Okay guys, well this is year two in the pool world for me. My pool is an in-ground vinyl liner pool which is at least 15 years old with a sand filter located under two pecan trees and a sweet gum tree (with the little prickly balls just right to clog a vacuum hose). Last year I attempted to follow the "accepted" way of doing things according to my local pool store and the former owner of the home; translation is that I continually added chlorine tablets and many other chemicals including Metal Out and copper based algaecide. The pool never consistently looked that great last year and from the time of opening it had a terrible brown stain on the liner. I mainly used the little test strips available from our local Wal-Mart.
Over the Winter, I did a little research on here and went up just a little in my pool IQ, but you will see I am still far below average. About a month ago the southern heat here began to really warm up and I took my cover off (plastic tarp), unfortunately some of the trash/sludge off the cover got into the pool and proceeded to infest it with terrible trash and algea (did I mention my blessed old southern trees). I proceeded to use about oh 14 lbs of the Aqua Chem Shock Xtra Blue (http://www.aquachem.com/mp/v/index.j...extfmt=default), thinking the chlorine along with copper algaecide would help halt the algae while I vacuumed and fished the leaves and twigs out. This somewhat worked. I got most of the trash out little by little and ran my filter continually with frequent backwashing. I ran the chlorine tablets wide open in my in-line dispenser and had the water looking a little less green and a little bit clear although still yellow green. I then popped in some Aqua Chem Algaecide 50% (http://www.aquachem.com/mp/v/index.j...extfmt=default) and raised my alkalinity up to respectable levels along with PH using baking soda. Decided to go for straight Wal-Mart chlorine bleach and put quite a few gallons in the mix. Now my filter started showing brown, I mean big time brown, on the backwashes. The test strips said it was good except for the really high chlorine.
At this point, the water still had a greenish hue. But, I noticed it was visible only while in the pool and during a backwash the water looked okay. I felt pretty sure it was the liner which was blue along with the brownish yellow stains on the sides causing the green. Getting rather ambitious and impatient, I bought about 14 lbs of ascorbic acid powder and proceeded to dump it in little by little around the edges along with another bottle of before mentioned 50% algaecide. The pool literally came alive before my eyes. The water was crystal and the stains were gone within a few hours. I probably put in about 6 lbs of the powder then added a bottle of Aqua Chem Scale, Metal, & Stain Control (http://www.aquachem.com/mp/v/index.j...extfmt=default). The test strips now showed a really low PH and zero CYA, chlorine, and alkalinity. I raised alkalinity slowly with more soda and the same with more bleach little by little. Added a bottle of Metal Out on the second day to see if it would help prevent stains from reappearing and maybe crystallize the metals (maybe fiction). Eventually the alkalinity was up to speck and the chlorine was up to speck albeit a little high. Since this point, I have been attempting to raise the PH little by little with Borax and keep the chlorine fairly constant with a little bleach every day. I also slowly ran the chlorine tablets in the dispenser to help raise my CYA.
The water looks great now, the liner looks better than it ever has, but my problem at this point is the PH. On the test strips it shows an orange red color which doesn't look quite like the pics on the chart for the PH, my CYA is good according to said strips, and Chlorine does not want to hold but I am using bleach almost exclusively.
I have elected to purchase a Poolmaster 22260 Basic 5-Way Test Kit http://amzn.com/B00107039U. I know, I know, I should have gone with the TF-100 or K-2006, but money is a little tight and I thought this kit a least was better than the strips. Hopefully, when it comes in I can a little more accuracy as to where my PH actually is.
I wonder of your opinion about the kit I have bought. I also would be interested on whether you think the constant stream of leaves/debris from the surrounding trees (requiring daily vacuuming) might be part of the problem with my inability to hold a consistent chlorine number in spite of CYA which seems pretty good. I am unsure whether to stick with Chlorine tablets partly because of convenience and ability to add some CYA or whether to try to do bleach exclusively. I wonder if there any big issue just using the tablets in the in-line dispenser. Regardless, your opinion matters greatly. I am far from where I need to be and just want some input.