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Cloudy water after algae; high copper level - Swimming Pool Help

Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Causes and cures for cloudy swimming pool water. Milky pool water, white, pink, brown, purple, black cloudy water.

Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby DonDonna » Tue 07 Jul, 2009 01:24

Hello,
Before I ran into this pool forum, I had a problem w/ mustard algae. It's not the 1st time, so I treated it the same way it was treated before. SHOCK, CHLORINE TABS (INLINE), YELLOWSTUFF, BRUSH, VACUUM, BACKWASH, CLARIFIER. I test the water everyday sometimes 3 times a day for chlorine & ph levels. About 3 days after initial treatment, I tested CYA was about 100 or more. My water is still cloudy, but at least, I'm starting to see the bottom.

Well, I decided to get everything else tested, so I brought water sample straight to the pool store. Here are the numbers:

15,000 gallons, plaster, sand filter
Temp 84 degrees
Free Chlorine 2.0
Total Chlorinre 2.0
Combined Chlorine 0
pH 7.2
Hardness 400
Alkalinity 120
Cyanuric Acid 100
Copper 0.6
Iron 0


I've been reading a bit here and there on the forum..decided to close the valve of the inline chlorinator since my CYA is on the higher side. I threw about a gallon of bleach into the skimmer. After reading, I want to start the BBB method. Back to the results, the pool guy said that the copper level is high, and he told me to buy 2 qts. of Ram Metal Hold. He said I need to raise my pH, and then add about 1.5 qts. of the Metal Hold. I didn't buy anything because I wanted to do more research about adding the chemical. I'm tired of all the chemicals they tell me to put in because it seems like such a waste of $$. From what I've been reading, I'm getting the impression that the lower pH precipitates (disburse/discharge) the copper which could be the cause for high levels of copper. It's so hot here in Texas right now, so I lose water through evaporation. We are also on a water conservation, so I really can't drain anything. I'm only allowed to use excess water 2 days out of the week. In a couple days, I will be able to refill (and will need to), so I'm hoping this will also help w/ CYA and copper levels. Would I be able to just add borax to raise my pH and lower my copper? About how much and how should I add it (timeframe and amounts each time)?

I'm sorry for this being so long, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible..wouldn't want to waste anyone's time w/ half of the info. Thanks in advance.
DonDonna
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Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby chem geek » Tue 07 Jul, 2009 02:08

It's the other way around. Higher pH will precipitate metals often causing stains. If your pool is plaster, then raising the pH with the high copper level could cause staining; with vinyl it's less likely though can still occur. The metal tests check for metal ions, not solid or precipitated metals.

As described in this MSDS file, Ram Metal Hold is HEDP which is a good metal sequestrant. However, you normally do NOT raise the pH when using this product so I'm not sure why that was the advice that they gave except that the product itself is acidic so maybe that's what they were thinking -- but you don't usually use enough to have the pH drop that much. I'd follow the instructions on the product.

You cannot remove copper metal ions from the water except by water dilution, but you can add a metal sequestrant, such as what they recommended, to hold the metal ions in solution so that they will not precipitate and potentially stain.

Read the Pool School for more info on BBB and on Metals in the Water and Metal Stains. It sounds like you don't have stains so don't need the ascorbic acid treatment, but could use the metal sequestrant. You should also read the section on Defeating Algae, but with your high CYA level it's going to be hard to keep away algae using chlorine alone. Since you've already got some copper in the water, that will help prevent algae growth but it's hard to maintain an appropriate copper level that is enough to kill algae but not so much as to cause staining (unless you kept the pH low).
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Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby DonDonna » Tue 07 Jul, 2009 02:49

Thanks for your reply and clearing it up. I got the info from other sites which was a bit confusing and not so detailed. I do have staining, but I'm not sure where it's from (when we bought the house, the stains were already there). I had a pool contractor tell me I need a plaster job. The stains don't bother me so much though. I know I will have to do something about it in time, but with the economy right now, it's not something that I think I should invest in.

I will head back to the pool store tomorrow and get the metal hold. It's funny, but probably while you were typing your reply, I found a link to the pool school. I was in the process of reading and the next topic was metals in the water. Anyways, I will keep the pH low at least until I can get the copper level down (if it will cause more staining, I might as well keep it from getting worse). I am going to buy more liquid bleach to shock it once more (this time following the pool calculator). It's been about a week or so since I SHOCKED after adding the YellowStuff. No more trichlor for a while. Hopefully it rains down here SOON. My pool really needs dilution & I don't want to get fined for using up water. BTW, when do you think it will be ok for my kids & I to swim? How will the copper level and low pH affect skin & eyes? Or all the other levels from the test results I posted? Will we be okay? My girl has eczema and she's been asking me when can she swim.
DonDonna
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My Pool: 15,000 gallons, in-ground, plaster, sand

Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby chem geek » Tue 07 Jul, 2009 09:31

DonDonna wrote:I am going to buy more liquid bleach to shock it once more (this time following the pool calculator). It's been about a week or so since I SHOCKED after adding the YellowStuff. No more trichlor for a while. Hopefully it rains down here SOON. My pool really needs dilution & I don't want to get fined for using up water. BTW, when do you think it will be ok for my kids & I to swim? How will the copper level and low pH affect skin & eyes? Or all the other levels from the test results I posted? Will we be okay? My girl has eczema and she's been asking me when can she swim.

Just keep in mind that shocking with a hypochlorite source of chlorine, including chlorinating liquid or bleach, will raise the pH initially and then the pH will drop back down as the FC drops (i.e. as the chlorine gets used up since that is an acidic process). So if you are going to shock with a lot of chlorine, lower the pH first so you don't create more staining.

If the pH is at least 7.2, then this is OK to swim in. It might be slightly more irritating to the eyes than 7.5, but may not be noticeable. The copper shouldn't be a problem at all for swimming. Your other levels won't cause any problems swimming (the higher hardness and TA means that your water can cloud up more easily when the pH rises -- use The Pool Calculator to calculate the saturation index). With the high CYA levels, a higher FC won't be a problem to swim in, but remember that the pH test won't be accurate when the FC is above 10 ppm. Since there is copper in the water that should kill the algae, you shouldn't need to shock to as high a level if you have patience to clearing the cloudy water (i.e. 20 ppm FC should be high enough). You shouldn't have anyone swim until you can see the floor drain, though, since you don't want anyone to drown and not see them at the bottom of the pool (you didn't say how cloudy the water is now). Most people wait to swim until after they are done shocking the pool and it becomes clear, but others get in earlier.
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Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby DonDonna » Tue 07 Jul, 2009 16:42

Thanks for all the info. I don't feel so alone anymore because I get your feedback. {I'm listening to Michael Jackson songs..lol, so if I start to quote some of the words to his song, pls. forgive me.} Anyways, it finally rained today, and our pool filled back up. By the way it looks outside, there probably was some overflow. I have a cooler outside that filled up about 4 inches of rainwater. I am able to see the 3rd step finally (almost forgot we had one..lol). I am also starting to see the blue line of tiles on the shallow end, and I can see Garfunkel 2 (our polaris cleaner..it was named by the previous homeowners) at the bottom of the shallow side as well. The rain has cleared up a bit, so we're going to vacuum again. I found out that the skimmer closest to the pump was clogged, so it's in the process of getting vacuumed & suctioned out (we get a lot of acorns in that thing..not sure how it gets passed the skimmer baskets). I think I will get the water tested again. According to the weather forecast, it's going to rain for the rest of the week (I really hope it does). What do you think about adding chemicals? Should I stick with adding the metal hold (because dilution might change the level of copper)? I probably need to keep adding bleach, but should I still shock it (at least to 20ppm as chem geek suggested). I read the ascorbic acid treatment (thinking of going the citric acid route), and I was thinking since TA is high & PA is low this is probably a good time to work on that. When I get that cleared up I want to work on adding borates for that nice feeling water.

Here's what I have in mind to help w/ EVERYTHING IN THIS POOL WE AREN'T ENJOYING (it's been so cumbersome and I've reached that point where I want to fix it all so we can enjoy our efforts):
1. Keep pool chlorinated to keep algae away in the meantime (still debating if I should drop pH & shock or just keep it at decent levels, be patient w/ cloudiness as rain fills the pool~reducing CH CYA & TA)
2. Get citric acid & algaecide (polyquat)
3. Add algaecide before I'm ready to add citric acid
4. Add citric acid after getting the chlorine is down
5. Get as much stains out as I can get w/ 12.5 lbs. of citric acid
6. Add the metal sequestrant
7. Work on getting levels back up if satisfied w/ results by adding Borax (MA as needed) to the pool since TA & pH should be low.


You guys have a opened a whole encyclopedia of info on things I need to do and can do w/ all your help of course..things that those pool guys won't tell you. I am so grateful and your input is appreciated. Thanks again and again.

BTW, my husband finished vacuuming up the bottom and he backwashed 5 times. My brother from the San Fran area (I believe he's in Petaluma now..was in San Rafael..nice place chem geek) is coming in tonight and he'll probably want to swim tomorrow cloudy or not. That's one of the reasons I wanted to make sure it was safe to swim.
DonDonna
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Posts: 5
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My Pool: 15,000 gallons, in-ground, plaster, sand

Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby chem geek » Wed 08 Jul, 2009 00:46

I think you should get the pool clear first before working on the metals. You can certainly add some more metal sequestrant, but not too much -- it can sometimes cause some cloudiness -- in theory, any dilution reduced both sequestrant and metal ions proportionately. You can keep the FC around 20 ppm, assuming your CYA is still in the neighborhood of 100 even after the rain (it's probably not below 80) and it is still OK to swim as it's technically equivalent to a pool with around 0.2 ppm FC and no CYA -- just don't drink quarts of the water every day (not that you would). You could let the chlorine drop some, but would be taking some chance of algae returning and certainly would have the pool clear more slowly. 10 ppm FC would still be decent, however, and I wouldn't go lower than that with your CYA level.
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Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby DonDonna » Wed 08 Jul, 2009 01:32

Thank you very much. I got about 6 bottles of 182 oz. 6% bleach today. I used the pool calculator assuming my FC is now 0 ppm (being that it was low to begin with), and it calculated I should use 3.4 gallons to get it to 20 ppm. I just dropped in 4 gallons. I haven't added the metal sequestrant because I wanted to see what you thought. Anyways, if you think I should go ahead and add the metal sequestrant, how much do you think I should add? The amount recommended was 1.5 qts. Also, would it be too late after adding the bleach to add muriatic acid to lower the pH more? I am going to work on clearing up the water as you said. You are right, and I really don't want to have the added algae problem.
DonDonna
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Posts: 5
Joined: July 2009
Location: TX
My Pool: 15,000 gallons, in-ground, plaster, sand

Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby DonDonna » Sun 12 Jul, 2009 17:05

I added metal hold (only 1 qt. as I didn't want to add too much) on Wednesday, and then later that night I shocked the pool w/ liquid chlorine. Yesterday vacuumed up the pool again which cause some cloudiness, but today the water is clear enough to see the bottom of the deep end. It's not crystal clear, but it's nice to see the bottom of my pool now. Thanks Chem geek for your help.

I will test the water again, and if the copper level is satisfactory, I will attempt adding borates to our pool to see if I can get the water crystal clear.
DonDonna
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Posts: 5
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Location: TX
My Pool: 15,000 gallons, in-ground, plaster, sand

Cloudy water after algae; high copper level

Postby chem geek » Sun 19 Jul, 2009 02:24

Initially a sequestrant can cloud the water, but that will dissipate. If the water is also cloudy from dead algae, then continued high shock levels of chlorine and filtering will clear it. Worst case if you don't have good circulation in the deep end, you can use a flocculant (such as OMNI Liquid Floc Plus) if you are able to vacuum-to-waste.
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