I've been browsing through Pool Schol for a few days and decided that I would create an account and post both to thank the website for the information, and to attempt to increase my knowledge of pool maintenance.
I shall begin with a little background information. I had a couple of pools when I was a kid, but I was never really involved with the maintenance. I would occassionally vacuum and help install the winter cover, but I rarely ever messed with the chemicals. Fast forward to last year. I purchased my first home, and it has a pool (specs in signature). The pool was not maintained very well. It had the appearance of a swampy pond when we moved in. I didn't move in until June, so I sort of got a late start on getting it ready for the summer, but I tried my best. I bravely got into the pool one day to attempt to begin cleaning it out. Not only did I find several inches of leaves, but I also ended up pulling about 4 very old beer cans and several concrete blocks from the bottom. Many weeks and several hundred dollars of chemicals later, the pool was finally clear. It didn't last long... I think the longest I ever saw it clean and clear was about 2 days. If it wasn't green (usually was), it was horribly cloudy.
In addition to being incredibly difficult to maintain, the pool also began leaking once I got all the trash out of it. I purchased and applied several patch kits, attempting to maintain the pool through the swimming season. I knew if I drained it and got a new liner that late in the year that it would never have time to get warm enough to swim in. Eventually, I became so disgusted with the pool that I just gave up on it. I did not winterize it, nor did I cover it.
Fast forward, once again, to yesterday. I drained the pool and just had a brand new liner installed. This year, I intend to do things the right way. I do not have a test kit, so I am unable to give you numbers. I think I have some little cheap test strips left over that I might try tomorrow so I can give you something to work with, but I did order a TF100 last night, based upon Pool School's glowing recommendation. The pool was filled with water from the tap, so I assume it should be a little easier to work with. I do have a large amount of chlorine tablets and shock left over from last year, and, ideally, I would like to be able to use them so I don't feel like I completely wasted the money. I estimate that I probably spent around $1,000 on chemicals last year. I do intend to use the BBB method once my leftover chemicals are gone.
I know all tap water is different, but should there be any CYA in tap water? If not, I'm thinking it might be beneficial for me to actually use the tablets and shock in the beginning. As for my sand filter, I did change the sand in it last summer, but it is now filthy and full of algae. Do I need to, once again, replace the sand? I also have a large set of wedding cake steps that came with the pool. They are also filthy and full of algae. I've cleaned most of it off, but I was wondering if I need to clean it completely before putting it back into the pool? I was planning on putting bleach water on it to help remove the rest of the filth... mostly on the inside of it.
Sorry for the incredibly long post... I tend to get rather out of hand sometimes. I'm happy to have found this site, and I look forward to gaining every bit of knowledge I can. Thanks for reading!