled. Ph dropped a bit to 6.6 and CYA Improved some I believe to about 120. This test is tough because it's difficult to say exactly when I don't see a hint do the black dot, but I know it's not near 50 yet. To summarize, we've drained one fourth, replaced and now one half and replaced. Do I have to drain more? Did add 3 more boxes of borax today for pH. I'm sure there is little to no chlorine now too. We get are getting 9 full hrs of 93+ degree sunlight too. Will this increase my CYA levels too? What do I do now? Starting to get a bit frustrated....Still emptying ALOT of plaster gunnite material from our vacuum bag daily. :(
CYA goes up and doesn't come down expect via water replacement typically.
If the pucks and the shock bags have been used a lot - CYA could have been upwards of 200.
You will need to replace more water - but before doing that try diluting a sample of your pool water 50/50 with tap water and testing the CYA again. If you get a result like 60 then you know you are testing it right and you're on the right track - exchange more water.

Remember if your CYA was 200+ and you have dropped 25% that at best you would have been around 150 after the first exchange of water. Then another 1/3 might have gotten you to 100 - but you're seeing 120 which would lead me to think your initial CYA was closer to 240. If you get through two more 25% exchanges you should be down to a CYA of 60 again and close to where you need to be. Then you can start the Shocking Process in Pool School.
 

UnderWaterVanya

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LifeTime Supporter
Jun 14, 2012
2,589
Mint Hill, NC
#14
Also remember that as you change more water your fill water may change things also. The fill water will not contain CYA but may have high CH or TA and should be checked to know what the impact of the refills will be. If nothing else be sure to check the TA and CH and verify in the poolcalculator that your CSI index is in the right range.
 

frogabog

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
1,578
Portland, Oregon
#15
You need at least another 50% drain. No question about that. Might even take a little more than 50% but if you can get to ~60ppm the shocking process will be a lot easier on you. I know it's a lot of water, but once it's done and you never use solid chlorine again other than for vacations, your pool will be much happier.

To answer your question though, nothing contributes to CYA levels other than CYA. Solid chlorine (trichlor pucks and dichlor powder) add CYA. CYA also can be purchased in powder and liquid form and added to the pool without chlorine. But other than these three sources, nothing else will raise CYA levels.
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#16
Ok. Did the diluted CYA test...was between 60 and 70. So, I'm going to convince my husband that we need to drain again...50% of the water. I'll retest again when we are full. I'll pray this will do it and I'm not in debt for life over the water bill. We'll certainly make up the money in savings not buying pucks and powder shock, I guess. Thanks for the help!
 

Smykowski

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
#17
kwhyde said:
I'll pray this will do it and I'm not in debt for life over the water bill. We'll certainly make up the money in savings not buying pucks and powder shock, I guess.
This is exactly right. It's hard to watch all that water run out of the pool, but take a look at your water bill and calculate exactly how much it will cost. Now, think about the last time you went into a pool store and bought exactly what they told you without really asking or understanding why. How much was that? Does that put it into perspective for you?

I'm amazed at how many people come her looking for help, but balk at spending $60 for a kit, or $70 to replace water, but they'll happily walk into a pool store, and walk out with their wallets $250 lighter without a second thought.

Getting your pool under control only seems like it's expensive because you're really paying attention to it. Stick with us, and I promise that long term, your pool will be far cheaper and far easier to maintain than anything the pool store can do for you.
 

kwhyde

Well-known member
Jul 9, 2012
48
South Carolina
#18
Halleluia...FINALLY...CYA is down after much draining....almost 100% new water. So.... You know my next question...... What now...

FC- nonexistent.....no turning pink
CC- .5
TC- .5
pH-7.2
TA- 40 ( stopped the minute there was a full color change to pink/red, is that right? Not about intensity of color, right?)
CH-150
CYA- 45.....can u believe it?

If I do the pool calculator, do I shock first and then add the borax and baking soda? Any particular order for things to be added?

Shocking process next? Read the pool school but not sure what it means by bringing the pool to shock level. First time doing this...all advice welcome and appreciated!
 

frogabog

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
1,578
Portland, Oregon
#19
Right now, I'd say you're in fairly good shape and may not need to shock. But only if you get the chlorine in right away. Tonight, raise the water to 9ppm FC with bleach. Check half an hour later to see if you hit 9ppm. An hour after that, see if you lost chlorine. (I am assuming you are doing this at night). If not, let it be overnight. Check for CC as well.

If CC shows more than .5ppm, shocking will be in order.

If your results show more than .5ppm CC, or if an hour later it's lost .5 or more ppm FC that indicates something is consuming chlorine. At that point, raise to shock level. Use pool calculator, set CYA in the now column to 45. The calculator will show you shock level at the bottom based on your CYA level. It's 16ppm btw.

If doing this during the day, some chlorine will be lost due to sunlight so just watch it till the sun is off the pool and make sure it doesn't fall below 4ppm before the sun is off the pool (if it does, time to shock). If you lose 50% of the chlorine you started with, you're good. Re-dose to 8ppm for the night and let it go the next day.

Leave pH and TA alone for now. After you've figured out if you need to shock, and complete that, TA should be raised to 70-80ppm but it's not essential to mess with it right now.
 

techguy

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2010
2,697
Antelope, CA
#20
:cheers:

KW... I commend you. you asked for help, followed directions and are making great progress. Some of the others that have come here, ask for help, go to the pool $tore and get "help" and fool around for weeks and get frustrated. Especially, when needing to drain 3 times. It was Needed, not an option to get it fixed.

When you get done, you will have a manageable pool that will be trouble free. No more pucks or bags for you!

I am going to recommend the "feet draggers" read this thread.

GREAT JOB!