Hello everyone. A little background: my wife and I purchased a home with an in-ground pool this spring. We were both complete pool idiots, and knew nothing about pool maintenance. The previous owners told us that they always had the guy from the pool store come out and open the pool for them, so that's what we did. The pool store guy spent an hour or so with me "teaching" me how to maintain the pool, most of which involved buying expensive chemicals from him.
I didn't know any better, so I dutifully followed his instructions and our water was crystal clear. I was adding chlorine tablets to the skimmer, adding "shock" every two weeks, adding algicide once a week, and adding some sort of clarifier every week. All was well until we went on vacation. We were gone for 10 days. I covered the pool, but never had anyone come check the chemicals or add anything. When we returned last Saturday, the water was cloudy and murky. The testing strips (that the pool guy sold me) indicated low chlorine and high alkalinity, but everything else looked okay, and of course it didn't give me actual numbers.
I started searching the internet and came across these forums. At first it seemed silly, adding bleach and borax. My wife encouraged me to trust the "professionals" who basically just told me to shock the heck out of it, which really only involved adding about $20 worth of chemicals every day, plus boatloads of chlorine tabs in the skimmers. I did that for a few days with no changes. I decided to try the TFP method, figuring I had nothing to lose. I ordered a testing kit (TF-100) and in the meantime was adding a gallon or two of 8.25% bleach to the pool each evening. I have a friend who is a chemist, and he took a sample of my pool water to his lab and told me that the pH was 8.0. He had me add HCl (muriatic acid).
Testing kit arrived yesterday. Here are my first results, assuming that I did everything right:
pH = 7.2
FC = 5
CC = 3
Calcium = 350
TA = 240 (this seems high to me, but it took 24 drops of R-0009 before I saw any redness in the solution)
CYA = I couldn't measure. The dot on the bottom of the tube never obscured, even when the water was above the 20 mark.
The water is MUCH clearer than it was a week ago, but still not as clear as it was before we left for vacation, and I still can't see the bottom in the deepest part of the pool. (When we just got back and it was at its worst, I could not see the bottom of the pool anywhere, even in the shallowest part.)
From what I've read, I assume I need to add enough bleach to bring the FC to shock level, but I'm not sure what to do about the high alkalinity and low CYA. Thanks for any help and advice.