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How Do I Remove Staining On A Blue Fiberglass Pool?

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Pool is 1 year old and there are patches of discoloration under the water on the sides and walls.

It is not a surface mark as I tried to scrub them. It appears to be in the fiberglass.

Thanks for you help!

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What color are the stains?

Are they smooth or rough?

What happens to the stain if you hold a plain vitamin C tablet on the stained area for a minutes? (IF the stain disappears it is iron and is easily treated)

Also, posting you water chemistry levels and sanitizer used would be most helpful. Please post Free Chlorine, Combined Chlorine, pH, Calcium hardness (NOT total hardness from test strips...it's a useless measurement!) Total Alkalinity, and Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer or CYA) since water chemistry issues are what lead to staining in the vast majority of cases.

Also, do these areas receive a lot of sunlight since colored fiberglass can fade over time.

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The fiberglass ia blue, the "staining" is a tannish color yet a brighter blue in other spots. The Chemistry is perfect the discoloration is IN the fiberglass.the pool get 80% sun and I understand the fading over time but this is in areas and blotches.

I can send a pic but I don't believe I can post on this forum.

Again it its SALT chlorinated.

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"Perfect" tells me nothing about your water chemistry AND if you have stains then your water chemistry is NOT perfect, Period!.

I suspect I know the problem but I need the numbers and the results of the vitamin c test to be sure. Stains are caused by different things but in fiberglass the three most common causes of a tan to brown stain are scale, tannin, and iron and to differentiate it is necessary to know the actual levels of the water parameters and to test the stain.

If you would provide the information I asked for and test the stain with a vitamin C tablet we can take it from there. Also, since you have a salt water chlorine generator the make and model and your CYA level are important factors in staining problems. Reasons are quite technical so I won't go into them now until I get some more information. I have a strong suspicion what is causing the stains but I need to narrow it down since the treatments are very different and are based on your current water chemistry.

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"Perfect" tells me nothing about your water chemistry AND if you have stains then your water chemistry is NOT perfect, Period!.

I suspect I know the problem but I need the numbers and the results of the vitamin c test to be sure. Stains are caused by different things but in fiberglass the three most common causes of a tan to brown stain are scale, tannin, and iron and to differentiate it is necessary to know the actual levels of the water parameters and to test the stain.

If you would provide the information I asked for and test the stain with a vitamin C tablet we can take it from there. Also, since you have a salt water chlorine generator the make and model and your CYA level are important factors in staining problems. Reasons are quite technical so I won't go into them now until I get some more information. I have a strong suspicion what is causing the stains but I need to narrow it down since the treatments are very different and are based on your current water chemistry.

 

I will get the exact tubers on all categories today. Thank you for your patience and assistance.

Stay Tuned!

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Free Chlor 3.74ppm

Total Clor 3.74 ppm

Combined 0 ppm

ph 8.3

hardness 193ppm

alk 144ppm

Cyanuric acid 36ppm

Cooper0ppm

iron 0.1ppm

borate 9ppm

Salt 3700

I hope this info helps

Thank you

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First, your chemistry is far from "perfect! I need the make and mode of your SWCG and the results of the vitamin C test but from these numbers I can pretty safely say that your stains are wither iron or scale and I suspect the latter.

It is difficult to diagnose a pool problem without seeing it but I have some very strong suspicions based on my experience so here goes:

Your water was most likely tested by a LaMotte Waterlink Express system which is not bad but has some limitations. Have yo ever added Borate to your water (either Proteam Supreme, Bioguard Optimizer, or a salt mix that contains borate or added 20 mule team borax to raise pH?) If not your borate should be 0 ppm and that reading is suspect which means there is operator error and all the readings are suspect or the store's meter is out of calibration (not uncommon).

A reading of 0.1 ppm for iron does not mean that the stains are NOT iron and the fact that your pH is so high ( and I suspect it always is because your alk is WAY TOO HIGH (and I suspect it also always is) and, At a pH of 8.3 (which is WAY TOO HIGH) it is very possible that all the iron as precipitated out as stain. I would like to know the history of your alk and calcium hardness and pH. and would like to know why your CYA is so low with a salt system. Just about every manufacturer recommend a CYA somewhere in the range of 60-100 ppm for optimal results,depending on make and model, and this is related to pH control for very technical reasons that I won't go into here but I suggest you read http://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=28846 to understand why your Alk should be in the range of 60-80 ppm with a SWCG!

I would like to know the hardness of your fill water and the history of your hardness readings over the past year. Also, how often do you need to clean the scale off of your salt cell?

High pH and high alk and high hardness are a recipe for scale formation that often looks like tan to brown discolorations in the pool surface and they do not respond to the vitamin C test while iron does. While your current hardness reading is not that high there is a known problem with the LaMotte colormetric hardness test reading low when the hardness is very high! IT is possible that your hardness is much nigher than you think it is (and I assume you are in Nevada by your username and many areas of Nevada have very hard water)!

Here are my recommendations:

1. Test the stain with a vitamin C and report the results.

2. Get a good test test kit and start testing your own water WEEKLY! Get a Taylor K-2006 (NOT the K-2005). This kit will test FC, CC, pH with acid and base demand) Total alkalinity , Calcium Hardness, and CYA (and the CYA test is actually more precise than the one in the LaMotte test station, as is the calcium hardness). The kit might seem expensive at around $60-$80 mail order but if you put it into perspective against the investment you have in your pool it is really the most inexpensive piece of NECESSARY pool equipment you can buy! It has been shown time and again to be the most cost effective test kit for pool owners. Here are some clips that show how easy the kit is to use:

http://youtu.be/7ZvF5q_amVs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66ZNiyhfyiU&feature=share&list=PL6uoMdT1vO11pgLbOSl99CY_BQXE1Jx6s&index=3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAQyi4QYtP0&list=PL6uoMdT1vO11pgLbOSl99CY_BQXE1Jx6s&feature=share&index=5

3. Once you start testing your own water these are the numbers to maintain with a salt system (and it's not that hard!. Realize that the trend in a salt pool is a rising pH because of outgassing of CO2 so we want to minimize that outgassing to increase pH stability and minimize scale formation in the pool and on the cell):

FC 4-5 ppm

CC 0 ppm (if the system is running properly and the water balanced this will be a no brainer!)

pH no lower than 7.6 (the lower the pH the faster it rises because of outgassing of CO2)

pH no higher than 7.8. When it hits 7.8 lower it back to 7.6 (easy to do with an acid demand test and after a few times you know just how much acid you need and how often you need to add it.

Total Alkalinity 60-70 ppm or possibly a bit lower if the hardness is very high. The higher the Alkalinity the faster CO2 outgasses and the faster pH rises

Calcium Hardness in the range of 300-400 when the Alkalinity is 60--70 ppm. If the hardness of the water is higher the alkalinity can be adjusted downward to maintain water balance. If the fill water is very soft then calcium should be added to maintain at least about 200 ppm because there is some empirical evidence that calcium does help prevent iron staining and cobalt spotting in fiberglass pools.;Once again, once you get some reliable test results from a good test kit we can discuss what is right for your pool and fill water.

CYA either 60-80 ppm or 80-100 ppm with the upper number the one to shoot for, particularly in a climate like Nevada! The actual number depends on your make and model of SWCG so please post that! The reason is pH control. Here is the explanation in a nutshell. Hydrogen bubbles are produced in the cell when it is on and these aerate the water and cause CO2 to outgas and pH to rise. CYA acts as a chlorine 'buffer' so the chlorine is not destroyed by UV light from the sun as quickly. This means your cell output and/or run time can be decreased to maintain the same FC level. When the cell is not running then there is no aeration and no outgassing of CO2 therefore no pH rise! A nice side effect of this is longer useful cell life!

Salt at the recommendation of your manufacturer but for most US units this will be either 3200 ppm, 3400 ppm or 4000 ppm. You don't want to run at the low end because this shortens cell life because more current has to flow. Ditto too high is not good for the cell. This is why most units have low and high salt shut offs.

Test the salt with Aquachek salt test strips

(Don't use strips for any other tests except borate. They are useless!)

or Taylor K-1766 salt titration test

The first is much easier but slower (takes a full 10 minutes but they instructions don't tell you that) The salt test is a chemical test for chloride ions and will not give the same reading at your cell readout or a handheld salt meter, which is testing conductivity and is influenced by ALL the ionic species in your water (bicarbonate, calcium, sodium, magnesium borate, etc). If the chemical test is withing up to 800 ppm of your readout or meter test you are in the ballpark.

If you are not adding borate you do not need to test for it although 50 ppm borate is very beneficial with a SWCG for pH control and algaestatic activity. I have used borate in m own pool for about 10 years now and wouldn't be without it! We can discuss more of that after you get your water under control.

Borate 30-50 ppm, when it hits 30 bump it back up to 50 ppm. Test with LaMotte Borate test strips.

http://www.lamotte.com/en/pool-spa/insta-test/3017-g.html

Usually only needs to be adjusted once or twice a year, depending on how long your swim season is (I live in FL and swim year round so I adjust it usually every 8 months but YMMV)

Borate adds a secondary pH buffer that works in the opposite direction of the bicarbonate/carbonic acid buffer from the Alkalinkty. It effectlvely 'locks' the pH at 7.7 for an extended period and will minimize how often you need to add acid to maintain the pH .

These numbers have been shown to be ideal for running a salt pool.

I know this is a lot ot digest so take your time. I am glad to answer any questions you might have. Next step is to test the stain with vitamin C to determine if it is iron or scale.

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Confirmed. Stains are iron. They won't hurt anything but look ugly. They most likely came from your fill water or the salt you used. You will need a GOOD TEST KIT since you will have to be testing your water throughout the process. DO NOT USE A POOL STORE FOR THIS! yo will need to be testing the water daily for about 2 weeks. Removing iron stains is a procedure and I would recommend waiting until the weather is cooler before attempting since it involves dropping the chlorine very low while treating and you run the risk of algae outbreak during the process since ascorbic acid destroys chlorine and vice versa! Items you will need besides a Taylor K-2006 test kit (seriously, get this kit! It is the best investment you can make in your pool! Best price I know of is http://www.amatoind.com/taylor-test-2006-p-555.html they can be a bit slow on shipping but the price makes them worth it) are:

1 lb ascorbic acid per 10,000 gallons (best price I know of--order online from http://www.chemistrystore.com )

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Confirmed. Stains are iron. They won't hurt anything but look ugly. They most likely came from your fill water or the salt you used. You will need a GOOD TEST KIT since you will have to be testing your water throughout the process. DO NOT USE A POOL STORE FOR THIS! yo will need to be testing the water daily for about 2 weeks. Removing iron stains is a procedure and I would recommend waiting until the weather is cooler before attempting since it involves dropping the chlorine very low while treating and you run the risk of algae outbreak during the process since ascorbic acid destroys chlorine and vice versa! Items you will need besides a Taylor K-2006 test kit (seriously, get this kit! It is the best investment you can make in your pool! Best price I know of is http://www.amatoind.com/taylor-test-2006-p-555.html they can be a bit slow on shipping but the price makes them worth it) are:

1 lb ascorbic acid per 10,000 gallons (best price I know of--order online from http://www.chemistrystore.com )

1 qt. of HEDP based sequestrant per 10000 gallons (Jacks Magic Pink Stuff and Proteam Metal Magic are both HEDP based. DO NOT USE an EDTA based sequestrant .

Polyquat 60 algaecide (make SURE it is polyquat 60. Ingredients will read poly [oxyethylene (dimethyliminio) ethylene (dimethyliminio) ethylene dichloride] 60%.. If it does not list this ingredient or is only 30% do not buy it!) You will need 1 pt. per 10000 gallon.

You might also need some hydrogen peroxide (from the drugstore) to lower your chlorine levels before treating.Amount depends on your CURRENT chloirne level but most cases a pt. to qt should be sufficient per 10000 gallons.

You need stabilizer in any case since it is too low for a SWCG! (Once again, what is the make and model of your unit? IT would really be much faster if you give me the info I am requesting since I don't have time during this season to check the board daily!)

In fact, once you get the test kit, and get your numbers in line with what I posted above you will find that you have much less propensity toward staining and, once you remove the current stains they will be much less likely to occur!

If you want to continue assemble the necessary materials and I will post detailed instructions.

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Waterbear, i had same issue as above however vitamin C did not remove the stains.  In fact nothing from pool store removes the stains.  Ive been using metal sequester weekly and that has prevented new stains.  But they look like rust rings however vitamin c does not remove them.  Any suggestions?

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Get vitamin C tablets at the pharmacy and use them like scrubby pads on the stains.

What are your readings and how are you testing? Do you know your TDS (total dissolved solids)? Have you had it tested at the pool store?

Did you lower your chlorine when you used the ascorbic acid? Did you use the recommended amount?

 

 

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Hey Spaguy, just got the test results from the Pool store, also Vitamin C does not work on these stains, tried multiple time rubbing the vitamin onto the stain, it doesn't even lighten up.  (also tried Chlorine Puck over stain nothing, and even these pouches they sell at pool store for stains and no result)

Free Chlorine 0.33
Total Chlorine 2.06
Combined Chlorine 1.73
PH 8.1
Hardness 202
Alkalinity 121
Cyanuric 8
Copper 0.2
Iron 0.1

Also pool heater is on alot, wife like water hot, so must be metal staining, these stains are all from last year when I wasn't using a metal sequestor every 2 weeks.  (since then no new stains)

 

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2 hours ago, Rizzil said:

Hey Spaguy, just got the test results from the Pool store, also Vitamin C does not work on these stains, tried multiple time rubbing the vitamin onto the stain, it doesn't even lighten up.  (also tried Chlorine Puck over stain nothing, and even these pouches they sell at pool store for stains and no result)

Free Chlorine 0.33 (WAY too low. Should be about 1-3 ppm with a Cynauric Acid level of 8 ppm, once CYA is between 20-40 ppm keep FC between 3-6 ppm, unless you have a salt water chlorine generator, that's a whole different story)
Total Chlorine 2.06 (Way too high, need to shock)
Combined Chlorine 1.73 (Should be .5 ppm or lower at all times! need to shock!)
PH 8.1(Way too high)
Hardness 202 (get pH, stabilzer, chlorine, and alkalinity (if not using trichlor or dichlor) in line first before worrying about this. It might need adjustment once everything else is in line)
Alkalinity 121 (perfect if using trichlor or dichlor, way too high if using liquid chorine or cal hypo)
Cyanuric 8 (WAY too low, unless you are using trichor or dichlor and JUST opened the pool after winter. If so, you need to be adding liquid chlorine or cal hypo to keep up FC level, which will be burned off quickly by sunlight until the CYA reaches more than about 20-30 ppm))
Copper 0.2 (Probably from your trichlor tabs or shock since most include copper these days unless you read the label!)
Iron 0.1 (probably from your water supply, Iron can cause brown stains that react to vitamin c. In fact, it's the only metal that forms a brown stain. If stain is brown and does not react it's most likely organic in nature, leaves, worms, etc. and difficult to remove excpet by bleaching, i.e. VERY high FC levels probably above 30 ppm or so until the stain is gone.)

Also pool heater is on alot, wife like water hot, so must be metal staining, these stains are all from last year when I wasn't using a metal sequestor every 2 weeks.  (since then no new stains)

You said that the stains were brown and ring shaped. It could be cobalt spotting, which is only a problem in fiberglass pools and very difficult to remove. It could also be manganese, which often stains fiberglass a brownish black and is also difficult to remove. Cobalt spotting is caused by water chemistry that is out of whack, manganese is usually from water used to fill the pool (most often well water). Most metal stains occur when pH is very high, as yours ism which causes the metal to precipitate out and deposit as stain.

First step is get your water balanced and keep it balanced! This will help keep any further staining at bay.

Second is make sure your chlorine sources do not contain copper! (Read the ingredients)

Third, get a good test kit (Taylor K2006, not the Taylor k2005) and start testing your own water. Should be done a minimum of weekly if not more often if there is a problem.

Metal stains do not really occur in properly balanced water. Iron staining in a fiberglass pool usually looks like a brown discoloration that covers the entire pool that is underwater and the fiberglass above the water line does not show the discoloration. Running a pool heater will not cause metal staining unless your heater has a copper heat exchanger and your pH is running very low. Copper stains are usually black in a fiberglass pool but can be bluish green or metallic copper colored on occasion. Calcium (which is also a metal) can deposit as scale, a white to tan stain that can feel rough to the touch, when water is not kept in balance.

Sequestrant will not remove stains but will keep metals in water from depositing as stain but you still need to keep your water chemistry in line or the won't work. Only way to get rid of metals in the water is to get them to deposit out as stain. There is a way to get them to depsoit on the filter medium and therefore be removed by changing the filter (sand, DE, or cart) but it requires really understanding pool water chemistry and knowing exactly what you are doing so I won't even go into it.

Good news is that some staining will resolve to a certain extent if you get your water balanced and keep it balanced with no further action. Once that is done you can revisit the stains after a few months of proper water chemistry.

As far as the pool heater it's immaterial as long as your pH has not dropped dangerously low. I keep my pool at 88 degrees year round and pool is open year round (North Florida) Heater doesn't run for a short period during summer when temps are in the 90s and I also have a fiberglass pool.

 

Hope I gave you a starting point, which is to get your water balanced and start testing your own water with a good test kit (Taylor k2006, worth every penny!) https://www.taylortechnologies.com/en/page/231/k-2006-complete-kit-with-fas-dpd

Think of testing your pool water like checking the gauges on your car. You don't take your car to the garage for them to check if your gas tank is empty or if the oil is low. You look at the dashboard and then take appropriate action. Some things you can do yourself, like add fuel or oil (think chlorine), some things require professional attention (high CYA, which requires multiple partial drain and refill cycles and switching to an unstabilized chlorine source to prevent further cyanuric acid increase). Testing your pool water yourself regularly will allow you to keep your FC and pH in line and deal with TA, CH, and CYA when they are out of line.

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Couldn't have put it better myself, @waterbear. In fact, couldn't have put it as well. Cobalt? That's a brand of hardware store tools to me. Good to have you here, buddy. Gold star for you!

 

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many thanks both of you, the pool is fiberglass and brown and ring shaped, so your saying could be cobalt and very hard to remove?  (we dont use well water just city water)

Going forward will order the testing kit and keep water stabilized.

Hopefully once water stabilized for a couple weeks can tackle the stains, will also get a picture to upload for you.

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On 6/18/2020 at 12:03 PM, Rizzil said:

many thanks both of you, the pool is fiberglass and brown and ring shaped, so your saying could be cobalt and very hard to remove?  (we dont use well water just city water)

Going forward will order the testing kit and keep water stabilized.

Hopefully once water stabilized for a couple weeks can tackle the stains, will also get a picture to upload for you.

 

On 6/18/2020 at 10:48 AM, waterbear said:

You said that the stains were brown and ring shaped. It could be cobalt spotting, which is only a problem in fiberglass pools and very difficult to remove. It could also be manganese, which often stains fiberglass a brownish black and is also difficult to remove. Cobalt spotting is caused by water chemistry that is out of whack, manganese is usually from water used to fill the pool (most often well water). Most metal stains occur when pH is very high, as yours ism which causes the metal to precipitate out and deposit as stain.

First step is get your water balanced and keep it balanced! This will help keep any further staining at bay.

Second is make sure your chlorine sources do not contain copper! (Read the ingredients)

Third, get a good test kit (Taylor K2006, not the Taylor k2005) and start testing your own water. Should be done a minimum of weekly if not more often if there is a problem.

Metal stains do not really occur in properly balanced water. Iron staining in a fiberglass pool usually looks like a brown discoloration that covers the entire pool that is underwater and the fiberglass above the water line does not show the discoloration. Running a pool heater will not cause metal staining unless your heater has a copper heat exchanger and your pH is running very low. Copper stains are usually black in a fiberglass pool but can be bluish green or metallic copper colored on occasion. Calcium (which is also a metal) can deposit as scale, a white to tan stain that can feel rough to the touch, when water is not kept in balance.

Sequestrant will not remove stains but will keep metals in water from depositing as stain but you still need to keep your water chemistry in line or the won't work. Only way to get rid of metals in the water is to get them to deposit out as stain. There is a way to get them to depsoit on the filter medium and therefore be removed by changing the filter (sand, DE, or cart) but it requires really understanding pool water chemistry and knowing exactly what you are doing so I won't even go into it.

Good news is that some staining will resolve to a certain extent if you get your water balanced and keep it balanced with no further action. Once that is done you can revisit the stains after a few months of proper water chemistry.

As far as the pool heater it's immaterial as long as your pH has not dropped dangerously low. I keep my pool at 88 degrees year round and pool is open year round (North Florida) Heater doesn't run for a short period during summer when temps are in the 90s and I also have a fiberglass pool.

 

Hope I gave you a starting point, which is to get your water balanced and start testing your own water with a good test kit (Taylor k2006, worth every penny!) https://www.taylortechnologies.com/en/page/231/k-2006-complete-kit-with-fas-dpd

Think of testing your pool water like checking the gauges on your car. You don't take your car to the garage for them to check if your gas tank is empty or if the oil is low. You look at the dashboard and then take appropriate action. Some things you can do yourself, like add fuel or oil (think chlorine), some things require professional attention (high CYA, which requires multiple partial drain and refill cycles and switching to an unstabilized chlorine source to prevent further cyanuric acid increase). Testing your pool water yourself regularly will allow you to keep your FC and pH in line and deal with TA, CH, and CYA when they are out of line.

Ok here's my updated numbers, starting to think salt cell is dead, also now that water clearer, this ring stains look almost golden, brown, yellow.  

What was done to get these numbers was PH reducer, then powder shock then stabilizer, and salt cell running at 100% for 48hrs.  

FC 0.26

TC 0.56

CC 0.3

PH 7.4

Hardness 221

Alkalinity 96

CYA 50

Copper 0.2

Iron 0.2

Salt 3246

 

I will need a gopro to get you guys pics of stains.

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Salt pool has slightly different water balance requirements so your water is out of balance. What is the make and model of your SWCG? Chances are you CYA is too low since most makes want either around 80 ppm or 100 ppm. Have you tried shocking with bleach (non scented chlorine bleach) or pool liquid chlorine? Have you added a stain remover based on citric, ascorbic, or oxalic acid to the pool (it would most likely be a powder or in a stain bag)? This could explain your extreme chlorine demand. It is possible to check if the salt cell is producing chlorine by colleciting water directly from the return while the cell is running and testing for free and combined chlorine and adding them together to get your total chlorine reading. Have you acquired the test kit I suggested yet? Your numbers look like pool store numbers from a LaMotte testing station. IF they are using the vials with powder inside that is read in a machine it's not a bad system but has some limitations. If they are using strips with a reader the readings are not to be trusted since strips are not accurate (repeatable). I have to run now but will check back later.

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Yup pretty sure they use lamothe by what you describe.

 

My salt cell is IC20, I have not tried liquid chlorine yet, neither at open, was powder shock then added stabilizer in sock.

For the stain removal its only been a liquid one that targets metal.

 

I have the cell still running at 100% and will test water at pool store again tomorrow.  

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16 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

You should get a good test kit. Frequent testing is crucial in getting everything squared away.

I recommend Taylor.

Yes, as I said before a Taylor k-2006 (not K-2005) LaMotte is not bad, in fact I used to use the system, but there are limitation to their Hardness test because it measures total hardness and not calcium hardness and I have seen problems with inaccuracies with the CYA test.

As far as your water balance, Pentair recommends CYA at 30-50 PPM so you want it at the upper range, pH between 7.7-7.8 Alkalinity 60 ppm and Calcium Hardness at 200-400 for ballpark figures. You want to maintain a FC level of 4-6 ppm with combined chlorine .5 ppm or lower. If you need to shock use liquid chlorine or bleach (same thing, both sodium hypochlorite which is also what your salt cell produces). My guess is your powder shock introduced the copper since, unless you get PURE cal hypo (almost impossible these days) most shocks are 4 in 1  or some such nonesense, that introduce stuff you do not need or want in your pool water. They are a crutch for people that don't want to test their water. Your salt is too low. Pentair recommends between 3600 - 4500 ppm with the lower end more desirable. I would shoot for around 3800 ppm. This could be why you are not producing chlorine. Running salt too low can shorten the life of the cell faster than running it high.

I can't stress enough to get the test kit and start testing your own water. I had LaMotte training and certification but many pool store employees do not and are not testing correctly. YOu can find the Taylor kit online at Amazon and other online retailers. When you consider how much you paid for your pool and equipment the price of the test kit is pennies by comparison. (No, I do not work for Taylor Technologies. Their k-2006 is just the gold standard for residential pool water testing.)

If you want to test your salt level I recommend the Aquachek salt titrator strips, 1 of the 2 test strips I will use (The other being LaMotte Borate test strips for those that run borate in their pools, which I HIGHLY recommend for salt pools!)

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