BBB method - Support Requests

A BBB guide to supermarket poolcare.
Use store-bought bleach, baking soda
and borax to replace proprietary pool chemicals.
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Larry
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BBB method - Support Requests

Postby Larry » Fri 13 Mar, 2009 02:56

The BBB method for pool maintenance is not rocket science, but often requires extra diligence until the pool water is balanced. In order to help us provide you with more accurate and quicker help for your BBB pool care problems, we suggest that you include as much of the following information as possible in your support requests:

  • Problem: The problem and when / how it started
  • FC: free chlorine level
  • TC: total chlorine level
  • pH:
  • TA: total alkalinity level
  • CH: calcium hardness level
  • CYA: cyanuric acid level (stabilizer / conditioner)
  • My pool: type, size, surface
  • Pool chemicals: the chemicals you use for pool maintenance (chlorine, bromine, ...)
  • My pump & filter:
  • Other info: water temp, bather load, abnormal weather or environmental factors

The type and size of pool, the pool surface, the pool pump and the filter details may help us provide you with accurate information related to your BBB question. The more details you provide, the better your chances for a quick answer (and quick fix).

You can copy this template and paste it into your BBB support request to make your pool problem reporting easier:

Code: Select all

[b]Problem[/b]:

[b]FC[/b]: 
[b]TC[/b]: 
[b]pH[/b]: 
[b]TA[/b]: 
[b]CH[/b]: 
[b]CYA[/b]: 

[b]My pool[/b]:
[b]Pool chemicals[/b]:
[b]My pump & filter[/b]:
[b]Other info[/b]: 

And PLEASE use a descriptive title for your pool support requests

Thanks
Larry


JesseWV
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My Pool: 27.5 ft round x 3.5-4ft deep A/G w/ Vinyl Liner
AO Smith 1HP BN25 Pump
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Location: West Virginia

BBB method - Support Requests

Postby JesseWV » Tue 26 Apr, 2011 12:09

I am a new pool owner. The previous owner left me with a tablet floater and a 3-way Chlorine/Bromine & pH tester. I had to make a few repairs because while moving the filter for the winter one of the fittings from the skimmer line shattered and the pressure gauge also broke right off with very little force.

After completing repairs I took off the cover. I was surprised to see that the water was very clear. There was a brown film on the bottom and a small pile of debris in the middle.

I tested the water with the 3-way kit. The levels indicated where practically non-existent. The chlorine test was clear the pH test was almost clear. In an attempt to raise the pH to 7.5 I picked up a jug of "Aquachem pH Up" (Sodium Carbonate) (I know, I know, I hadn't seen the light yet.) The directions instructed me to ad 30oz for a 15,000 gallon pool with a pH of 6.5 or below. I added the product to the surface of the pool above the circulation jet which seemed to stir it up quite well. It dissolved quickly. I waited 1 hour and then tested the pH again. The result was the same. Frustrated I then added the remainder of the jug which was 34oz. I tested again in 1 hour but the result was still the same. I was wondering if the test kit was bad so I dissolved a few granules of the pH up that were left in the jug into a measuring cup of water and tested it. The color was now light pink.

I knew something wasn't right so I decided to do some research online and came upon this forum. I found that using a 3-way test kit would not give me all the information about the water that I needed. I bought a bottle of 6-way test strips. I tested the water and the results were all extremely low.

After browsing the forums I found the BBB thread and knew that this was something worth looking into as I hate paying inflated prices for name brand anything. I was a little concerned about the borate levels in the water since I have pets and young children so I decided to keep them around 25ppm.

Now that I had a plan I filled the pool up to the middle of the skimmer with city water then vacuumed the brown film and debris from the bottom and vacuumed the sides for good measure. The water got much more cloudy from the debris being kicked up from cleaning.

I went to Walmart and picked up:

(3) 76oz boxes of 20 Mule Team Borax (Sodium Tetraborate)
(3) 64oz boxes & (1) 192oz Bag of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
(1) 55oz box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate)
(6) 1lb socks of Aquachem Shock Plus (Sodium Dichloro-s-triazinetrione)
(3) 182oz Jug 6% Bleach (Sodium Hyprochlorite)

I added all of the Borax and tested about 1 hour later. The pH and TA went up a little. I then added all of the Baking Soda, tested 1 hour later. The TA was almost perfect the pH was a little low. I added the Washing Soda and tested about an hour later. The pH level was now very good.

Satisfied with the water balance I decided to shock the water. I added 1.5 lbs of Shock Plus. I decided to use the dichlor product for initial shocking and chlorination because there was no CYA present to begin with. I waited about 45 min and then tested. The TC was around 1ppm, FC around 2ppm, and CYA less than 30ppm. I added another 1.5 lbs of Shock Plus, waited 30 min and tested. The levels were now TC: 3ppm, FC 4ppm, and CYA around 40ppm.

It was now dark and I needed the water fully shocked so I added one more sock of Dichlor and let the pump run all night. I woke up this morning to see the debris in the water cleared up quite well but there is still a cloudiness to the water.

Problem: Cloudy Water

Image


FC: 2
TC: 10
pH: 7.4
TA: 120
CH: 100
CYA: 50

Just in case I'm reading it wrong, here is a photo of the test results.
Image
Test pad order: Total Hardness, TC, FC/BR, pH, TA, CYA.

My pool: 27.5ft round x 3.5-4ft depth

Pool chemicals: Dichlor for inital CYA loading, Bleach thereafter.

My pump & filter: AO Smith 1HP BN25 Pump, Hayward S160T Filter
Other info:
chem geek
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BBB method - Support Requests

Postby chem geek » Tue 26 Apr, 2011 19:33

You haven't really been using BBB properly. First of all, you do not just add 20 Mule Team Borax by itself to get borates. If you use Borax, then you also need Muriatic Acid. Adding Borax will raise the pH a lot, not just a little. Another alternative is to use boric acid instead since that is closer to pH neutral. Also, you say you then added washing soda, but that too will also raise the pH a lot. So something does not sound right at all with your situation since the pH should have gone through the roof (i.e. been very high >> 8.0) with what you have done and that is not good.

You should also NOT use Dichlor to shock the pool. Stabilized chlorine (Trichlor and Dichlor) will raise the CYA level of the pool so unless that was your intention, regular use of such products will increase the CYA level.

You also need a good test kit, not test strips. The Taylor K-2006 and the TFTestkits TF-100 are both good kits with the latter having more volume of reagents so comparably priced per test.

When using chlorinating liquid or bleach as your primary source of chlorine, you normally do NOT need to use pH Up or washing soda and unless your Total Alkalinity (TA) is low, you don't normally need Alkalinity Up or baking soda. BBB doesn't mean you need to buy baking soda, but rather that you can use baking soda instead of Alkalinity Up.

You need to raise your Free Chlorine (FC) level to clear the water. I suggest you raise it to shock level which is around 20 ppm given your 50 ppm CYA. Use chlorinating liquid or 6% unscented bleach (such as Clorox Regular or off-brand Ultra).

Please read the Pool School for more information about how to properly manage your pool.
JesseWV
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Posts: 3
Joined: Tue 26 Apr, 2011 09:56
My Pool: 27.5 ft round x 3.5-4ft deep A/G w/ Vinyl Liner
AO Smith 1HP BN25 Pump
Hayward S160T Sand Filter w/ Vari-Flo valve
Location: West Virginia

BBB method - Support Requests

Postby JesseWV » Tue 26 Apr, 2011 23:05

chem geek wrote:You haven't really been using BBB properly. First of all, you do not just add 20 Mule Team Borax by itself to get borates. If you use Borax, then you also need Muriatic Acid. Adding Borax will raise the pH a lot, not just a little. Another alternative is to use boric acid instead since that is closer to pH neutral. Also, you say you then added washing soda, but that too will also raise the pH a lot. So something does not sound right at all with your situation since the pH should have gone through the roof (i.e. been very high >> 8.0) with what you have done and that is not good.


As I said the initial pH level was extremely low and the TA was 0. The TA is still reading perfect on the test strips after 24 hours. Correct me if I'm wrong but Borates do not show up on the TA test as much as Carbonates? So should I assume that the TA measurement I'm getting is mostly from the Sodium Bicarbonate?


You should also NOT use Dichlor to shock the pool. Stabilized chlorine (Trichlor and Dichlor) will raise the CYA level of the pool so unless that was your intention, regular use of such products will increase the CYA level.


I chose to use Dichlor for initial chlorination because of the initial "0" CYA level. I figured I could "kill two birds with one stone" taking care of CYA and shocking.

You also need a good test kit, not test strips. The Taylor K-2006 and the TFTestkits TF-100 are both good kits with the latter having more volume of reagents so comparably priced per test.


I already have one ordered. They're a little more expensive than I expected and they don't have a test for Borates included which is a bummer.

When using chlorinating liquid or bleach as your primary source of chlorine, you normally do NOT need to use pH Up or washing soda and unless your Total Alkalinity (TA) is low, you don't normally need Alkalinity Up or baking soda. BBB doesn't mean you need to buy baking soda, but rather that you can use baking soda instead of Alkalinity Up.


Are you saying I should have shocked with sodium hypochlorite before balancing the water? I thought I needed to get the TA and pH nailed before chlorinating?

You need to raise your Free Chlorine (FC) level to clear the water. I suggest you raise it to shock level which is around 20 ppm given your 50 ppm CYA. Use chlorinating liquid or 6% unscented bleach (such as Clorox Regular or off-brand Ultra).


I added 388 oz as directed by the pool calculator to get my FC above 20 for the night. I'll see what things look like in the morning.
chem geek
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BBB method - Support Requests

Postby chem geek » Wed 27 Apr, 2011 02:03

JesseWV wrote:As I said the initial pH level was extremely low and the TA was 0. The TA is still reading perfect on the test strips after 24 hours. Correct me if I'm wrong but Borates do not show up on the TA test as much as Carbonates? So should I assume that the TA measurement I'm getting is mostly from the Sodium Bicarbonate?
:
I chose to use Dichlor for initial chlorination because of the initial "0" CYA level. I figured I could "kill two birds with one stone" taking care of CYA and shocking.
:
I already have one ordered. They're a little more expensive than I expected and they don't have a test for Borates included which is a bummer.
:
Are you saying I should have shocked with sodium hypochlorite before balancing the water? I thought I needed to get the TA and pH nailed before chlorinating?
:
I added 388 oz as directed by the pool calculator to get my FC above 20 for the night. I'll see what things look like in the morning.

I apologize for not reading/interpreting your post correctly (I didn't understand that "non-existent" meant the TA was zero). Yes, if the TA was zero then that means the pH was 4.5 or below so adding significant pH Up products was appropriate.

And yes, using Dichlor initially to add both chlorine and CYA when the CYA is zero is fine. Again, "non-existent" meant zero CYA and I didn't understand that.

And you are correct that it was critical for you to get the pH up right away so that was fine to do. Using the Dichlor would at least get your chlorine up as well.

Sorry for the confusion. You now sound like you're on the right track and will be able to do a lot more once you get your good test kit.
JesseWV
Pool Newbie
Pool Newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue 26 Apr, 2011 09:56
My Pool: 27.5 ft round x 3.5-4ft deep A/G w/ Vinyl Liner
AO Smith 1HP BN25 Pump
Hayward S160T Sand Filter w/ Vari-Flo valve
Location: West Virginia

BBB method - Support Requests

Postby JesseWV » Wed 27 Apr, 2011 16:02

JesseWV wrote: Correct me if I'm wrong but Borates do not show up on the TA test as much as Carbonates? So should I assume that the TA measurement I'm getting is mostly from the Sodium Bicarbonate?


What about the Borate contribution to TA? Should I assume that there is actually more TA than a TA test would show?
chem geek
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BBB method - Support Requests

Postby chem geek » Wed 27 Apr, 2011 19:42

Sorry I forgot to answer that question. 50 ppm Borates will contribute 5 ppm to TA at a pH of 7.5. so basically, you can ignore that contribution, but it only matters when calculating the saturation index anyway. If you use The Pool Calculator for that calculation, it will properly account for both Borates and CYA for an adjusted TA used for the saturation index calculation. So you just put in the actual readings into the calculator and it will handle those other adjustment subtleties automatically.

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