Featured The unpoolstorification - fixing levels, etc

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
Hi Everyone-

I've titled my thread the "unpoolstorification" because I recently purchased a pool with a house, and it seems just about everything that could be non-TFP was wacked.

The instructions from the previous owner were, "put a bag of shock from Big Box Store into the pool weekly, and keep the floating thing full of chlorine".

Here's what I've done so far:

Initially, I went to the local pool store to have my levels checked weekly under the recommendations of one of my co workers. Levels had been "within normal limits" (more on why that's in quotes later), and the water clear and the bottom with some nasty brown/green streaks all over it. Like someone had a bad case of diarrhea in the toilet. It was about as attractive as it sounded. Each week I went my levels were "within normal limits", and I kept refilling my floaty thingy with the white hockey puck things float feeder with trichlor tablets, about 3 tabs/week. Everything was going "well", except for those pesky brown stains.

I bought the "stain ID kit" from the pool store and read the insert. All my chemistry was wrong for doing the ID test. Not a low enough pH, too much chlorine, too much CYA. The pool store said I had to dump some water from my pool and refill (good advice!). They suggested a few inches and retest. I said, "but if my CYA is at 100, and it needs to be at 30, don't I need to dump 70% of the water and then refill?" They just looked at me blankly, and it was my first indicator that something was not quite right in Pool Store Land. So I ended dumping a few feet (didn't want to float the pool!) and refilling, and back to the pool store I went! "Please recheck my CYA level," I said.

They did their test again, and results were... 100. "How can that be, I asked?" and I showed them a picture of how low I drained the pool since the last test. The kid doing the test got someone else (the manager?) who informed me they only test up to 100. "So what you're saying is that 100 really means 'at least 100'? So my level could be 1000 or 1 million or something?"

"Well, probably not that high, but yes."

And then I follow up, "Are there any other of these levels you check that are like that?" and it turned out they did the same with chlorine and one or two others which escape my recall right now. When they had been telling me my level was "5", they really meant "5 or more" but never bothered to say that.

"Does that mean I should stop using the chlorine hockey puck things?" (yes I really said that). "Yes, you should get some jugs of our liquid chlorine. It'll be cheaper too!" (Best advice I think I got from them to date)

That was my second indication I probably should not be using the "free water test," and incidentally my motivation to search for and ultimately find this website.

I did get my chemistry to where I could do the stain ID test according to Pool Store Free Water Test, and surprise the stains were iron. Bought the recommended "Iron and Cobalt Remover" powder and "Metal Controller" liquid, and it worked like a charm except when it initially turned the plaster a delightful shade of black. By morning the stains were nearly gone so it was all good. Or so I thought. Since then I've been dealing with intermittent algae blooms, and I think the iron stains are starting to return.

The pool store people are either unwilling or uninterested in helping other than "sounds like you need to shock your pool" or "take the free water test then buy what we tell you to buy" or some combination of those two. Except now I get to add the special "sequestrant" test when I go and add more of that to my pool each week. This level also seems to vary quite wildly depending on the person doing the test and the branch of Local Pool Store where I have it done. I really would like to do a split sample test and take them to different branches of Local Pool Store and see how reliable the numbers are from store to store... but I digress again.

And lord knows what else was in all those "blue shock" bags the previous owner had been putting into the pool...

Since then, I've ordered by TF100 which has not yet arrived, and I'm looking forward to having reliable numbers to do this the right way! Any tips anyone has to make this process easier / faster / smoother? Thanks in advance!
 
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YippeeSkippy

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LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
11,370
Evans, Georgia
WOW!! What a great testimony as to why we don't trust/like/recommend pool store testing!!

Do you have iron water problems in the house- LIke in the toilets or sinks its often noticed? I get particularly squirmy when I read things like those "blue shock bags".... I always think copper when "blue" is mentioned.

Great job getting the TF-100 ordered. Did you splurge on the Spin Stir device too? Totally worth it, IMO.

Keep us updated, 'k? When the kit comes in tell us:
FC
CC
pH
TA
CH
CYA

Maddie :flower:
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,002
Tallahassee, FL
Well hello there!!!! What a pool store ride you have been on so far! Nice write up of what could and did go wrong for your wallet and pool-OUCH!

You are going to be fine and your pool will look better than it ever has before! Oh and your wallet will be happier as well LOL

Do you have any more of those blue bags? If so let us see one of them.

I see a big water exchange in your future. For right now just use liquid chlorine to keep your FC up. Don't bother taking it to be tested as you and I both know it will be wrong :roll:

Does your local pool store sell liquid chlorine AND it is easy for you to get to as needed?

Also while you are waiting for your test kit give this a glance: Salt Water Chlorine Generators - Trouble Free Pool This will make your life even easier!

Kim:kim:
 

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
YippeeSkippy- I did not get the spin stir. I am thinking about getting the "high school chemistry class" sized one so I can spin more things. What, I haven't yet figured out. Maybe margaritas when friends are over? Mixing juice for the kids? I did go for the "XL" option since I anticipate having to do a lot of testing at first to get all this squared away. And I haven't noticed any unusual staining inside the house, so I'm hoping I just have to get rid of all the Mystery / Magic / Not-gonna-tell-you-what's-inside / "Stuff" chemicals that the previous owner dumped in. There's some "yellow algae" fighting product under the sink outside which I haven't used, and have no plans to do so.

KimKats- the previous owner left me a single (empty) bag of the shock, and I never went and bought more. Before I found TFP, I had already said to myself "I don't know what is in that, and the water looks clear. Let's just float some chlorine in the floater and see what happens." And the pool water was clear and colorless for several weeks until I tried to get the stains off the bottom! On my next trip to Big Box Store I can talk a walk down the pool aisle and see if I can find one and take a picture. Being a new home owner, I go there probably about 3x a week, if not more! Also, I already did 2 water exchanges.

First time, went this deep:
pool-lowered-first-time.jpg
(stains included at no extra charge! :) )

Second time I went a bit lower. I'm hoping that the iron in the water came from the use of products by the previous owner, or because of the unusual leak I have in the pool where the water leaks out of the pool and some of it comes in at another spot. But that's a separate conversation. If it's that simple, then yes, I'll have to dilute a few more times then the problem should go away and not return. I'm on municipal water.

Lastly, Local Pool Store is very close, and they sell refillable 2.5 gallon jugs of 10.5% bleach (NaOCl) for about $8 each. Then you pay $4.55 each time you get a refill. So the first time you pay about $12.50 for the jug+bleach, then $4.55 each time after for the bleach only. It is very similar to Blue Rhino propane tank exchanges if you have ever done that. I need to get a milk crate or something for the trunk to keep them from falling over.

I know everyone wants to have the TF100 results, but I also bought a Pool Store test kit about a month ago. I have some numbers from today, though it's one of those ones with yellow and red bars of different colors which are somewhat hard for me to differentiate the yellows, especially the pale ones. Never was much of a fashionista so colors aren't really my forte.

This morning: FC was 3.0, ph was 7.8. I subsequently added about 3 cups muriatic acid to help fight the iron stains (I should make another thread about that too!)
Next I went to Local Pool Store because I just used the last of the acid. For funsies, I did the FREE WATER TEST again. They told me my CYA was low at 30 and wanted me to add more, my CH was 230 and "did I want to buy some calcium stuff?". I bought the muriatic acid I came for and a 2nd refillable jug of bleach so I won't ever run out.
This evening: FC 2.0, pH 7.2. The water is clear and colorless to the bottom of the deep end. The stains are working their way back, but I also had some algae on the bottom I brushed off two days ago, so they could be organic too.

Once I get my TF100 I'll be sure to post some results.
 
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mknauss

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TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,396
Laughlin, NV
Keep all your issues in this thread.

With all your draining, it would have been good to use some ascorbic acid to release the iron in to the water and then remove it.
 

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
Mknauss- I agree, the problem was I did it to get the CYA out so I could do the stain testing kit. Only subsequent to that did I learn it was iron.

And I can be sure to keep my issues to a single thread- can someone move/merge my other thread into this one for me? Then it's all in one place. Thanks.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,396
Laughlin, NV
Your leak thread is well viewed so we will leave them separate. Just include any discussion with your iron here in this thread.
 

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
Ok, got my TF100 today- fast shipping! Here are the numbers:

FAS DPD FC: 6.5
CC 0.5
CH 275
TA 80
CYA 20-30 (it was about halfway in between)
pH 7.2

Based on my understanding of Pool School, these numbers aren't that bad. I had pressure washing yesterday, so there is more organic material plus whatever detergent and bleach cleaning agent they were using in there too.

Here is the package the prior owner left behind:
1570674031023.png

The relevant parts:
1570674147147.png
63% dichlor, 0.26% copper, and 36.7% mystery ingredients / proprietary blend of 12 herbs and spices / not-telling-you

Given that he previous owner has been dumping that in for who knows how long, some of the stains may be copper too. My multistep plan then becomes:
1. scrub (again, sigh), then vacuum
2. if stains still present, retest FAS-DPD FC and CC, and possibly SLAM if needed
3. if stains still present, I can do the vit C test, but given past experience with Pool Store supplies, likely will still be iron.
4. then Bulk/Large volume Vit C to lift the stains then quickly do a partial dump/waste the water with the iron in it then refill. Maybe do this a few times...

Any thoughts on home water test kits/drips you can buy from Big Box Store or the internet? I'm thinking about using it to check my municipal water to ensure there's little to no iron in it. Thanks again!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,002
Tallahassee, FL
The metal tests is the only test we "allow" the pool store to do as it is one they tend to get right.

The word "blue" is our first clue there is copper in the mix. You have a solid plan to move forward.
 

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
I have asked Local Pool Store to do iron level a few times, and they blew me off (passively) every time. I didn't push it, so it didn't happen. IMHO more important is confirming my municipal water doesn't have substantial amounts of iron. As long as I know that I can dissolve the pre-existing iron and do successive dilutions and the problem should go away.

kimkats- I haven't forgotten your "bigger picture" request for the rest of the yard. I honestly don't have the picture you're looking for in my phone, and I haven't gotten home before dark and gotten the picture. While I'm currently exclusively focused on getting the pool into a state I would call "stable" (no leaks, no stains), I've let the yard be a lower priority. But at least the avocado tree and lemon tree are still producing despite my non-attentiveness!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,002
Tallahassee, FL
You call THAT a mess??? Yeah my standards of a "mess" is a lot different than yours LOL

So the little pool is really a holding spot for water to go into a waterfall. It could be nice for someone to dangle their feet into while watching others swim. It would keep them at a safe distance from the splashing and allow them to enjoy the coolness of the water at the same time.

That is a very pretty set up there!

Iron/metal tests-I did a basic Google search for home iron and metal tests. Some came up. I did not link to them as I have NO idea if they are any good. I will leave that up to you to decide as I don't like to seem to endorse things I don't really know about. Please share what you end up doing and how it works out for you. You can teach me!!!

Kim:kim;
 
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FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
OK, that's fair. I've already cleaned up the area a bunch and had it power washed. I've kept the trash haulers busy.

Ive done the cleaning and repeat scrubbing. And the stains that are now present are the non-scrubbable variety (presumed iron). Next steps are fixing the grout so I can turn the waterfall back on, and then sequestering the iron and doing successive, partial pool drain and refills to dump the iron.

I'll also see if I can get Local Pool Store to give me an actual iron level.
 

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
OK so I've been reading a bunch on this forum, and I'm thinking the stains may be copper not iron.

Evidence pointing to copper:
The previous owner told me he dumped a bag of the above shock into the pool each and every week. The shock has copper.
Some of the stains, when interacting with "iron and cobalt remover" (suspect is largely if not entirely ascorbic acid) turned BLACK, which based on forum posts, is what happens when AA reacts with copper.

Evidence pointing away from iron:
I'm on municipal water which greatly lowers the chance of having iron in my water source.

Upon further reading here, there is something called "sulfamic acid" which works better for copper stains, but this chemical also "locks up the chlorine for weeks". I don't know that I want my chlorine to not work for weeks as that will create a whole other bunch of problems (algae!).

My preferred options at this point are:
1. Buy more " iron and cobalt remover" and sequestrant, follow the Local Pool Store instructions. Then partial drain and refill several times to dump the offending material while it's in solution.
2. Replace "iron and cobalt remover" with ascorbic acid in #1 and see what happens. If the stains lift, then do the dump/refill.

I still have some "iron and cobalt remover" left, so I could also do #2 then use the leftover "iron and cobalt remover" on any remaining spots.

Any thoughts? And thanks again in advance- y'all are super helpful!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
41,002
Tallahassee, FL
I am going to put in a call to someone that knows about this kinds of stuff. She may take a little while to answer though as she is raising and training a new doggy!! @Swampwoman

My gut says you are on the right track but I don't have any bases for my thoughts so want someone who knows for sure!
 

FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
Just an update:

I took a vitamin C tab yesterday and applied it to one of the darker stains, and it lightened. Ordered some polyquat 60 and ascorbic acid powder to do option #2 above with possible spot treatment with "iron and cobalt remover" should any stains persist. Also, the new grout to repair/replace my damaged grout arrived, and the weather is looking good to do it tomorrow night or Wednesday.
 
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FlaPoolGuy

Member
Oct 5, 2019
22
Florida
As I'm pre planning all these steps, I noticed the preference to put the CYA into a sock and dangle into the pool to avoid damaging the pools surface. Local Pool Store told me to dump the granules into the skimmer with the basket out so it will get caught in the DE filter and dissolve over time. Bad idea? Did that maybe do damage?

Also, could I put the CYA into an empty float feeder instead of a sock? Or put it in the sock then into the empty float feeder? Thanks again!
 

ManiacalMama

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2017
90
Antelope, CA
The last time I added CYA I put it in some hairnets (I use these as skimmer socks), I tied them up and dangled them from a broom handle in the skimmer and kept the pump running. I was on a 24/7 pump schedule because it was right after I had the pool replastered.

I think the problem with dumping it in the skimmer is you don't want it making it to the filter undissolved and then just sitting there when the pump turns off (it is an acid after all). The purpose of putting it in socks is so you can dangle it down in the water in front of a return and the flow of the water will dissolve the granules. A float feeder won't accomplish that.
 
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