First of all, what a great forum. Kudos to those who have made this amazing resource available to folks like me.
So my situation: we recently purchased a house with a pool (see sig for details) and it's my first one (pool virgin?). The previous owners have been using a pool service for years. They come once a week to brush, skim, and presumably check/adjust the chemistry. So far, all has been great. The pool has remained clear, clean, and endlessly enjoyable. I have no idea what they do in terms of testing or adding chemicals. There is a puck dissolver and cartridge filter in the system, but that is all I know. To keep things simple, I've continued the existing contract through closure in late September. Out of curiosity, I've ordered a TFT100 kit to begin testing during the week between visits and get a feel for what the chemistries look like over time.
My dilemma is that while the pool has been "trouble-free" under their care for years, the service is crazy expensive: $168 per week and roughly $1500+ to open and $1600+ to close. That is nearly $6000 per season! I like learning new things and doing what I can on my own, so I'm tempted to give it a go next season. I'm at a stage of my life where I'm not especially "price sensitive", but I can buy a lot of IPA for $6000!! I just don't want to screw up a pool that is currently doing fine.
Consequently, I've been reading with interest all the content in the TFP "pool school" and many threads. So, I think I "get" the chemistry (as my BS was in Chemistry), but with a ~40k gallon pool, it seems I would need to add ~1 gallon of bleach per day to add 2-3 ppm daily of FC. That seems difficult to imagine keeping up. I could replace the puck holder with a SWCG, but the largest ones I've seen only produce 3 lbs of FC per day which doesn't leave a lot of headroom if problems arise. Moreover, it seems that many here experience problems with SWCGs. The Stenner pumps look promising if I could get large enough quantities of concentrated Sodium hypochlorite to keep it going for 3-7 days. If I'm making any mistaken assumptions here, please set me straight.
So, I want to give this TFPC system a try, but with my travel schedule I need a solution that can occasionally allow a couple of days to a week of "auto pilot". If a pool is like a pet, I need it to be more like a cat than a dog. If I can achieve that goal, then I think I could take over the care and feeding.
In addition, I had a couple other to-dos: First, the existing Hayward 2-hp single-speed pump is set to run 24/7 (~$750 in electricity per season). The equipment pad is probably 8-12 ft above the pool deck and the previous owners said the pump would lose prime if turned off. Could I replace it with a variable or 2-speed pump and set it to run at low speed most of the time and maybe 4-6 hrs at higher speed (and not lose prime or muck up the pool)?. My other "to-do" is replacing/supplementing the 400k BTU propane heater with a heat pump. I'll have a 19kW solar array installed by then and there should be enough reserve to power the heat pump for "free". (I need to figure out how many BTUs I'd need to make a heat pump work. My wife likes an 85-86 degree pool).
In any case, I will start testing the water once I get my TFT kit. The good news is that compared to the cost of the existing pool service contract, anything I do/add/buy that will allow me to avoid that expense will look trivial in comparison.
Thanks again to everyone who has made this site so great. It warms my heart to see such generosity of experience, intellect and spirit.