I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

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Posts: 4
Joined: Fri 30 Sep, 2011 15:25
My Pool: A 25'x15' mosquito pit.
Location: Austin TX

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby DewiMorgan » Fri 30 Sep, 2011 16:09

At my workplace, the guy who used to look after the pool and grounds recently died. So, because I'm now the only guy in the company, I inherited his job. Because that's how life works.

Now, I'm a computer programmer. I come from the UK. What I know about pools could be written on the back of a postage stamp with a Crayola.

The pool is overhung by trees. For the last few weeks, I've been scooping the worst of the leaves off the top, but there's a ton of leaf-mold on the bottom, the water's so impenetrably green you could mistake it for mashed cabbage, and if you look too closely at the murky depths, you realize that there are about enough mosquito larvae in there to feed the whole bat population of Austin for a year. And that lots of them have hatched and are flying around. Turns out that while I have developed an immunity to UK mosquitoes, Texan ones give me bites the size of an egg. I now have dozens of them. I look like the elephant man.

So, here's my problem:
- Texas has a water ban. So, no emptying the pool and refilling it.
- Apparently the pool will collapse or something if it's just left emptied. I'm not allowed to.
- There's no company budget to do anything at all to it.
- I might get away with spending a few bucks of my own, but I don't even know what to do. At the most, my budget is going to be $15/month, though. Money's kinda tight.

I know what I *want*. I want to kill the mosquitoes before they get out the water, so I'm thinking of buying a few bottles of bleach ($1 for 4 litres at the dollar store, not bad!) and just pouring them in. But I don't know if that's a Really Bad Idea, or what.

I'd also like to cover the pool before autumn really gets going and the leaves start raining down: I'm thinking of throwing all the inflatable pool toys on there, to stop the cover sinking, then putting the cover over the top. It's a big, nonporous plastic sheet, so would need to be held up by something. I'd build a framework to "tent" it, but no money for that.

And long term, ideally, if there's any *really cheap* way to do it, I'd like to get the pool usable again, someday. I'm happy to spend a long time on the process: doesn't need to be something that works overnight.

A couple of years ago, the pool was a great perk here at work. We'd get a dozen people in the hot tub in the evenings. It's not been usable since last winter, but I'd love it to be that way again someday, once (in my REAL job, as a computer programmer) I've helped the company to start earning again. Maybe by next summer... I can dream.

Does anyone have any suggestions? "Get a new job" isn't a good one - despite my tone, I do love this place dearly.

FC / TC / pH / TA / CH / CYA:
Apparently there are testing strips that would give me these details. But, we've no budget for that.
I'd assume that if you pick the values that are ideal for mosquito breeding, you won't be far wrong.

My pool: Is about 15'x25', wet, opaque green, and full of leaves and mosquito larvae.
Pool chemicals: Hah! No budget available for that fancy stuff. Not even simple chemicals like H2O!
My pump & filter: These apparently do work, but the company doesn't have money to run them, so I'm told not to. I might get away with running them for a few mins every now and then, but I'm afraid to, since:
- I have no idea what the scary mess of knobs and whistles and valves do,
- I'm scared of clogging it up,
- I have no idea how to clean or replace the filters, or where they even are, and
- there's no money for that stuff anyway.

Other info:
I've tried to write this lightheartedly. But it's a serious request for help. The pool water is still watery, and I'd like to do something before it becomes swampy. At the moment all I know to do is scoop the leaves off the top. I can't SEE the bottom to scoop up those leaves, though when I'm feeling brave I sometimes try to scoop down there, carefully, since the net is beginning to fray and once it's gone, there's no money for another.

Pool Newbie
Pool Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri 30 Sep, 2011 15:25
My Pool: A 25'x15' mosquito pit.
Location: Austin TX

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby DewiMorgan » Fri 30 Sep, 2011 17:56

Been reading a little on basic pool chemistry. Looks like I'm on the right track just pouring a ton of bleach in there, but I don't know how much I'll need - it might not even be affordable.

Apparently it degrades in sunlight, and Texas has plenty of that, which is both good and bad: means it's probably impossible to put "too much" in - so long as nobody's swimming there at least.

But also means I'm going to need to keep pouring more and more in, and stirring it around. Sounds like a fun money sink. Wonder if even my $15/month will be enough to make a dent in the green. Eh. Well, maybe it'll at least kill some mosquitoes.

Am reading up on cheap sources of bleach/chlorine. Hearing some new terms like "backwash" and "shock", which I suspect I'll need to read up on, too. Expect me to continue to ask dumb questions for some time, though.

Would still love any and all suggestions about: killing the mozzies; clearing the water; covering the pool; getting it swimmable; and saving money.

Edit: So, reading up more, I think what I need to do is to "winterize" this pool. It's not going to be used for the foreseeable future, so I need to shut it down. As I unserstand it, to do this, I need to:

- I apparently have to "balance the chemistry" to protect the pool lining for the long term. No idea how to do this. Something to read up on I guess. Sounds expensive.
- Do I need a "winterizing kit"? How much would that cost? Are there cheaper options?
- Lower the water below the mouth of my "skimmer" - I'm guessing that's the big hole in the wall near the deep end.
- Blow out the water from the plumbing lines. I have NO clue how to do that. Any tips?
- Plug the lines in the pool. I have no idea if we have any plugs.
- Use a gizzmo. I know nothing about this bit.
- Cover the pool. This poses a range of problems.
- Drain the filter. I have no idea about this bit.
Pool Newbie
Pool Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri 30 Sep, 2011 15:25
My Pool: A 25'x15' mosquito pit.
Location: Austin TX

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby DewiMorgan » Sat 01 Oct, 2011 19:25

OK, looking some more into this:

Water Reports
In the shed I found some water reports! Now, I'm sure the readings and recommendations are way out of date, so I've ignored those completely, other than to note that there was probably a reasonable amount of stabilizer put in there at some point. That's going to have been eaten by the algae, so that's going to likely need a ton of chlorine to clear out.

There's a "Self Chem Solutions pool water analysis report" with some useful info.
Water volume - 15000 gallons
Attached Spa - Y
Filter Type - S (sand?)
Finish is "C" - concrete? That's what my boss said it was.

There's also a "Leslie's Water Analysis Report", in which some values differ.
Water volume - 15000 gallons
Type - Pool&Spa
Sanitizer - Chlorine
Surface - Plaster/Marcite - what's the difference between that and concrete? Are they the same? If not, how do I tell who's right?

Then I went out to look at the confusing and scary mess o' pipes.

I don't know what any of these do, nor how to use these, and would appreciate advice, especially with the valves.

There are three "Jandy Valve Actuators" with wires going off. These have levers that were used to control the flow, back in the day. I think before even that, there was some kind of remote, timed computer control of these: there's a control panel in the kitchen but I'm told it doesn't work any more.

Valve 1 - Model UVA2440. Back pipe goes to pump, left to sand filter, right (via energy filter) into the ground.
Valve 2 - Model GVA-24. Back pipe goes to pump. Left and right go straight into the ground.
Valve 3 - Model UVA2440. Back pipe goes to water heater via Chlorine Feeder. Left and right go straight into the ground.

There's a big round "Hayward Pro Series High Rate Sand Filter". Three pipes lead from this. One seems to be for draining: it just leads to the lawn. One goes to the heater, and one goes to valve 1

There's a big box with the logo "Rheem" on the front, and a control panel. From all the warnings on it, I'm guessing this is the pool heater. Model is P-M267A-EN-C. Two pipes lead from this, one to the sand filter, one to the chlorine feeder.

Between heater and valve 3 is a Pentair "Model 320 Automatic Chlorine/Bromine ....ine Feeder" (label has degraded, some letters illegible).

There's what I guess is the pump, labelled "Emerson 1081 Pool Motor", between valves 1 and 2. It's marked as "230v, 60hz, 2.0hp, 10.5 sf amps" - I don't know if that voltage means it has a special power supply, or if that's its max rated. Anyway, a 2HP pump is going to cost about $100/month just to have running, I think. I need to run the numbers on that. But it's not looking good :(

There's a "Jandy Energy Filter" connected between valve 1 and where the pipe disappears into the ground.

A "Polaris" residential swimming pool and spa air blower is on a pipe that rises from the ground.

Chemical Inventory
Purposes are just my best guesses.

For raising Chlorine/Sanitizing:
The pucks, I guess, are for sticking in the chlorine feeder, for chlorinating the pool once stabilised. Probably not useful for shocking?
- Solutions "3in Super Pucks chlorinating tablets" - 4 x 7oz pucks
- Leslie's "3in Jumbo Tabs", stabilized chlorinating tablets 99% trichloro-s-triazinetrione (available chlorine 90%) - 9 pucks.

For raising Calcium:
- Solutions "Equalizer 300" Calcium Chloride 100% - 3lb
- Ram "Hardness Control" Calcium Chloride - 3lb

For raising pH:
- Leslie's "Alkalinity Up" Sodium bicarbonate - 10lb
- Solutions "Equalizer Plus 200" Sodium Carbonate 100% - 1lb
- Solutions "Equalizer 100" Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate - 4 x Half an 18-lb bucket
- Regal "pH Plus" Sodium Carbonate 100% - 1lb
[If alkalinity is high, avoid Sodium carbonate, use borax instead]

For lowering pH:
- HTH congealed "pH Minus" Sodium bisulfate 92% - 3.5lb
- TransChem "Muriatic Acid" 20deg Baume Hydrochloric Acid 31.45% - 2 x 1 gal

For Algae:
- HTH "Super Algae Eliminate 60" 60% Poly {oxyethylene{dimethylimino}}ethylene, {dimethylimino}ethylene dichloride

Cleaning Stuff:
- Solutions "Suspend M+S" metal and scale control "contains phosphoric and other inorganic acids" - 1.5Qt
- Solutions "Filtex-G" Filter Cleaner and Degreaser - 0.5Qt
- Aqua EZ Cartridge and DE Filter Cleaner - 6 fl
- Solutions 1qt "Strip-off" surface cleaner contains hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid and detergents

Also misc non-pool-related stuff, probably: Miracle Gro, Windex, Unlabelled purple bottle, unlabelled blue bottle, engine oil, WD-40, roundup, green light pest control.

I'd love to know which of these do what, and if there are any I should throw away, and how to correctly dispose of them if so.

I'm noticing a distinct lack of anything like bleach or chlorine. Darn.
TSH Tech

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby TSH Tech » Mon 03 Oct, 2011 00:23

DewiMorgan wrote:- I might get away with spending a few bucks of my own, but I don't even know what to do. At the most, my budget is going to be $15/month, though. Money's kinda tight.

but no money for that.

but the company doesn't have money to run them, so I'm told not to.

there's no money for another.

Maybe by next summer... I can dream.

I'm going to hit you with the bottom line; a swimming pool is a luxury item. A swimming pool is a money pit of sorts and requires expenditures in the chemical division every week that will exceed $15, not including electricity costs and unexpected hardware failures.

Close the pool, shut off the pump power, lock the gates, rope it off, post the sign "pool closed". With that $15, go to a fish store and inquire about "mosquito eating fish". Yes, they do exist! Put the fish in the pool and walk away. When funds become available for weekly maintenance of the pool next summer, go from there.

Pool Newbie
Pool Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri 30 Sep, 2011 15:25
My Pool: A 25'x15' mosquito pit.
Location: Austin TX

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby DewiMorgan » Tue 04 Oct, 2011 17:06

I'd agree that it's a luxury item: but it needs to be winterized properly, not just left as a festering pool, nor turned into a fish pond - I strongly suspect that wouldn't fix the mosquito problem: it'd just create an equilibrium of larvae and fish, and bring its own large range of fishy-type problems when the time comes to open the pool up again.

So at the moment I'm thinking I need to present my bosses with four options:
1) Reopen the pool and hot tub. Crazy expensive, not an honest option.
2) Reopen just the pool. Also not really an option, but way less without the heating. After the expense of cleaning it, perhaps as low as $100 for pump and $50 for chems each month?
3) Winterize and shut it down as best we can, while keeping the system in good enough condition that it can work again when money comes again. Low initial cost, and minimal recurring cost, though I don't know how to do this, so I've no idea of the costs.
4) Just leave it, let crap get into the pipes, clog up, freeze, break stuff, and cost thousands to repair. I'm hoping that they won't go for this one, but since it's the "pay no money now" option, I'm worried it's the one they'll go for, and I'm worried it'll end up biting them in the ass.

Trouble is: I'm unsure. Of lots of things.

I'm unsure that option 3 really is the best thing to be recommending they do. Maybe it's not worth saving. I don't know. Maybe fish really are the way to go, and I should just learn to love the mosquitoes that survive. Maybe leaving all the plumbing alone for a year or more won't cause any damage at all.

I'm also unsure HOW to do option 3. I bought an OTO test kit: Clorine's below 0.5, so prettymuch exactly what you'd expect of a pool that's been untended for all of the Austin summer. pH is over 8.2, which surprised me, since I thought oak leaves were acid. I also bought a floater and I'll stick three pucks in it this evening and let it go, though without any pool circulation, I'm not sure it'll do a lot of good. Still, no point keeping them around in this heat.

Those two used up my first month's budget, but next paycheck just went in, so I counted that month as ending today ;)

Per recommendations elsewhere, this coming month's budget is likely going to get spent on muriatic acid (to lower the pH to sane levels) and some cheapo 50% algicide (to lower the surface tension and hence kill the larvae? Would that work?).
Pool Newbie
Pool Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun 27 Nov, 2011 16:05
My Pool: 14,000 gal 30mm vinyl in ground pool. 40 years old on my 6th liner. Installed last one on June 1 2011. Have a cartridge filter system with an [APURE1400]Jandy® AquaPure Salt Water Chlorination System (Up to 40000 gals). 1hp pool motor.
Location: Chino Hills, CA

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby hbdiver » Sun 27 Nov, 2011 18:29

You need to run the pump or put fish in it. Those are your first two options.
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Posts: 1
Joined: Sun 30 Oct, 2011 15:10
My Pool: 15,000g gunnite/plaster

I've inherited a mosquito-breeding pool.

Postby anthony_r_cook » Wed 08 Feb, 2012 21:12

There is no way on earth you will be able to open the pool on the budget you mention.
Either get more money or get the fish.

I feel for you brother, sorry.

If you get more money, first get a good book.
The Ultimate Guide to pool maintenance by Terry Tamminen is a great book with in-depth instruction on every topic, including all the hardware

This web site and others (poolcenter.com) have some real good information.

once you get the pool water balanced, you may be able to run it on $50/month (plus electricity), but only after the water is completely clean and balanced. That is probably going to cost you more than $500 in chemicals and energy, maybe a lot more depending on your electricity rates.

I have the same size pool and was in the same condition when I got it. It wasn't cheap.

Good luck.

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