I've been trying to read through the masses of posts the past several months to learn. I've refrained from posting until now so that I wouldn't be asking basic questions that have already been answered many times or posting stuff already contributed by others. This is the 7th year for our pool, I've finally wised up (I'm embarrassed it took so long ), and am making the switch from a local pool store "program" (trichlor tabs, regular hypo-chlor shock treatments, polyquat 60, etc) to BBB. I recently bought a TF-100 test kit for more accurate testing and installed a Stenner metering pump for my bleach. Previous I relied on the pool store testing about 1/2 mile from my house and test strip results in between. So far, so good.
It is an empowering feeling to now have a basic pool chemistry understanding rather than have to blindly rely on what the pool store says I need. For example, I tested my water yesterday, immediately took the remaining portion of the same water sample to my pool store, and they said I needed 2 products that I didn't (they wanted to raise TA further when it was already too high by TFP recommendations) while not trying to sell me a product that I did need (my CH was borderline low by my test, and their test showed it to be even lower). The test result printout they provide has a column for the customer's current test readings and another column beside that to show "ideal levels". Their ideal levels are really out of whack on many items. Their stated ideal range for CYA for example is 30-200. In hindsight I can't believe we didn't have more trouble in the past with our pool than we did. I think the only reason we didn't is because they had us shocking regularly and using polyquat 60 which helped offset the chlorination problems they created.
Hopefully I can contribute some content moving forward. I did become a paid supporter of the site several months ago as I didn't feel right taking without giving.