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Thread: Super-simple pool chemistry recipe for Intex type pools: start-up & routine care.

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    Default Super-simple pool chemistry recipe for Intex type pools: start-up & routine care.

    Super Simple Pool Chemistry Recipe
    -- for Intex-type pools with a pump and filter, 12 feet in diameter, or larger --

    Intex pools are fun, relatively durable, and a tremendous bargain for folks that would like to have a real pool for a fraction of the cost and hassle of a regular in-ground or above-ground pool. But Intex pools are NOT forgiving. Many new Intex pool owners end up draining their pool 2 or 3x during their first season -- or they suffer through a season of algae and cloudy water.

    But problems are easy to avoid, IF you follow the plan below and IF you start your plan before you fill!

    Filling first and planning later is the #1 cause of Intex pool problems!

    The process below is not the only way but it's probably the way for newbies, and it's a good way for anybody. Later, once you know more, you may decide to things differently. However, you need to understand a little about what you are doing to your pool water, before you start.

    Because you'll may have to order some things, we've included a 7-day 'get-by-with-bleach' option, to follow if you have to wait for supplies to arrive.

    Dose Chart
    • 2500 - 3500 gallons => 1/2 cup = 1 dose
    • 3500 - 5000 gallons => 3/4 cups = 1 dose
    • 5000 - 7000 gallons => 1 cups = 1 dose
    • 7000 - 11,000 gallons => 1 1/2 cups = 1 dose
    • 11,000 - 14,000 gallons => 2 cups = 1 dose

    Intex-type Pool 7 Day Start-up Plan
    1. Before you fill, purchase
      + (2) gallons of PLAIN 8.25% bleach & (1) box of 20 Mule Team borax for every 3,000 gallons in your pool. (6% used to be common; 8.25% is now most common)
      + A cheap OTO / phenol red test kit (or the HTH 6-way drops kit from Walmart) -- NO 'guess-strips'!!!
      + A SET of plastic measuring cups, from 1/4 to 1 full cup.

    2. Test your fill water for metals and other problems:
      + Fill a CLEAN 2 - 5 gallon bucket 3/4 of full.
      + Add 1/4 of cup of bleach to the bucket, mix, and wait 15 minutes.
      + If the water changes color or turns cloudy, DO NOT FILL YOUR POOL! You are going to have to do things the hard way. Tell us what color it turned, and we'll go from there. Sorry!

    3. If the water does NOT change color, start filling your pool. Add 2 doses of bleach once you have 6" or more in the bottom of your pool.
    4. Add 1 dose of bleach every 8 hours while your pool fills. Add 4 doses of bleach EACH evening, while filling.
    5. Once your pool is full, test the pH. If the pH is 7.0, or below, begin adding 4 doses of borax every 8 hours, 4 doses at a time. Check the pH before the next dose. Once the pH reaches 7.4 or above, stop adding borax.

    Intex Pool Care Plan
    1. Get everything listed in the 7-day plan
    2. Get 10 to 25lbs of dichlor (a sunlight stabilized form of chlorine). There are two reliable sources:
      + PoolBrand bagged dichlor shock @ Sams Club
      + Kem-Tek Dichlor 22 lbs @ Amazon
      + Other possible sources, below.

    3. Once your pool is full add one dose of dichlor each evening. Do NOT skip! Add 1/2 dose before each group swims. Add borax in equal quantities as dichlor (ie, if you add 1 cup of diclor, then also add 1 cup of borax)
    4. At the first sign or algae, or slippery sides of the pool (pre-algae) add 4 doses of bleach in the evening, IN ADDITION to your regular dichlor dose.
    5. Test the chlorine and pH each morning; if chlorine is below 2 ppm, add 1/2 dose of dichlor; if the pH is below 7.0, add 4 doses of borax. If the pH is above 8.0, skip borax additions till it goes below 7.4.
    6. Order the Taylor K-2006 testkit. If you were able to buy an HTH 6-way test kit, you can postpone this purchase for 4 - 6 weeks, but you will need the K-2006 before 6 weeks are up.
    7. Complete the pool chart, and let us help you calculate a regular dosing plan for you. -- SUBSCRIBER FEATURE FOR NOW.

    That's it! Three chemicals; two regular tests (chlorine & pH). But, it will go better IF you learn a bit more:


    There are 5 parts of pool water management:
    1. Burn up the people 'goo' -- sweat, pee, lotion, etc -- that the filter can't remove. You do this by "oxidizing" it with chlorine. In a properly operated pool, this is what uses up most of your chlorine.
    2. Destroy algae spores when they enter your pool, and kill them when they sprout, so your pool stays clear and algae free. Chlorine is the STRONGEST algaecide you can buy. So long as you keep your chlorine high, this will use up very little chlorine. But, if algae gets a start, it can consume HUGE quantities of chlorine.
    3. Keep your pool safe, by killing germs and viruses before they can make your kids sick. This is VERY important, and chlorine is MUCH better at this, than anything else you can buy, but this task uses up only a tiny amount of your chlorine.
    4. Protect your pool, by keeping your pool's pH level between 7.0 (neutral) and 8.0 (slightly alkaline), to make the pool water comfortable for you, and for your pool. Low pH can damage liners quickly; high pH can damage them eventually.
    5. Filter out all the 'goo' that chlorine doesn't oxidize -- dirt, skin cells (people shed a LOT!), lotion bits, and more all end up on your filter IF it's working properly.

    As you can see, keeping chlorine in your pool at ALL times is the #1 thing you can do, to make sure your pool works well. Your pool doesn't care HOW you add it: bleach, dichlor, trichlor, cal hypo, salt water chlorine generation, or whatever. It's all the same, once the chlorine is in the pool.

    But, each form of chlorine adds OTHER things to the water as well. Bleach has the fewest side effects, so we recommend any time we are sure what's going on. Using dichlor, instead of bleach, adds stabilizer to your pool, as well as chlorine. Stabilizer protects your chlorine from sunlight; without it you can lose ALL the chlorine in your pool. Each dose of dichlor will tend, after time, to make your pH drop. Borax raise it.

    Over time, the dichlor will add enough stabilizer, so that you can add chlorine 2x per week, instead of every day. However, you will also need to run higher levels of chlorine, so you'll need the K-2006 kit.

    That's all you have to know, at first. But, you'll need to read the rest of the page eventually.


    More information:

    Getting an OTO kit:
    + Get a cheap OTO (yellow drops) / phenol test kit, or if available at YOUR Walmart (check availability), get the HTH 6-way DROPS test kit, which is compatible with the Taylor K2006. Test the pool as soon and you can, and post the results. If you get the 6-way kit, ALSO test the water you FILL the pool with, especially if it's a well, and post THOSE results as well. (The HTH is the best available kit you're likely to find locally, but it's not the K-2006. It can only provide rough measurements chlorine levels above 5 ppm, and it measures "TOTAL" hardness, rather than "CALCIUM" hardness, which is not ideal.)


    Getting dichlor:
    + If you need stabilizer, and have access to a Sams Club, buy their 24 pack of 1# bags of dichlor shock. Each bag will add about 7 ppm of chlorine, and about 6 ppm of stabilizer, per 10K gallons of water. Otherwise, order dichlor from Amazon:
    Kem-Tek Dichlor 22 lbs
    We do NOT recommend buying dichlor locally, otherwise, at least until you are an EXPERT reader of chemical labels. The chlorinating pool chemicals sold at Walmart, Kmart, Costco, and most other local stores are diluted blends, sometimes with copper and other products with bad side-effects.
    Possible alternative sources:
    + Leslies Chlor Brite (abt 2x the price)
    + Any granular pool product that contains ALL of these phrases:
    ---- "quick dissolving" as a DESCRIPTION, not a name, AND
    ---- "dichlor" as *part* of the chemical ingredient name, AND
    ---- states that the product contains 55% to 61% "available chlorine".
    and does NOT contain any of these phrases:
    ---- "copper" anywhere in the chemical ingredients list
    ---- "clarifier" or "filter aid" or "pH balancer" or "buffer" or "flocculant"


    Getting borax and muriatic acid:
    + Borax -- used to raise pH -- is available in the detergent section of many large grocery stores, in the 20 Mule Team brand. Here's an example from Walmart: 20 Mule Team Borax

    + Muriatic acid -- used to lower pH -- is available from Lowes, Home Depot, and similar stores. The 31% standard strength will contain only muriatic acid. Be VERY careful if you buy the "safer" versions; these often contain a detergent. If you can find a diluted 15% muriatic acid, with no detergent, that is excellent, since the diluted acid doesn't fume. Here's an example of the 31% acid from Lowes: Crown Muriatic acid

    + Regardless of what acid you buy, be sure to read the muriatic acid safe handling page!


    Getting a Taylor K-2006:
    + We recommend the Taylor K-2006 test kit, which meets the requirements above, for many reasons. The HTH 6-way drops kit is a great starter kit, and is compatible with the K2006 (it's made by Taylor). There are a few alternatives; for example Lamotte makes an FAS-DPD kit that's OK -- but it costs 3x as much. But, we're not aware of any test that is better, and since we are all familiar with the K-2006 (and can help you with it) we recommend it exclusively ( Test kit info page )


    Getting better filter cartridges:
    + The OEM cartridges supplied with Intex and Summer Escapes pools are quite low in quality. The Intex manuals recommend replacing them completely every 2 weeks. Better cartridges will last longer, make the water clearer, and if you make a mistake, help you clean up much faster. Plus, if you clean them properly, they are actually cheaper, since a pair of cartridges will last all summer. So even though they cost more per cartridge, they cost less per season. Learn to maintain them, by reading this post, Cleaning-your-Cartridge-Filter-wiithout-Damaging-It!

    But, purchasing them is tricky. Amazon does not consistently stock them, and some of the 3rd party sellers are charging high prices and/or high shipping. So, check the Amazon link, but watch out for the prices and shipping costs.

    It would be nice if you could just buy them elsewhere, but many of the online pool stores are listing Pleatco or other Asian made low quality filters, as "Unicel C-4607 type" or "fits Unicel C-4607". So shop carefully! The links below for Unicel and Filbur cartridges. Either should be OK. Avoid all other brands, as well as "will replace Unicel C-####" products.

    Here are the Amazon links:

    Unicel cartridges: @ Amazon
    Unicel C-4607 Replacement Filter Cartridge (Intex A or C)
    Unicel C-5315 Replacement Filter Cartridge (Intex B Filter
    Unicel C-3302 Replacement Filter Cartridge (Intex E)
    Filbur cartridges: @ Amazon
    [ NOTE: Genuine Filbur cartridges should cost the same as Unicel; if they are cheaper, watch out for NON-Filbur cartridges! ]
    Filbur FC-3710 Antimicrobial Replacement Filter Cartridge (Intex A or C)
    Filbur FC-3752 Antimicrobial Replacement Filter Cartridge (Intex B)
    Filbur FC-3751 Antimicrobial Replacement Filter Cartridge (Intex E)

    Pump and Filter Timing and Safety:
    + Running your pump less saves energy. But you want to be careful. If you FAIL to run it sufficiently, you are likely to have problems.

    => Start off running your pump 8 hours per day OR MORE.
    => Basically, if your water is clear and sparkling, you may be able to run it less.
    => If it's hazy or cloudy, you should run it more AND check your chlorine levels.
    => If it's really cloudy or your are having problems, you should run it 24/7.
    => Using the Unicel cartridges will help you reduce run times.
    => The ONLY time to NOT run the filter, is if the chlorine is high AND you are trying to allow algae or other dirt to settle, so you can vacuum it up.
    => It's better to run it 2x per day, than 1x, even with equal hours. (4 hrs + 4 hrs is better than 8 hrs)
    => This timer will help:
    Intermatic P1121 Heavy Duty Outdoor Timer 15 Amp
    One reason for running your pump less, is so it's not on when people are in the pool. Older Intex guides instructed pool owners to turn their pumps off, when the pool was in use. Some newer Intex pumps come with built in electrical safety devices called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters or GFCI units. GFCI's should be tested regularly, because they DO fail. Sometimes they fail in a way that leaves the pump running,but without any safety protection.

    Having your own independent GFCI is a good idea. If you have a GFCI protected receptacle that your pool power cord plugs into, that's great. If not, you may want to get one of these, and replace the male plug on your extension cords:
    Leviton 16693 15A 120VCompact Right Angle GFCI
    TRC 14880023-6 15A 120V GFCI Right Angle Plug Tri-Cord, Yellow
    You can also use something like this:
    TRC 26020008-6 12/3 GFCI Protected Tri-Cord Set 3-Outlets, 2-Ft, 15A Yellow

    Be sure to use an appropriate extension cord: at least a 14-3 grounded cord. If you have a bigger pump or a long run to the pool, a cord like this is much preferable:

    US Wire 74050 12/3 50-Foot SJTW Yellow Heavy Duty Lighted Plug Extension Cord
    US Wire 74100 12/3 100-Feet SJTW Yellow Heavy-Duty Lighted Extension Cord


    Getting Polyquat:
    + Polyquat is *not* essential to this method, but you may want to get some anyhow, as a 'get out of jail' free problem solver. (Well, not 'free' -- you have to buy it!) Polyquat is an decent algaecide AND an excellent clarifier and filter aid, and is a non-oxidizing sanitizer. You won't need it, if do everything else correctly and do not go on vacation. But if you make a mistake OR if you need to go on vacation, polyquat can help.
    + To go on vacation, prep by a 4x dose of bleach 2 days before you leave. The day of vacation, remove the cartridge from your filter and add a 2x dose of polyquat. What you are doing is cleaning up the pool (with the 4x chlorine dose) and then adding a long lasting algaecide to keep the pool clean, while you're gone. Unlike chlorine, polyquat is NOT removed by sunlight. Unlike chlorine, polyquat IS removed by filtration, thus the cartridge removal step. (If you plan to leave your pump OFF, it's not necessary to remove the cartridge.)
    + To *help* clean up a cloudy mess if NO live algae remains, use a 1x dose every 2 - 3 days till clear.
    + To *help* clean up a cloudy mess if live algae STILL is present, , use a 2x dose every 2 - 3 days till all algae is dead.
    + There's more info about polyquat at www.poolsolutions.com/polyquat; here are order links:
    Kem-Tek 60% polyquat @ Amazon
    Nava 60% polyquat @ Amazon
    + A reasonable purchase quantity to purchase is 1 quart per 5,000 gallons of pool water. (Get 1 qt for 1 - 5000 gallons; get 2 qts for 5001 gallons, etc.)


    Cleaning equipment for small pools:

    Most folks with Intex type pools do not have an adequate cleaning equipment, or an effective vacuum system, and Intex doesn't really have any accessories that are adequate. Intex does offer one items that helps a LOT, if your pool is in an area where grass, bugs, leaves or other surface debris enter your pool:
    Deluxe Intex Surface Skimmer
    Pole and pool tools for pools less than 20' wide:

    Medium duty:
    Poolmaster 20172 Premier 18-Inch Nylon Aluminum Back Pool Brush
    Jed Pool tools Inc 50-560-16 16-Feet Professional Deluxe Anodized Telescopic Pool Pole

    Poolmaster 21191 Premier Aluminum Pool Leaf Skimmer, Black/Silver
    Purity Pool RBTD Red Baron 20-Inch Professional Leaf Rake, Tuff Duty Model

    fiberglass pole -- longer lasting, but heavier:
    Hydro Tools 8375 8- to 16-Foot Adjustable Commercial Fiberglass Telescopic Pool Pole

    Light duty:
    Hydro Tools 8351 6- to 12-Foot Adjustable Blue Anodized Step-Up Telescopic Pool Pole
    Poolmaster 18100 ABS Curved Pool Brush, 17-1/2-Inch

    Intex 50001E Leaf Rake
    Swimline Hydro Tools 8028 Premium Aluminum Pool Leaf Skimmer

    Pool Vacuum Options

    Manual Pool Vacuum:
    Hydro Tools 1-1/4-Inch Diameter With Swivel Cuff Pool Vacuum Hose, 18'
    Poolmaster 27514 Classic Full View Triangular Vinyl Liner Vacuum
    Hydro Tools 8351 6- to 12-Foot Adjustable Blue Anodized Step-Up Telescopic Pool Pole
    With the manual option, you can certainly remove the debris by vacuuming 'to waste', using siphon. You'll want to over-fill your pool first, before starting the siphon. Tie some sort of weight to the hose, to keep the 'out-of-the-pool' end from flopping back into the pool and breaking the siphon.

    You may, or may not, be able to couple the hose to the suction inlet on your pool. If you can work out a way to do so, then you will not lose the water you vacuum with. You will of course get your filter dirty fast.

    This adapter will help on some pools; on others you may need one of the battery vacs below:
    Surface Intex Skimmer Small Strainer Hose B Adaptor
    Battery Operated Vacuum:
    Water Tech Pool Blaster Max
    Water Tech CATFISHPPV Pool Blaster, Catfish
    Pool Blaster PBW022MF Micro Filter Bag
    If you are interested in the battery vac -- and we've had pretty good reports on this brand -- call Water Tech *FIRST* and make sure that the fine bag will pick up debris like yours. It's possible that it may just go through the bag, so ask first.
    Water Tech (PowerBlaster Max page)
    10 Alvin Ct. Suite 111
    East Brunswick, NJ 08816 USA
    Tel: (800) 298-8800
    e-mail: CustomerService@WaterTechCorp.com


    Completing the Pool Chart
    + It's much easier to answer your questions, when we have the details about your pool in one place. We often 'waste' the first few posts back and forth collecting information. So, please complete our new Pool Chart form -- it takes about 30 seconds, but will save much more than that.
    Pool Chart Entry Form
    Pool Chart Results
    Last edited by PoolDoc; 07-07-2014 at 03:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default Small pool maintenence

    I have a small 10' x 30" Intex above ground pool. It holds just over 1000 gallons. I found the link for the "Super-simple pool chemical recipe for Intex pools: startup and routine care", on this forum, but it says it's for pools 12' or larger. I really like the simplicity of this system and would like to use it. Can I follow the steps for my smaller pool, and if so, how much would be a dose for my size pool?

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    Default Re: Small pool maintenence

    Membership updated.

    I'm going to append your question, to that thread. It's been asked a number of times, and I'll answer it there.

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    Default Re: Small pool maintenence

    Quote Originally Posted by NannyAng View Post
    I have a small 10' x 30" Intex above ground pool. It holds just over 1000 gallons. Can I follow the steps for my smaller pool, and if so, how much would be a dose for my size pool?
    Not really. The problem is, as a pool gets smaller, the effect of swimmers on the water gets larger. How much? Dunno.

    What you can do is cut the dose size in 1/2 (ie, 1/4 cup dose would become your standard) . . . and THEN test after doses. AND, after use. You may find you need an extra daily dose of chlorine on days the pool is used. Or not.

    I don't know; you can try and see.

    The SS recipe is intended as a get-you-started method that you can chose to follow or not, once you have a bit more experience. With the very small pool, you really need to be a little more 'hard-core' about your testing, right from the start.

    Another option? Check around for a slightly larger pool on clearance. Summer Escapes pools have some quality control problems, and very poor customer service, but are really, really cheap. Intex Ultra pools are better, and have better -- if slow and inconvenient -- customer service. Walmart, KMart, Target are all possible sources for something like a 14' Intex Ultra.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Lynbrook, NY

    Default Re: Small pool maintenence

    Great Thread,

    Is this setup perfect for a 14' x 42" with intex sand pump and separate intex saltwater system. I am first time owner basically once i get my water balanced i should proceed to add the salt. Please correct me if i am wrong.

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    Default Re: Small pool maintenence

    However, with salt you'll need to switch to accurately testing your own water sooner. You're OK for a couple of weeks, but you'll need the K2006 kit AND the AquaCheck salt strips. See http://pool9.net/tk/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Default Salt vs bleach/borax???

    Choice is between salt system and your "Super-simple pool chemistry recipe for Intex type pools" involving bleach, borax and that other thing:
    Okay, even if i get into it and it's simply, putting in a cup here and a cup there depending on how things measures...sure, i could figure that out but when i'm away NO CHANCE my wife will want to do that stuff. Is it not simpler to just get a saltwater pump system and couple of bags of salt?
    4.5k gal Intex 9 x 18, Krystal Clear 1200 gph Sand Filter Pump. PF=27

  9. #9
    Pappy is offline PF Supporter Weir Watcher Pappy 0
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    Default Re: Super-simple pool chemistry recipe for Intex type pools: start-up & routine care.

    The general consensus on this board, as far as I can determine, is that SWCGs are MUCH more convenient AND more costly than manual chlorination. Whether or not the extra expense is worth it or not is a HIGHLY personal decision based on YOUR needs and desires. Even if you decide to go with a SWCG, you STILL need to get your pool started and chemical levels correct BEFORE you turn on the SWCG to maximize the life of the SWCG. ALSO, if you do run into a problem (algae) it is best to turn the SWCG off and clean up manually so as to maximize SWCG life expectancy.

    Intex 15ftx4ft 4500 gal. Intex 2150 gph .75 hp 14" pump/sand filter combo. Taylor K-2006 kit. PF=27

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