First off let me offer a truckload of thanks to the learned advisers on this forum. Everything I know about pool chemistry and maintenance I have learned from this forum.... but it was not always so. A few short months ago I was but an egg... (insert wavy flashback effect)
EXT. POOL - DAY
The pool is the color of a healthy magnolia leaf, visibility zero. A swarm of friendly tadpoles cavort just below the surface as our HERO discusses options and estimates with POOL STORE GUY.
POOL STORE GUY: Well, this thing looks like a swamp. I'm going to tell you right now that the only way to get it back is a complete drain, an acid wash, replace the pump, and probably the filter and housing too.
HERO (gulping slightly): How much are we talking about?
POOL STORE GUY: I'd say in the neighborhood of $2000, depending on the refill cost.
HERO (the gulp turns to stifled sobbing) Two grand? Isn't there another way?
POOL STORE GUY: Well, maybe. But it's going to take a whole lot of work and time. If you go buy around $200 of chlorine, and rake it every day, you might be able to make some headway. But it's going to be ALOT of work for you...
HERO (brightening) : Oh, I'll do the work, that's no problem. How much time are we talking?
POOL STORE GUY: Well, without knowing what's on the bottom down there - I'm going to say you'll be ready to swim by July.
HERO: JULY??! It's the middle of April! That's almost 3 months!
POOL STORE GUY: I told you it would be alot of work... Now if you want one of our guys to do it it might be quicker, but now we're talking about alot more money...
HERO (to self): I wonder if there is some website that can teach me what I need to know...
INT. STUDY - NIGHT
Our hero taps away on a computer keyboard...
HERO: Hmmm.... TroubleFreePools.Com.... well let's see what they have to say...
EXT. POOL - DAY
It is 3 weeks later. Our hero is a changed man and so is his pool. The water is clear as crystal and sparkles like a polished diamond. He calmly steps aside, avoiding the splash made by an exuberant child leaping into the water. Behind him can be seen the same pump and filter system chugging away. We move over to the storage shed... through the hazy window we can just make out a tower of boxes of borax and collection of acid jugs. A note taped to one of the jugs reads : PHASE 2...
INT. POOL STORE - DAY
Our hero is engaged in conversation with the proprietor...
PROPRIETOR: What kind of test strips?!?
PROPRIETOR: Why on earth would you need to test for a borate in your pool. I don't even know what that is!
HERO (confidently): Alot of people are using it now as a secondary buffer for Alkalinity and the algaestatic properties it imparts allows you to get by with a lower chlorine level.
PROPRIETOR (mystified): I've been in this business for 15 years and I've never heard of it. Let me call my distributor... (picks up phone) Hey Lou, this is Mike... Have you ever heard of test strips for... hey, what was that stuff again?
PROPRIETOR (into phone): Have you ever heard of test strips for borate?? You have?? ... Well what's it for?... Uh-huh... Uh-huh... Really? You don't say... Huh... do you have any of the strips?... Uh-huh... and what's my price? Uh-huh... Okay, thanks!
(back to our Hero) My distributor say he can have them here in a week and they'll be $25... Hey, where are you going?