I went to the local chain pool store this evening to pick up a quart of polyquat 60 to add for my upcoming vacation. I took a water sample, just to see how close their testing was to mine.
Actually, their tests were fairly close to what I got. It's the "advice" that wasn't so good.
Their CH test showed 110 (i didn't test it tonight, but my tests this week have shown 140-160). They started out saying I needed to add 56 lbs of "Hardness Plus". I asked why I needed it any higher than it was, or at all, with a vinyl liner pool, and the guy said I could get by with less, maybe 15 lbs or so. I told him I wouldn't worry about that because I had some CalHypo shock left over and if I use it to shock the pool before I go that will raise my CH a little. (Which I won't do.) He said that the CalHypo wouldn't affect the CH level at all. (Last week another employee told me the same thing, and that the calcium in the "shock" turns to chlorine in the water.)
Then he got on the phosphates spiel, and said I needed 2 quarts of PhosFree to knock out my 500ppb phosphate level (they were 100 last weekend, and 300 the week before that). A lady in the store asked "What are phosphates and how do they get in the pool?" He explained that they are organic materials that are brought in by the rain, people using the pool, and dirt that blows into the pool. He said they are algae food, and you have to keep the level at 0 or algae will grow. I told him I wasn't going to worry about starving the algae right now, since I didn't see any in my pool.
Then I told him that I was going to use trichlor tabs for a week while I'm on vacation and asked if I should raise the pH up a little to make up for what the tabs will lower it while I'm gone. He said that the trichlor tabs won't affect the pH at all, and I need to leave it at the 7.6 he tested it at.
I kinda wish I had tried to "educate" him instead of "playing along", but I was in a bit of a hurry and he was getting ready to close, and I don't think he would have been receptive anyway.
I'm so glad I found you guys.