Water Chemistry Help

JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I'm moving into an Association and offered to help with the day to day maintenance of the pool (not the big stuff). As a first step I took a water sample today and got the following readings:

FC 10.5
CC 0
CYA > 100 (Yikes)
pH 7.0 (also yikes)
TA 70
CH 160
CSI -1.05

As expected, the pool service company is using a trichlor feeder to regulate chlorine levels, thus the very high CYA (and low pH). They will close the pool in about a month, so probably not much sense suggesting that the pool be partly drained a refilled at this point. I was going to suggest adding the calcium chloride to get the calcium hardness up to at least 400 ppm and either aerate of add Borax to get the ph up to 7.6. (Not sure they have a means to aerate the pool.) Also was going to suggest they turn off the chlorine feeder for the rest of the season and use liquid chlorine for the next month (and also use it as the primary source of chlorine next year).

What would be the best order to address these adjustments? Should the Borax (if aerating is not possible) and calcium chloride be added incrementally over 2-3 days. Thanks.
 

Texas Splash

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Jun 22, 2014
33,623
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I suppose the actions you take could vary on what your "Association" agrees to. For example, if they say pucks are mandatory (local rules), then you might take different action if they say pulling the tabs is okay. Ideally sure, pull those tabs, but a commercial pool their hands may be tied. I would agree that it needs some calcium, even if you only get it to about 300 - 350. As a reminder when the pool is closed the cooler water cause the pH to rise, but I agree a pH of at least 7.5 would be ideal. Just pulling the tabs should help let the pH rise again.
 

JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
So Borax and Calcium Chloride additions to get the pool ready for the colder water temperatures and closing..... and turn off the feeder and start adding liquid chlorine (if allowed).
I noticed some algae (I think) starting to appear on the bottom and sides of the pool.... even with FC at 10.5. This would be possible due to the very high CYA, as that is making the chlorine less effective, correct?
 

JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Update... I did a retest of the condo pool water today
FC - 4.0
pH - 7.0
TA - 70 (did not retest)
CH 160 (did not retest)
CYA - 180!!!

For CYA test I used 1/2 pool water and 1/2 tap water. The dot disappeared at 90!!!

Based on Pool Math, the FC should be kept at a minimum of 14 at that level of CYA (which is obviously way out of range). I see algae in the pool (no wonder) and I wouldn't swim in the pool the way it is being maintained. Also... lots of quarts of phosphate remover, algaecide, and clarifier in the pool storage area.... and only 4 gallons of liquid chlorine. What a mess! This is what they are paying a professional pool company for???

The pool will be closing soon... so what to do? They have told me that the pool is completely drained and power washed when it is opened in the spring. I suspect the pool company won't get rid of that algae in the pool before closing it. Probably just dump some chlorine and winter algaecide in it, vacuum, drain part way, and cover.

Any thoughts on what to do right now, other than getting the pH and CH up to proper levels? The pool needs to be SLAMed, but that would require a FC level of 71 based on 180 CYA.
Thanks for any guidance you can provide.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
44,387
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
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Fiberglass
Chlorine
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Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
PS - Is it safe to bring the chlorine level up to 14 based on 180 CYA? Can people be in the pool with FC that high?
Yes.
But likely the municipal department that handles pools will not see it that way. Very unlikely they understand nor use the FC/CYA relationship. I suspect 4 or 5 ppm FC is the max allowed, regardless of CYA. Typically they also require very low CYA levels. Then again, they may not be able to properly test for it.

4 ppm at 180 CYA does not have enough active chlorine to prevent person to person transmission of disease. Stay out of the water.
 

JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thank you for the feedback! Very helpful. I think the Association is just letting the pool company they hired manage the pool (for the most part) and they are doing a pretty bad job!
Hope I can be of some help to them.
 

JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I suspect 4 or 5 ppm FC is the max allowed, regardless of CYA. Typically they also require very low CYA levels.
First FC reading (on 9/6) was 10.5, so I don't think 4 or 5 is the max allowed. Also, I'm doubtful there is a requirement for very low CYA levels. With CYA at 180, either there is no requirement or no one is checking it or testing properly (as you suggested).
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
28,256
The pool is probably required to have a permit to operate from the health department.

The chemistry has to be monitored, maintained and recorded as described in the health department regulations.

You should locate the regulations that pertain to your pool.

The CYA probably cannot be over 100 according to the rules.

The pH is too low according to the regulations.

These numbers have to be recorded, posted and made available on request.

Ask to see the records.

The maintenance company cannot refuse to address the CYA or the pH.

At this point, the maintenance company is violating the regulations and the contract with the association.

The maintenance agreement inherently includes the expectation that the regulations are followed.

When is the last time that the health department inspected the pool?
 

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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
28,256
Under the authority of the Illinois Swimming Pool and Bathing Beach Act [210 ILCS 125/et seq.], the Illinois Department of Public Health is responsible for issuing construction permits, inspecting, and issuing annual licenses for all swimming pools in Illinois except those at private residences intended only for the use of the owner and their guests.

Over 3,200 swimming pools are annually inspected and licensed by the Department and its agents.

The Department has extensive regulations regarding the construction and operation of these swimming pools in order to provide a safe swimming environment.

These regulations are contained in the Swimming Pool and Bathing Beach Code (77 Illinois Administrative Code 820).

A copy of this code may be obtained from the Department’s web site at www.idph.state.il.us under administrative rules, environmental programs or by calling (217) 782-5830.

pH. The pH of the pool water shall be maintained between 7.2 and 7.6.

If chlorine is used as a disinfectant, the chlorine residual shall be maintained between 1.0 and 4.0 p.p.m. as free chlorine residual. A free chlorine residual of at least 2.0 p.p.m. shall be maintained when the pool water temperature exceeds 85° F.

3) If chlorinated cyanurates are used, the cyanuric acid concentration shall not exceed 100 p.p.m.

When the cyanuric acid level exceeds the maximum permissible limit of 100 p.p.m., 50 percent of the water shall be drained and replenished with potable water until the cyanuric acid concentration is less than 50 p.p.m.

Algae shall be eliminated by superchlorinating to 10 p.p.m. and maintaining this level for several hours. The swimming facility shall not be open for use during this treatment. If this fails to eliminate the algae, the Department shall be consulted for further advice.

Section 820.350 Operation Reports and Routine Sampling

a) Operation Reports. The swimming facility manager/operator shall record operational data daily on a report form furnished by the Department, or equivalent, that shall be kept at the facility for a minimum of 3 years for inspection by the Department.

A separate report form shall be completed for each pool or aquatic feature.

b) Water Quality Testing. With the exception of bathing beaches, disinfectant residual and pH tests shall be made on samples collected at least twice daily from the shallow and deep areas of each pool, and from all other aquatic features.

If chlorine is used as a disinfectant, testing for combined chlorine shall be performed at least weekly.

If chlorinated cyanurates are used as a chlorine disinfectant, testing for cyanuric acid concentration shall be performed at least weekly.

As noted on the Daily Operational Report form, measurements of pH, turbidity, time of day the chlorine or bromine residual was taken in both the deep and shallow ends, flow rate, and when the filter was backwashed must be recorded daily



 

JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
The pool is probably required to have a permit to operate from the health department.

The chemistry has to be monitored, maintained and recorded as described in the health department regulations.

You should locate the regulations that pertain to your pool.

The CYA probably cannot be over 100 according to the rules.

The pH is too low according to the regulations.

These numbers have to be recorded, posted and made available on request.

Ask to see the records.

The maintenance company cannot refuse to address the CYA or the pH.

At this point, the maintenance company is violating the regulations and the contract with the association.

The maintenance agreement inherently includes the expectation that the regulations are followed.

When is the last time that the health department inspected the pool?
Very helpful information! Thank you.
 
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JPMorgan

Well-known member
May 22, 2018
400
Elmhurst, IL
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
JamesW..... I am just moving in to the condo so I don't know all the answers to your questions. The information you provided is extremely helpful. As a knowledgeable homeowner who has owned a pool for 30 years and well-acquainted with TFP philosophy and methods, I have offered to help them with the pool maintenance and have met with the Association President once to have an initial conversation. I doubt he has any knowledge about the information you provided, but I am going to make sure he does and ask to see the daily logs, etc. The next time I am with him I plan to test the water while he is present and show him the results and make sure he understands they are in violation of the regulations.

We have not moved into the condo yet, but have been stopping by to check on painting, etc. I see people in the pool when I am there and they have no idea they are swimming in "unhealthy" water. My mission is to get this fixed!
 
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TexEdmond

Gold Supporter
Jun 16, 2021
519
Edmond, OK
Pool Size
25500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I have offered to help them with the pool maintenance
That is a very kind, selfless gesture. Please be careful.

On account of this being a community pool and likely subject to any number of regulations, I would urge you to reconsider your offer to help before you can talk to your family and possibly an attorney about the personal liability implications. The pool company is almost certainly insured and bonded (pardon the pun) up to the gills as part of their business licensing and contract with the HOA. It's the cosmic shame, but "doing the right thing" for our pools at home bears very little regulation and liability, and we know what we're doing is safe. If something was to happen and folks got sick, injured, or even just some busybody decides to start poking around, the first person they're going to come after is you for "not following regulations."

Everyone has their own threshold of risk and I'm not trying to make value judgments against you or your HOA or any of your neighbors. Well intentioned folks, even when they're doing the right thing sometimes find themselves in the crosshairs of lawsuits.
 

TexEdmond

Gold Supporter
Jun 16, 2021
519
Edmond, OK
Pool Size
25500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The pool needs to be SLAMed, but that would require a FC level of 71 based on 180 CYA.
Sounds more like that pool needs to be CLOSED, not SLAMmed. Like it was mentioned above, a pool with 4 FC and 180 CYA is not able to stop person-to-person bacterial and viral transmission. Algae's the least of their worries. Perhaps your volunteering to help with pool maintenance might not be the physical action of checking water and dumping chems, but rather volunteering to serve on the HOA board as an interested and informed resident who can advocate for your family and your neighbors that the pool maintenance company (or one of their competitors) can live up to the terms of a renegotiated contract.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
28,256
the first person they're going to come after is you for "not following regulations."
At this point, the maintenance company is not following the regulations.

At a minimum, they need to get the CYA down below 50 ppm as per regulations.

Telling them to follow the regulations should not incur any liability.

If the maintenance company cannot, or will not, do things correctly, they should be fired or a complaint can be made to the health department and the health department can require compliance.

If the health department did an inspection, they would probably be required to shut the facility immediately until the problems are fixed.
 

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