Will the Industry Ever Change CYA/FC Parameters?

gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
I know my topic title, CYA/FC, seems backward from the way TFPC talks about the ratio, but that's the way it seems to be presented to a council this year for a change to recommendations.

Please forgive me if you gurus already know about all of the following info that I've researched and found or if I'm rehashing old discussions. The following is a revelation to me, so I thought I'd share what I'd discovered, yet barely understand except to know that there are at least a couple of men pushing towards TFPC-sytle methodologies for chlorine and cya management as a new standard of outdoor pool care industry wide. Men who have power-via-knowledge that are pushing for a higher FC level recommendations for outdoor pools and an FC level based on the CYA level of outdoor pools: Robert (Bob) Lowry and Richard Falk, aka Chem Geek. Hoping that some of you experts know more about all this than me and can enlighten me even further.

I am very interested in the possibility that there would ever be a change to the current sham system of chlorine and cya management for outdoor pools that's taught by the industry that I believe causes all sorts of problems for the DIY pool operator as well as for many professionals who are being taught the current vudu chemistry as it relates to chlorine levels and cya levels recommended in outdoor pools. I feel like the current system taught brings in a lot of confusion about water chemistry, because, for one, it doesn't follow logic; it causes a lot of frustration and searching for quick fixes and tricks and all sorts of searching and sometimes the use of harmful and troublesome chemicals like copper in pools simply because raising FC to a true shock level based on the CYA level is never offered up as an option or technique, and also, the current system of care often brings about a sense of inevitable failure of outdoor pools that many believe is just part of pool ownership. And lastly, it is rarely mentioned in the industry that one should be strict about targeting a best-range CYA level to eliminate complication for pool care, and the fact that by not being strict on maintaining a constant CYA range, one is actually creating one's own dilemma and extra work and down time regarding pool care.

So what did I find these two guys are up to? Well it looks like Robert is out doing interviews and writing articles in sort of plain language that professionals and retailers can understand just as I had found a couple years ago when I looked in to this movement that seems to be gaining no traction. Bob has a lot to say, not only about FC/CYA, which mirrors what Ben and Richard have said for many, many years about the 7.5% FC/CYA minimum conclusion for proper pool sanitation; but he also says a lot about the saturation index, CSI, and how our current PH range recommendation and other chemical pool level recommendations are too wide. He recommends targets for pool chemistry levels instead of ranges for some of the levels such as PH. The following is a 2019 article where he discusses what he's learned over his long career of studying pool water chemistry and how he has come to his current beliefs/conclusions. Most of the info I've found from him are printed interviews in trade magazines and a Youtube interview by a guy name David Brunt who is one of the few teaching anything close to what TFPC teaches on Youtube besides TFPC's own Youtube channel.


Now Richard's recent work is so advanced that a lot of it is a head scratchier to me due to all the chemistry charts and formulas, but it looks like the summary of the "Stabilizer Ad Hoc Committee" in which he chaired in 2017 for the CMAHC (Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code) goes to the "change" committee for consideration this year if it hasn't already. This work was based on pathogen spread prevention of three different pathogens and how the chance of these pathogens spread from one individual to another at a specific distance with the current FC recommendations that are not dependent on the CYA level and what happens when the minimum FC level goes from CYA/FC=45 to CYA/FC=20. This work did not look at algae or other organic material bloom prevention, and so it is very narrowly focused work to only three pathogens. The two things that came out of their work via a summary the way I understand it is that: (1) FC minimum recommendations should be based as a ratio to CYA, not separately from each other; and (2) That the CYA/FC ratio should be decreased from 45 down to 20 to basically cut in half the risk of infection (but that does not raise the FC minimum based on CYA up to the 7.5% FC/CYA; it's lower according to the charts produced). Part of what I don't get is what this would all mean if the wider council adopts these recommended changes that would move the FC/CYA recommendations closer to what BBB and TFPC has always said is needed for proper sanitation of pools. Would it eventually work its way into the industry's recommendation to consumers to the point where someone would walk in to a pool store, and the associate tell them to set their cya level from 30-50 in a non saltwater pool, and then add bleach daily in order to target an FC level that will never let FC drop below 7.5% of CYA or something in that ball park that is higher than the .5-4 recommendation that they give today?

 

mgtfp

Bronze Supporter
Mar 5, 2020
276
Melbourne, Australia
It's probably still a long stretch until you can walk into any pool store and will get good advice based on CYA/FC ratio.

My understanding is that this latest push is mainly about water safety in public pools, hence the focus on pathogens and not algae. But it is an important first step, hopefully knowledge will spread from there also to algae control. Once it is understood that FC needs to get adjusted to the CYA level, and that the required higher FCs are not going to melt people, it might spread into the residential pool mainstream.

Thanks for sharing this presentation. For those that are interested in all the details, here is Richard's paper on that topic:

 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,720
NY
Do they have one overall set of guidelines for all public pools or is it broken down to indoor and outdoor ? Indoor pools wouldn't matter and make up a decent percentage of them.
 

Leebo

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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
9,820
Eastern Ohio
Do they have one overall set of guidelines for all public pools or is it broken down to indoor and outdoor ? Indoor pools wouldn't matter and make up a decent percentage of them.
It’s a “one size fits all” set of guidelines.

In honesty, I don’t there will ever be major steps towards the EPA or CDC to recognize the ratio. It’s just not really on their agenda of things to worry about. The best hope is to continue to make a strong push for private pool owners and let the market make the change. The more we get the info out there, the more real the info becomes.
 
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gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
If I understood the presentation correctly (it was tough for my feeble mind), there was a significant reduction in the spread of only one of the three pathogens from one human to the next by halving the ratio from 40 to 20; CYA/FC according to the work they did in the Ad Hoc committee. It's a shame that the CDC is not that interested in preventing algae outbreaks and growth, which is more of an indirect threat, since algae breaks down whatever FC is left or added to a pool, and then that allows for the spread of disease. Is the pool industry, by that I mean the pool stores, pretty much taking training and methods and cues for pool care from the big pool chemical companies? I mean--Is that sort of how all this "plan for pool failure" mess got to where it is today? I think I understand it that cya was introduced as a method to protect chlorine more than 100 years ago, but it seems like the FC recommendation used today is based on a pool without any cya. Am I thinking right?
 

tim5055

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May 11, 2014
10,976
Franklin, NC
To your questions-

Is the pool industry, by that I mean the pool stores, pretty much taking training and methods and cues for pool care from the big pool chemical companies? I mean--Is that sort of how all this "plan for pool failure" mess got to where it is today?
Yes

The "pool industry" really has no advantage in fixing any of this. Acknowledge the CYA/FC ratio exists and now you can't keep feeding pools pucks and shock, with other magic potions to help repair the damage done. Follow the money.......

I think I understand it that cya was introduced as a method to protect chlorine more than 100 years ago, but it seems like the FC recommendation used today is based on a pool without any cya. Am I thinking right?
Yes

See, simple. Even Bob Lowry had it wrong for a long time and his first article was just wrong. It was Richard ( @chem geek ) who straightened him out and pointed him in the right direction. Richard used to participate here a lot, but his passion is getting the CYA/FC ratio recognized and there are only so many hours in the day.
 
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jimbethesda

Gold Supporter
Jul 2, 2018
393
Austin, TX
The "pool industry" really has no advantage in fixing any of this. Acknowledge the CYA/FC ratio exists and now you can't keep feeding pools pucks and shock, with other magic potions to help repair the damage done. Follow the money..
This. Too much money being made using the old method. Lots of $$ in pucks and magic potions. Not to mention the “dump and run” business model of pool service companies.
 

gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
I found Richard's company website and found that article. I wanted to find out what he was up to. I miss him being on here. Setting people straight on things. Not just average people, but really smart pool people. He helped me out with a personal pool issue once, drifting ph and we even exchanged some pm's; he vented his frustration a little about the site not changing TA recommendations (they are changed now). Conversing with Chem Geek to me is like having a one's favorite celebrity's autograph. I noticed Bob's articles tauting the chlorine/cya chart around 2018 and he referenced Richard Falk back then. Bob's good at making complex concepts simple, but I'm with you; there is only one Chem Geek.
 

Leebo

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Jul 21, 2011
9,820
Eastern Ohio
Over the last 10 years or so I’ve actually watched a change occur to the industry. It’s been slow, but it’s occurring. It wasn’t pushed by politics or by major changes, but by pool owners noticing things weren’t working.

When I joined years ago 8% bleach was cheap BUT 12% or 10% liquid chlorine was a pain to really find. Powdered shock was almost always Trichlor. Now fast forward.........

Water restrictions have made it very expensive for many to dump the water yearly like they used to. There’s been a boom in SWG use. Anymore I’d say that if you’re building a new Inground pool, you’ll likely get a SWG. There’s more and more info out there concerning CYA and how it messes with things.

All this is hurting the old model of pucks and Trichlor, and the higher-ups in the industry are likely taking notice. Just look at the chemical changes over the last few years. While bleach has taken a MAJOR step backwards for pool owners, 10% or 12% liquid has leaped forward light years. You can find liquid in many large box stores and most pool stores now. Trichlor in packages of “shock” is becoming harder and harder to find as it’s slowly getting replaced by CalHypo.

I do suspect at least a part of the changes are because high-ups are recognizing the change. There are minor and slow changes occurring to recognize the ratio, but it’s being done by altering chemicals.......not by handing out better info.

Now of coarse all this is only my observation,
 

gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
Thanks for including your observations. This is a big interest of mine. I notice that my community's largest pool store is now dedicating most of their shelf space to cal-hypo shock and even cal-hypo tablets, yet no liquid, but the non stabilized form of tablets available there come in only huge buckets, so not a good choice for those with small pools like mine; and no answer for those near the limit on both cya and also CH. I guess that's when it's time to drain and refill. The store personnel are much quicker nowadays to help owners monitor and control their cya levels than I noticed six years ago, and switch them over at least at this one conscientious pool store. However, while liquid is available at two places: Walmart and Ollies Bargain Warehouse in this micropolitan area of around 150,000 people; those two stores don't move much product off the shelves from what I can tell, although this year it has been somewhat more making me think that some owners and pros in the area had previously been using regular bleach. Regular bleach this year has sort of dwindled in the size of the containers and the amount of stock on the shelves at 1.5% stronger concentration in my area, and so it really can't be used as a regular source of chlorine easily. To use liquid chlorine in my area, you've got to watch when the shipments come in and then also the restocks of it end early July making fresh-date liquid use hard to manage.

Back to the pool store: if you mention bleach of any strength, they'll say it's not strong enough to do anything. I took in my ladder that has some algae inside the treads, because I can see some come out when I take it out and clean it. I can't find the manufacturer and the parts won't come up in internet searches. I want to replace the treads, because I can't break the surface film on the inside. The treads have a part number. They told me to fill them full of algaecide through the tiny holes and let it soak a day. I told them I had tried 10:1 10% bleach, so that's 100 ppm chlorine. They told me bleach will not kill algae. I repeated those words back to her and chuckled. The "good" manager wasn't there, so I left.

Regarding the most important change that needs to occur, the chlorine/cya ratio requirement; they are holding tight to that fc 1-4 mantra pretty much everywhere but here. I have seen one Youtube channel recommending to keep fc at 3 rather than just 1-4. This one is run by David Brunt; he recommends BBB as one good methodology, but falls short of endorsing the ratio or referencing the chart. I've never seen, read or heard of anyone, however, offer a chemistry-based debate against the ratio assertion that Richard has laid out so wonderfully; yet if you find an article promoting chlorine/cya in a trade magazine, they'll refer to these two methods of chlorine management as a big debate. I guess that's a step forward though rather than the concept being ignored as it used to be.

There seems to be tons of misinformation still out there regarding the use of liquid as an alternative to solid formulations: (1) You can use liquid only if you add it at night, because the sun breaks it down quicker than other forms; (2) It can be used only for shocking because of that same reason; and sometimes heralded for shocking, because when you weekly shock or shock an algae pool, you then desire fc to drop more quickly; (3) that it raises PH; (4) It doesn't kill algae as effectively as trichlor.

My observation is that in some regards, I see some movement towards tfpc, but in other areas, it seems the same or worse. There seems to be huge growth in people buying, installing, and filling pools and then skipping the pool store and tfpc, turning to fb or Youtube or going to Walmart and reading labels about products that supposedly do three things at once for pools. Then they turn to a fb group or Youtube or Joe down the street for advice when their pools turn green. Some get green pools before they even test it or put the first chemical in it. Absolute disaster. Much better off going with pool store advice.
 

tim5055

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May 11, 2014
10,976
Franklin, NC
cal-hypo tablets, yet no liquid, but the non stabilized form of tablets available there come in only huge buckets, so not a good choice for those with small pools like mine
The only non stabilized form of tablets I'm aware of are cal-hypo. While still classified as an erosion product Cal hypo tablets use a different system for use as the tablets seem to degrade and get sort of mushy as opposed to Trichlor tablets that maintain their structural integrity during use. Cal hypo tablets seem ot be directed at large commercial pools and water/sewage treatment plants. Maybe why they have huge buckets??

Some people are learning, but it's a slow process. I actually had the manager of one pool store tell me not to bother using their liquid "shock" to avoid CYA because it had CYA also.

It will happen, someday. My neighbor has to drain and refill his pool twice a year because he constantly gets "chlorine lock" and it turns green. But, he floats tabs, shocks it every week and pours in everything the pool store can sell him.
 
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jimbethesda

Gold Supporter
Jul 2, 2018
393
Austin, TX
I’m very interested in this too. I believe it’s all about the money. Pool chemical manufacturing is a $1 billion industry. Add in the big pool stores margins and pool service company business models. Lots and lots of companies have huge economic incentives (and some entire business models are reliant on it) to keep the 1-4 chlorine recommendation in place. How much would their revenue decrease by if everyone adopted the TFP method? How many small pool service companies would go out of business?

It seems like the only solution is for a government agency (CDC, EPA,?) to spend some $ and conduct scientific analysis on chlorine kill rates given CYA values.

 
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gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
I'm not quite as cynical as some might be. I think that our super-busy pool store, for instance, would gladly accept showing consumers a new, better, and simpler system of pool care that takes away virtually all the major headaches, so they can focus on selling and installing pools and selling equipment and accessories. All these customers coming in with green and cloudy pools sucks up lots of store space and labor. I think they'd be happier if they could just sell them bleach and send them away if they believed it would work. If, however, two-hundred customers came in there in a single month and told them about tfpc; that we can manage pools with liquid and not have to routinely shock; not ever butt up against CH and CYA limits, but must first set cya; keep fc above 7.5% of the cya level; they'd think we're part of a growing cult of nuts. The biggest issue for industry folks that have integrity and are truly there to help people (I think there are many) is that some big pool chemistry companies and/or huge retailers like Leslie's or the trade magazines would have to start putting out articles showing Richard's proof that this is the one, right way; and that higher chlorine is safe; and that's where we are stuck. The trade magazines treat Richard as if he is a radical with a wild, new idea, but at least since around 2018, they now know who he is. It's not enough to show them the proof; they have to see it endorsed by sources that they follow.
 

tim5055

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May 11, 2014
10,976
Franklin, NC
they'd think we're part of a growing cult of nuts. The biggest issue for industry folks that have integrity and are truly there to help people (I think there are many) is that some big pool chemistry companies and/or huge retailers like Leslie's or the trade magazines would have to start putting out articles showing Richard's proof that this is the one, right way; and that higher chlorine is safe; and that's where we are stuck. The trade magazines treat Richard as if he is a radical with a wild, new idea, but at least since around 2018, they now know who he is. It's not enough to show them the proof; they have to see it endorsed by sources that they follow.
Many, including a big chain I won't mention already know we are here and to them we are in back a bleach cult looking to steal their customers. I have been told that to my face. I have also been called a "bleacher" at a couple of other small stores.

I think there are a number of great stores out there, but they are small mom & pop places. But, they are generally limited to places that they are a pool store year round. Florida, Texas, Arizona and maybe Southern California. MY best friend in Ft. Lauderdale goes to a great store, a mom & pop place. They have a huge business in liquid chlorine and concentrate on the things you say " equipment and accessories " As pool store prices go they are on the more reasonable side of most places. A store that needs to make it's money in four or five months is looking at the $$ items to quickly build up profit to hold them over the winter when they switch to another line of sales.
 

gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
My local store is a regional chain (not quite a mom and pop). They have six locations in middle TN and southern, KY. The Cookeville, TN store I know pushes the use of those cal-hypo tablets. I know they are well aware of the rising cya problem for their customers and do really care, because they pull their customers off of stabilized chlorine. They sell and install pools as fast as is logistically possible; but yes, if I came in there and started talking about bleach, they would think of me as one of those bleachers; but at least in the case of this store; it is NOT because us "bleachers" are taking their chemical business; it's because our method is not accepted as the right method for caring for pools. The high FC level recommendatiin is a non starter for them, because the industry says that's unsafe. They do not even understand Chem Geeks's theory let alone think it's right. I feel like, at least with respect to this small chain of stores, if the trade magazines started promoting chlorine/cya and setting cya and using only non stabilized chlorine; they'd be all over it. They would never give our group credit for it, but they would change to match it if it suddenly became the new, better way.
 

Hootz

Bronze Supporter
Feb 5, 2018
250
Rogers, AR
I have recently been spending time on other pool maintenance forums and Facebook pages . Most pool owners do not have a clue about pool maintenance; they either depend on a pool store or a pool service. There are constant questions about clearing a green pool. Clarifiers, algaecides and other magic potions are purchased to be thrown into the water with little result. When asked what their fc level is the usual response is: "will have to take a sample to the pool store". Hundreds of dollars spent per visit to the pool store but these same pool owners are insulted when it is suggested they spend 100 dollars on a water test kit. I usually at that point get down on bended knee and thank the pool God for troublefree pool and the knowledge I have gained here. There are other TFP followers on these other forums; I am seeing quite a bit of TFP type advice. There is hope.
 
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gregsfc

Bronze Supporter
May 27, 2014
132
Cookeville,TN
@Hoot. What I've been seen at online forums and groups lately is even worse than what you've described. Some are doing as you say; taking advice from others recommending taking a water sample to the pool store, but what's even worse is that some people buy a pool and fill it with water and then think about putting a chemical in it when it starts getting cloudy. They then turn to that group or forum or a Youtube Channel (some guy who has no clue but is giving advice) after first going to Walmart; read a label or two; buy something that has on the package that it'll do three or four things at once, and put that in their pools. Some people will fill a pool not even thinking that it needs chemicals of any sort in it. That's what I'm seeing at FB groups. I've seen one Youtube channel where the creator is very close to TFPC but not quite. His name is David Brunt. Channel is Swimming Pool Tips. He recommends FC 3-5. I asked him where he got that recommendation from. TFPCs Youtube channel is okay, but it's a tad too cutesy and not helpful for beginners who don't realize that TFPC is a total different system if I can get away with a little criticism.
 
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Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
936
West Palm Beach/Florida
I will tell you most of my friends dont want to even bother taking care of their pools. Down here in Florida pool service companies are cheap. It usually ends up being around $30 a visit. They throw some chemicals in, some brush the pool and then they leave. As long as the pool is not completely green my friends are happy. They have been told a little algae on the walls every now and then, and especially after a big rain is normal. Just brush it away very quickly and you will be fine.
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
1,552
Fresno, CA
:goodpost: This is exactly the disconnect and why I am very slow to offer advice to pool owners not seeking it. They say, " a pool service is cheaper and I don't have to think about it". It is like having a yard guy or a house cleaner they say. They refuse to see the subtle clues of a water imbalance and when they can no longer ignore problems they refuse to associate them with their flawed methodology and instead double down on more chemicals with fancy names. :suspect: