First, let me say that I can't even believe how awesome this site is. I've already read quite a bit on here and am so grateful you're all here and so willing to help us! I'm going to give a not-so-short rundown on my last 2 months as a pool owner and then hit you all up with some questions. Please forgive me if I'm posting incorrectly and steer me in the right direction, I am a definite work in progress here.
We bought the house in early April and had to open the pool early for Baltimore weather, bc the previous owners had allowed the cheap tarp cover to fall into the pool and it was full of leafy brown/green mucky water that I worried would only get much muckier as the warmer weather heated all that muck up under the tarp. As neither my husband nor I had the first clue about pools, we had a reputable pool place open it for us at what I thought was a steep price. They did a great job though and it looked beautiful after 3 visits. BUT.. then we ignored it completely for a few weeks.
There was a lot of other stuff going on at home stress-wise and we foolishly thought the water looked good and we weren't swimming in it yet anyway so no big deal. Then we saw the algae start up. I took water samples to the pool store and used the chlorine tabs in the garage and bought some dichlor shock pouches and Phosfree (phosphates were 500 and we do get a ton of leaves in the pool) and added that. And scrubbed the sides and bottom of the pool with the big brush, mostly it came off easily. Had to backwash like 10 times bc I added the whole bottle of Phosfree at once haha. Another lesson learned.
Water samples to pool store showed on-the-low-side-but-acceptable (1ppm) chlorine, slightly too high pH and slightly too low alkalinity and I almost bought what they recommended but finally decided to research some stuff online first as the pH and alkalinity seemed to contradict each other and that made me nervous. Since researching online and over the course of the last several weeks, I have added a few more already-purchased dichlor pouches and a couple bottles of bleach (the 8.25% is all I can find at ANY stores around me) along with 2 pucks/week in the floater (we have them in the garage already anyway but only a few left) and bought a test kit I got off amazon (Poolmaster 22260 5-way) that was well-reviewed but I now wish I'd gotten one with the CYA test.
My test results after the chlorine showed the pH was 7.6 but the alkalinity only 60. So I added 5 lbs baking soda over a week along with a little more 8.25% bleach here and there and my tests finally looked good. Took a sample to the pool store last week for the CYA test and got an A+ report card. Was one of the happiest days I've had in a long time, hubbie was making fun of me for getting so serious with it. He's happy of course though.
Ok, now for the questions. I've read all about the chlorine options and my mind is too jumbled up to make a decision. Seems you all suggest the liquid bleach route hands down but the idea of having to add the CYA all the time seems confusing. More to figure out, no?
So far our chlorine has stayed fairly well but the hotter/sunnier days are coming this week so my luck may run out there. If I have to buy CYA and bleach anyway, wouldn't it maybe be better to just add liquid bleach regularly and every once in a while throw a dichlor pouch in to add the CYA that way?
Also, when I bought the phosfree, I also bought a bottle of PoolPerfect+phosfree to maintain a phosphate free environment. But then I read so much about "not adding anything I don't need" so that I haven't actually added any yet. Should I? Seems harmless enough, only a capful or two a week?
And I have more questions, one about a faint bit of a remaining algae line we can't seem to completely scrub off (below the sliding board, from where the cover had fallen in) and one about some brown stains on the plastic built-in steps and a few about good places to get replacement pool parts like a new light and a bottom rung for the ladder and maybe a new diving board as ours seems to have a crack... I assume I shouldn't post those here though so hopefully someone will let me know where I should. Or I'll find that now..
Anyway, let me know if I've missed anything or if I should post some pictures or something. Thank you in advance to anyone who responds!!