This is my 5th season with my pool; it's a 16x34 in-ground, vinyl lined pool, with a coverstar automatic cover. I have an in-line chlorine feeder that uses 3" trichlor tabs, and a hayward cartridge filter.
The first year, the pool was a dream--it used almost no chlorine; I maintained 3-5 ppm with the feeder set to 1 or 1/2; pool was crystal clear. I had the installer close and reopen the next year, seemingly without incident. The following year it was also fine, but over a vacation I ran out of chlorine and came back to a cloudy pool. Managed to clear it, but had trouble keeping the FC level up. This is where things started to go bad. Pool co. closed the pool, I opened it in the spring, and immediately ran into the ammonia issue; Read about the problem here, and managed to get the pool back by superchlorinating with about maybe 12 gallons of 12% chlorine. Same thing next season, but required even more chlorine. Each year it has also gotten harder to maintain the PH at a high enough level; the pool likes to come down to 6.8 and it is a lot of constant effort getting it higher.
This year has been the worst so far. On opening, I think because of an exceptionally mild winter, we had some green algae; ammonia was >8ppm, and pH was over 8. Since all I read told me to knock the pH down before superchlorinating, I got it down to about 7.6 with Muriatic Acid, then had to add ~50 gallons of 12% chlorine before I eliminated the ammonia and got the FC to hold. But that brought my pH back down to <6.6. Added 3 boxes of borax and and 10 lb of pH Up, and that has only brought me to about 6.9. My total Alk last I checked was ~180 so I am loathe to add anything else. I also had quite a bit of cloudiness (probably from dead algae) that seems to be (slowly) clearing up with addition of a clarifier. My only aeration options are running the slide and tilting my returns up to get some rippling, but that seems to do nothing for the pH. I understand that keeping the cover closed tends to keep the pH low, so I have been opening it more frequently, but that increases to need for Chlorine. Catch 22!
So I am contemplating 2 things. Obviously, if I scrap the trichlor feeder and go with liquid chlorine and no CYA and keep the cover closed much of the time, I should be able to avoid the ammonia problem. Would switching to salt generation do the same thing? Seems like that would just be adding FC into the system without CYA either. The third option is the Liquidator, but I am not sure about having a liquid chlorine pump and having to keep a stockpile of liquid chlorine, especially with a 9-year-old boy in the house...And how will either method affect the pH problem I am having? Looks like total/monthly costs are comparable between the two systems.
Lastly, would switching to either method necessitate draining and refilling the pool? I'd prefer not to as a)I have nowhere to drain to and b)I'd have to buy new water as my well water is hard and has iron in it.
Any comments would be great!