Man, this is a great forum. I've learned so much over the last three days in from the forum than anything my pool guy could have taught me. I wish I would have found the site a year-and-a-half ago. I have so many questions, so I'll try to keep my intro short and direct the questions to the appropriate forums.
By way of introduction, my name is and I live in northwest Houston with my family and a golden retriever). We built the house and pool in September '08 and have had it maintained by a pool guy since the beginning. The kids really love the pool and we've never really had problems with it except for last summer. It started out as a saltwater pool but had an issue last year when a bunch of white flakes came out of the returns. I thought maybe it was because we have flagstone in the water and the salt was eating away at it.
The pool guy said it was due to us only having him come out every other week instead of every week. At $50 a visit, it seemed kind of expensive to me to pay $200/month to have someone mess with a few chemicals and brush out the pool. So, he says that if we were only going to have him come out every other week, then make it a chlorine pool. He said he would do it for $165, and I figured it was more economical than shelling out and additional $100/month.
To make a long story short, a couple of weeks ago he tells my wife that it was getting too expensive for him to come out every other week, that the prices of his chemicals were rising and that he was losing money by doing our pool. The accounting department (aka, my wife) tells him "no thanks" and tells engineering and maintenance (aka, me) to figure out how to do it myself.
I've since ordered a TF-100 test kit and am slowly realizing by reading this board that this pool maintenance thing isn't as daunting as I think it is. As a reference, while I'm waiting for the TF-100 to arrive here are the results of water sample I took to the local pool supply store on 13-May:
Total Dissolved Solids: Not Run
They then recommended to add 2pt 11 oz. Muriatic Acid (which I did), and add 5.0 oz 3" or 1" tablets (which I assume are the pucks). A friend also recommended I add some shock, which I did (Super Zappit)- because that's what he does with his pool.
And THEN I find Troublefreepool and learn all about CYA and stuff and kick myself for not reading more before spending $150 at the PS store. It's rained the last two nights here, so I took another sample there this morning:
Hardness: 350 (the guy tells me that hard water is normal for this area; we have a water softener so I didn't know)
...other tests weren't run. Guy tells me to add another 2 pt 11.0 oz Muriatic Acid.
So here I am. I'm not making another move until I hear from outside consulting experts (aka, you guys).
Thanks for your attention and I'm glad to be here.
edit: for typos