My wife and I purchased a foreclosed home in NJ that has a pool. We knew going in that the home hadn't been lived in for about 3 years. We figured the pool was neither used or taken care of for at least that amount of time as well. I don't have any pictures currently of how it started but it is now crystal clear and in good hands chemically (I'm a chemist who works for an international company who does a lot of work with...water). Now that my nightmare is over, I thought I'd share some stories and pictures of the pool progression from "swamp like" to crystal clear today. Before we moved in, I found this website and started to read about pool care confident that I could care for it next year after life calmed down (3 kids, for a few months we owned and needed to care for 2 homes ~20 minutes apart and we had to move).
We initially hired a company to do a once over of the pool and start to take care of the issues they found. They replaced the pump and did some other work to get me going in the right direction. I fired them and started taking care of it myself when they couldn't explain why they never told me they found a leak in a pipe or asked if I wanted it repaired. We discovered the leak when we tried to vacuum the pool and played with the Jandy valves in an attempt to increase suction from the skimmer. I forgot to change one valve that was "off" initially back to "off". When I went out the next morning to check on everything the pool had lost a good 7 inches of water. When we called them up concerned they essentially said "oh yeah, there is a leak in that line, don't use it". Gee thanks.
The first photo is about 2 weeks after I started to care for the pool. The 2nd and 3rd photos are from mid August, where I had another nightmare. Getting rid of "gunk" and algae was relatively easy. Chlorine, chlorine and more chlorine along with a skimmer. If you notice in the third picture there is something that looks like sand underneath one of the return jets. I couldn't figure this out as we have a DE filter. My wife and I could not figure out how sand was constantly blowing into the pool from the two returns. The pressure on the filter was 15PSI, which was right about where it was after the pool company "cleaned and charged" the filter with DE. I finally said to myself, I wonder if they ever actually did anything with the filter.
So I went to the forums here and read. I watched some YouTube videos. I gathered up my tools and went out to the filter prepared to take it apart for a cleaning. What happened when I opened it? I was greeted by dead algae on the DE sleeves and very little to no actual DE coating anywhere. I shook my head, pulled it out and cleaned it off. When I walked back to the filter I thought that I should peak in the bottom to see if that needed cleaning too. What did I find? A few piles of sand. So I drained the bottom half of the filter and rinsed it completely out. 24 hours later I have wonderful pressure coming out of the return jets, no more sand in my pool and beautiful sparkling water.
I'll make some time to get pictures of it now. I'm really happy to have found this website, there is great advice available here.
fyi I purchased a nice Taylor testing kit.