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Thread: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

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    My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    As a newbie myself, now that I am three months in, I wish I had done things differently. This site is about self pool maintenance. However, learning how to run a pool takes time and experience. It's much more difficult to get the water balanced for a newbie than the seasoned veterans on here who have had their water balanced for years. Most likely, you are inheriting a pool which has been neglected. If I were to start over, I would have used the chlorine pucks in the beginning (which are shunned on this site), because they are somewhat self regulating, something you need while trying to learn how to run a pool. Because I didn't know what I was doing, I have pool stains and three trips to the doctor to show for it. I've got a mess on my hands. None of us wants to harm our pool or ourselves, but diving in with both feet, so to speak, is not the answer.

    Here is what I would do in order.

    1) Use chlorine pucks to start.
    2) Get a full test kit, and learn how to use it based on the directions. Don't bother taking your water to the pool store. They do not do accurate work, and can get you going in completely the wrong direction.
    3) Determine if your water needs changing due to high cyanuric acid or high calcium hardness. There is no use in trying to balance bad water. Don't even attempt it.
    4) Get all the chemicals you will need to keep your water balanced for the time you later remove the pucks, and learn how to use the chemicals prior to removing the pucks. This generally includes bleach and muriatic acid. Example: You don't just want to pour acid into a pool, because that can harm the finish. There are techniques, which I wish this site had outlined someplace, to prevent pool and people damage.
    5) Compute how much water your pool holds using the Pool Calculator (at the bottom of the page at The Pool Calculator).
    6) Use the Pool Calculator to get a feel for how much of each chemical will change the chemistry, e.g. a quart, a gallon, etc. will change how many parts per million?
    7) Make sure all your pool equipment is in good shape. That includes pumps, filters, and pool sweeps. I would even recommend you clean the filter, know how to clean the skimmer basket, and pump basket. Get everything fixed first. Have a pool brush, net, and perhaps a vacuum.
    8) Now it's time for the last water test, and then take the pucks out. Now it will be much easier. Your water is good. You know how to use the chemicals.

    I hope this helps another newbie avoid my mistakes.
    Michael

    20,000 gallon in-ground gunite/plaster pool (1992), attached spa with spillway, Pentair Superflo 1.5 HP pump, Smith booster pump for pool sweep, Pentair 2000 DE filter, Sta Rite Max-E-Therm 400 heater, Silencer Blower 2 HP for spa, Polaris 280 pool sweep.

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Unfortunately, your post is not quite true. Starting with pucks is never good, because you really don't know what you CYA is going to be. The FC/CYA relationship runs the show as far as pool needs.

    There are many places and numerous posts going on and on about how to correctly add chems to your pool. The one most cautioned is the muriatic acid.

    A newbie needs only two things: A recommended test kit and patience. If you read Pool School, and ask questions. You will be a veteran in no time.
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Quote Originally Posted by pabeader View Post
    Unfortunately, your post is not quite true. Starting with pucks is never good, because you really don't know what you CYA is going to be. The FC/CYA relationship runs the show as far as pool needs.

    There are many places and numerous posts going on and on about how to correctly add chems to your pool. The one most cautioned is the muriatic acid.

    A newbie needs only two things: A recommended test kit and patience. If you read Pool School, and ask questions. You will be a veteran in no time.
    I respectfully disagree with you. Your CYA is going to be higher with pucks, sure, but it is better than ruining the finish on your pool with wild swings in chlorine and pH until you get the feel of running a pool. You can always change out some water to bring the CYA down. Getting rid of stains can be next to impossible.

    Patience means time, and possibly a damaged pool. I don't condone pucks for the long term, but I think they can serve a purpose in the short term. I hope people can get beyond their hatred of pucks to see that.

    I am just giving people my recommendation based on my experience, as a newbie, not an expert. I would have had a much smoother transition if I followed my advice above. Many people here have had a pool so long, they don't remember how hard it is get started. The pool isn't going to wait for you.
    Michael

    20,000 gallon in-ground gunite/plaster pool (1992), attached spa with spillway, Pentair Superflo 1.5 HP pump, Smith booster pump for pool sweep, Pentair 2000 DE filter, Sta Rite Max-E-Therm 400 heater, Silencer Blower 2 HP for spa, Polaris 280 pool sweep.

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Patience means NOT putting crazy amounts of anything in your pool, just because you want it adjusted now. All advice given here will always say do the additions in steps and verify the change as you go.

    Pool Math tells you what to do. Pool School and advisors, tell you how to do it. If you choose to do something else, your results will not be what you want.

    As an example: I started in November of 2014. All I knew was, now had a pool to take care of. It was a swamp. I found this place and never looked back. Never had any issues that I didn't get answers to. Do I have staining, yep, it's caused by metals from my brokendown heater element. Will I get them cleared up. Yep, with info I received here. I'm just waiting for cooler weather so I can AA then drain. It's just a stain, no sweat. At least it's not algae.

    Starting a pool is in no way hard. It's probably one of the easiest things to do. You start with clean, usually clear water. Add a little CYA and chlorine and enjoy. Adjust pH if it's too high or too low.

    Rehabbing a pool, now that's interesting. Or a fish pond. Try starting a fish pond. Talk about patience!!
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Weather you use "pucks" or liquid chlorine (bleach) the routine is still the same:
    1) Test water
    2) Add needed chlorine (regardless of source) per Pool Math
    3) Test again to make sure you did it right

    If you add the liquid chlorine slowly in front of a running return and brush if you feel any settled to the bottom you should not have any liner issues.

    I'm sorry but to tell people to "just use pucks because you can drain water and start over" is on par with pool store advise, something we do not do here.

    Dom
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Going to have to take exception with your #4. If you had read Chemistry 101, it outlines very well how to handle muriatic acid:

    PH - Acidity/Alkalinity

    Lowering PH

    To lower PH you can use either muriatic acid or dry acid. Muriatic acid is less expensive, though it can be annoying to handle. It is best to use muriatic acid if you have a SWG. If you don't have a SWG, and handling muriatic acid bothers you, you can use dry acid.

    Muriatic acid is sold by most hardware stores and some paint stores. The big box hardware stores, like Home Depot and Lowes, almost always have it, but they seem to put it in different departments from store to store. Sometimes it is outside in the garden department, sometimes in pool supplies, and sometimes in the paint department.

    Muriatic acid is available in various strengths. The most common strength is called either 20 baume or 31.45%. 10 baume or 15.725% is easier to handle but you need twice as much and it is usually more expensive.

    You should always wear eye protection when handling muriatic acid. You do not want to breathe muriatic acid fumes. If you spill any on your clothes it will cause damage. Muriatic acid may sting a bit if you get it on your skin, but won't normally cause any serious harm as long as you rinse it off right away.

    Muriatic acid should be added to the pool by pouring slowly in front of a return jet with the pump running. You should pour slowly enough that pouring an entire jug takes more than two minutes. Leave the pump running for at least 30 minutes after adding muriatic acid.

    Dry acid is sold by pool stores and the pool departments of some big box stores. Dry acid is sold under various names, including PH Down, PH Reducer, PH Decreaser, Lo-n-Slo, etc. Dry acid is best added by pre-dissolving it in a bucket of water and then pouring that slowly in front of a return.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I also don't really understand how starting with pucks helps one transition to adding bleach, cya and acid later? You still have to learn the same methods and techniques so all you are doing is delaying the inevitable (learning), and possibly putting your pool into a worse condition (having to drain due to high CYA).
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    you are trying to make "balancing" your pool way too complicated. 90% of the time/issues with new people to TFP methods is de-learning the pool store way of maintaining your pool. I mean when you break it down balancing the pool is just monitoring FC and pH on a regular basis. pretty darn simple.

    for the other items:

    CYA - doesn't go down unless you are getting overflows from rain, so once you know your CYA, don't need to regularly test
    CH - similar to CYA as in the numbers don't drastically change and we aren't really "balancing" it, just keeping an eye on it
    TA - don't really need to test for it much after your pool is open. if you have high TA pushing your pH up, well you are already testing for pH and adjusting anyway.

    that's the beauty of the TFP process. its really really easy. the biggest problem with people "balancing" their pool is when they take over a green monster, etc. but that's more fixing a problem and not maintaining a pool.

    lets not make this more complicated than it is. most newbie "mistakes" as you put it come from people trying to combine pool store and/or their previous way of doing things with the TFP method. the advice on here is always very concise and clear, people sometimes just don't believe or listen the first time around

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael1 View Post
    but diving in with both feet, so to speak, is not the answer.
    its actually the answer. abandon your old way of doing things that didn't work and rely on the expertise and science of this forum. when people have questions, we answer them and usually give them exact steps on what to do. i.e. 1) drain pool to get CYA to xx ppm, 2) add bleach/chlorine to get FC in line with CYA, 3) then tackle other minor issues like TA or CH potentially. we make things very simple and straightforward here, but its not always followed 100% of the time. people usually come around and finally listen and go 100% the TFP method and they always end up posting something like "wow, this is really easy"

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael1 View Post
    Many people here have had a pool so long, they don't remember how hard it is get started. .
    this goes to my other point that people spend a lot of time trying to de-learn their old method of pool care instead of just jumping in with both feet, as you put it. if they had just accepted their old way of doing things was wrong and committed to this method from the get go, it would be a very smooth transition. but we humans, for the most part, are hesitant to change.
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    When I took over my pool less than a year ago the first thing I did was order a TF-100 test kit but that was only after spending quite a bit of time in pool school first. Second, I threw away the puck floater. Third, I ordered a replacement SWCG. The only chemical I now stock is Muratic Acid. This really is trouble free once you understand the methods here. Test, understand what your pool needs and why, add only what it needs.
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    I started my pool with TFP and got a test kit BEFORE I got my pool! I wanted to make sure I could do the tests. I found out how easy and FUN they were to do. I then ordered my pool and had it put up.

    Using Pool Math you KNOW how much of each chemical to add to be safe for you and your pool.

    I would like to know more about your trips to the doctor.......what do you think caused them?

    Here at TFP I have seen where water that was NOT balanced has caused problems BUT that was before they found TFP. Once they got their water balanced they were fine.

    I ONLY use pucks for times I am not home for more than two days.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    As a side note I hope you are not using THAT calculator to SLAM your pool...it gives you incorrect info on your CYA/FC shock levels. I know of one case where a poster could not get his pool clear because he used that specific calculator. Use Pool Math instead!
    39YO 13K gallon former SWAMP/MONEY PIT, concrete bottom/Fiberglass Walls, Ecotech VS pump, Hayward Sand Filter, Dolphin DX5 Plus, Loop-Loc safety cover and YES, I have a TFT-100 test kit!

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Never mind.
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    I have no "hatred of pucks" Pucks are not shunned on this site.

    In a general sense we teach that testing and understanding is what's important. Bleach is the easiest to understand quickly and gain knowledge of what's happening in your pool. Pucks lure the newest of us into a false sense of security until we have mismanaged our pools and then have to come back to TFP to learn how to undo what we have done. Far and away, the single biggest issue on this site for pool water chemistry is pucks.

    Every one of us "seasoned veterans" started out knowing NOTHING about pools....just like everyone else.

    Michael1, your advice for newbies to depend on pucks is not good advice and this forum does not advocate it. I hear exactly what you are saying but it's not overall good advice to newbies who need to understand first.
    Dave S.
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael1 View Post
    Because I didn't know what I was doing, I have pool stains and three trips to the doctor to show for it. I've got a mess on my hands.
    I'm sorry you had problems getting started with TFPC. Perhaps you could be more specific with the problems you had so that we could look at updating the Pool School to be more clear. I note that the Recommended Pool Chemicals should not only note adding acid slowly over a return flow with the pump running, but should also suggest lightly brushing the side and bottom of the pool in the area where the acid was added. I believe that's what you mean by stains, basically lightening up of your blue plaster where you added the acid, correct?

    As for your problem with acid sending you to the doctor, you used a respirator for your nose and mouth and not for your eyes. You are the only one in the history of this and earlier forums to have had this problem (i.e. using a respirator only for breathing so not being able to smell the acid thereby exposing your eyes to those fumes without knowing it). Nowhere do we suggest using a respirator for adding acid so I don't think it's fair to suggest this to be due to methods taught here since Muriatic Acid is sold for lowering pH in pools in general, not just from us. Perhaps we could add a recommendation not to pour the acid into any large container such as a bucket since that can exacerbate fuming even for half-strength acid.
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Michael states that newbies should use pucks, then just drain the self-induced overly high CYA water away and start again once they know enough to move on.... especially in California these days, how reasonable is that indulgence?
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Maybe I'm the only newbie that is not rich or retired, and had servants unpacking for them when they moved into a new house that came with a pool. If so, ignore my advice.

    I think pucks serve a purpose in this case for those who are busy moving in and work full time jobs, albeit a temporary one. When I was moving, I wasn't even at the new house everyday. Pucks can provide enough chlorine, and pH stabilization for the short term, until you are settled in and can start working with the pool.

    To chem geek, yes, the lack of brushing instructions is exactly what I am talking about. Muriatic acid has a specific gravity greater than 1. It is going to end up on the bottom of the pool.

    "You should always wear eye protection when handling muriatic acid. You do not want to breathe muriatic acid fumes."

    As far as using a respirator, I think it is stupid not to use one. You can burn your respiratory system without one. What needed to be used in my case were airtight goggles or a full face mask. It says "eye protection". My false assumption was from splash. I use one now.

    As far as being the only one...yeah, right. It's never happened to anyone but me (roll eyes). My real estate agent said the same thing happened to him, and he was NOT wearing a respirator. The wind changed direction on him.

    I don't recommend telling newbies that they don't need any respiratory protection.

    What am I using when I go on vacation? Pucks! I bet a lot of people on here who denounce all use of pucks do who don't have SWG's.

    P.S. I added to my list "Don't bother taking your water to the pool store for testing". That was another mistake of mine.
    Michael

    20,000 gallon in-ground gunite/plaster pool (1992), attached spa with spillway, Pentair Superflo 1.5 HP pump, Smith booster pump for pool sweep, Pentair 2000 DE filter, Sta Rite Max-E-Therm 400 heater, Silencer Blower 2 HP for spa, Polaris 280 pool sweep.

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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    You lost all credibility with your first sentence. Why be condescending? You seem to have a chip on your shoulder and trying to blame everyone but yourself for your past mistakes. Now you're following those up with poor advice to justify your mistakes instead of owning them. Noone is happy you ended up injured...as chem geek states, take it as an opportunity to help clarify the procedures if there's a glaring omission or something confusing. But to suggest throwing in Pucks until you have time to attend to the pool is ridiculous. If you have time to throw in pucks you have time to pour in a gallon of bleach. Only you aren't increasing CYA and the possibility of having to drain a pool.
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Pucks themselves can damage pool surfaces. My SIL had a leak, twice, in her hoses from leaving pucks sit in the skimmer. They can stain the bottom if they fall out of the floater, etc. My point being, any lack of knowledge can be detrimental to your pool. The best way, in my opinion, to learn at TFP, is to read as many threads as you have time for, as new situations arise all the time, and you can learn from others what to do and not to, without the blame game.
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    The irony of this post and the suggestion of pucks is that your pool problems actually began with cya in the 200s caused by pucks However, I do think its important to make sure that new pool owners, Er, I mean home owners, are encouaged to maintain their FC during transition!

    But since we're discussing the best way to assist newbies, there are a few things that do occurr to me to avoid the kind of scattered trajectory you experienced.

    Hindsight is always 20/20, but given your experience, I wonder if it might have been more helpful to have restricted your posts to a single thread for the continuity, since you were new, and for you to have reported back your results from each problem as attacked/conquered -- stains would have been last, for example Its hard to know what a poster knows or doesn't know. Whereas getting your mechanicals operational and lowering your ph to 7.2 before a slam would have been first...so MA would have come up right away In a single thread with more topical focus, I'd like to think a step-by-step approach might have eased your journey a little.

    With MA, many of us free pour and hold our breath, others glove up with goggles and I am rare in that I'm likely one of the few who use a respirator (people with astha generally should, imho) but at the end of the day we have to trust that the poster will read the caution labels on a bottle and elect their own level of preference in handling. So perhaps its as simple as adding "Read and follow any safety precautions printed on the product you're using" to pool school

    I've noticed that even with sequestrant, most posters don't seem to read the labels...

    My third thought about your post is the perhaps unintended implication that advice from this forum left you with stains, health issues, and a mess in your pool. In fairness to the volunteers at TFP, you arrived at TFP with stains, an unmanageable level of cya in your pool, and a lack of awareness of pool balancing and treatment protocol. I am hopeful that notwithstanding your oversight in following safe handling methods for muriatic acid, you are now well positioned to have a trouble free pool.

    I encourage you to help out with newbies by reminding them to follow safety precautions with MA wherever you notice same. As they say, it takes a village...
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael1 View Post
    Maybe I'm the only newbie that is not rich or retired, and had servants unpacking for them when they moved into a new house that came with a pool.
    wow man. I don't have much for you other than to say good luck with your pool. sorry you injured yourself with the muriatic acid, but you don't seem willing to accept that your methods are the reason it happened. instead you want to blame everyone else and look for reasons why you had problems. you seem to be one of those people that want to combine pool store methods with TFP methods and it never works out. they don't work together. good luck, but like others have posted above, I don't agree with your original advice and/or appreciate the tone of your responses.
    Dan
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    Re: My Advice to Newbies - Use the Chlorine Pucks Until...

    Something has to give, and I haven't seen anyone give a solution to this yet. Time. When you move, you don't have time to learn all the skills to balance a pool, unless you don't have a job. You are packing, moving, unpacking, going to work, probably filling out tons of paperwork, ordering utilities, notifying everyone of your new address.

    Also can we keep the conversation civil, and dispense with the personal attacks, like these:

    "You seem to have a chip on your shoulder and trying to blame everyone but yourself for your past mistakes"

    "you seem to be one of those people"

    "Michael states that newbies should use pucks, then just drain the self-induced overly high CYA water away and start again once they know enough to move on.... especially in California these days, how reasonable is that indulgence? "

    "You are the only one in the history of this"

    "you want to blame everyone else"

    Agree to disagree and help find a working solution to the problem. I offered one solution that I feel would work for many people. It would have worked for me. But if you can't hold a conversation without making personal attacks, please move on.
    Michael

    20,000 gallon in-ground gunite/plaster pool (1992), attached spa with spillway, Pentair Superflo 1.5 HP pump, Smith booster pump for pool sweep, Pentair 2000 DE filter, Sta Rite Max-E-Therm 400 heater, Silencer Blower 2 HP for spa, Polaris 280 pool sweep.

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