I'm a brand new home and pool owner in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.
I have zero experience with pools and mainly got a pool with a house (err.. a house with a pool) for the wife, who is in a wheelchair (though she is not paralyzed) and wants to use the pool for exercising.
We had to move over Christmas, because the landlord kicked us out of the previous house. Christmas was practically ruined for us. I was moving us the weekend before and the week of Christmas.
Anyway, because of the stress of moving, making sure I'd get everything out of the old house before year's end, I couldn't pay much attention to the pool. I believe it was January 2nd, when I saw algae bloom on the sides of the pool. The previous owner had some chemicals in the shed. I used a chlorine powder I found to "shock" the pool, 1.5 pounds of it and scrubbed the walls off the algae.
Two days later I went to a local Pinch-A-Penny pool store with a water sample with the following analysis and recommendation:
FC: 0 ppm
Acid Demand: 2
TA: 120 ppm
CH: 255 ppm
Stabilizer: 0 ppm
TDS: 500 ppm
They told me to put three to four tablets of Chlorinating Tablets into a float feeder (which I bought along with a small bucket of tablets), add four cups of muriatic acid, two 2.5 gal jugs of liquid chlorine (I guess it must have been 12.5%) and two lbs of Stabilizer (which I bought a four lbs bag of as well) and placed that in the second skimmer.
The evening of the same day I added the newly bought floater to the water with four tablets, put in the required muriatic acid and put two lbs of Stabilizer in a pillow case in the second skimmer (didn't have a long enough sock handy). The vacuum, however, connected to the other, closer-to-the-pump skimmer didn't move much, if at all. Also, the pressure gauge on the D.E. filter showed 20 psi.
At the store I had requested for someone to come to my house the next day to take a look, because water was leaking by the pump and the vacuum was pretty much not moving. So, the next day the pool maintenance guys determined that the filter basket lid had a crack in it and the pipe to the pump had a leak too. They fixed both and backwashed the filter. I wasn't completely comprehending what was going on at the time (the backwash produced quite a bit of water at the side of the house) and especially them feeding D.E. into the skimmer after the backwash I found unusual (and am still murky on a lot of other things), but after the leaks were fixed and they backwashed and fed the filter with new D.E. the pressure dropped from 20 to 10 psi. Whoa, what a difference. Also, they put in one 2.5 gal jug of liquid chlorine for me that day, not two, as the store computer had recommended.
Vacuum was moving now. By the next day it had cleaned out the algae from the floor I had scrubbed off the walls the day before. One of the pool guys said the pool isn't in too great shape (the fiberglass) and the surface will probably need replenished in the mid-term future. I'm not sure how old the pool is. There are markings on the filter that suggest it may be from 2000 or 2001, but I'm not sure.
So, three days later (Jan-4) I went back to the store with a new sample with the following results:
FC: 0.5 ppm
Acid Demand: 1
TA: 120 ppm
CH: 250 ppm
Stabilizer: 0 ppm
TDS: 600 ppm
Instructions were to add two to three cups of muriatic acid, one 2.5 gal jug of liquid chlorine and add Stabilizer if it was empty. I ended up adding the acid, but only put in half a 2.5 gal jug of liquid chlorine and added about a pound to the Stabilizer in the pillow case in the skimmer. It wasn't quite empty though, still contained maybe half a lbs.
I have to say that the skimmer the Stabilizer is in, does not seem to have much suction at all, so I'm not sure it's getting circulated very well, but it's dissolving alright, if only slowly.
The water is between 18-20°C (=64-68°F) these days. I think the pool is leaking, though I'm not sure if it's through the vessel or the pump system. The previous owner has a Pool Sentry M-3000 water level control system installed, which automatically adds water to the pool if it drops below a preset level. I don't have the faucet turned on for that the whole time though, because it's noisy at times and I don't want it to be on during the night. The existence of that device alone speaks volumes, I guess. The pool loses about an inch to two of level every week. I have yet to do the bucket test.
So, apart from these initial problems, I'm still a little overwhelmed by all these different chemicals. I don't want to have to run to the pool store every week to drop off a water sample, although the store is conveniently situated along my commute route home.
I was shocked by the fact that the store recommends to shock the pool once every week. I have since read here on the forum that that is probably overkill, though I am questioning the blurb in the TFP Pool School sticky note How to Chlorinate Your Pool, that says
So, you can't use chlorine tablets as a disinfectant alone? Is Liquid Chlorine a necessity? I'm still unclear on which and/or how many of the chlorination options mentioned in above article should be applied. I think some clarification is needed in the article, unless I overlooked something fundamental.[Trichlor tablets] are incredibly convenient and incredibly insidious. The CYA that they put into your pool water doesn't get used up, and instead accumulates. Eventually the CYA level will build up to a point that renders your chlorine ineffective. Typically, everything is fine, until one day you start to develop algae and don't understand why.
Eventually, I will probably test the water myself, though I'm uncertain of which test to get. Also, I didn't really understand why the FAS-DPD is so important to have. I didn't find much elaboration on the topic in the Pool School articles. I take it this test is for determining FC values only? Are other FC tests inferior, if not insufficient?
So, yeah, I'm not looking forward to pool maintenance. I knew it wouldn't get easier or less costly with a pool.
As a newbie I'm surprised there aren't any affordable automated tests available. They haven't come up with something affordable in the age of microcontrollers and hackerspaces? Some kind of machine that does all the dosing and counting of reagent drops for you. Have also been looking into automatic chemical dispensing systems, like the Liquidator, for instance, though it's too early for me to determine what I would want or need.
Oh yeah, what do I do with that nature2 mineral dispenser? I've read here it's of little use?
I'm glad though, I found TFP. Hope to get everything sorted out in the long run with your help.