Hello everyone! Starting my foray into maintaining my pool the TFP way.
So here's the backstory: my wife and I just bought and closed on a house with a pool. They opened the pool for us, but not sure when they moved out. We closed on July 19th, and moved in shortly thereafter (20-22). The water looked pretty clear, but we didn't have any chemicals to maintain it, no idea how to do it, and no time to learn that week, meaning that unfortunately, it was left unmaintained for the next week. The pool first turned cloudy, and then green.
Fast forward to this past Saturday (July 30), and we went out and got all the chemicals that we thought we'd need at Lowe's. I looked at a few sites and decided the first course of action was to shock the pool, which I did that night. Waking up the next day, the pool was no longer green (yay!), but it was still cloudy blue. I bought test strips with the other chemicals (I know, I know) and tested the chlorine and found it close to 0 for total and free. I also noticed that the alkalinity was very low, pH was high, and stabilizer was low so I added a large quantity of alkalinity increaser and a good amount of "pH down" product. I also put two pucks of trichlor in the pool to increase the chlorine and CYA.
Fast forward to today, and the free and total chlorine were both around 3 in the morning, and the alkalinity had increased to ~160-180 per the strip. So much higher than anticipated, but the strips are unreliable anyway. The pH was right around 7.6, but through reading other posts, it seems like with an alkalinity that high it will keep drifting up. But anyway, the pool is still cloudy. I shocked the pool with two bottles this time to really drive up the FC. I also ordered the TF-100 test kit today so I can properly maintain it in the future.
So now down to the actual questions:
1. My wife and I would like to swim in the pool as soon as possible. Would it be reasonable to add a bunch of bleach to bring up FC even though it would really just be guessing? I know that the stabilizer reading on the test strip is next to worthless, so I really have no idea how much CYA is in there. The strip indicated somewhere around 30-40 ppm. Can I just assume that's what it is and bring it up to shock level according to PoolMath? I don't have any way of measuring FC that high unfortunately, so again it would just be guessing, but maybe it would do enough to clear it up?
2. I have no idea how long it's been since the sand filter has been deep cleaned. Should I do that now or just wait until the next season since we're halfway through in NY? It seems to be working since the water turned back to blue, or would it do that without the filter regardless?
3. For whatever reason, the port where there should be a pressure gauge is plugged instead of having a gauge. I assume it would be good to replace that post-haste? I really have no way of telling when to backwash without that, right?
4. There appears to be a secondary filter inline post-sand filter. The manual indicates it's a Nature2 A30 cartridge filter. It says something about being a "mineral filter" and breaking down bacteria or something? I don't really understand why there would be two filters; do I need to take this apart and clean it? Should I replace it to make sure that it's brand new? The manual recommends replacing it every year but that seems kind of excessive if other cartridge filters last 3 years or more... There's no shutoff valve before or after the filter so how would I ensure that it doesn't siphon water when I take it out?