Hey ajackson. I understand your feeling of being overwhelmed. The reason for that is that you are now trying to learn while you are in the middle of a problem. While you are waiting for your test kit read pool school, and read it again. I am guessing your CYA is a lot higher than you've indicated. Read up in pool school to find out why that is a problem and why it's EXTREMELY important to have an accurate CYA reading. Once you get the hang of this and get your pool balanced it really is a breeze to maintain it. And read, read, read. You will develop confidence as you start to understand the chemistry, and actually look forward to the challenge. It's like a fight!! And you will feel excited about joining the battle because you will know you can win!! Read read read!! And good luck!!
I went from a pool a couple of years ago that I tried to maintain most of the summer with zero CYA, crazy pH levels, and chlorine readings anywhere from off the charts to zero, to THIS:
Other than add borates this year I have added NOTHING to my pool. My SWG runs 2 hours a day, and my pH is now stuck on 7.5. I test daily. And relplace a little splashout every now and then. That's really all I do now. And it's all because of the help I received from the members on this site.
P.S. This site is awesome. There are some very knowledgeable, friendly people here. When you are stuck, ask the question, and tons of answers will flood your way. Best forum on the net as far as I'm concerned.