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Thread: my 1st trip to the pool store

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    my 1st trip to the pool store

    I'm new to the board and am renting a house with a pool. I'm trying to learn how to take care of it so I've done lots of reading here. (great site by the way) I've been using test strips, but think I'm going to buy a kit. From my previous post, I mentioned that my CYA was testing really high. I was trying to figure out what to do, so I went to the pool store. Of course, I walked out still confused and with $150 in products.
    Here are the numbers for his test followed by the numbers for the test strips I did at home. I was surpised to see the numbers were very different for CYA and FC
    CYA 40 mine: 150+
    TC 1.0 mine: 1
    FC 1.5 mine: 10
    PH 7.2 mine: 7.2
    TA 114 mine:120
    Calcium Hardness 100 mine: 100

    I mentioned to him that I had been using AquaChem test strips and that I had a much higher CYA. He then told me that it was really around 80 and nothing to worry about and he had put down 40 because that was ideal and it's no big deal for it to be 80. I asked him about the relationship of CYA to FC and he went on to say that 1.5 was just where I need to be. We talked about preventing problems and he sold me something to increase the calcium hardness (25 lbs) and some algecide 60%. He told me to put one bottle of the calcium stuff in each day for 5 days, put in 1/4 bottle of the algecide now and then put a does in 1x per month (in the summer 2x per month) and said to go ahead and adjust the TA with the 5 lbs I had already bought by putting in 1/2 today and 1/2 tomorrow and to supercholrinate/shock the pool (already had some shock plus) and to do this on the same shedule as the algecide. He said I would need to use probably 2-3 skimmer sticks (the previous owner left some) per week during this time of year and through most of the winter. He also said to still run my pump 8 hrs. each day during the day, not at night and when the temp got consistently cool, I could cut the pump off completely unless it was going to be below freezing then I would need to run the pump over night.

    So, now I've spent a couple of hours reading and trying to figure out what to do. Any advise? Should I dive in to BBB? Why would my strips ready high on CYA and his test didn't?

    TIA,
    Pam

    22,000 gallon IG vinyl pool
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Pam, welcome to TFP!!

    It's almost funny that your questions can be answered by following the links in my signature line

    I'm very! happy you found us and want to take control of your pool!! Please read what's in the links in my sig - if you still have questions, I'll be happy to answer them

    I don't mean to be terse with you but my wife is coming home in a couple of hours, after being away for 5 days, and I NEED to clean up the house so my online time is a little limited at the moment
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    So, now I've spent a couple of hours reading and trying to figure out what to do. Any advise?
    First advice.......don't go back to that pool store unless it's to return everything. You are dealing with someone who is, at best, badly misinformed and that's giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    To have CYA of 80 but tell customer it's 40 is downright criminal. Your FC of 1.5 is not fine at all. Selling you algaecide probably was unneccessary as well.

    Read at least the first five basic articles in pool school and then start posting questions. When you post, tell us what your water looks like and post some test results from another store.....the one you went to is not worth the effort to return to.

    Your test strips are likewise very unreliable so, at some point, you need to find a pool store who can test reliably for you or get your own test kit. Things will fall into place quickly when you get reliable testing results.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Hi my2kidsmom and welcome to the forum!

    You've gotten great advice from Ted & Dave!

    Quote Originally Posted by my2kidsmom
    I've been using test strips, but think I'm going to buy a kit
    Best thing you can do to take control of your pool is to buy a good kit! When you go thru Pool School you will see an article on test kit comparisons. My fav, along with many, many others, is the TF100 sold by one of our members, duraleigh. The kit gives more bang for the buck and you get excellent customer service! Dave is always around to answer questions. Link in my sig.

    As Dave said, things will fall into place quickly when you get reliable test results.

    We're glad to have you.
    TFP Moderator TF100 Test Kit TF100 TestKit YouTube Channel PoolMath
    You're done SLAMing when:
    1)You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & 2)You have .5ppm CC's or less, & 3)your water is clear.

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    are you sure you posted those in the right order? All of our computerized tests would not allow an entry of FC being higher than total. That is often a sign of bleach out as well.
    Matthew
    Involved in the pool and spa industry
    Pittsburgh, PA

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Quote Originally Posted by MEvan
    are you sure you posted those in the right order? All of our computerized tests would not allow an entry of FC being higher than total. That is often a sign of bleach out as well.
    I posted exactly what he wrote on the sheet. However, he originally wrote 1.0 under FC and then changed it to 1.5. I'm sure this guy has all the knowledge in the world about pools being that he has his own store (note the sarcasm), but I'm going to another pool store tomorrow with another water sample, I went ahead and put in about 8 lbs of Alkalinity Plus (Aqua Chem) and will dump the rest tomorrow. After that I'll be using baking soda. I also added 5 lbs of the calcium hardness increaser.

    I'm very confused about what to do about the chlorine since I don't have a certain CYA level. Is it 40, 80, or 150+???? I know I need to add some chlorine and I've bought some bleach and I'm ready to go. I think I'm going to add 4 gallons. This should raise my FC up to about 9. I swear I've been reading all of this, but I don't have a handle on it yet (I admit, the only "D" I ever made was in high school chemistry.).
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    It's cool 8) We can help you, but it's best to do it 1 ? at a time

    What do you think is the most important issue right now?
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Quote Originally Posted by waste
    It's cool 8) We can help you, but it's best to do it 1 ? at a time

    What do you think is the most important issue right now?
    ****...a test. I would have to say getting an accurate CYA reading. I think I need to finish raising the TA and then take another reading and adjust Ph then tackle the chlorine.

    I'm not really too concerned with the calcium hardness...I read in pool school that "Vinyl lined and Fiberglass pools probably need none but 150ppm is suggested by some vinyl manufacturers and may well help reduce foaming in your pool water." So adjusting these levels doesn't seem to be a big deal right now. I may return a couple of the jugs he sold me after I visit the other pool store.
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    You are very close to being right The CYA is a long term problem Get your alk and pH in line for now (if your cya is as high as I suspect, it will take multiple drainings to correct

    Please keep us posted with your progress -- we really want to help you!
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Hello Pam,

    I'm not one of the experts here, but it seems odd to me to be adding Alkalinty Plus when your TA is already estimated to be over 100 by both your test and the PS's. Maybe I'm missing something, but maybe one of the folks that already replied might be able to comment on whether you should add the rest of that tomorrow, as your earlier message said you were going to do.

    Cheers, Gary
    15,000 gal. IG fiberglass pool w/ 1 hp Hayward Max-Flo and 250 lb. Hayward sand filter
    Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and enclosed in a birdcage

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Gary has a good point, you don't need to raise your alkalinity any further and your calcium level is also fine (vinyl pools don't need calcium the way other pools do).

    The best investment in your pool you can make is to get a top notch test kit. I recommend a kit from TF Test Kits, see the link in my signature. The Taylor K-2006 is also good. Test strips are not reliable enough and pool stores are amazingly variable. Take samples to three different pool stores and you will get three different sets of results.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    Gary has a good point, you don't need to raise your alkalinity any further and your calcium level is also fine (vinyl pools don't need calcium the way other pools do).

    The best investment in your pool you can make is to get a top notch test kit. I recommend a kit from TF Test Kits, see the link in my signature. The Taylor K-2006 is also good. Test strips are not reliable enough and pool stores are amazingly variable. Take samples to three different pool stores and you will get three different sets of results.
    I think I'm asking for a refund tomorrow. I knew as I stood there talking to that guy that he was no shoot straight with me....he did tell me that the TA needed to be at 140 and the Calcium needs to be at 200.

    As far as the test kit goes...I'm thinking I'll get one. This may sound stupid, but do you think it will be worth spending the money if I'm only planning on being in this house for 2 summers? How long does the test kit last or how many tests do you get out of a kit?
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    The kit is worth it's weight in Gold!!!

    It should last for both years. Mine is a year old, I have tested almost every day. Some tests more than others. CYA only a few times. Once you know your correct level, it won't change. Exept when you drain, backwash or use pucks. And I still have plenty reagents left for next season. (They will need to be replaced after about 2 years, I think)

    But the largest savings you will see is ........ not having to buy all the stuff the pool store wants to sell you because of the wrong test results, & you double-guessing yourself.
    12500 AGP 2HP Sand filter
    Five years on BBB & loving it!

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Are test strips accurate on any of the readings or should I toss my bottle out?
    I'm going to place my order today...I've found a really good deal on the Taylor K2006.

    Thanks!
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Test strips lack precision and repeatability. If several different people test the pool with test strips, or one person tests several times, they are likely to get very different answers. Lack of precision means, for example, that you only know that TA is between 80 and 120, and can't narrow it down any closer than that. Some of the tests on some brands of test strips are fairly good. PH readings tend to be reasonably close. But other tests, notably CYA, can be way way off.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    Test strips lack precision and repeatability. If several different people test the pool with test strips, or one person tests several times, they are likely to get very different answers. Lack of precision means, for example, that you only know that TA is between 80 and 120, and can't narrow it down any closer than that. Some of the tests on some brands of test strips are fairly good. PH readings tend to be reasonably close. But other tests, notably CYA, can be way way off.
    Well, I don't think I'm getting this pool store to test my water again. There is one other ps in town and I'll visit them tomorrow. Today, I used the strips I have and here is my "ballpark"

    Total Hardness 100
    TC 1
    FC 3
    Ph 7.8
    TA 120
    CYA 150 +

    should I just wait until I visit the other ps tomorrow and see what they test the water at or should I go ahead and add some bleach to raise the FC?

    Man, I sure am glad I moved in when I did...I sure hope I can get this all figured out and glad I'll have the next 5 months or so to figure it out...then, once the temp gets hotter and I start having swimmers, I'll have to figure it out again
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    If you can get the Taylor 2006 for a good price, it's a very nice kit. I've been using the 2005 for almost 20 years with good results, once I figured out the 'issues' with the dosing charts :P

    Please check with Duralieigh to see if a TF kit would be a better value (the link is in my sig) - the help you'd get from Dave is much better than you'd get from Taylor or your local pool store and the amount of testing chems is better matched to how you'll use them (I just ordered a TF kit last night, even though I have 3 Taylor kits - that's how much I trust and respect the TF kit )

    Which ever way you go, we'll be here to help with testing questions and interpreting the results!
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    I can't wait to get that test kit! I am sick of these strips and I'll not have to rely on that ps owner and his lies. Of course, today he would not let me return the the chemicles that I had not used and insisted that they were necessary right now and it could not wait until spring. Plus, he said I could also consider it part of the cost of consultation. The only thing I learned from him is that I was running my polaris too much and that he lies about chemical reading and requirements. I decided to keep my cool and not get into some big arguement with the guy and left knowing that I would NOT set foot in his store again. There is another pool store in town and a freelance guy who had been nuking (I mean tending to) my pool before I took over.

    I'm perplexed though. I moved in about 4 weeks ago. The first week, without knowing what I was doing, I chunked a couple of the skimmer sticks the pool guy left into the skimmer and went out and bought some test strips. Then I found this sight. I took those sticks out of the skimmer before they were dissolved and haven't added any cholrine to the pool at all. I read up ALOT on CYA and even though the ps tested at 80 (but told me it was 40), I suspect it is higher...probably much higher...I've adjusted the Ph and TA a couple of times and of course the BS with the ps owner selling me the calcium stuff (25 lbs of it...I added 5 to the pool and haven't added the others..should I add them over the next few days or not.) and the algecide which I haven't added. I know I'm just testing with strips and won't really know for sure until I get my kit in the mail and figure out how to test with drops, but should I go on the ps's test from yesterday where the FC was 1.5 or go with my latest test (a few minutes ago) where my strips read the FC at 10. The water is beautiful and blue, I'm running the filter about 6 hours each day, and dipping leaves out once a day and I run the polaris every few days (is that too much). Again, the pool looks great, but I'm just perplexed as to why I haven't had to add chlorine...is it because the CYA must be so high that it is keeping the chlorine up? Is the water safe to swim in (sure hope so...the kids took a chilly little dip this afternoon). There's not a heavy chlorine smell. What is going on with this and what should I be doing to keep the pool looking good and safe to swim in?

    So:
    1) Should I add the rest of the calcium stuff to bring my level up to what the ps owner recommends (and it's in the literature for the chemcal company that he uses)

    2) Should I put in a "maintenance dose" of algecide

    3) Should I add any bleach now, wait until the other ps test tomorrow, or wait until I get the Taylor k2006. I don't know if the FC is 1.5 or 10 and the CYA is 40, 80, or 150+

    4) do you think the water is safe to swim in

    5) How often/long should I run the polaris?

    You guys are amazing! I hope I'm not asking too much.
    Pam
    approx. 30000 gallon IG 40x20 vinyl pool w/ cartridge filter

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Don't add anything except bleach. Add enough bleach to raise FC by 2 ppm each day (preferably in the evening) for now.

    If the water is clean and clear and the FC level isn't zero then it is probably safe to swim.

    Run the Polaris just often/long enough that the pool looks clean. I know that is vague, but run time can vary quite a bit depending on the size and shape of the pool.

    Order a test kit soon.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: my 1st trip to the pool store

    Hello again Pam,

    As I said before, I'm not one of the experts here, but having been in your shoes just a few months ago, I can't help but chime in with a few thoughts.

    First, you've done exactly the right thing in ordering a kit. I spent over $200 at two different pool stores the first month with no results. Search out my "Introduce Yourself" post if you want to know how bad things can be. But since getting a test kit and reading extensively on this site, I now have a beautiful pool that I can probably maintain for a year or more on that much $$$. And just think, you'll never have to talk to that "consultant" at the pool store. Mind-boggling that he would even say something like that.

    Second, I doubt anyone can help a whole lot with your questions until you get good numbers. And the second PS might not help all that much. Sorry about that, but even if I was one of the experts I wouldn't want to hazard a guess without good data.

    Third, and this advice is subject to revision by people that know more than I do (just about everyone!), I think you need to keep a close eye on your pH. JasonLion, one of the top guns here, said that your strips might not be too bad for pH, and your readings have risen from 7.2 to 7.8 fairly quickly. When my TA was as high as yours seems to be, my pH tended to rise fairly rapidly, too, and I've read about that from others here as well. So keep acid on hand and check/adjust the pH regularly until the TA gets down to a better level.

    Fourth, once you're testing yourself, you'll then need to figure out how much of this, that, or the other to add to your pool. Look at the earlier post from JasonLion and check the link in his signature to his "Pool Calculator". It's a really wondeful tool that will answer all of those questions. Easy to use, too.

    I know from experience it's hard to be patient, but once you get a kit and start getting reliable readings (meaning the ones you do yourself), then everything will fall into place.

    Best regards, Gary
    15,000 gal. IG fiberglass pool w/ 1 hp Hayward Max-Flo and 250 lb. Hayward sand filter
    Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and enclosed in a birdcage

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