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Pool Fill

Pool Fill

Prerequisites for Fill

You'll recall from the Acid Wash page that I stopped the water fill that the interior sub had started just prior to completing the Pebble-Tec work.  I wanted to empty the pool of the yucky water that was at the bottom, but also, I wanted to fill it from "scratch" so that I could accurately determine how large (gallons) the pool was. 



I was hoping to find some type of water meter gauge that I could attach to the hose bib, but I couldn't locate any from the various home improvement stores near me.  Instead, I found that the water meter at the main in the front of the house would do just fine.  I just had to be aware that if someone in the family started to take a bath, wash clothes, etc. that I would have to take that into account.  Before I started, I jotted down the meter numbers for reference.


Another thing that I was considering was to do the fill with soft water (partially) to ease the high calcium levels from the get go.  Arizona is notorious for hard, alkaline water and this causes major issues with scaling in the pool and gas heater elements.  You may recall from my initial testing of the tap water that the calcium (CA) levels were over 300 ppm.  The TA levels were around 190.  Ideally, I would like the CA levels right around 200 ppm.  Any lower, and I would be on the edge as far as causing corrosion in the Pebble-Tec surface.  Without a minimum level of CA in the water, the water is CA-starved and will leach it from the concrete in the pool.  This causes the interior surface to "corrode" in order to supply the necessary CA to the water.  However, I'm not as worried about that as I am about the other issue (scaling) which occurs when the CA levels is out of whack on the opposite end of the scale.  In order to pre-empt that problem, I considered doing a partial fill with the hard tap water from the main hose bib in front in conjunction with the soft water hose bib in the back.  The only thing I wasn't sure about was how much additional CA would be added to the initial fill water from the Pebble-Tec interior.  I've heard that concrete based pools will release a certain amount of CA into the water during initial startup.  If that was the case, I probably would have preferred not to waste 3000 gallons or so of soft water from the get go if it was going to be dumped after a few weeks or months.  In the end, the decision was made for me.  On the day of the fill, the soft water was completely emptied out.  The Pebble-Tec crew happened to be using the soft water hose bib to do all their cleaning and pressure washing, and by the time they were done, there was no soft water left.  Oh well, so much for that idea ...

At this time, I also contacted the company that I was planning to use to start up my pool.  I told them that I was going to be filling it on Monday and Tuesday and I wanted to have them come out first thing on Wednesday to do the startup activities.  They told me to call them on Tuesday afternoon to give them confirmation that the pool was filled.  I told them I would do so.  We were all set.

Monday, February 3, 2002 - 3:55pm
So anyway, getting back to starting the fill, right after the Pebble-Tec sub left, I raced down to Home Depot and found the largest submersible sump pump that I could find.  It was a 3/4 HP Flotec FloodMate 7000 that cost me approximately $155.  I also grabbed a couple of rolls of 2" flex tubing and headed home.  I quickly pumped out as much water as I could from both the spa and the pool, but noticed that the pump stopped working when the water level got lower than a few inches.  I estimated there was about 20 gallons or so leftover in combined pool/spa when it quit working.  I took a quick look at the clock and it was about 4pm when I started it.  It took about 2 hours to fill the spa to the brim before the water started coming over the rock in the dam wall and into the pool.  I went back out in front and read the meter again and did a quick calculation.  It looks like the spa holds approximately 825 gallons of water.


After the spa was filled, I went ahead and stuck the hose into the pool.  It was about 6pm when I started it.  I truly had no idea how long it was going to take the pool to fill.  The only thing I wanted to avoid was having it get full in the middle of the night.  The last thing I needed to look forward to was a flooded yard in the morning.  I knew it was going to be hard to estimate it until it was close to getting full.

Tuesday, February 4, 2002 - 7:30am
By morning, it was looking good.  At 7:30am, the water was just a tad under the halfway point.  The picture below to the left shows the water level at that time.  


By 2pm, the water level was right at the top of the bench under the waterfall (picture above to right).  At this point, it became a little easier to estimate the time of completion because the shape of the pool at that level was pretty uniform all the way to the top of the entry level step.  I read the meter in the front again and did a quick calculation.  The pool so far had taken in close to 10,000 gallons.  I estimated that it was slightly over the halfway point.  I did a few more calculations and determined that I was getting close to 1000 gallons every 2.1 hours.  Doing some rough calculations, I estimated that the pool was going to be in the 15K- 17K gallon range.  At this rate, we were going to wind up finishing at midnight!  That was unacceptable because I need to be early the next day which meant an early night for me.  I quickly got another hose and tied it to the soft water hose bib in the back right next to the pool (BTW, there was no soft water left.  It had be used up the day before when the interior subs were working) and started it going in the pool.  I went back around to the front to measure how much water flow I was getting now.  It was close to double - 1000 gallons was now taking 1.16 hours - much better.  You can see both hoses in the pool in the picture below.


At this rate, it looks like it was going to finish up in another 6 - 8 hours.  This was much more acceptable.  There was only one other problem now.  Tonight we were going out to dinner to celebrate my wife's birthday.  We were planning to leave by 5pm and we estimated that we would be out till 8pm or so.  I knew that we couldn't leave the water running while we were out as it could finish up while we were still out.  I decided that I would run the water up until the time we were going to leave, then finish it up when we got back.  Oddly enough, when it started to get close to 5:30pm, I looked outside and noticed that the water level had not only reached the top of the entry step of the pool, but had gone a few inches above it.  It was only about 3 inches from finishing up.  I knew that the water flow couldn't have just increased on its own, so I must have really overestimated the size of the pool.  I knew now that it was going to be less than 15,000 gallons.  Doing the last 3 inches would only take 1/2 hour or so.

After getting back from dinner, I restarted the hoses and sure enough, it was about another 30 minutes or so before the water level had reached halfway up to the skimmer.  I went around front again and checked the meter.  I did some quick calculations and determined that the size of the pool was approximately 13,000 gallons.  With the spa, the total was 13,825 gallons.  What an ordeal this pool filling turned out to be.  I couldn't believe that the pool was now actually filled.  The water was pretty dirty, but still, it was water.  Now all the remained was the startup people.  They were planning to be in tomorrow morning and I couldn't wait.  The startup people represent the absolute last sub to come in before I can officially say that this baby is in the books!  Here are some final shots of the filled up pool at about 9pm at night just after turning off the hose for the final time.  The water looked pretty gross, but hey, it was filled!




Problems with the Fill / Things I would have done differently:

  • If I had enough soft water, I would have entertained filling the pool with partial hard and partial soft to start off the pool at an acceptable calcium level.  However, I don't know what other types of repercussions this would have had, so maybe it was good that I wasn't able to do it after all.  The calcium level right out of the tap is right at 330ppm.  Its high, but I've heard of much worse.  Getting this down to 250ppm will not be as difficult as starting with CA levels at 500 or more.


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