I recently bought a house with a pool in March of this year. Having never owned a pool, I asked the previous home owner if he could give me some directions on how to maintain the pool, how to use the equipment, etc. He agreed to do that and then left me absolutely nothing.
I didn't move into the house for a few months after buying it, so I hired a pool company called Executive Blue Pools since they were the top rated pool service company on Angie's list. I paid for their weekly pool maintenance service. When they came the first time, they said my pool was green with algae and said the pool needed algaecide treatment. They also said there was blowback from the filter and after opening the filter, found that 2 of the cartridges were ripped apart, and replaced those 2 cartridges.
After taking care of the pool for 3 months, they said they were never able to completely rid the pool of algae (it would come and go). Their solution was to put crazy amounts of chlorine in the pool using those round disks. They filled the inline chlorinator with them and also put them into a floating chlorinator. When I finally moved into the house in late June, I noticed that the pool was very dirty. They came on Wednesday to clean the pool, and they cleaned it completely, and then on Thursday it was filthy dirty again.
I opened the pool filter and found that 2 of the filter cartridges were ripped apart. On the advice of the pool store where I bought replacement filters, I checked the plumbing of the filter and found that it was plumbed backwards - the pump was hooked up to the outlet and the return was hooked up to the inlet. I have no idea how it got this way, and for all I know, the previous owner or the pool builder put it in backwards, and for years nobody ever wondered why the pool was always dirty or why the filter cartridges were exploding.
At this point I cancelled the pool service (after a heated argument with the belligerent pool service owner), but I had already prepaid for July so decided to let them keep cleaning the pool for the remainder of the month. After using the pool for 2 weeks, I noticed that my skin was always itchy after using the pool and my daughter complained that the water was burning her skin. I bought a test kit and found that the FC level was something like 17ppm. I took the floating pool chlorinator out and also turned off the inline chlorinator. After 5 days, I tested it again and the FC level was still 17ppm. At this point I tested the CYA level and it was literally off the charts (the Taylor kit only reads up to 100ppm). I'm guessing it was around 200-300 ppm.
I called the pool service owner and asked why they were adding chlorine to my pool when the FC level was so high and also asked if they're using CYA. He got very annoyed at the question and said he doesn't use stabilizer. I asked what kind of chlorine disks he uses and he said he uses the kind they sell in every store. I asked what's in it and he said just chlorine and nothing else. I took one of the disks that I removed from the chlorinator and tested the disk itself for CYA and found that it did indeed have CYA in it.
On Friday of last week I decided to drain the pool completely and start over, based on the pool filter never having worked correctly for years and the pool service company ruining the water by overstabilizing. It took 1 day to drain the pool and 2 days to refill it. On Monday, the new pool service company added some chlorine and stabilizer. They also put 4 of the same kind of disks in the chlorinator. I tested the water last night and measured FC 9.5ppm and CYA 41ppm. The CYA level looks good but the FC level looks high. I turned off the chlorinator to let the chlorine level drop to where it needs to be.
So my question now is how to properly maintain the FC and CYA levels. I did read the pool school articles but they are not specific about the process of how to maintain the correct levels. My understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that CYA levels will not go down on their own, so I should not add any more stabilized chlorine to the pool. I've removed the stabilized chlorine disks from the chlorinator just to make sure no more CYA gets into the pool. From this point forward, I believe I should only add unstabilized chlorine to the pool, and will need to do so on a daily basis. I guess I will need to test the FC level every day (at morning or at night?) and then add some amount (how much?) bleach to the pool (where? in the skimmer?) to keep the FC level where it needs to be. If I need to go away for some amount of time, i.e. if I go on vacation, then I don't know what would maintain the correct FC levels while I'm away.
I also don't understand how proper CYA levels can ever be maintained if only using stabilized chlorine tablets, which is what every pool service company uses and which is what's sold in every store. Are all the people who are using these tablets overstabilizing their pool without knowing it? Is everyone doing it wrong?