Great American

Cleaning Silt

Q.My question is this. I have a lot of silt/mud in my vinyl pool from not properly covering it this winter. I have most of the leaves out, but can't filter the water clear. We've already used 12 pounds of shock and algaecide in two weeks. When I vacuum the silt, within a minute dark brown water shoots out of the return jet. I've backwashed numerous times. Is there a silt vacuum I can get? Or, do I have to drain the whole thing (19,000 gallons)and scrub by hand? I don't mind the work, but that's about $700.00 of new water I'd rather not buy.

A.With a layer of silt on the bottom, I'd bypass the filter and vacuum to waste. Take your time; trying to rush the job will only stir up the silt and take longer to finish. With a vinyl liner pool, I wouldn't take out more than a foot of water at one time.

"Frog Ponds"

Q.I've got a concrete pool that looks like a frog pond. The vacuum won't work more than a minute or so before the filter clogs. Now what?

A.With a concrete pool, I'd rent a sump pump for about $20 and drain the thing. Run the water into your grass, green water is excellent fertilizer. When it's empty, sprinkle the walls and floor with about 3 gallons of liquid chlorine diluted 1: 1 with water and run the water into the street (The results are shown below). The remaining algae should pretty well negate the sanitizing effects of chlorine, but don't put it directly on your lawn. Unless you have an extremely high water table, draining the pool and immediately refilling is safe without well- pointing.

What will the water cost? Most municipalities charge about $1 per 1,000 gallons water and $2 per 1,000 sewerage. Tell them what you're doing and you should only have to pay water fees so a residential pool runs around $20 to refill.

Scuba Scams

Q. Ive got calls out to a few pool leak repairers.The one that called back tonight said the leak repair involves a diver at 150.00 an hour with NO GUARANTEES OF FINDING ANYTHING!! Thats not an option I want to hear and this was over the phone,without looking at the pool at all.I hope your advice will do it for me. Im frantic about this!

A. People who charge $150 and don't offer a guarantee, aren't 'leak repairers', just expensive swimmers. They want the income without the responsibility; the glory without the grief. Scuba divers here get $25 an hour (2 hour minimum) and without an obligation to get results, is about all they're worth. Just install the foam the way I described (draining the pool is up to you) and you'll fix your own leak with less than $5 in materials.

Resurfacing Material Q.Just a gunite pool that needs resurfacing badly, is 'Diamond Brite' the best material to use?

A.The best material to use is the strongest material the crews in your area are capable of applying. In Central Florida, 'Diamond Brite' quartz plaster is a highly respected, but tricky material and requires some hard- learned experience. Our own crew prefers the quartz material "Marquis" because it contains a little more white cement and trowels slightly smoother.

But don't be anyones' "guinea pig'" even the best material will fail if it isn't properly applied.

Skimmer Leaks

Q. The water level stops about two inch below skimmers. I can't see anything at this level that could leak.

A. Take a look at your skimmer and see if the inside lip (where the plastic meets the tile) isn't two inches below the tile line in your pool. Splash a little water into the skimmer from the pool and 'dye check' this lip. It's a common leak site repairable with 2- part pool putty.

Slipped Liner

Q. The liner seems to be slipping in the shallow end. This has caused a wrinkle on the bottom of the pool and a ten foot section of the top has pulled loose. Is there any way to correct this without draining the pool and restretching the liner?

A. No, water weighs too much to move the liner without draining the pool. I'll bet the liner pulled loose before the wrinkle appeared. If the floor support isn't built up high enough at the radius (where the floor and wall meet); or the radius has eroded, the liner can't support the weight of the water by itself. Check the depth at the radius and build it up with builders sand, if necessary, before you re- attach and refill the liner.

Pump Not Working

Q. My skimmer is not skimming the surface very well and my vacuum isn't working very well either. Is this a problem with my pump? I just bought the house last week, and the pump looks kind of old.

A. Have seen some old looking pumps move a lot of water. Turn the pump 'off', open the strainer basket on the pump and check for debris. Then place a hose in the basket and fill the strainer. Bump the pump 'on' for a moment and the water should disappear instantly. If not, you've got either a clogged filter or pump impeller that will greatly affect the pumps performance.

Q. My problem is the motor on my Sta- Rite pump. It wants to turn on but won't. It had been doing that 3 or 4 times then finally turning on. What will happen is it hums for 10 or so seconds then kicks off when it gets to hot I guess. It was turning on but not anymore. What can I do?

A. Sounds like bad capacitor. On Sta- Rite, the capacitor is a 1" diameter, 2.5" long black cylinder under the metal cap on the back of the motor. Turn the pump 'off' at the breaker, remove the cover and touch the two leads on the capacitor with an insulated screwdriver to dissipate any residual electricity. It's a $10 part at your local pool store or 'Radio Shack'.

Explore all these problems in more detail on our Pool School PRO CD

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