How to clean a swimming pool - completely?


I just took posession of a property I purchased and are planning some remodeling work before I move in. The remodeling work will last 4 to 6 months.
I am trying to decide what to do with the swimming pool (below ground pool). When I got it the pool is already in pretty bad shape - not structurally, but hygiene wise. The house has been vacant for months and so the pool looks green and murky - green is probably algae? I was told by the realtor it is a heated pool but it's not working. The lighting along the side of the pool still works.
So now I need to clean the pool. The location is in Miami, FL and I was told by a friend that I cannot drain the water or else the pool may crack because of the low water table. This may be a stupid question but - is there a drain for a pool? I have no idea where the water comes from to fill the pool and where the water goes. Is there a stopper thingie at the bottom I need to dive in to pull out?
My decision to be made is - do I leave the pool the way it is for now, until the remodeling is almost done, then deal with the pool? By then there will be mold growing out of it...or do I drain the pool now and leave it dry during the remodeling process? or do I drain/clean the pool and keep it maintained for 4-6 months knowing it will not be used once (except may be by the contractor). What is the best approach?
I also heard that there is a new system where you can just add salt without the need for chlorination. Can someone provide any information or links? Is this something I can switch to easily?
Thanks in advance,
MC
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MiamiCuse wrote:

When it's time to drain a residential pool, rent a portable submersible pump. The filter pump usually cannot handle completely draining the pool. Heed the warning about not draining it when the water table is high -- the weight of the pool water keeps the ground water from popping the concrete pool out of the ground. There may even be a safety valve under the pool that will allow ground water to enter, thus saving the pool's structural life.
If you don't plan on using the pool for a while, there is no major harm in just leaving it as is. Just keep enough chlorine in it to keep it from becoming a public health hazard, and maintain the pH so as not to be corrosive. Once you're ready to fix up the pool you'll have to drain it and clean out the muck.
One more very important point -- Have a fence at least five feet high around the pool with a self-locking gate.
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Do NOT NOT NOT drain the pool without consulting a pool specialist. Your friend is quite right , the ground wwater below a pool can do a lot of damage when the weight of the water is removed from inside the pool.
Some pools are fitted with a relief valve for that purpose.
There should be ideally a water supply to the pool itself for adding water lost by evaporation. In some cases this is just left to a garden hose.
There should be plumbing from the pool skimmer and/or bottom drains to a pool pump and filter. There is then one or more returns to the pool.
Your best method , in my opinion , is to use a skim net on a pole to remove as much loose debris as possible. Then shock treatment with acid, to kill any growing algea . Repeat the manual skimming.
Then I would connect a floating filter of something like flywire , on the pool pump intake (vacuum hose) to remove the bulk debris floating i the water .
After that its several cycles of filtering and vacuunming with the correct PH balance and a flocculant (causes particles to clump together and either sink or float).
To avoid a lot of filtering , vacuum the debris directly to waste. Then refill the pool - you might loose a foot of water this way.
Doing it correctly is not an enormous amount of work. It just needs the right methods and chemicals.
Getting a quote from a local pool service may be a good idea, they oftwen have a pump and filter setup for this sort of cleaning job.
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If you are anticipating a remodel lasting 6 months or so, the last thing that you need to obsess over is a swimming pool. The remodel will fill your days and nights with all manner of nasty little problems you will have to to solve, especially since the house has been vacant for months. Get a good pool maintainance outfit on board now, (and under contract), to take care of it, put the details behind you and concentrate on the real problems that must be taken care of first. It's called by the efficiency specialists, 'prioritizing'. Good luck.
Joe
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wrote:

Shock the crap out of it with liquid chlorine. The pool guy can tell you how much to use, based on the size of the pool. Over on this coast we have "Pinch a penny" pool stores and they may be there. They are about as good as it gets for chemicals and the ones here are pretty good on advice. They also have pool service.. I would certainly fix this as soon as possible to save the pool finish. If it gets permanently stained you will really have trouble getting it clean again. Once you shock it you will need to vacuum it several times to get it cleaned out. You may just want to pay the pool guy to take care of this. They charge $30-40 a month to keep it blue. Until you get this under control and learn how to do it yourself it may be worth the money. They might even clean it up for you for free if you sign a contract. In Miami your swimming season will be here in a couple months, even without the heater. Solars will add 3-4 months to the season for virtually zero extra cost. Fossil/electric heaters can get pretty expensive to run.
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MiamiCuse writes:
I am in Palm Beach County and have seen worse pool messes after the hurricanes.
You can clean up just about anything short of a septic tank with these ingredients:
Low pH (pool acid) Chlorine up to 10 ppm (sodium hypochlorite in the jugs) Pump and filter running for days Polaris 180, 280, or 380 to do the vacuuming

See my page:
http://www.truetex.com/pool.htm
Specifically about relief fittings.
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The outdoor temparature is MINUS 15 deg and windchill is 35 BELOW, and you're talking about swimming pools. GIMME A BREAK !!!!
If that pool was here, you could drive on it today. !!!!
wrote:

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Where are you? I am in Miami Florida. It's 75 degrees out.

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Remove the Baby Ruth
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