Swimming Pool Start-Up Methods with Chemistry Expert Bob Lowry

There have been two commonly practiced Start-Up Methods over the years, the Traditional Start-Up and the “Hot Start-Up” and recently over the past 3-4 years a newer method, the Barrel Start-Up. So which method is right for your pool? Bob Lowry also has his own Borate start-up method detailed in the write-up below.

Bob Lowry’s Borate Start-Up Method:

While the pool surface is curing it is basically wet cement and like a driveway that has been recently poured anything that touches it from a leaf falling to a lizard crawling across it will leave a mark. The same goes for your pool. If you step in it or your dog decides to walk across the steps like putting your handprint in wet cement, these footprints will be immortalized in your pool surface. When you vacuum the pool too soon using a manual vacuum head with wheels, turn off the water before the pool is filled, or let anything fall into the pool and all of these will leave permanent marks on the pool surface (with the exception of a Pebble Surface).

Here are some things not to do as noted by Bob Lowry:
Do not turn off the water at any time until the pool has filled completely. The proper fill level is usually in the middle of the skimmer or specified by the builder. If the water is turned off, a permanent water line will be etched into the plaster where the water stopped.

Do not turn on the pool light until the light is covered with water.
Do not use a vacuum head with wheels or an automatic pool cleaner for at least 3 weeks. They can leave permanent marks in the plaster.
Do not add salt or turn on Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWG) for 28 days.
Make sure that the filtration system and pump are operational. Check for the proper amount or level of sand, and make sure filter cartridges are in place. For DE filters, add DE once the pool is filled and the pump is running.
No people or pets should enter the water until the startup procedures are completed and the water is balanced. This may be Day 3 or 4.
The proper fill level is the middle of the skimmer opening or specified water level.

From my experience, it also seems very beneficial to run the pool as long as possible during the first 30 days. The water flowing continuously really helps with the pool’s initial chemistry and helps with the plaster dust. Keeping the pH low is critical in also reducing plaster dust in the pool. For a plaster pool, the pH will likely rise rapidly during the first 6 months as the plaster cures. So it is important to keep an eye on it and keep it on the low side – 7.0 to 7.2.

Here are some chemicals you will need for a successful Start-Up:

Sequestering agent – metal remover, chelator, or stain preventer – could also use a pre-filter. The Culator Ultra 4.0 is a must to keep out metal staining from the fill water.

Calcium chloride – hardness increaser to be used to increase Calcium Hardness if it is lower than 150 ppm.
Boric acid – pH buffer, algae preventer (Add borates to 50 ppm)
Muriatic Acid – pH and alkalinity decreaser
Sodium bicarbonate – total alkalinity increaser and pH buffer
CYA (cyanuric acid) – chlorine UV protector and a pH buffer – about 30-50 ppm
Liquid chlorine or bleach – a good primary sanitizer.

Hiring a good start-up tech is important and if you are a homeowner and just had a pool built and it is about to be filled, ask the builder if he or she will be providing the start-up technician. If not, I highly suggest you hire one to do the job right.

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