First, I want to apologize for the lengthy post in advance, but I am needing some major help! I am new to TFP, but as a first-time pool owner you guys are my new favorite resource. We bought a house in late 2015 with a 9-ish year old pool, so this is our first pool season. We opened the pool 2 weeks ago today and the salt cell died the same day. Between being busy and being out of town the new cell is due to arrive today and we plan to install it ourselves. My concern in with our water readings. Here's the data:
SWG - Pool guy estimated 20,000 gallons
Reading from 4/7/16 - 3 days after a professional pool service opened the pool:
Adj TA: 26
Tot. Hardness: 128
Within the next week I find a dead bird and a dead frog in the skimmer. Not sure how that happens, but it was gross. In addition, I added baking soda to increase my alkalinity (roughly 6lbs) and stabilizer to increase CYA (roughly 2 lbs). I know those amounts seem small, but everything I read says to add slowly and re-test to make sure you don't go too far. Since the cell was dead and no chlorine was being produced I shocked the pool on Tuesday (4/12/16) and again on Friday (4/15/16). The amount on Tuesday was the amount of shock to treat 16,500 gallons so I knew it wasn't enough. That same day I started to see little algae spots appearing on the bottom of the pool, so I shocked again on Friday using enough to treat 26,500 gallons. I over-shocked hoping to eliminate the algae issue, which did not work.
These are my readings from today (4/18/16):
Tot. Hardness: 140
Phosphates: 2500 (I guess the other guys didn't test this)
What the heck!? So the guy at the pool store tells me that the phosphates are causing the algae problem. And he said the high chlorine levels weren't concerning given that the pool was just shocked on Friday. Other than the recurring algae spots the pool is otherwise fine - water is crystal clear.
Here are my questions:
Why has the salt level increased if I haven't added any salt?
Is it possible that the high phosphates are causing a false reading?
Why didn't my CYA change at all with 2lbs of stabilizer? Was that literally not enough to make a difference?
Is a phosphate remover like PhosFree the best way to reduce phosphates or is there a cheaper way?
I'm sure I've missed something or left it out, so just let me know. We're very new to the pool game! Thanks for any help!