Hello! I have been nosing around TFP for a couple weeks now, and thanks to the information here I managed to get our swampy frog and snail habitat back to the pool I wanted. I still have some minor balance issues to figure out between when I stopped listening to the pool store's varied advice and started educating myself here, so any help is appreciated.
I bought a K-2006 test kit which showed up last week, and I have tested several times since then until I was confident I was getting pretty consistent numbers. We have been battling horrible recurrent algae since my fiance opened the pool in early April, and this Sunday was the first day I felt everything was good for swimming, after passing an OCLT. However, as we got in, we realized that a small amount of algae came out of the weep holes in the ladder. That afternoon, we pulled the ladder out, did a massive cleaning on it, flushed the weep holes until they ran crystal clear, and then sprayed bleach along all surfaces and inside each weep hole (a process I repeated on Monday morning, just to be safe!) We have not returned the ladder back to the pool, yet, but Sunday evening I shocked the pool based on our previous CYA level (from the pool store) of 35 - I didn't know at the time how high our CYA had gotten. I put the FC level up to 14 Sunday night, and continued that on Monday, and again yesterday.
I realize high FC probably makes my other results off, but I did them anyway. My test results from last night (at 1730) were:
FC - 13.5
PH - 7.4
TA - 170
CH - 180
CYA - 180 (pool store yesterday told me 200, I used the extended test kit directions and got 180, repeated several times in a couple mins, and feel pretty confident in this for the first time!)
I retested FC this morning at 0940 and got 13.0. Water is clear, and getting to be a little sparkly.
Prior to my reading up on your forum, the pool store had us battling algae, very low PH, low TA, plus a CYA level of 0. After reading up in Pool School, I knew we would have high CYA, because they told me on two trips a few days apart to add x pounds of CYA, PLUS several bags of shock to clear up algae. I didn't know at the time it could take a week to show up.
Before I make this too long, I should point out that we are a full sun pool - the only shade our pool gets is from its own sides in the early morning and early afternoon. We are on the Gulf Coast, so evaporation has always been a problem. We add water about once a week in the summer (but haven't had to add water during the winter, so no leaks I don't think!) We have ALWAYS had trouble keeping our chlorine stable. For the last two years, we have also had someone coming by occasionally to throw dirt clods, sticks, and large (palm sized) rocks into our pool.
Finally, my questions! I got myself this far, now I just want a little bit more guidance. First, even though I think I've done everything OK, is there anything I've done wrong or that I should do better? Second, I know that CYA will go down as we lose/replace water over the next couple weeks due to vacuuming/evaporation, but what is a good target level for CYA for my full sun pool? I think I saw it mentioned somewhere, but I honestly can't remember where. Also, will our high TA change as we replace water?
And my last question - we leave for vacation on Sunday, and will be gone for a week. I'm not asking for a perfectly balanced pool by then, but what can I do to make sure I don't come back home to a swamp, and all my hard work down the drain? We don't have a cover at the moment - fire ants took it over when my fiance put it on the ground. Would it be rational to put the pool up to shock level before we leave?
Sorry for the novel - I just figured too much information was better than too little. Thanks in advance!