What is TFPC?

TFPC stands for Trouble Free Pool Care. What else is TFPC? Simply put it is just good pool maintenance using bleach (liquid chlorine) and other generic chemicals that are readily available at the grocery store that are EXACTLY the same as the expensive ones from the pool store, along with water testing with a GOOD test kit so you know WHAT you need in your water and HOW MUCH you need to add.

The KEY to this technique is PROPER WATER TESTING, which is very easy with a good test kit. TFPC is not a ‘magic method’ of pool care, it’s just good pool upkeep and there is nothing new or revolutionary about it. Professional pool maintenance people have used the same principles for many years. Now you can learn how to do it also and take control of your pool instead of your pool controlling you.

If you have a Salt Water Chlorine Generator (SWG) you can still use the TFPC method (it is as if bleach is being made by your SWG) but there are some minor differences, see Water Balance for SWGs for more details.

Here is a rundown on some of the chemicals you can get at grocery stores and chains like Walmart and KMart that are identical to the ones you buy at a pool store:

Sodium Hypochlorite

  • At the pool store this is called liquid chlorine or liquid shock. At the grocery store it is called Chlorine Bleach. Bleach/liquid chlorine is available in many concentrations. 3%, 5.255, 6%, 8.25%, 10% and 12.5% are some of the more common concentrations. When buying bleach at the grocery store, you want the unscented stuff, NOT the stuff with fragrances, thickeners, etc. Just plain old chlorine bleach!

    The store brands and generics are usually just as good as the name brands as long as the strength is listed. There are some cheap ones out there that are not labeled and are often only 3%, or less, yet cost only a bit less than 6%. You can use them but you will spend more and need twice as much as the ultra for the same chlorine level in your pool. You can also use liquid chlorine from the pool store (it is normally about double the strength of ultra bleach but otherwise identical). Check prices and see which is a better deal in your area. This is your chlorine source for both daily chlorination and SLAMing.

Baking Soda
Sodium Bicarbonate

  • Sometimes called Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, exactly the same chemical no matter what the pool store clerk might tell you! It is used to raise Total Alkalinity. At the pool store they call it Alkalinity Increaser and it’s somewhat expensive. At the grocery store it is Baking Soda (yes, the stuff in the orange box from Arm and Hammer in the baking aisle!)

Sodium Tetraborate

  • This is sold at some pool stores under names like Bioguard’s Optimizer and ProTeam’s Supreme. They sell it as a ‘water conditioner’ to help stabilize pH and prevent algae and in higher concentrations it is algaestatic (an algae preventative rather than a cure). The common name for it is Borax (yep, the 20 Mule Team stuff in the green box you can find in the Laundry aisle of your grocery store) and it’s BEST use is to raise pH when it is low without upsetting other water balance measurements (like the pH Increaser from the pool store is prone to do!) Once you get the hang of taking care of your pool you can also use Borax to do exactly the same thing as the expensive pool store products, as an algaestatic agent and water conditioner!

So in a nutshell use bleach as a sanitizer and shock, baking soda to raise total alkalinity, and borax to raise pH. It’s really pretty simple. We will get into how often to test and how much you need to add in another topic. There are some other chemicals that you will also need but you will have to get them at the pool store or hardware store pool department so these will also be discussed in a different topic.