New pool owners here....

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Hi! Well, they have finally finished up our new inground pool, and we have questions. The pool people aren't the best at customer service or people skills in general, and although they've explained things to us, and we ARE pretty intelligent people, we still are overhwhelmed! Anyone feel like answering a few dumb questions? Thanks in advance! The pool is an inground lagoon shape, extended actually, and I'm pretty sure it's 24,000 gallons, though I'm not sure. We have a gas heater, the filter in the back, two skimmers, a spa lounger type thing you sit in, with jets, a vinyl liner. I hope that's all the pertinent info.
The water level seems to go down every day. Is this normal? Should we expect to have to put the hose in it every day and fill it up? I'm talking like an inch or two in a day. No one is swimming in it. Is the water evaporating? Or should we be worried that something is wrong? We don't see any water leaking back by the filter area.
We went today and had our "chemical orientation." Okay, so there's stuff we have to do now, throw in all this stuff at different times, whatever. Then they say to maintain it, we follow this 3-step process. We put a chlorine stick in the basket, add the step 2 stuff, then add the step 3 stuff. I suppose I could go up and get the bottles to explain better, sorry. Well they said we should do this weekly. Now, a bottle of the one stuff is $10, a bottle of the other stuff is $20, then the chlorine sticks. Is this normal? Should you do this chemical treatment once a week? Or are they just trying to sell us tons of chemicals? What's a good schedule to follow? They gave us tester strips too, so we can test the water ourselves.
We want to do our shock/treatment of the pool, but there's still some sand/gravel on the steps/spa lounger/ a bit on the floor of the pool. Should we vacuum that up FIRST, or can we vacuum that up later, after we've treated it? Of course there was a part missing in our vacuum, and they haven't sent it to us yet, so who knows there.
How can I get off a dirt ring on the white spa lounger and the crud on the white steps? It sat all winter, waiting for completion, and now there're dirt stains. I tried white vinegar, only helped a little bit.
How difficult is it to open and close your pool? The pool people want us to join this VIP program for over $500. They will open the pool, close the pool, AND cover everything under warranty. ALso we get a 10% discount on chemicals. Should we? Shouldn't we? My husband blows out the sprinker system pipes with the air compressor and is pretty handy, but we're nervous about the warranty thing. The guarantee is for the plumbing...above and in-ground, lifetime guarantee.
Thanks again! Nancy
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In alt.home.repair
Nancy,

Uggh! I'm not a fan of pools with liners but it is too late to worry about that.

Do you live in a hot desert? This amount of leakage is likely not normal. To be sure, make a line with a sharpie at the top of a 5 gallon bucket and fill with water to the line. Set it out by your pool. The next day, check how far below the line the water is. That is what the pool lost to evaporation. My guess is that you have a leak. Finding pool leaks can be tough but you start by looking at the obious places which are anywhere there is a seam or connection like drains, outlets, skimmers etc. If you come out early in the morning on a calm day, you can place drops of blue food color all around the pool about every foot and watch them for flow to see if they move towards a leak.

In my opinion, all a pool needs is to maintain the chlorine at 1-3ppm a weekly dose of algecide and a shock 1X per week during use. However you get the chlorine in the pool is irrelevant. It sounds like you have a chlorine feeder, which is good. You just need to keep it full of chlorine and it probably doesn't have to be "their" brand of stick, any tabs will work. Anyway, pool chemicals are not cheap and you should buy in bulk if you can. I buy shock in 100lb buckets for about $120 each. This will last a long time and is much cheaper than even buying 1lb bags at Walmart, which will run you $2.74 a pound.
You can get a test kit anywhere. All you need to do is keep your chlorine between 1-3ppm, your ph around 7.2 and your total alkilinity around 100. You can do this with acid, soda ash and chlorine.

Doesn't matter, you can shock it anytime.

There are cleaners that you can use as well as brushes and eraser type things. I'd shock the hell out of it and see if it won't bleach out. For 25,000 gallons, which BTW sounds like a VERY large pool, you would normally use 2.5lbs of shock. I'd hit it with 4-5 bags of shock and see how it does. It won't do any harm and will all be gone in a few days.

That's up to you. It sounds like you live in a cold climate. I do not so I don't "close" my pool that way. If he does the sprinkler, I'd say he could do the pool. I would NOT pay $500 for it.
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Hi Bruce! Thanks for a great response. I feel like I'm getting educated here, and I'm passing it all along to my husband as well. We live in NJ, near Philadelphia. We will try the bucket thing tonight. Lots of great info here. Wow! Thanks again, will post back soon! Nancy :-)
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Be worried. That's way to much to be attributed to evaporation.
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sounds like the gasket in the filter valve is going bad. is the drain wet?

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Nancy writes:

NO. You have a large leak, which may be easy to fix, or a serious problem to fix. I hope you haven't paid these people.

They are trying to sell you an overpriced package of the worst case needs. You either hire a pool service to do it for you, or learn the analysis and routines yourself.
http://www.truetex.com/pool.htm
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Best site around for answer to running a pool. http://www.poolforum.com/cgi-local/dcforum/dcboard.cgi

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Thank you Brian! Will check out that site! Nancy

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: : The water level seems to go down every day. Is this normal? Should we : expect to have to put the hose in it every day and fill it up? I'm talking : like an inch or two in a day. No one is swimming in it. Is the water : evaporating? Or should we be worried that something is wrong? We don't see : any water leaking back by the filter area.
call the installers.....................i believe you have a leak...............
: : We went today and had our "chemical orientation." Okay, so there's : stuff we have to do now, throw in all this stuff at different times, : whatever. Then they say to maintain it, we follow this 3-step process. We : put a chlorine stick in the basket, add the step 2 stuff, then add the step : 3 stuff. I suppose I could go up and get the bottles to explain better, : sorry. Well they said we should do this weekly. Now, a bottle of the one : stuff is $10, a bottle of the other stuff is $20, then the chlorine sticks. : Is this normal? Should you do this chemical treatment once a week? Or are : they just trying to sell us tons of chemicals? What's a good schedule to : follow? They gave us tester strips too, so we can test the water ourselves. : : We want to do our shock/treatment of the pool, but there's still some : sand/gravel on the steps/spa lounger/ a bit on the floor of the pool. Should : we vacuum that up FIRST, or can we vacuum that up later, after we've treated : it? Of course there was a part missing in our vacuum, and they haven't sent : it to us yet, so who knows there. : : How can I get off a dirt ring on the white spa lounger and the crud on : the white steps? It sat all winter, waiting for completion, and now there're : dirt stains. I tried white vinegar, only helped a little bit. : : How difficult is it to open and close your pool? The pool people want : us to join this VIP program for over $500. They will open the pool, close : the pool, AND cover everything under warranty. ALso we get a 10% discount on : chemicals. Should we? Shouldn't we? My husband blows out the sprinker system : pipes with the air compressor and is pretty handy, but we're nervous about : the warranty thing. The guarantee is for the plumbing...above and in-ground, : lifetime guarantee. : : Thanks again! : Nancy : : :
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If you don't see any visible leak you might consider the backwash valve. If the backwash waste connection is into your sewer drain AND if the backwash valve is leaking internally then when your filter/pump is running you may be wasting water into the sewer. This isn't going to produce any signs of a leak other than the level going down.
On my pools I have put a valve in series with the waste line as insurance against this type of problem. Fixing or replacing the gasket in the backwash valve may help at least temporarily but they can easily be dislodged if you don't operate them correctly.
RB
Nancy wrote:

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Hmm, interesting. Okay, thank you! We are looking into this. Our installers told us to memorize the water level, run the pump overnight. Mark how far it went down. Then tomorrow night do the same thing but do not run the pump. They are trying to determine if there is a plumbing problem or something else, I suppose. Will save this info though and forward to my husband. Thanks, everyone is always so helpful here. I appreciate it! Nancy

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Nancy writes:

Listen, you have a serious original defect that THE CONTRACTOR should be diagnosing and repairing. Not you. You hired them to do this and they agreed to provide a sound result. It's not your job to diagnose and/or fix their serious mistake. It sounds like they are trying to involve you in delays that will get them out of responsibilities (mostly by wearing you out) if this defect is not easy to repair. A lot of contractors price jobs based on everything going well, and when there is a problem, they can't possibly correct it without losing money, and they are too unprofessional to agree to lose money, even when its their fault.
Make it clear you want this fixed. Write this in a letter. No more phone calls about if and how, only about when. If they do not respond with action promptly, hire a lawyer to write a nastygram. Determine whether you have the stomach to sue, or give in and pay big money to another firm to fix this for you. There will likely be no other alternatives.
Don't fantasize that this will go away on its own, or that you can live with it. You cannot sanely or economically maintain a pool with a leak that fast.You are being way too nice about this. No doubt you want to believe this leak is not a big problem, and that it will all work out. That is how nice people get swindled. There are many $1000s at stake here.
I repeat, I hope you haven't paid these people. But I suspect you have, right?
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Liner leak or plumbing leak under ground. Call your installers.

Follow the advice of your local pool supplier. Get the water tested by them a few times to understand your local issues. You'll eventually find a happy medium.

Shock and sand are not related. Do as you wish.

Elbow grease. Some cleaners that are safe on vinyl.

Clubs, VIP programs and warranty add-ons are ways for the pool company to make money, and rarely if ever pay off.
Jeff
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Hey Nancy! I am now on my second inground vinyl liner pool similar in size to yours. I liked my first pool and I would still have it but my ex-wife decided to get a divorce and she got custody of my first pool. But then I married my second wife, and as is my usual custom, whenever I get a new wife...I get a new pool! So, I will insert some comments after your questions that will hopefully answer your questions. It really isn't hard to maintain your pool if you will give it thirty minutes of your attention once or twice a week.
wrote:

Depending on the outside temperature change from day to night, sometimes you will get evaporation from your pool. Not every day though! If you see the water level steadily going down by inches over a period of several days, you may have a leak.
Should we expect to have to put the hose in it every day and fill it up? I'm talking like an inch or two in a day. No one is swimming in it. Is the water evaporating? Or should we be worried that something is wrong? We don't see any water leaking back by the filter area.
It could be evaporating but it may be leaking. What is the daytime temperature versus nighttime temperature? What is the relative humidity? What is the dew point? These factors all play a role in determining whether or not it's leaking.

Is there a Leslie's Pool Supply in your town? They will check your water for free once a week. Basically, after you get the water balanced all you have to do is through in two 1lb bags of chlorine powder once a week right after the sun goes down one night.

It doesn't matter when you get the trash off the bottom. It won't affect your water balance. Vacuum the bottom after you put your chemicals in the pool.

Just rub the sides with your pool brush. It will "soak clean" after a few days when you get the water "balanced" with the right mix of chemicals. Do not let anybody who has rubbed sun tan lotion on their body get in your pool. They will create a black scum ring around your pool.

Why don't you just leave your pool running all year Nancy? If you are concerned about the power bill, remember to drain all the water out of your pumps and filter so they won't freeze and crack during the winter (unless you live in the south) You can operate your pool yourself if you can find Leslies:
http://www.lesliespool.com/index.asp?Redirect=true
These people carry everything you need to maintain and repair your pool. This is where the pool maintenance guys buy their stuff to fix your pool!
Regards, Bill
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Hi Bill! You are a hoot! I hope you are enjoying your new wife and your new pool! :-)
Thanks for the great comments! To follow up, the installer was out today. He did a dye test but didn't find any visible leaks (whew.) He's not ready to rule out evaporation. We DO have a very large pool, and he was shocked to find that our water temp was 70 degrees. The sun really beats down during the day, and although today was about 61, the pool temp remains at 70. We had some very warm days and some very cool nights, and he seems to think that this could very well be causing some evaporation at a rapid pace. ALSO....very breezy, and I guess the wind causes evaporation too? I don't know, I didn't really love science class until I got to physics. So anyway, we are doing a test now to see how much we're losing. We lost about an inch in 48 hours with the filter running. We'll measure again and test for the same time with the filter not running, to see if it's a plumbing problem. He did tighten a few screws around the skimmers, and he said there may even be something underneath, causing them to just not seal tightly. I am hoping it's something easy.
We got our vacuum part and vacuumed up some of the dirt/sand that was settling on the steps and spa lounger! It looks great! I also through in tons of chemicals today. BalancePak 100 for alkalinity, Balance Pak200 for ph, um, something else, maybe Stablilizer? And one other thing....I forget. This was printed out for us after having our water tested last week. We DO have a pool place real close to us, so we can test our water in there. Not surei f it's Leslies. I will check out the link you sent.
Thank you everyone for your great help! I have a lot of info to go through and some links to check out as well! Nancy :-)
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In alt.home.repair

Did you do the bucket test I suggested? You can rule out evaporation in one day with that test. Wind is certainly a factor in evaporation, that is why blow dryers blow. Be sure and fill the bucket close to the top so it is exposed to the same wind the pool is.
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wrote:

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That blow dryer comment was funny! Ha! It's raining today, but we plan on doing your bucket test yes! We spoke to a guy at a pool shop who suggested the very same thing. I thought of you! Will let you know! Nancy :-)
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wrote:

You can take care of your pool alot more economically yourself Nancy but you may "have to pay a pool man to take care of it up there in New Jersey! (I been watchin too much Soprano's on tv...I figure the mob is all over New Jersey and they will make you pay them to clean your pool! (just kidding! :-)
Seriously, you should have no problem maintaining your pool after you determine if it is leaking of not. If you need them, there are "Leak Detector Companies" you can find with Google or in the Yellow Pages of your phone book who can drop "listening probes" into your pool that can actually "hear the water leaking out". They will charge you a minimal service fee to come out and show you where the leak is. After you find it, it is fairly easy to fix. They have patches at the pool supply store now that you squirt the glue on and dive down to the bottom to slap the patch on. It's that simple. I know Leslie's has some stores in New Jersey. Check them out!
According to their website, Leslie's Pool Supply has a whole bunch of stores in New Jersey. Double click on this link:
http://www.lesliespool.com/index7storeloc0.html
Regards, Bill
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Ha!
Thanks!! Found a store about a half hour north of me! Will look into it after my next meeting with the installer. I think I posted he came down and did a dye test? Didn't see any real evidance of a leak. When it stops raining, we are going to test our water drop over a 36 hour time period with no filter running. Will report back! Nancy :-)
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