Vacuuming technique question

ioinva

Member
Jun 3, 2020
15
VA
I have a 15' above ground pool and following a week of intense storms, my chlorine levels dropped and the water became milky. I shocked the pool and used Leslie's UltraBright Advanced to clarify the water, with the expectation that I would be able to vacuum the muck. It;s been 10 days and I just cannot get rid of that muck! It settles on the floor, but any attempt at vacuuming puts it back in suspension in the water. I turn to the filter, but then it's settled back on the bottom...

I run the small Intex vacuum in various configurations, but invariably the "dust" gets kicked up and ends up in suspension. I am able to pick up brown "tree dust", ground up bark that falls on the bottom, but the white slimy residue remains in suspension, no matter how gentle I try to go. I have tried using a sock in my floating skimmer, tried using a leaf catcher with my vacuum (I have the Intex deluxe set), I even put goggles on and floated in the pool to hand-guide the head ever so gently over the debris. I collect a lot of the bark, but none of the slime. Meanwhile, my sand filter gets dirty and requires a backwash every day. The water coming out of the filter backwash is gray-white. Yet the bulk of the gunk remains on the bottom, even with the filter on, so not a lot of it is cleaned up.

I realize I should run the vacuum to bypass the sand and dump the water, but with my single-speed filter, I can empty the pool within minutes and still have the white muck in suspension.

I've tried to find some videos of the actual pool cleaning, but all I can find is how-tos on connecting the vacuum. none on actual operations, and the people at Leslie's recommended I simply run the pool filter longer. (It's already running 12h/day).

15'x48" Intex Prism pool, Intex floating skimmer, Intex 12" sand pump. Water parameters seem ok now -- Tested daily with a SwimMaster 5-testkit and confirmed at the store during the weekend. More storms on the horizon still... I need a better plan.
 

Teald024

TFP Guide
The Intex filter system is inadequate at best. However I don’t truely believe it is a purely filter and vacuum issue. The fine particles on the bottom can be difficult to get out.
The floc you added, was that run throughthe filter? If so it probably gummed up the sand.
Please provide some test results And how you obtained them.
Are you performing the slam process?.
Sometimes getting in there and mixing things up by swimming helps suspend the particles and helps the filter get them out. But you also need to maintain a high level of chlorine to ensure the algae is dead and doesn’t come back. Are you performing the SLAM Process?.
Sometimes getting in there and mixing things up by swimming helps suspend the particles and helps the filter get them out. But you also need to maintain a high level of chlorine to ensure the algae is dead and doesn’t come back
 
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outpost

Well-known member
Jun 1, 2020
52
Long Island
Follow the slam process and brush regularly to mix up what you have floc’d as well as any algae, etc on surfaces. Keep the filter running 24/7 and backwash as necessary during slam. You’ll get it fixed. If your water isn’t too expensive it may be better to just drain clean and refill and start over.
 

ioinva

Member
Jun 3, 2020
15
VA
So to answer your questions, I shocked, but I did not SLAM. I will do that now. Some questions:

1. The Chlorine testing kit seems to stop at 5ppm, while the SLAM chart recommends going to 12. What is the magic to tell you're at 12? (and I assume, no swimming while the process is going?) I went and bought a DPD test, with 3 kinds of reagents thet measure separately free and total chlorine. It does not go to 12!

2. What is the difference between a Phosphate lowering product like NoPhos and any other flocculant? The store recommended I add more flocculant (Leslie UltraBright) to bind the particles more, so that they can be better picked by the filter. Good advice? They also suggested that I try cleaning the sand with one of their product or even put new sand in. They seemed unconcerned about the high Phosphates and the Low hardness (Intex pool).

Here are the results from the 9-points test:

Phosphates: 1227ppb [0-5000] High
Ca Hardness: 128ppm [0-1000] Low
Total Available Cl: 1.66 ppm [0-15] Low

pH: 7.5
Alk: 86ppm
CYA: 31ppm
FAC: 1.4ppm
TAC: 1.7ppm
TDS: 400ppm
 

CrystalRiver

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2020
236
Massachusetts
With a vinyl liner and no SWG or heater, there's no need to worry about low hardness, only high.

Phosphates are algae fertilizer. If you get algae, it will grow faster. But, with proper chlorine levels, there's no algae. It doesn't matter how much food is in outer space, without oxygen people can't survive. Same with algae in the pool, it doesn't matter how much phosphates there are, chlorine makes it uninhabitable to algae. Don't bother adjusting your phosphates.

No floc or clarifier. Just stay out of the pool store. They exist to tell you to buy stuff, so they can make money, not to get your pool running well.

The slime, cloudiness, and the fact that you can't vacuum it up because it poofs into the water all point to algae. So does your current low chlorine level. What do you use to add chlorine?

You need the FAS-DPD test kit in order to properly SLAM.
 
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phonedave

Well-known member
May 30, 2012
737
Montville NJ
Once you kill all that algae, if you still have problems with the filter removing the fines, try a slime bag.

I get pollen in my pool every summer, I vacuum it up, and it's gone for a day or so, and then its back on the bottom. I started using a slime bag when I vacuum, and leave it on for an hour or so afterwards. It never comes back.

-dave
 

ioinva

Member
Jun 3, 2020
15
VA
I have a floating chlorine dispenser with 3" tablets. It hangs on a string in front of the water jet so the all water returned to the pool will flow close to it. I keep 2 tablets in it, with the vents open to a maximum flow, and I use the HTH Ultimate, 7-in- 1 tablets with stabilized Trichloro-s-Triazinetrione 91% and zinc sulfate monohydrate 3.5%, water softener, clarifier, stain preventer and all the stuff their marketing department could think of :).

Presumaby, one tablet treats 10k gallons for 1 week. I use 2 tablets for my 4500 gallon pool (I think it is the surface that matters rather than the volume of those pills, but anyway!).

For shock, I use the HTH Shock! treatment with 52% Ca Hypochlorite, minimum available Chlorine is 49% -- the white granules basic stuff. I use about 6-8oz of the granules for my 4500 Gallon pool.

In a few days I will get the Clorox Ultimate shock granules that works a bit faster (24h) supposedly. Right now, shocking the pool takes a few days to get it back to swimmable levels.

Open to sugestions. I did just get a DPT Taylor test because it was super hard to tell the difference between free and total chloring on my poolmaster 5-way kit. Test today came back with 1 for free and 2 for total, so clearly low, even though my dispenser has been in the water with the pump running all day. Short of adding additional dispensers, not sure what to do.
 

ioinva

Member
Jun 3, 2020
15
VA
BTW -- I really appreciate the advice and musings you all are giving me as I'm trying to figure my way back to a clean pool!
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
978
South-Central WI
I suspect (without good test results) that:
  • Your CYA is too high (from continuous use of triclor) for the chlorine to be effective. Chlorine / CYA Chart - Trouble Free Pool
  • You have algea, and need to SLAM, or drain your pool, clean, and refill (a partial drain may be needed once we know your CYA level anyway).
You have, like many people having issues, stumbled across the BEST site to learn how to maintain your pool. However, we ask that you have a good, drop based test kit to be able know your pool parameters, test FC to 20+ PPM (which requires the FAS-DPD test). We recommend the Taylor K-2006C or the TF100 from TFtestkits.com. Also pick up the Speedstir, you'll be glad you did.

Oh, our second "requirement" is you stop following pool store advice. 😁

Finally, I'd strongly recommend downloading the PoolMath app on your phone, and consider getting the $10/year subscription. PoolMath will calculate what to add, and log results (I think the latter requires a subscription, but I've been subscribed so long I can't remember).

Get the test kit, and follow our advise, and we'll get you to a sparkling clear pool again! Such as these: How Clear is TFP Clear? Let's See (Pics Please).

My own pool:
 

ioinva

Member
Jun 3, 2020
15
VA
So I do have adrop-based test kit (Poolmaster 5-way) and I just picked up a DPD test -- I now have the Taylor K-1004 - DPD Deluxe kit, which has teh DPD chlorine test for free and total chlorine, as well as alkalinity, ph and acid demand.

My CYA is at 31ppm -- measure in store -- I do not have a way to measure that at home.

Ah, so a slime bag -- what exactly is that?! This? Can I add it to my vacuum, like the leaf canister?


attached to this?
 
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CrystalRiver

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2020
236
Massachusetts
Each one of those tablets adds 7.5 ppm of CYA. There's just no way you have a CYA of 30 unless you completely drained and refilled your pool 4 tablets ago. Pool $tore testing is notoriously unreliable, especially for the CYA test.

You need an FAS-DPD test and the CYA test so you can take control of your pool.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
978
South-Central WI
So I do have adrop-based test kit (Poolmaster 5-way) and I just picked up a DPD test -- I now have the Taylor K-1004 - DPD Deluxe kit, which has teh DPD chlorine test for free and total chlorine, as well as alkalinity, ph and acid demand.

My CYA is at 31ppm -- measure in store -- I do not have a way to measure that at home.
You need the FAS-DPD test, not the DPD test. The DPD test is good only to 5 ppm FC, the FAS-DPD is good to more than 20 ppm (I think somewhere up near 50 ppm is the upper limit). The difference is the FAS-DPD uses a drop based, not color matching, which allows the much higher FC testing levels.

You also need a way to test CYA at home.

I was wrong in my earlier post thinking you found us when your pool went bad. I see now you found us in June, but for some reason decided not to follow the TFP water care guidelines. You really, really should start, your current situation is a perfect example of why pool store testing and advise do not work, and why we tell all new people to get a high quality test kit and do things differently than the pool store.

I cannot recommend strongly enough you pick up the recommended test kit and take charge of your pool care. It's well worth it. The cost of the test kit will easily outweigh the overpriced chemicals you've been buying from the pool store, and you'll enjoy clear, trouble free water. It's not maintenance free, but if followed you'll avoid issues like you're having now, or worse, a solid green pool. Which is when a lot of people find us, after adding hundreds of dollars in overpriced pool chemicals from pool store advise and having it not clear up the pool.

It's your choice, of course, but mixing pool store advise with TFP advise doesn't work. So, what will it be? We're all here to help, if TFP advise is the road you choose to follow! :)
 
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ioinva

Member
Jun 3, 2020
15
VA
All, thank you for the advice so far. I went back to re-read the "school" part of the site because there were details I had missed the first time around. For instace, differences between plain DPD and FAS DPD tests. Unfortunately, I was away from the pool for several days and I came back to a mess.

So here's where I am:
1. The pool floor is still covered in slimy dunes of brown goo. I just carefully vacuumed it with a fine mesh canister attached to my vacuum head (all cheap intex) and I'm pretty sure the stuff I keep finding on the bottom is actually sand, mixed with the floc goo left behind. See pictures below.IMG-0323.jpgIMG-0314.jpg

(I backwashed the filter after this, and turned it back on -- sand dunes were back within the time it took me to put away the hose. Next time I vacuum, I'll let the filter off for 10 minutes to see if things settle, but I'm pretty sure this is sand coming back from the filter return).

2. On one side of the pool, I thought I saw a shade of yellow-green stains last night. This morning, those spots have expanded to full on yellow stains that I cannot brush away. Not sure if this is mustard algae or stains from the liquid chlorine (see below), or pollen. They don;t look like much in the shade, but are bright yellow in the sunlight. I'll post pictures when the sun is high again.

3. I have started the SLAM process last night, using a gallon of liquid chlorine (10%). My FAS DPD test arrived this morning so I went to test my chlorine and CYA:
FC: 14ppm
CC: 2ppm
CYA: just over the 9ppm mark -- this is SO confusing -- the store CYA was reported at 31ppm over several tests. The testing kit does not even go there. Am I even on the same scale? (This is the turbidity test that Taylor's complete kit provides)

By the afternoon, I had:
FC: 11ppm (sunny hot day), but the pool is in partial shade.
CC: 1ppm

I will test the FC loss overnight tonight.

4. I have cleaned the filter sand and I have significantly improved filtration and circulation now. I used Leslie's sand cleaner (gotta get that stuff somewhere), and it stained my hands blue something awful. No idea what's in it!

So... how can I develop algae DURING strong hyperchlorination? And the FC loss did not seem crazy high. But there seems to be algae anyway.IMG-0318.jpg

Plan moving forward:
1. Continue with SLAM (adding 5oz according to PoolMath.
2. get a suction vacuum to patrol the bottom. I have a barracuda knock off on order, which will arrive on wednesday-- the fastest delivery I could find. Adding a cannister (pool is in the shade, under tall big maple trees) and thinking of putting a sock on it to hopefully get some of that gunk before it hits the sand filter.
3. Not sure what to do with the yellow stains.
4. Maybe take apart the filter and check the arms for breaks? Or do I endure the sand for the rest of the season and get a new filter next year?
 

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kellyfair

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 29, 2016
2,925
Tampa, FL
Wow. Ok, you really need to pick one method and stick to it. If you want to use the TFP method, that means you don’t add any pool store potions, especially one whose ingredients are a mystery to you.

if your pump is blowing gunky sand back into the pool, you probably should check the laterals and go ahead and replace the sand. Vacuum the muck to waste so you don’t gunk up your sand again.

LC is bleach, so it will bleach out your liner (white) if you pour it in one spot. I’ve done that, in my first Intex, so I can say for certain that it did not leave bright yellow stains. Are the spots rough to the touch, rougher than the untouched part of the liner?

I‘m wondering if some of the stuff you’ve added has reacted together to create those spots, if they aren’t algae.

At any rate, your course of action is to sort out your filter issues, get a baseline of test numbers with one of the reliable test kits we recommend (ignore store testing), and then follow the SLAM procedure, to the letter.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
978
South-Central WI
CYA: just over the 9ppm mark -- this is SO confusing -- the store CYA was reported at 31ppm over several tests. The testing kit does not even go there. Am I even on the same scale? (This is the turbidity test that Taylor's complete kit provides)
There's no 9 on a Taylor CYA test. Do you mean 90?
 

phonedave

Well-known member
May 30, 2012
737
Montville NJ
So I do have adrop-based test kit (Poolmaster 5-way) and I just picked up a DPD test -- I now have the Taylor K-1004 - DPD Deluxe kit, which has teh DPD chlorine test for free and total chlorine, as well as alkalinity, ph and acid demand.

My CYA is at 31ppm -- measure in store -- I do not have a way to measure that at home.

Ah, so a slime bag -- what exactly is that?! This? Can I add it to my vacuum, like the leaf canister?


attached to this?

You get a slime bag from ... Slime Bag Home - The Slime Bag

It is a filter fabric bag that attaches to the return on your pool.



As far as learning about TFP techniques, I think the biggest take away lesson is understanding CYA and Chlorine.

Chlorine in your pool water is "eaten up" by two things - reactions with organic matter and sunlight. Even if your pool is perfectly clean with no organic compounds in it, over the course of a sunny day, just about all of the free chlorine in your water would disappear.

CYA, also known as stabilizer, act like sunscreen for Free Chlorine. It greatly reduces how much sunlight breaks it down. But here is there kicker, it also makes the FC less effective at destroying organic matter as well.

You want enough CYA to be able to provide reasonable protection from the sun, but not so much that you need really high FC levels for it to do its job. This is where the CYA / FC table comes in, it will tell you how much FC you need for a given amount of CYA

Now comes the final twist. CYA does not dissipate. The only way to effectively lower your CYA is to dilute it - remove some some water and add fresh. ANY form of solid chlorine -tabs, sticks, powder, granulated, etc is stabilized with .... yep CYA. It is just the nature of the beast. If you want Cl to remain stable in a solid state you use CYA.

So, if you use solid Cl, here is what happens. You add CYA while adding Cl, your CYA gets higher, so you need more CL to maintain sanitary conditions, so you add even more solid CL, which raises your CYA even more, so now you have to shock the pool, so you add some bags of solid "shock" which adds even MORE CYA, Pretty quickly you get to a point where you cannot maintain enough CL in the water to effectively overcome the CYA while still providing effective sanitation and you throw up your hands, go to the pool store, and they sell you some magic junk in a bottle that you don't need (or want)

Or, You can get your CYA to where it is supposed to be, and check it using a good test at home. Then you add Cl as necessary by using non-solid Cl. A SWG, regular bleach, liquid chlorine, liquid "shock", or if you are really hardcore gaseous chlorine, and have a trouble free pool.

In my opinion, understanding the above is 85% of taking care of a pool. Other items do matter - pH, total alkalinity, calcium harness, salt, borates, etc. They are not to be ignored. But if you understand the importance of good testing (with a good test kit) and the CYA / Cl relationship, you are well on your way.
 
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jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
978
South-Central WI
ANY form of solid chlorine -tabs, sticks, powder, granulated, etc is stabilized with .... yep CYA. It is just the nature of the beast. If you want Cl to remain stable in a solid state you use CYA.
Almost true, but CYA is not necessary for solids or always contained. Take calcium hypo and lithium hypo. Both are solid, generally powders, and do not contain CYA. But cal hypo adds calcium, great if you're in a rain place and constantly need to add calcium due to rain overflowing or requiring the pool to be drained, but in most places not so great. Lithium hypo is effectively unavailable now, due to the demand for lithium in batteries eating up the supply and driving the cost way to high for it to make any sense to use for pools.

It's fair to say the vast majority of solid forms of chlorine have CYA though, as besides the above exceptions the rest are dichlor or trichlor, both of which are roughly half CYA.
 
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phonedave

Well-known member
May 30, 2012
737
Montville NJ
Almost true, but CYA is not necessary for solids or always contained. Take calcium hypo and lithium hypo. Both are solid, generally powders, and do not contain CYA. But cal hypo adds calcium, great if you're in a rain place and constantly need to add calcium due to rain overflowing or requiring the pool to be drained, but in most places not so great. Lithium hypo is effectively unavailable now, due to the demand for lithium in batteries eating up the supply and driving the cost way to high for it to make any sense to use for pools.

It's fair to say the vast majority of solid forms of chlorine have CYA though, as besides the above exceptions the rest are dichlor or trichlor, both of which are roughly half CYA.
Yes, Cal hypo is essentially the exception, because I don't even think you can get lithium hypo anywhere anymore (or at least in packaging designed for pools).

As you said, Cal Hypo brings its own set of issues. I just find it easier to tell people who are unfamiliar with any form of pool care to just avoid solid format chlorine. When you start getting into the "well can you use this, provided that this measurement is not too high, which is dependent on the age of your plaster ....." that is when eyes start to glaze over.