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Thread: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Tacoma, WA

    Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    So we are still trying to get our "too good to be true" Craigslist money pit pool (LOL!) up and running - kinda late in the summer but oh well. It's just a backyard pool that we'll probably only get to use 6 weeks this summer, maybe 7 if we're lucky. We're in the Seattle area so September usually can be nice, but the pool's not heated other than a solar blanket and a DIY heater my husband rigged up last summer for our easy set pool. so no year round swimming for us! That being said, once we get the SWG operating and chemicals leveled out, will I really have the need for a fancy testing kit? I do have the "Kem-Tek 439-6 3-Way Test Kit" that came with the pool as well as 7-way & salt test strips I just ordered. But I'm second guessing if I should cancel the order and get the $50+ test kit....but we don't have a big fancy pool I need to protect that will be used year round. I know they are suggested for best pool performance and maintenance, but for a little backyard pool that is used 3 months out of the year....will the strips and the Kem-Tek kit be sufficient? I think we're having a bit of sticker shock to what we thought would be an inexpensive investment. First the new liner, then the chemicals we never had to use before (obviously we did it wrong last year!), and the testing tools for chemicals we never had to test adds up for sure!

    I really have appreciated all the advice I've read in this forum. Y'all are so helpful and knowledgeable! Thanks in advance!

    UPDATE: just as I was finishing this post, I got the confirmation email that my test strips have been shipped. I'll still ask the question anyway!
    18' x 48" Intex above ground "too good to be true" Craigslist deal turned money pit. LOL! Had to buy a new vinyl liner, fabricate clips out of PVC and now trying to navigate this crazy pool maintenance world we didn't know was so complicated! Intex SWG and sand filter (also from Craigslist but so far a pretty good deal!). All this for a pool we'll only be able to use for a month, maybe 6 weeks if we're lucky this first summer.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    Welcome to TFP!

    I would highly recommend the good test kit. Definitely do not try to use strips! There is an article in Pool School about temporary/ seasonal pools that uses a more basic kit, but you must be ready to drain and start over.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    Even if you think your water is fine, you never know for sure.
    You might not have problems at first, but when you do...... you wish you had the correct test kit in order to know EXACTLY how to fix it.
    Or at least get answers from members here. Because without the correct test results, nobody knows what the problem might be.

    So; you need the test kit.
    12500 AGP 2HP Sand filter
    Five years on BBB & loving it!

  4. Back To Top    #4
    Isaac-1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    SW Louisiana

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    You can probably get away with using a cheap OTO/PH drop based test kit ($10-$15) and the seasonal pool guide Pool School - Guide for Seasonal/Temporary Pools for the rest of the season, this is a simplified version of the TFP method that relies on start up from known conditions and blind dosing of CYA with the expectation of dumping the water if things go wrong. The big KEY factor to the seasonal guide is to only add the measured start up dose of CYA and assume it stays there (no splash out) and never use stabilized chlorine sources that contain CYA as you have no way to test for it getting too high. This test also has no way of measuring CH build up over time, and assumes water will be dumped at the end of swim season.

    I would however ditch the test strips, we call them guess strips around here for a reason, if you can't return them then give them to someone you hate that has a pool.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from
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  5. Back To Top    #5

    In the Industry
    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    Welcome to the forum.

    Everything we teach at TFP begins and ends with precise testing. We have read, absorbed and learned from this site why that testing is essential to good pool management. If there was no need for the "fancy" kit, none of us would have it.

    You seem to downplay the importance of the pool in your lifestyle. That's quite understandable and if you don't care if you miss a couple of weeks of swimming here and there because of improper pool water management, then I don't think you need a good kit either.

    That said, many, if not most, of us here are a bit obsessive about our pools and want the pool to be pristine and swimable every hour possible. That is almost impossible to do without the precision testing a good kit provides.

    Don't buy a worthless bunch of test strips hoping you will "get by" won't
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  6. Back To Top    #6
    RyanMcC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    I know where you're coming from- our first pool was a used 20' Intex for $150. It was a good way to get into it and learn what we were doing. Once you get a pool it's hard to go back to not having one, and once you have TFP water it's even harder.

    The good test kit will save you money after you've missed a couple weekly visits to the pool store, and the water you'll get from it is just priceless. Welcome to TFP!
    "...chemistry is not an exact science" -Mario Andrada, Rio 2016 Olympics spokesman
    21' x 52" Radiant Metric Round ~10K gal AGP with Hayward S180t pump/sand filter.
    Caldera (Watkins) Martinique 340 gallon installed in basement, Bromine and ozone.
    Taylor K-2006 test kit.

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Paradise (Hampstead, NC)

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    You do not "need" the "fancy" test kit. For that matter you don't "need" a pool. Do you want to swim in your pool? Do you want to swim in clear, clean, sanitary water or do you want to swim in a pool like the Rio diving pool? Do you care what might be at the bottom of your pool that you can't see? Do you want to get out of your pool feeling like you just had a refreshing bath or do you want to feel like you've just climbed out of a swamp and really want a pressure washer? Ask your yourself: Do I WANT a "fancy" test kit? Because it is necessary to use one to have a really clean pool.
    16X32 AB, Jacuzzi Laser 190 19" sand filter, 3/4hp Pentair Optiflo, CircuPool RJ30+ swg, TF 100

  8. Back To Top    #8
    Donldson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    NW Ohio

    Re: Do I really need the fancy test kit?

    Welcome to TFP!

    You refer to your pool as a "too good to be true" money pit because you got such a good deal and it turned out to cost you way more. Attempting to manage your pool using test strips will end exactly the same way. It looks like a good deal, tests a bunch of stuff for way less than a k-2006 or TF-100. But the results are vague and often untrustworthy. So if your pool goes green you will end up spending far more than you saved trying to fix it, whereas getting and using the proper kit will prevent the pool from going green in the first place. A lot of pools you find on Craigslist are from people that got tired of spending hundreds of dollars to fix chemical problems that could have been prevented.

    A short pool season is not a reason to go cheap on a test kit, quite the opposite. First, the reagents will easily last you two years if you store it indoors (one you get now will likely get you through the 2019 season before needing refilling). Second, losing a week to a green pool is a significant fraction of your swim, so why risk it to save a little bit of money (which you won't save because you will be throwing the saved money in to clearing the pool). Really seems like a very small investment to me.
    JD - 28' Round Above Ground Pool, 17,000 Gallons. Dual speed Jacuzzi pump with cartridge filter.
    Pool School - PoolMath - HIGHLY Recommended Test Kits

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