White flakes in pool and floating film

jcichocki

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Apr 16, 2008
67
Burlington, WI
Hello Everyone!!

New indoor pool owner as of Thanksgiving weekend 2007. Gunite construction with integrated spa. Just short of 60,000 gal. No SWG...yet! Cartridge filter, N2 and 3" disc chlorinator. Auto cover on rails. Pool builder encouraged us to brush gunite weekly which I have nearly succeeded doing. Chemicals very difficult to regulate the first 6 weeks especially alkalinity (very high). Lately they have been very good, stable.

We have 2 ongoing problems that we have not figured out. I have read hundreds of posts on this site (a million thanks to all!) and nothing quite matches my problems. The first problem are white flakes. They are mostly small and fine. Not really noticable until the lights are on. However, there have been a couple times that I have noticed large flakes approaching the size of a dime. I attempted to scoop one up to bring in to the pool store, but they just disintegrate. I have cleaned my filter twice in 4 months and even put brand new cartridges in with the second cleaning. It isn't the worst thing, but my wife knows it is there and it is bothersome, especially since the pool is so new and was so costly. I saw lots of post regarding flakes with a SWG, but I am without one.

My second issue is a floating film. To me it looks like something between oil on the water and a light coating of floating flour. Again not earth shattering, but it is noticeable and more importantly we know its there. Usually most noticeable during the day, looking at just the right angle, in just the right window light. I asked about it at the pool store and they recommended trying the "Scub bug". I also asked my pool builder, to which he replied it is a chemical breakdown of the cover on the pool caused by the chemistry being so far off. Seemed ridiculous at the time but plausible. Now that the chemicals are good it seems more ridiculous. Things that have made this much worse include two episodes where chlorine got low. First was after initial fill and shock. Chlorine was off the scale high for more than a month. Then one day no chlorine. Second about a month ago, just plain stupidity on my part. Tested chemicals, all is well, but didn't check the chlorinator. Next time I opened cover water looked pretty scummy. The scum currently is very minimal, water crystal clear. During the low chlorine times, much more obvious (almost a green foamy film). The Scum bugs do seem to pick things up and the water line inside my skimmers also pick up a golden yellow greasy looking substance. But overall the scum/film persists.

I see everyone asks for a chem analysis (from the pool store computer) so I will include it:
FC 2.9
TC 3.2
CC 0.4
pH 7.4
hardness 290
alk 134
CYA 55
Copper 0.7
Iron 0.2

Any ideas, I am all ears and grateful for the help. Thanks. Jeff
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
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Silver Spring, MD
I don't have a solution for you but I do have several comments.

Using trichlor tablets with an indoor pool is asking for trouble. Your CYA level is already 55 and is only going to go up. As CYA goes up you need to raise your FC level to compensate and in not too long that is going to start causing problems.

The Nature 2 unit is adding copper to the water and with copper already at 0.7 you are at risk for possible copper stains if the PH gets too high. As the copper level continues to go up that will only get more likely.

You might want to try some Pool Magic for the oil/scum layer on the water. It has enzymes that help break down oily residues that chlorine only breaks down slowly.

The white flakes sound exactly like calcium flakes, but your chemistry doesn't really suggest that as a possibility. No clue on that one.
 
G

Guest

How is the pool store testing? Your numbers look like they might be from a LaMotte system such as the Waterlink Express. If so your calcium hardness might be MUCH higher than the test is showing because of limitations of the meter used. (The meter will read low when the calcium level exceeds the limits of the meter. I had one customer today with very high calcium hardness--titrated it at 1200 ppm today(Taylor-low resolution 10 ml sample) and the colorimeter showed it at 260 because it can't read that high!) You symptoms sound like calcium and I would like to know the results of a calcium hardness titration (drop test). I suspect that your calcium is very high and, along with your high TA, is causing the problem. I am assuming the TA that you posted is a corrected TA and not the raw test results.
 

jcichocki

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Apr 16, 2008
67
Burlington, WI
I believe the pool store uses a computer, but I do not know which kind or model. I will pay more attention next time. I have rechecked the water: hardness is 460 and the alkalinity is 175 (using the trusty Taylor kit).

I had planned on getting rid of the N2 at the end of its course but have removed it this morning. So the copper shouldn't rise. How will that value lower itself?

As for the CYA, Jason mentioned that I will have problems in the future. What should I be watching for?

And I will try the Pool Magic. Thanks.
 

chem geek

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Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
You should stop using Trichlor pucks, period. With your Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level already at 55, you'd need to keep a minimum Free Chlorine (FC) level of over 4 ppm at all times already. If you continued to use Trichlor, the CYA would continue to climb and you'd have to increase the FC accordingly or use a supplemental algaecide. In an indoor pool with a lack of sunlight and good air circulation, you may have more buildup of Combined Chlorine (CC), specifically monochloramine, than you otherwise would, but if your bather load is low then it might be tolerable. I recommend only a small amount of CYA for indoor pools (around 20 ppm).

You should be using only chlorinating liquid or unscented bleach (or expensive Lithium hypochlorite) as your source of chlorine. These will not increase CH nor CYA. You can periodically manually dose the pool as the chlorine should last reasonably well, but if you want to automate the dosing you can consider getting The Liquidator which you can read more about in this thread.

You should test the CYA level with your own Taylor kit (if you haven't already) as I would not trust the pool store numbers.

Richard
 

jcichocki

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Apr 16, 2008
67
Burlington, WI
Thanks! I will re-check the CYA and be switching to the liquid chlorine method this evening. We do have a fairly lite bather load at this time. Any guesses as to how much chlorine I wil be using for approx 60k gal?

Question: If I plan on switching to the SWG system, don't I need a CYA level where I am at? Is the CYA 20 only if I stick with the liquid chlorine?

Sure does make me mad that I paid all this money for this set-up. This pool builder has been a Chicagoland staple for 30 years. They never once discussed any of these issues or gave me any choices for the maintenance. I have to learn all this after and then spend more money straightening out this mess!
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
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Silver Spring, MD
Because you have an indoor pool the appropriate CYA levels are totally different than they would be in an outdoor pool. For an indoor pool you don't want CYA to be above 30, and 15 to 20 is better. You can survive with a CYA level up to 80 but higher CYA levels require raising the FC level to maintain the same active sanitizer level. Many indoor pools run with CYA at zero, but I suggest a level around 15 to 20, especially with a SWG.

In an indoor pool chlorine usage is highly dependent on bather load. If everything is working correctly and no one is swimming you will hardly use any chlorine at all. That means that you need to be more careful about always testing the FC level and adding chlorine as needed. If the bather load changes and you don't adjust how much chlorine you add the FC level can get very low or very high in only a few days.
 

Butterfly

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May 30, 2007
10,045
South Carolina
Hi Jeff and welcome to TFP.

Seems you have your hands full right now, but when you get time how about some pix?

Your pool sounds awsome and we don't get to see too many indoor pools :)
 

jcichocki

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Apr 16, 2008
67
Burlington, WI
I hope I followed the calulation formula correctly. Pool is 25 x 50. It is 3.5 ft in the shallow end and a true 10 ft in deep end. We have a diving board, so I wanted to make sure no one hit the bottom. I did not substract the area that accounts for the spa space, so it may be a bit heavy. I will attach pictures as soon as possible. Thanks for all the help.
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
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Sebring, Florida
Your calcs are pretty close....that's one big indoor pool!!

It sounds like the first annual Winter TFP Beer-drinking and Belly Flop contest may well be in Wisconsin next year!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Do we have to wear those "cheesehead" hats??
 

ivyleager

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 6, 2007
496
Raleigh-Durham,NC
jcichocki said:
Absolutely!! Suits are optional, but the cheeseheads are not :)
cheeseheads, schmeadheads..............this Bears fan WILL NEVER adorn her fair hair with a silly piece of cheese.

Now for a joke:
A guy goes to the Bears box office just after the end of regular season play. He asks for playoff tickets, the ticket rep states that the Bears did not make the playoffs and there are no tickets.

Next week the same guy goes to the box office and asks for Bears playoff tickets, the same ticket rep states that the Bears did not make the playoffs and there are no tickets.

The next week that same guys goes tot the box office and asks for Bears playoff tickets, the ticket rep tell the guy that the Bears did not make the playoffs and there are no tickets. Then the ticket reps asks the guy why he keeps coming to the box office every week.

"I'm a Packer fan.............I just like to hear you say that!"
 

jcichocki

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Apr 16, 2008
67
Burlington, WI
Excellent!!!! However, I am nervous both ticket windows will be empty this year. I live just across the border in WI but I work in a north Chicago suburb. It is a constant verbal battle between my co-workers and myself, even in the off season.

I have to give it up to Chicago fans, the teams keep losing and the fans keep coming.