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Thread: No free chlorine, trouble balancing

  1. #1
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    Default No free chlorine, trouble balancing

    Hi - We are having a heck of a time this year getting our pool straight. Little to no problems in years past. We use chlorine, in-ground pool, 18x36, 24,500 gallons.

    At our first testing at the pool place (after starting to clean and shock it) our pH levels were high (8.1), FC was 1.1 and TC was 7.8 so there was a lot of combined chlorine. Alkalinity was ok. Cyanuric acid was low but she said worry about it after we are balanced and clean. So we added a lot of muriatic acid to lower the pH. Can't get the chlorine to break up. We shocked using chlorine, shocked using Unchlorinated shock...

    Yesterday our reading was FC 0.4, Total chlorine 3.4, alkalinity low (27), pH 7.4, Cyanuric acid 8, Hardness 250. She told us to double shock using non chlorinated shock and we should see results very quickly, and also add 15lbs of baking soda (they told us to use alkalinity plus but my husband got her to convert it to amount of baking soda). We did that lunch time yesterday....

    No change to FC by 10:00 last night. The water is cloudy again (although I did brush as well). So we put in 16 pounds of granular chlorine (bought in bulk) to double shock it to hopefully kick that combined chlorine. This is what my husband's cousin says she does to double shock. She uses the same chlorine. Sounded like a lot to me, because I thought a double shock would normally be 6 1 pound bags of TurboShock. But we are our wits end with this FC reading, and this stuff we are using now isn't TurboShock.

    I took another sample today at 10am and now FC is .4, TC is 1.8, alkalinity is 70, pH is now 7.0, hardness is 289, cyanuric acid is 8.

    So now she's told me to add 12 pounds of alkalinity plus (bacquacil brand), and not to use baking soda because it doesn't have everything we need. Wait until tomorrow to let the chlorine levels level out. And to maybe add 2.75 pounds of pH increaser, but again wait until we test tomorrow before adding it. She also says not to worry about the cyanuric acid because our tablets have it in there. The only problem we've really ever had is that the cyanuric acid got high last year. So that's why she's telling me not to add stabilizer just yet.

    I read somewhere that ammonia could be a factor, so I bought a kit and tested today, no ammonia in the pool.

    I left out some back and forths but this is the gist of where we are... we are getting frustrated because 3 places are telling us 3 different things. We've tried them all it seems, and are still in a rut, especially with the free chlorine. Ideas of how to get free chlorine? And what order should I be adding these chemicals and trying to get it right? It seems like we need alkalinity to be right first, then work the others. But our alk was ok, then when we starting adding things to adjust the pH, it got out of whack.

    Anyway, I thought I'd post where we are to see what you think. The folks at the pool shops won't explain much to us. They just tell you to dump chemicals in the pool. I've learned more in 2 days of Googling than they've ever explained to me. {sigh}

    Thanks so much!

    April

  2. #2
    aylad's Avatar
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    Default Re: No free chlorine, trouble balancing

    You are being what we call "pool-stored".

    1. Stop using unchlorinated shock, and tell us what the actual ingredient is.
    2. Tell us what the actual ingredient is in the Turbo shock that you're adding.
    3. Tell us what the actual ingredient is in the "other stuff" you're using.l
    4. You can save your money on the Bacquacil Alk up, and just use plain baking soda to raise your alk. In fact, in your case I would use Borax washing soda (same grocery aisle, but I think the box is orange/yello) because it will raise both your TA and your pH at the same time.
    5. Your alk and pH are not that far off--a minor adjustment will get them right, but the pH will read falsely high when the Cl is above 10.
    6. Part of your chlorine loss is due to sun, since you have no measurable CYA in the water. I would add approximately 3 lbs of stabilizer to a tube sock or old knee hi and hang it in front of your return so it will start dissolving.
    7. IN the meantime, get a good drop-based kit and do your own testing instead of relying on the pool store to test and sell you stuff.
    8. Stop throwing random stuff at the pool trying to clear it up, you're only going to make things worse. Get 6 gallons of plain, unscented bleach (WalMart generic Ultra Bleach is just fine) and add it to your pool, pouring slowly in front of a return so it won't splash and the return will help disburse it. That should take your FC up to 15 ppm. Test 2-3 times daily to keep the FC at 15 until the water starts to clear. For reference, each 1 1/2 quarts will raise your Cl by 1 ppm. YOu're going to lose a lot to sunlight until you have some stabilizer in the water, and it will take up to 4-5 days for it to register. In the meantime, the more consistent you are about keeping the chlorine at 15, the quicker it will break down whatever the demand is in your water. When you can test at night after the sun goes down and test again in the morning before the sun is on the pool and have no chlorine loss overnight, then you can let your chlorine drift back down to normal--which will be determined by your CYA at that time.


    By the way, welcome to the forum!!!

    Janet

  3. #3
    Watermom's Avatar
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    Default Re: No free chlorine, trouble balancing

    When Janet says you are being "pool-stored" she's not kidding! No wonder you are confused. You are getting told to throw everything but the kitchen sink in there!

    Just a correction on #4. The washing soda is not Borax washing soda. I think you'll find "Arm and Hammer Washing Soda."

    You are going to need to be extremely diligent in your testing and dosing with bleach to clear this up. Like she said, 2 to 3 times a day (and even more than that is ok if you can manage to do it) you need to test your water and shock it back up to 15 with bleach.

    A good test kit that we recommend, if your pool store doesn't have one, is the Taylor K-2006 or K-2006C. The "C" is basically the same thing with larger bottles of reagents. Here is a link to a place that seems to have good prices for their kits.

    http://www.amatoind.com/taylor-k2006-test-p-555.html

    http://www.amatoind.com/k2006c-taylor-test-p-263.html

    Hang in there. We'll help you get this pool going. Welcome to the Pool Forum!

  4. #4
    aylad's Avatar
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    Default Re: No free chlorine, trouble balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Watermom View Post
    Just a correction on #4. The washing soda is not Borax washing soda. I think you'll find "Arm and Hammer Washing Soda."
    Thanks for catching this--I had 3 children standing at my elbow with a LONG list of "Mom, can I's?" at the time and got in a hurry.....my bad!!

    Janet

  5. #5
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    Default Re: No free chlorine, trouble balancing

    Sapphire:

    Listen to Jan and Lisa! As long as you keep going in to that pool store they are gonna keep selling you junk. Sometimes it will be useless, sometimes it will make things worse, and sometimes it will an expensive package of something you can get really cheap like the "Alkalinity Plus" for an insane price. The pool store lady was right--the "Alkalinity Plus" HAS something baking soda doesn't--a highway-robbery price.

    Washing Soda raises pH and Total Alkalinity. If both are low, it's good stuff--and it's the same as the fancy pH increasers that pool store lady will sell you--far cheaper.

    Pool maintenance is simple, and even clearing up pool problems usually is simple too. But letting you know that is NOT how pool stores make money.
    Carl

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