I recently closed on a new (to me) home with a pool (hooray!). I had a few questions and concerns and I was hoping you guys could offer some insight and advice.
Firstly, the chemicals. I know I need to order a good testing kit, and I intend to as soon as I can. At the moment all I have are the test strips, which have yielded the following:
TC 0 ppm
FC 0.5 ppm
TA 120 ppm
TH 250 ppm
I know those are probably fairly inaccurate, and without being able to test CH and CYA I shouldn't get too crazy. So, since my pool is already starting to get a little cloudy I'm thinking to start things off I should probably just add a two gallons of 6% bleach (into the 18,000 gallon pool) and see where that gets me. Does this seem like a reasonable game plan? Also, my timer is currently set to run from about 11:30am to 6:00pm, so I'm guessing I should probably increase this by another hour or two?
Secondly, I have some questions about the plumbing itself. Pictures can be found here: http://imgur.com/a/EooTm#0
As I understand it, two drains come up out of the ground, the spa drain and the main drain/skimmer. This goes into the pump, which in turn goes into the sand filter, through the chlorinator and then back to the spa/pool returns.
Question #1: It seems that there is a bypass around the chlorinator (the pipe with the red ball valve) that goes directly to the spa return. Any idea what this is for? I'm guessing it's so you don't over chlorinate the spa when using it as a spa? I probably won't be using it as a spa for a while considering I don't have a heater hooked up, so what position should that ball valve be in during normal use?
#2: The pipe going out of the pump actually goes into a 3 way valve before the sand filter, with one direction going into another small looking filter with a pressure gauge on top, and then right back into the ground. Any idea what this is for? My best guess is for the spa jets? I have tried moving that grey three way valve and wasn't able to really notice any effect. What position should that valve be in?
#3: I haven't check yet to see if there are any tablets in the chlorinator, and since I don't know my CYA and CH numbers, I'm guessing I should probably just ignore the chlorinator for now and add liquid bleach since tablets could possibly unnecessarily add CYA or CH? Any other thoughts on future use of the chlorinator? It seems like a nice idea but I don't want to unnecessarily add CYA or CH.
#4: I don't actually have a pressure gauge installed on my sand filter. Perhaps this is what the pressure gauge I mentioned in #2 is intended to be used for? Should have one installed?
#5: My pool doesn't seem to be setup for a pool vacuum, so I'll need to do that manually. I'm guessing this should basically be done via main drain/skimmer on, spa drain off, pool return on, spa return off, and then plug the vacuum hose into the skimmer? When I pull the basket out of my skimmer it looks like I have a circular piece of plastic with 3 small holes in it. How does the vacuum hose connect up to that?
Thank you for any input you guys can provide! And lastly, a gratuitous pool pic: http://i.imgur.com/3nhsx.jpg