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Thread: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

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    New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Hi everyone.

    We bought a house over the winter that has an in-ground gunnite/concrete pool. The house was built in 1973, and tax records indicate the pool was added in 1980 but I'm not positive about that.

    We live in Lexington NC (central NC). The pool had sadly been abandoned, the real PO of the house moved away a couple years ago, and couldn't sell the house so it was forclosed and went to a "flipper" who didn't maintain the pool so there's a lot of unknowns. (for instance he mentioned that when he ran the pool heater the utilities cost went much higher... problem is... the heater has long since been disconnected from the plumbing and the gas lines don't go anywhere.. he had no clue)

    It has a Hayward pump that was installed in 2012 apparently. Hayward sand filter, I don't know model etc can try to check tonight.

    We tried a local pool guy who had worked on the pool a little for the guy we bought from, and who was recommended by a friend, but have mostly been really frustrated for a few reasons..

    A) his hours make it nearly impossible for us to get to him
    B) he told us both skimmers needed to be replaced @$10,000. Found out one skimmer was fine, and the other had a minor leak where it seals to the pool... I got some underwater epoxy sealed the leak, and now both skimmers going @$13 for epoxy.

    Anyway... I've only used the Clorox test strips from Wal-Mart so far which is what I used to use back when I maintained my family pool when I was in High School and seemed to do OK, but I see there's other options out there too.

    I have a couple of challenges.

    1) No idea how many gallons the pool is, it's a very irregular shape so how does one calculate? The pool guy I went to "guestimated" 19,000 gallons, but my estimations come to closer to 30,000.. But I don't know how to get a really good estimate. I've attached a pic here... it's about 41 long at its longest point and 20' wide at it's widest point. About 4' deep at the shallow end, and over 8' (not sure of actual depth) at deep end.

    pool.jpg

    2) When this picture was taken the color was good, and per the test strips Free and Total chlorine, PH and Alkalinity were all good. Hardness high and stabilizer low. The pool here was cloudy, such that you could clearly see the bottom at the 4' end but not the deep end.
    Since this was taken, I was a bonehead and the chlorine tablets ran out, and I got a tinge of green... I stacked up tablets and started shocking, and now backwashing the filter about twice a day. It's back to a decent color but REALLY cloudy.

    What's the safe "shock" level for Chlorine? I'm higher than "ideal" per the test strips, but from some of the reading I've done here still really low for shock.

    3) We leave for a week vacation this Saturday... what can I do to try keeping pool respectable while we're gone?

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    DaninFLA's Avatar
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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    you need to get a real test kit, one of the two recommended here, and then read up on the SLAM process.

    but first you need to make a choice, follow the TFP process 100%, or the pool store recommendations 100%. you cant combine the two methods. I would strongly recommend the TFP method if you like saving a ton of money.

    But first you gotta get a real test kit. if tablets and powdered shock have been used for a long time, your CYA may be through the roof requiring a partial drain/refill.

    Welcome to TFP!
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Where do I find the recommended test kits?

    The pool guy basically lost my business by having hours that don't work for me (closes at 5 during the week... I work till 5 during the week.. and only open 10-1 on Saturday), and recommending $10k worth of concrete, plumbing and plaster work to get skimmers working that I did myself for $13 and 30min.

    Also to start the season he wouldn't test the water until it was clear... and wouldn't do a cleaning for me until he could see the bottom of the deep end (which I've never been able to see).. So I'm basically on my own one way or the other.

    I thought the CYA stuff was the "stabilizer" which both my Clorox strips and the pool guy said were low.

    And how do I get pool volume for a wacky shape?

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Sorry if I'm asking dumb questions, I did read through the pool school stuff but mostly just got more confused

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Quote Originally Posted by mackguy View Post
    Where do I find the recommended test kits?

    The pool guy basically lost my business by having hours that don't work for me (closes at 5 during the week... I work till 5 during the week.. and only open 10-1 on Saturday), and recommending $10k worth of concrete, plumbing and plaster work to get skimmers working that I did myself for $13 and 30min.

    Also to start the season he wouldn't test the water until it was clear... and wouldn't do a cleaning for me until he could see the bottom of the deep end (which I've never been able to see).. So I'm basically on my own one way or the other.

    I thought the CYA stuff was the "stabilizer" which both my Clorox strips and the pool guy said were low.

    And how do I get pool volume for a wacky shape?
    would recommend the TF-100:
    TFTestkits.net

    the test strips are highly inaccurate for CYA and they don't test free chlorine, let along chlorine to the levels needed for a SLAM. CYA is indeed stabilizer. you need an accurate titration test, which is part of the test kit recommended. its an upfront investment, but if you follow the TFT guidelines you will only be buying cheap chemicals found at grocery/big box stores. no more pool store rip offs!

    I would second your decision to fire you pool guy.

    We will walk you through everything you need to know, but that test kit really is the critical first step. without accurate readings we cant recommend the "next steps".
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Welcome!

    The test kit is easy: TF100 right here. Spring for the speedstir and or the XL option and get it shipped free. You'll have it fast since you're so close.

    Pool volume starts with a rough guess. Then as you test and dose you observe whether or not you're seeing the results you expect from poolmath. Then you go up or down on the volume and see if you get closer. Over a few weeks, you will keep shrinking the discrepancy until at some point every time you add something you hit your target. Then you know the volume. There are other ways to do it using chemical readings, but without a test kit, they're impossible.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    take some more measurements of the pool and we can help calculate the volume. you can kind of guess and then refine later as you move along. i.e. if we think its 25,000 gallons and you add the chlorine to raise it 10ppm and it only raises it 8ppm, then the pool is larger. can kind of refine it like that. but that's not super critical at this point. based on the numbers you gave, I came up with 25-30k gallons which is close to what you think

    - - - Updated - - -

    BTW, I really like your pool setup. really nice. its going to be incredible when its crystal clear and you can tell if a quarter in the deep end is heads or tails
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    I would give you a rough guesstimate of 25K gallons. Just built a 18x40 oval shaped pool (rectangle except with 4' radius corner) that goes from 3' to 8'. It is 23500 gallons.
    IG W/Vinyl Liner Oval 18x40, 21K gal, Oval 3'-8'
    Pentair Intelliflo VS Pump, Sand Filter

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    I did do a measurement from our county tax website (you can outline an area and it calculates the area)... it's accurate for measuring things like a property (our 1.2 acres), but not sure how it holds up at small sizes... but from that I got about 700sqft surface area. which comes up to 30000 when you do the average of 8' and 4' method. I tend to go low on the amount of stuff I add so I don't overdose.

    I did at least discover Arm&Hammer for alkalinity rather than the pool-store stuff (our alkalinity and PH were crazy low when we started). I love 13lb bags for $4.50 rather than like $25 for 6lb tub.

    I still have quite a bit of granulated chlorine shock left and some tablets... but I hear yall recommend bleach and what not rather than tablets and granules... Is it OK to finish up using what I have?

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    ~30kgal in-ground concrete
    Hayward S-240 300lb sand filter
    Hayward 1HP pump

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Same exact chemicals. K-2006 also has alkalinity and acid demand tests you'll probably never need. TF100 includes an OTO chlorine test that makes a handy check. TF100 has more of the reagents you use the most. Side by side comparison
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Quote Originally Posted by mackguy View Post

    I still have quite a bit of granulated chlorine shock left and some tablets... but I hear yall recommend bleach and what not rather than tablets and granules... Is it OK to finish up using what I have?
    well, that depends on your results when you get your test kit in. if your CYA is low, then yeah, you can use them to raise chlorine and CYA, as you can figure out exactly how much CYA is being added per tablet or bag. that said, I wouldn't put any more of that in your pool. the only way to remove CYA (stabilizer) is to drain water from the pool and replace, so you don't want that getting to high and causing issues. if you have been using those a lot, you mostly likely will have a CYA issue. but, wont know until you get that test kit.

    I think the Tf100 is a better value than the Taylor one. about same price, but TF100 gives you more of what you use the most.
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Ok so back to one of my other questions... I probalby can't get the test kit this week, and we're leaving for vacation for a week on Saturday... so should I just let the pool be and try to pick it up when I get back, or what should I do?
    ~30kgal in-ground concrete
    Hayward S-240 300lb sand filter
    Hayward 1HP pump

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Based on everything you said above, and the fact that you have no good test kit, it's just a guess and trying to keep the status-quo so things don't get too bad while you're gone. Is there anyone available who can put a gallon of bleach in your pool once a day or so while you are gone?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Normally (even though we usually don't like tablets) one of their very few good uses is for such a time - when someone needs to keep some chlorine in the pool while away ... as long as their CYA is not too high. But again, we have no idea what your CYA level is.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Welcome to TFP! Good job firing the pool guy! Especially yours! Sheesh. We can get your pool cleared up for sure.

    The TF100 ships from NC, you'll probably get it in 1-2 days. We could help you a lot more if we knew what your CYA level really is.

    Here are some of the basics of TFPC for you to read when you can.
    TFPC for Beginners
    ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry

    Here are the Recommended Levels for your pool.
    Here are the Recommended Pool Chemicals and how to add them.
    Use PoolMath to figure out how much to add.
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    2012 build and pics, 20k gal gunite, black onyx pebblesheen, OK flagstone, IntellifoVS, cart filter w/Pleatco, IC40 SWG, Solartouch, 5 12'x4' solar panels, HP50HA heat pump, 8mil solar cover, borates, TF-100 test kit, SONOS, Doheny's Discovery Robot, hot tub on bleach

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Thanks for all the help so far. I've updated my signature with pump and filter info if that helps anything.
    Also got a picture of the pool this morning so you can see how it sits now, as well as my pump/filter setup (water on the floor from heavy rain overnight)

    Pictured below, overall view of pool.. note different color at shallow vs deep end. I've also wondered if my deep end jet is pointed upwards too much and perhaps deep water isn't circulating. Note "wake" on pool surface at deep end. If you take a water sample anywhere here you'll get nice crystal clear water in the bottle.

    Another amendment.. I believe the deep end may be pushing 10'. I have a 12' extension handle and vertically put into the water with brush attachment roughly 2' remains above the surface. One of these days I'll get an actual measurement, but it appears to be 8-10'.

    Best readings I can get from my current test strips (ranges are very wide)
    Total Hardness - Max - 1,000 plus
    Total Chlorine - 10
    Free Chlorine- 10
    PH- 7.2-7.8
    Alkalinity- 40-120
    Stabilizer- 0-50

    I started out the season with 25lb of granulated shock @ 50oz/day per the pool guy... After that the water was good color but cloudy as pictured in my OP. He had me add 10lb of "stabilizer" and alkalinity up (PH was 6.2 and Alk was very bottom of the chart). After I discovered baking soda I quit going to the pool guy.. But the Clorox Test strips were my best guess... I'll get the good kit when we get back from vacation.

    One question on free chlorine... What's the "safe" level for pool usage? The chlorox shock bags I have say that pool use is "prohibited" if FC reading is above 4 due to risk of bodily injury, but the recommended levels from this site are up to 7-12.

    Also I notice lots of talk about pressure gauges... I don't have a gauge anywhere.. where should one be?

    6_9.jpgshallow.jpgDeep.jpgFilter and pump.jpg
    ~30kgal in-ground concrete
    Hayward S-240 300lb sand filter
    Hayward 1HP pump

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    did you put in 25 lbs of the shock? if it was dichlor, then based on 30,000 gallons of water...you added 50ppm of CYA. you also added 10 lbs of stabilizer, that added another 40 CYA. that's just from this year, assuming you have been using pucks and/or adding other dry shock, etc in the past, you are going to have a very high CYA.

    you are going to need a ton of bleach. even if your CYA is say 60, which is on the low end and most like much much higher. you need a minimum of 5ppm of chlorine in your pool at all times. but im guessing your CYA is much much higher. even at CYA of 60, your shock value for FC is 24ppm.

    to get your pool from FC of 0ppm to 24ppm, it will take 8 gallons of 8.25% bleach. but with the algae outbreak, its going to eat up all that FC and be back to zero in half a day.

    basically you can have someone add bleach/chlorine but its only going to slow it down. you are going to have to be there everyday to fight this pool.

    but first you need to figure out CYA. I see you will be ordering the test kit, so that's a first step. for now, you can keep adding 4 gallons of bleach a day with no issue....all based on the stabilizer/shock you mentioned, and assuming the shock was dichlor.

    but the 10 lbs of stabilizer you added means you have at least CYA 40, just from that alone

    - - - Updated - - -

    the "safe" level for chlorine is anything below the shock value based on your CYA. that's covered in pool school as well
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Thanks for the response. I did put in the 25lb of shock, plus some since then as I said after the 25lb of shock his water test said we had 0 stabilizer. Maybe it was a 6lb tub of stabilizer I'll have to check when I'm home. It was a powdered substance that hates to dissolve.

    Is this normal for "pool store" guys to have super high CYA as you mention? He had me do the 25lb of shock before even the first water test, as he wouldn't test the water until it was clear. How does it work if they recommend FC of 4ppm based on tablets and granulated chlorine?

    I understand the test strips are not 100% accurate but are they really that far off, in that they show I'm between 0-50 "stabilizer"?

    Also, does the 1,000+ hardness indicate anything troubling? My pool guy also had me run "metal magic" and I also ran polyquat algaecide.

    Wish I'd found this site before spending ~$500 on pool chemicals for the year!
    ~30kgal in-ground concrete
    Hayward S-240 300lb sand filter
    Hayward 1HP pump

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Quote Originally Posted by mackguy View Post
    Thanks for the response. I did put in the 25lb of shock, plus some since then as I said after the 25lb of shock his water test said we had 0 stabilizer. Maybe it was a 6lb tub of stabilizer I'll have to check when I'm home. It was a powdered substance that hates to dissolve.

    Is this normal for "pool store" guys to have super high CYA as you mention? He had me do the 25lb of shock before even the first water test, as he wouldn't test the water until it was clear. How does it work if they recommend FC of 4ppm based on tablets and granulated chlorine?

    I understand the test strips are not 100% accurate but are they really that far off, in that they show I'm between 0-50 "stabilizer"?

    Also, does the 1,000+ hardness indicate anything troubling? My pool guy also had me run "metal magic" and I also ran polyquat algaecide.

    Wish I'd found this site before spending ~$500 on pool chemicals for the year!
    yeah, high CYA is very common when people come here from the "pool store guys". they simply don't understand the chemistry relationship between CYA and FC. check your 25lb tub of shock, its probably dichlor, if so that's what I plugged in. and you added more, so you definitely are going to have high CYA unfortunately. sorry man, but unfortunately its a very common lesson learned as you will find the more you read the site.

    the test strips are not accurate, and I wouldnt put any faith in them. I am going to bet your CYA is going to be over 100 when your test kit arrives

    the reality is your pool is probably going to need at least a partial drain and refill, and those chemicals you bought is money gone at this point. yes, it would have been money better spent on draining and refilling the pool, but chalk it up to learning curve. the good news is, you are going to spend $65 or so on the test kit, plus probably $100 on chlorine I bet, plus the cost to refill your pool...but after that, maintenance costs are going to be so much cheaper moving forward. you will also have a crystal clear pool you can be proud of and will know everything about its pool chemistry.

    it may sound complicated and it will be the first couple of days of the SLAM, but by the end you will know so much about your pool and how it works you will be amazed going back and reading your original posts. I promise.

    but one thing I have been saying, in order to move forward you have to un-learn what you have learned from the pool store. they are in business to sell you high priced chemicals and have you coming back over and over. the people here have no financial gain based on recommendations.

    - - - Updated - - -

    the fact that this pool guy wouldn't test your water and had you adding shock and stabilizer without knowing current levels is disappointing. this guy sounds like he has no idea what he is doing and is just out to steal as much money as he can from you. He has really done you a disservice which is going to result in you having to remove water. would give him the big middle finger next time you crossed paths.
    Dan
    9,000 gallon in-ground Saltwater pool, plaster, cartridge filer, 1.0 hp pump, Hayward T-15 SWCG, TF-100
    Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart; Pool School - Test Kits Compared;

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    Re: New here, new pool owner, trying to absorb a lot of info and get the pool going!

    Quote Originally Posted by mackguy View Post
    Thanks for the response. I did put in the 25lb of shock, plus some since then as I said after the 25lb of shock his water test said we had 0 stabilizer. Maybe it was a 6lb tub of stabilizer I'll have to check when I'm home. It was a powdered substance that hates to dissolve.

    Is this normal for "pool store" guys to have super high CYA as you mention? He had me do the 25lb of shock before even the first water test, as he wouldn't test the water until it was clear. How does it work if they recommend FC of 4ppm based on tablets and granulated chlorine?
    Yes. A little essay I wrote a couple years ago explains it.

    We'll take a 16000 gallon pool, because that's what I have. On a fresh fill, prominent national pool chain recommends 2.5 pounds pf stabilizer per 10,000 gallons, which works out nicely to 4 pounds which brings CYA to 30.

    With an average loss of 2 PPM/Day or 14 ppm/week, I'll have added 8.6 PPM/CYA if I used trichlor pucks perfectly. And they recommend a weekly "shock" of dichlor between 5 and 10 FC.... 2-3 oz per 10,000 gallons. Split the difference; I'll add 4 oz. CYA went up another .9.

    So..by the end of week one, I have added 9.5 more CYA. It is now 39.5. Mimimum FC for that is 3, so I'm probably okay.

    Week two, up to 49 CYA.
    Week three, 58.5. Minimum FC should be 5, but they recommend 3 as ideal, so the pool looks a bit hazy. So I'll toss in a little extra dichlor "shock" to jack FC up to 10. Which adds another 6.4 CYA. Keeping count? We're up to 64.9 now.

    That caught the algae just in time.. we had two weeks of good luck. A steady diet of pucks and 4 oz. "shock" each week only added another 19, up to 73.9 now.

    Week 6 it started looking funky, so we "shocked"it once again. CYA is up to 99.3. But minimum FC to keep algae at bay is 8, and we're still holding things to 3, because prominent national chain's preprinted sheet shows that as ideal. So algae got a toehold and the pool has a bit of a tint. So we throw two whole bags of dichlor in which jacks it another 7.6 by the time week 7 is over, we're at 116.4, because we had pucks in the floater the whole time.

    So...in 7 weeks, from 30 to 116.4. Let's say there are no more algae outbreaks because they sold me a huge bucket of phos-free and another of yellow-out monopersulfate "shock" Nothing but the pucks and the extra 4 oz of dichlor "shock" weekly. So the next 7 weeks added 66.5, which brings the total to 182.9 CYA.

    Now if we didn't understand this and things looked a bit hazy, we might throw an extra puck or two in the floater every couple weeks, which will drive it over 200 easily.
    I understand the test strips are not 100% accurate but are they really that far off, in that they show I'm between 0-50 "stabilizer"?
    Would you buy a car with a gas gauge that said you were somewhere between empty and half a tank?

    Also, does the 1,000+ hardness indicate anything troubling? My pool guy also had me run "metal magic" and I also ran polyquat algaecide.

    Wish I'd found this site before spending ~$500 on pool chemicals for the year!
    If you believe the hardness reading, it means too much Calcium. But with all the snake oils you've been adding and the inherent errors in pool store testing and test strips, I wouldn't trust the readings or get excited yet. If your tests show it that high, you're at serious risk of Calcium scale. Sort of grow-your-own sandpaper. Good way to exfoliate, just brush against it. Or get horsing around and get pushed into the wall and end up with roadrash. If you're in a naturally hard water area, it is easy to get way high on hardness. If you start dumping buckets of Calcium Hypochlorite "shock" in there, that raises it too.

    $500 would keep my pool going for almost two full years, including test kit refills. Not including electricity for the pump, though. But that would be the same whether the pool was crystal clear or foggy. That free testing sure saves a bunch!
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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