New pool owners here....

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Nancy writes:

Listen, Nancy, this guy is either an idiot or a crook. Evaporation cannot possibly account for the rate of these losses. You need to be honest with yourself and quit this denial and fantasy that there is some innocent explanation. Until then it will not be fixed, and you will be paying $$$ for make-up water and make-up chemistry and spending never-ending hours fussing with this.
You need to immediately make a written demand for this to be promptly fixed. It probably won't happen, and then you have a lawyer write a love letter to this guy. But I suspect you have paid these clowns already, and your options are all unpleasant.
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Thank you, but please chill! I'm an intelligent person and am not in any state of denial or fantasyland, ok? Thanks for your concern, but we ARE on top of things!!! Nancy :-)
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Nancy writes:

Well, OK then. It just sounded like you still held out hope that evaporation could be the cause, what with playing with buckets and all.

You have a new, defective pool with severe leaks, and a contractor shrugging it off. If you haven't paid yet, then you at least you have the force at hand to remedy a miserable situation. But if you've already paid, then you are on the bottom, not the top of things.
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Nancy (et. al.),
I have almost the same installation...20' x 40' - vinyl liner pool, 24,000 gal. (good choice), heater, 2 skimmers and...about 15 years experience maintaining my own.
1) In the Atlanta area, I lose about 1/4" per day due to evaporation on a sunny, hot day. Me thinks you have a leak. Call the pool folks and make 'em fix it.
2) Chemical maintenance seems daunting at first but is not too difficult. Get a good test kit ($15 - 20) and test the water weekly. If you live near a Leslie's Pool store, take a water sample and let them ALSO test the water and provide recommendations. You can compare your test kit results with theirs to gain experience. It's easy to convince yourself not to trust them because they're in the business of selling chemicals, however my experience is they want you to keep coming to them for supplies so their advice is usually appropriate. In many areas, heavy rain will cause your pool water PH to drop (become more acidic) as well as alkalinity. One method to correct this is to add "Alkalinity Up" or a similar chemical from the pool store. Instead, save some money and buy bicarbonate of soda (Arm & Hammer). It's available at the warehouse stores (Sam's Club, Costco, etc.) in 10 lb. boxes and now in 12 lb bags. Whenever we get a rain that results in the water level going up 1" - 2", 9 pounds of this stuff will bring it back down. Visit http://www.poolcenter.com/watbal.htm or any one of many web sites for help in understanding pool chemistry.
3) As far as opening and closing your pool is concerned, I recommend letting a pool service (or the installation company) do it the first year. Watch closely and then you can take over.

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Thanks for writing!
The closest Leslie's in about the same distance as our pool people who installed it. We HAVE found East Coast pools, and they sell the same stuff our pool people sell. My cousin's wife, who works for our pool people, recommended them if we didn't want to make the trek up to thier place every weekend. (We have a small baby, not that it's THAT far away, but it's in a congested area, and there are a bunch of other variables why it's hard for us to get up there.... I'll spare you....) So anyway, I stopped in there, and they are just great; we plan to take our water in this weekend to be tested.
We are in the middle of this test, measuring levels with the filter running, with the filter off. Apparently, if you more water with it running it's a return problem, more water with it off an inlet problem and the same amount of loss both times a liner problem. (That may be reversed, I'm not sure) Anyway, looks like we've lost a quarter inch since yesterday. We shall see. Pool guy was out last weekend and tightened the screws on our skimmers, checked out a few other things. He said even a pebble or piece of dirt could be behind one of the skimmers, or a gasket could be loose, something like that. He will be out again this weekend to assess things. I DO trust him. He is a friend of the family, he is fair, he has a reputable company, he is hellbent on figuring out what's going on, not leaving us high and dry, so I'm remaining calm. I'm confident that he will find out what's going on.
In a 36 hour period with the filter running constantly, we lost just under 1 inch of water. So far, it's been 24 hours with the filter not running, and we've lost about a quarter of an inch. We will be measuring and concluding our test tomorrow morning. So...we will report in with our data and see what he says from there.
The pool is just absolutely beautiful, and I even bought myself a new bathing suit. My 1 year old got about 7 new bathing suits for her birthday last month. We are ready to go! Now we just have to figure out what to do with the tadpole we discovered today. He's (she's?) swimming around the deep end, having a jolly good time!
Thanks again and have a nice day! Nancy :-)
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Nancy writes:

Aha. You didn't mention this.
Over the years, I have learned not to do business with friends, unless you are willing to accept the contingency of unsolveable problems. Otherwise, you either lose the friend or the money when something goes wrong (and with contracting, it always does). I prefer to do business with people at arm's length, and who I can walk away from, if the deal goes badly.
If this sounds harsh, then consider whether subjecting friendships or family relations to the stress of business disputes is not more harsh.
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I agree with you. He's not OUR friend...but my cousin's wife works at the company. She helped set everything up. The owner/installer is great, really. His brother used to work on my car when I was in college and had a clunker car! ha! It wasn't anything like losing a good friend or family member over this. Something was wrong, we called and were inquiring about how they were going to fix it, they've come out helped us. He did an outstanding job on the pool and, as I said in my other post, last week he came out to check things out and did some dye tests, etc. He is determined to find the source of the problem, not just leave us! He tightened some screws and checked some gaskets, etc. Funny thing is, we've only had 1/4 inch loss since then, Sunday morning. My husband even seems optimistic tonight! I have been in direct contact with a rep. by email all week, and we are feeling very satisfied with their company. The exception was when I wrote my original post and was feeling a bit overwhelmed at being a new pool owner AND worried about this water loss situation. I've gotten so much great info here, thanks again SO much!!
Nancy :-) p.s. We went in tonight for the first time and sat in front of the jets in the spa lounger. What fun! It was damn cold though!
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Nancy,
Where does waste water go to when you backwash the filter? Is it plumbed flow into to a sewer?
RB
Nancy wrote:

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There is a blue hose that's connected to the gasket/valve. When he backwashed, the water went through the hose and out to a grassy area out towards the curb. Do you think it's something in the backwash system? Since the guy was out here on Sunday to check things out, we have only had 1/4 inch loss, and it's been almost a week. We were averaging about an inch every 2 days. Nancy :-)
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My guess is that your backwash valve is leaking. When the pump is running most of the water removed from the pool for filtering is returned to the pool. A slight amount is leaking past the gasket in the valve [my guess] and passes out through your "blue hose". Can you put a can or bucket at the end of this hose and see if you collect any water when the pump/filter is running?
RB
Nancy wrote:

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We tried this actually, this was the first thing they suggested to us. The bucket came up empty. Is it possible that it only happens SOME of the time? Should we try this again? I would think that if it leaks, it leaks, and there would have been some water in that bucket. What do you think? Nancy

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By the way, here are a few pictures!
http://share.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i AMWTRw4bNmjNNg
Nancy

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wrote:

I just looked at your pool pictures Nancy. It looks fabulous! I know you're going to have lots of fun with it! Did you get a heater with it? The reason I ask is I got a propane heater with mine and when we first opened up the pool last spring we just set the thermostat on the pool heater and forgot it for a couple of weeks. Whoa! We burned about 200 gallons of propane gas in those two weeks just leaving the heater on 24 hours a day. We have found we can turn it on a day or so before we want to swim and then turn it back off. It saves lots of gas that way. Also, a friend of mine told me this week there is an electric heater you can use in conjunction with your gas water heater that will maintain the temperature of your pool very economically. He said churches use them to keep the water warm in baptismal pools. I suppose I could find one of these at Leslie's Pool Supply but I haven't checked yet.
Regards, Bill
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Thanks!! We DID get a heater, it's a gas heater. We put it on last night for the first time. The water coming out of the spa lounger was nice and warm. Nice! You know, with the amount of sun we get, I don't think we'll need it much. The pool temp. is already up to 70 (without the heater last night) and it's just May 1st today! The sun is directly overhead all day. We shall see. Thanks for the tip though, yikes that's all I need, one MORE expense!!
Nancy :-)
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Nancy writes:

I won't lecture you on this one. It will educate you quite well on its own. Takes about a month or so for the lesson to arrive on your utility bill. When it arrives, remember that each dollar of heat you put in your pool is lost within hours.
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On Sun, 02 May 2004 14:52:25 -0500, Richard J Kinch

Why not reduce the utility load with a simple passive design? Recalled reading online where several owners used lengths of black rubber hose to let the sunshine do the heating chore. With a little bit of planning I'd bet most people could find a method to blend those lengths into the area landscaping.
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Jim writes:

Like nobody has thought of that?
Costs are high, effectiveness low, lifetimes short.
South Florida used to be full of roofs with solar collectors from the 1980s. As they wear out, they are generally not replaced. Owners who experienced true costs/benefits don't want them.
The problem is not so much the collectors as the fact that any heat added to a pool is lost in a matter of hours.
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In alt.home.repair

Exactly. The best thing you can do is a solar blanket. It takes 160,000 BTUs to raise the temp of my pool water 1 degree.
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Bill,
There is no way any electric heater will heat for less cost than a gas unit unless you have subsidized electric service. The cost everywhere I'm familiar with for a unit of electrical energy exceeds that derived from gas.
RB
Bill wrote:

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A pool heat pump should be cheaper to run than gas, especially if the ambient air temperature is over 60F. At some point below 60F, it would be cheaper to kick in a gas heater. If the "maintenance" heat is electric resistance, then I completely concur that in no place I know will it be cheaper than gas.
--
Mark
Kent, WA
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