Salt Water Pool With High Chlorine & Rust Colored Water

by Robin
(Ontario, Canada)

We have just purchased a 54" X 21" salt water system pool. After filling up the pool, we brought a sample to the company and they gave us the directions.

After having done all that, I ran a test and got a high chlorine reading "almost 3.5 perhaps" and a low PH "about 7.0 or 7.1 (difficult to determine with the test kit).

I will get the one you suggested but meanwhile, my water is rusty color. Short of draining water to put some more (we don't have that alternative with the well being low (eastern Ontario). I said to my freaked out husband to just let it be and it will come down - I shut off the salt system / chlorine generating device and we wait.

From what I read of some of your answers, it should be right.

Tx Robin

Thanks for the question Robin

The chlorine reading is fine. Home pools should run the chlorine between 1.5 - 3.5ppm. You're on the upper high side, but nothing to worry about. I run the Y pool (80,000 gallon salt pool) between 3.5 - 4.5ppm and it's fine.

It will take some time to learn how to "dial in" the salt chlorinator. This will be determined by usage, sun, heat, organic matter that falls into the pool (grass, leaves, etc..)

Most salt pools with normal use will keep it around 20 - 25%. You might be able to start from there and work your way around that. Next, the pH is a bit low, but nothing that a little baking soda won't cure.

You can also use 20 Mule Team Borax as this will raise the pH without much happening to the alkalinity.

Swimming Pool pH Levels

Pool pH

I'd like to have the rest of your chemical readings. It makes troubleshooting much easier and the process of clearing up your pool will go much faster. With well water you probably have high iron and/or copper. You need to get this checked out from your local pool store.

If you do have a high metal content, you'll need a good metal sequestrant. A metal sequestrant does not remove metal from pool water. It holds it in solution until it can get filtered. Then you backwash the metal out. Because metal sequestrants break down over time and get filtered and backwashed out, you need to weekly dose your pool if you have high iron and copper.

Metal sequestrants that are based on HEDP, phosphonic acid or something similar are the most effective. Jack's Magic Blue, Purple, and Pink Pink Stuff, Metal Magic, Metal Free, & Metal Klear are very good. Yes, I would suggest getting a Taylor DPD kit.

Pool Water Testing

Water Testing Kit

Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


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Jan 18, 2015
Chemical Readings & Instructions
by: Robin

Thank you so much for the reply.
I don't have a chemical reading anymore. After the pool was filled up, we took a sample and brought it in for analysis. I have these results however, seeing these results, they gave us instructions to add the chemicals.

It is the read out from the little kit that I now have (a bit high chlorine and a bit low PH). The pool was filled with town water.

We didn't want to use the well water 1) for the reasons you named and 2) it would have put too much stress on the well. So most of it was filled by the citern truck and we finished up the last couple inches with the hose. And these are the results. The chemical reading from the original sample after filling out the pool is as follow:

Free Chlorine: 0.2 ppm
Total Chlorine: 0.2 ppm
Combined Chlorine: 0.0 ppm
pH: 7.8
Hardness: 200 ppm
Alkalinity 155 ppm
Cyanuric Acid: 0 ppm
Copper: 0 ppm
Iron: Not Run
Total Dissolved Solids: Not Run

Instructions were:

First, put 1 gal 3 oz of Muriatic Acid - Then 5 hours later:

Stabilizer: 1/2 of the full container of 3lb 14oz

Then 5 hours later, a "chlorine shock treatment".

Very accurate for name isn't it? A sanitizer perhaps (my husband doesn't care much for accurate terminology, that drives me crazy!!).

Then the morning after (this morning when we were hoping to swim by the afternoon), salt: 6 bags of 20kg each (about 50lbs each I'm told)

The problem I have is when we first started, with NO chemicals added, the water was pristine clear, beautiful. Yes, the readings were not within range but hey.... then after throwing all kinds of chemicals (as stated above), the water is so rusty that the plastic ladder is turning yellow.

So yellow that I don't think we'll ever be able to scrub it clean back to white! There are all kinds of black bugs in there (that were not present at first), we can no longer see the bottom, the skimmer is disgusting... not a nice sight. Nothing I would dip my big toe in.

Does the Taylor testing system tests for all of the different components or just Chlorine and pH? I hope the night will have some positive effect on it!!! That's it. Thank you again.

Thanks for the readings Robin

Normal right after chlorination if the water turns brown or a rusty color, it an iron problem. Copper will turn things green. If I'm reading the question and reply correctly, the water turned brown after chlorination. Is that correct?

Chlorine, from my understanding, will not cause the water to become cloudy, it will only show the metals already present in the water.

With a newly filled pool the chlorine and CYA will always be low, unless the water company is using tons of chlorine. To get chlorine and CYA into the pool fast, you'll want to use Dichlor. This is a stabilized form of chlorine.

Most liquid and granular chlorine is unstabilzied, which means it will get eaten up quickly by the sun and heat. Be careful when using Dichlor. You want to get the CYA up between 30 - 50ppm.

Once the CYA is in range, switch to liquid chlorine for weekly maintenance. For every 10ppm of chlorine added with Dichlor, it will raise the CYA 9ppm. You can maintain that with weekly Trichlor tabs. For every 10ppm of chlorine added with Trichlor, it will raise the CYA 6ppm.

Swimming Pool Chlorine

Pool Shock

Pool Chlorine

Chlorine Tablets

Pool Chlorine Tablets

Here are some good links to look over for salt pools. Some are pages I've written and some are questions. It's the experience I've had with the couple of salt pool I had on my pool route in Arizona and since 2008 for the YMCA salt pool.

Salt Water Swimming Pools

Chlorine Generator

Which Salt To Use In A Salt Water Swimming Pool?

Why Do I Have To Clean My Salt Cell So Much

How Do You Clean A Salt Water Cell?

After adding 1 gallon of acid, I would check the pH and alkalinity. They should have come down. A good range is between 7.6 - 7.8 for the pH and 80 - 100ppm for the alkalinity. You can go to 120ppm still be in the safe zone. Don't add calcium. The range for that is 150ppm - 250ppm.

The Taylor FAS-DPD K-2006 kit test for chlorine, combined chlorine, CYA, alkalinity, pH, hardness, acid demand and base demand. It's the one I've used since 1999 on my pool route and at the Y. I've done thousands of tests with it. It's also the one that the Oregon Dept. of Health uses as well.

It would be good to have an updated chemical reading. There's alot of links above. Go through them and if you have anything else please contact me.


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