I first joined TFP about two years ago. We bought a house with a pool (my first). I never really got a good vibe from the pool store "experts" and set about to learn on my own. Google brought me to TFP.
I thought it might be a good time to share a few things with new (and existing) members of TFP. I see new members struggling with the same issues I dealt with when first joining. I beat my head against the wall due to stubbornness before I learned. This is a testimony and advise to new members.
What I have learned in 1 1/2 years at Trouble Free Pools
1) There is absolutely no substitute for understanding what you are doing. Knowledge is power. TFP is not about learning how much chemical to dumb into your pool. TFP is about knowledge and controlling the chemistry of your pool. I am still a novice. Every time I think am smart on pool issues, I go to the Deep End and read posts from Chem Geek. Try it, it's humbling My point here is that the learning never stops. I find myself constantly coming back research or re-read sections of the web site. It is the bible of pool care.
2) There are NO short cuts. Owning a pool takes work. It requires carving out the time to test and maintain your pool chemistry. After awhile, you find that what you think is extra work (testing etc) is far and away less time than it takes to Shock or re balance if things get off kilter. Cheaper too! Put the work in. It will be worth it.
3) Stop agonizing over spending money on a good test kit and JUST BUY IT! I resisted for a small time. I look back on how stupid that was. If you don't do your own pool testing two things will happen. First, most pool stores will lead you around by the nose and cost you more money in chemicals in the long run. Second, you can react to chemistry problems much sooner because you are testing more often.
4) I struggled with Pucks versus liquid Chlorine debate. I went the chlorine route and never looked back. It is the K.I.S.S. principle in action. Many folks here at TFP use pucks with success. That is great. But if you are new to TFP, go with liquid Chlorine for awhile until your knowledge base increases.
5) Swimming in crystal clear water is pretty freakin' awesome. In two years, I have only gone through the shock process once (when I first started). My friends and co-worked call me a liar when I tell them I've never had to scrub algae off the wall of my pool. Likewise, the can't understand how my pool looks so good without "dumping shock in" every once in awhile. I shake my head, laugh and run home to my crystal blue oasis....they go to the pool store for more "shock". Hey....some men you just can't reach....
6) Donate so we can continue to have this wonderful site. I was only on TFP a couple of weeks before making a donation to become a lifetime member. I plan on contributing yearly as well.
Hope this contributes in some way