Help? New House w/a Giant Pond That's Supposed to Be a Pool?

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Help? New House w/a Giant Pond That's Supposed to Be a Pool?

Postby WaterWoman » Sun 18 May, 2008 00:57

I'm a true pool newbie here. In every sense of the word.

We're buying a house with a pool. I've never had a pool before, and wasn't really looking for a pool, but the rest of the property is perfect and the price is right, so--if all goes through as expected--I'm going to become a pool owner very soon. :)

This pool comes with problems, though (part of why the price of the house was reduced, I figure). The house has been sitting empty for around a year now, so no one has maintained the pool for at least that long. It's a real mess. We're going to be strapped for cash after all the costs of buying this house, so we can't afford to pay someone to come in and clean this mess up for us. (I wish we could!) But this pool MUST be dealt with ASAP, so we have no choice but to learn what we need to do and do it ourselves.

All I know right now is that it's an in-ground gunite pool that's approximately 14' x 28', is about 3' deep at one end and maybe 7' deep at the other end. I figure that makes it about a 15,000 gallon pool? There's a pump and the plumbing is all intact as far as I've been able to tell. I'm not sure of the brand name of the pump.

The water in the pool is the problem. It's terrible. It's green and murky, has a layer of rotting leaves at the bottom AND has been stocked (by the county, according to the neighbor) with mosquito fish. It's closer to a scummy POND than a swimming pool right now. I peeked in at it through the fence this afternoon and, on top of everything else, I'm afraid the fish may be dying since we've had several days over 100 degrees (northern California) and there is no water circulation in there. The water is heating up and I think they are literally cooking in the hot sun. The water looked REALLY scummy, and maybe even had bubbles on the surface, but I couldn't tell for sure.

OK, so... what do I DO with this mess??? I figure the first step is to get the fish out, then the dead leaves. Scoop the fish and leaves out with nets? Or what? Then what next? Vacuum it? Drain it partially and refill (it's my understanding that I can't drain a gunite pool completely, right?)?

After we get all the debris out, would the next step be to somehow clean the walls and bottom of the pool itself? If so, recommendations on how to clean it without draining it would be appreciated.

Then, finally, I'm thinking we would need to get the water conditioned and balanced. All I know about any of this is what I've researched online since we decided to buy the house. I'm such a newbie! But on the bright side, I'm a fast learner and we're hard workers who are determined to get this done.

ANY advice you folks could give me about how to turn this giant scummy pond back into a swimming pool will be GREATLY appreciated! Is it even possible???

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Postby muss08 » Sun 18 May, 2008 07:29

The absolute best investment you can make in a pool is a good, reliable test kit. I recommend the Taylor K 2006- very reliable and accurate and comes with clear instructions. Usually can be found for $50-$60. Your estimate of 15000 gallons seems about right (length x width x average depth x 7.4). You need to get a good leaf net and yes, scoop out as much debris as possible (and all the fish). You will also need a good pool brush and obviously a pole to attach these to. You can use regular unscented clorox for chlorine. After you get as much debris out as possible you want to run the equipment (a list of your equipment would be helpful-especially type of filter) and add the bleach (or whatever chlorine product you choose). Its hard to say right now how much to put in without a full set of your chemistry readings though. You can get this turned around though and I would avoid going to a pool store to get your water tested because they are going to want to sell alot of expensive or unecessary chemicals. I would stock up on clorox, baking soda (will raise alkalinity) and muriatic acid (lowers pH and alkalinity). You will probably also need cyanuric acid which stabalizes chlorine. You can usually find the acids at home depot or lowes. Gunite/plaster pools can be drained completely- its vinyl and fiberglass pools that shouldnt be drained completely. Hope this helps and when you get a test kit post your chemistry numbers so we can help more.
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Postby cfrederick » Fri 23 May, 2008 07:20


I'm was and am in a similar predicament, let me share my experience to see if it may help or at least give some perspective.

We recently moved into a house in the Cincinnati area, empty 3 years, although not stocked we did have wildlife, namely bullfrogs living in our pool. The best investment I made was hiring a professional pool company to do a "dump and clean" It cost us $660 which included all chemicals (and they used a bunch). They drain the entire pool and acid wash all of the gunite. Our pool was so bad we could not see the to step into the pool. In 1 day they were able revive our pond to a pool.

Another thing to consider if you haven't closed on the house yet is have the current owners provide you a warranty for your pool. (we bought our house out of foreclosure and the bank picked up a home and pool warranty for us) I think you can purchase this on your own through American Home Shield, we are dealing with an issue with our heater which is covered and being worked on now. If I was to replace, it would be $3000 - $4000k. I think the cost for the warranty was around $180. I'm not well versed on how the warranty works, it does seem to handle repairs/ replacement on all above ground mechanical issues for 1 year from date of issue, ie filter, pump, heater, etc... We also have a leak, which is not covered. There is a service charge for a tech to come, I think ours was $55 and the tech working on our pool has been out 4 times and gets parts and labor reimbursed from the insurance company. The service charge is a 1 time fee for per issue. Ie if we call in a repair on our filter tomorrow we would expect to pay another $55 charge for that issue.

Hope this helps, albeit a more expensive alternative(s), however, I don't think I would have wanted to handle the acid as the pool pros did, nor absorb the expense of a new heaters. I do agree with muss08 on pool stores, it is amazing the things they recommend all in the spirit of having you spend $$$.

BTW, we released the frogs to a river near us and thankfully they have not come back.

Good Luck and congrats on your new home
Duffy Pools

Postby Duffy Pools » Fri 30 May, 2008 22:06

The worst investment in real estate is one with a broken down cement pond.

Think of it as a big Bio fish tank. It's lot's of hard work but don't get caught up in chemicals and test kits. Iron in the water can cause staining with gunite.

This is least of you worry.

Drain the pool and wash the walls with TSP. Trisodium Phosphate This will get rid of any oils if you need to repaint. It's like the bathtub ring thing.

Chlorine to pool water is like penicillin when you are sick.

Heavy sun reduces the chlorine effectiveness by half. It's called photosynthesis that allows micro organisms to breed.

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