This is my first visit to TFP this year.
Partly because I have been very busy and had little time, but mostly because I have spent my first summer without ANY problems with my pool. I took the winter cover off, and had a crystal clear pool on the 3rd day. (First day was removing the cover, and removing leaves. 2nd day fill the pool and begin treatment. 3rd day turn on the heater and celebrate. All summer the pool has been crystal clear and chemistry has stayed spot on, despite me only coming home on weekends.
I credit the TFP forum users with educating me enough to get to this point, and for those having problems ( I had many my first 3 years with the pool) my advice is forget anything you hear at the pool stores and follow the suggestions on this site and you will do fine eventually.Listen carefully to the advice on this forum, but at the risk of oversimplifying the sytem, and possibly giving some bad advice myself, I offer these tips from my own experience.
What I learned that was most helpful.
1. Chlorine is bleach, and bleach is bleach.
Buy the cheapest per volume you can since you will need lots.
Some bleach is 10% some 6% and some less (the dollar store bleach is less than 6%)
Some bottles are 128 fl/oz some only 96 fl/oz
Get a calculator and figure out how much you are paying per oz of chlorine.
2. Shock your pool! Do not try to scare it or spook it.
I tried adding a gallon and waiting to see what happened, then adding another, then another.
I used more test strips than I did bleach and still had problems.
Use the Bleach calculator available on this site, and remember too much bleach isn't as bad as not enough.
I finally learned to start right out with 6-8 gallons at a time (if you have cloudy or green water you will need at least that much to start) Get used to buying by the case. Once the pool runs fine I use about 2 gallons a week for shocking.
Basically if your pool isn't clearing up you probably aren't shocking it enough.
(I admit the pro's here may disagree with that as too simple, but it definitely seems to be the answer in 90% + of the cases)
3. Make sure you have a lot of POP
A phrase I learned here, "Pool Owner Patience".
The more frustrated I became the more my problems always compounded.
I would wait till crud fell to the bottom of the pool then brush the bottom and stir it all up again.
4. Ok I promise I'll stop at 4.
The better job you do closing the pool, the easier it is to reopen next year.
It's never fun to close the pool (nothing to look forward to) but face it you can spend a week closing the pool you are in no hurry. But opening it in 3 days was a fine reward for the extra work closing it last year.
Since this was my only post this year forgive me for being long winded, but I really wanted to thank everyone here for a great summer enjoying my pool not just working on it.