Pool Chemicals and Huge Price Variations

According to a water test at Leslie's, I needed 33 pounds of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda/soda ash) because my alkalinity was only 60 and should be 100. I wasn't sure how much sodium-bicarbonate I had at home so I didn't buy it at the time (Leslie's calls sodium-bicarbonate "Alkalinity Up."
I had only a few pounds so I checked Leslie's web site and they were charging $80 for 50 pounds <http://www.lesliespool.com/Home/Pool-Chemicals/Pool-Adjusters/14069.html . That seemed high to me for baking soda, so I called another pool store, and they charged $34.50 for 50 pounds (Arm and Hammer brand). It was about five miles away but we were going that direction anyway. Later I checked Costco's business warehouse on the web site and they charge $7.53 for 13.5 pounds, which would be $33.47 for 50 pounds, and the smaller bags would have been more convenient, but it was too far to go.
Another big difference is in the cost of phosphate removers. The dilution of the active ingredient varies tremendously so you can't go by volume. I bought a gallon of Orenda PR1000 (aka "BluePRO") for $130. It's painful to pay $130 for a gallon of anything, but PhosFree is about seven times as expensive that PR10000 for the equivalent phosphate removal.
For liquid chlorine, I pay $2.50/gallon for 12.5% strength in returnable bottles, while most stores, including Leslie's charge much more than that for 10% strength in a box of two. The Hasa chlorine in returnable bottles is also much fresher as it's delivered every two days from the manufacturing plant, and doesn't sit around in a hot storage facility.
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That's so they can charge more for it. Once you figure out what Alkalinity UP, Balance Pack 300, etc are, you can buy it for a fraction of the cost. Another example is Calcium Chloride. It's available as DowFlake Ice Melt instead of at the pool store.

Costco is where I've been buying it for years.

Here, NJ, it's about $18 for 5 gallons, 12% when you buy it in 5 gallon jugs that you have to return. Still the trichlor at Costco is less expensive when you do the math.
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On 8/12/2012 7:38 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Well at least the calcium chloride is something you should only need when you drain and refill every few years, it's not something you buy constantly. But since I have to drain soon I'll look into that, but I doubt if they sell it in California, even in the mountains, since they don't salt the roads here due to run-off into the lakes and rivers. Leslie's "Hardness Plus" sounds like some sort of erectile dysfunction cure.

I need to check our Costco. The Business Costco sells it in the 13.5# bags but I don't recall seeing it at the regular Costco I go to.

The big problem with tri-chlor tablets that people in California run into is that their cyanuric acid level quickly gets too high. Every pool store except Leslie's warns against using tablets because of this, in fact the lady at the pool store where I bought the baking soda mentioned Leslie's by name when she warned against using tri-chlor tablets. I was buying tablets at Costco when I was using a tablet feeder, but ran into the issue of too much stabilizer and had to stop. Finally got the stabilizer level down low enough after a winter of heavy rain that overflowed the pool several times. There is no neutralizer sold for cyanuric acid.
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wrote:

What's the downside of high cyanuric acid levels? I go thru a ton of the tablets during the summer.
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The higher the CYA, the less effective the chlorine is at disinfecting. Meaning if you have a free chlorine of 2 ppm with CYA at 100, it's going to be significantly less effective that if the CYA is 40. You can be looking at your pool test for chlorine and thinking you have plenty, when in fact it's being significantly inactivated by the CYA.
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On 8/12/2012 12:50 PM, Ashton Crusher wrote:

High cyanuric acid levels cause "chlorine lock." Those in the business of selling Tri-Chlor tablets try to claim there's no such thing as "chlorine lock," but they are incorrect.
"What happens is that with insufficient water replacement the amount of stabilizer (cyanuric acid) in the water builds up over a period of months or years to levels where it becomes a bit of a problem. This makes it difficult for the dichlor or trichlor to react with the water and produce sufficient hypochlorous acid (free chlorine) to achieve a satisfactory kill time against bacteria and other micro-organisms."
You want to keep your cyanuric acid level at less than 80, preferably around 50ppm. Over 100ppm you need to drain, or partially drain, the pool and refill. Note that cyanuric acid does not evaporate. So if your pool water level goes down the ppm goes up, and when you top off the pool the ppm goes back down to where it was. If you get a lot of water splashed out, or if the pool overflows in prolonged storms, then the ppm goes down.
If I had a dollar for every time I've heard a water testing person at Leslie's tell an incredulous pool owner that they have to drain and refill, at least partially, to reduce the stabilizer level to a level where the chlorine will start working again, I'd be rich. I want to scream at the tester "but Leslie's caused the problem by pushing tablets so hard."
Tablets are certainly more convenient, but it's best to use them only when you go vacation. You can buy a liquid chlorine feeder to reduce the need to manually add chlorine every few days.
I suspect the margins on liquid chlorine aren't nearly as good as the margins on tablets which is why some stores push tablets.
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wrote:

Interesting. Never heard this before and I've had the pool for over 20 years. It could explain why it was a nightmare to maintain until I finally gave up and drained and refilled it. How many gallons of the liquid chlorine does an "average" pool require per week during the summer?
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replying to sms88 , chem geek wrote: There really is no such thing as "chlorine lock" the way the industry defines it as if everything is fine until CYA gets to a certain level and then somehow chlorine is all locked up. It's not like that at all. It's basic equilibrium chemistry where the active chlorine (hypochlorous acid) level that kills pathogens and algae is proportional to the FC/CYA ratio. So as the CYA climbs from continued use of stabilized chlorine products (e.g. Trichlor, Dichlor) the FC level needs to be raised to keep the active chlorine level constant.
In manually dosed pools, the ratio needed to prevent green and black algae growth is 7.5% while in saltwater chlorine generator pools the required minimum ratio is 5%. These are the levels of active chlorine needed to prevent algae regardless of algae nutrient (phosphate, nitrate) level. If one wants to go lower than this, then one would need supplemental products such as Polyquat 60 algaecide or use of a phosphate remover unless one is lucky to have a pool poor in algae nutrients.
You can learn much more about how to manage your pool by reading the Pool School at Trouble Free Pool:
http://www.troublefreepool.com/content /
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On 8/12/2012 10:25 AM, SMS wrote:

Is alkalinity up the same as pH+ or pHup? I pay $4.99 for 5 lbs for pH+ but never thought about it till I read your post...
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Probably not. The PH increasers are usually soda ash, which is a stronger base and it will effect PH more than total alkalinity. Sodium bicarbonate is a weaker base and will effect total alkalinity more than PH.
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