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  • Pool Care Basics

    If you're about ready to post and ask some questions, you will first need to help us and yourself by getting some basics out of the way.

    Please put the city and state in which you live in your profile. Your climate is important to the advice you receive.

    Please put the following information in your signature.

    • The size of your pool in gallons
    • If your pool is an AG (above ground) or IG (in ground)
    • If it's IG, tell us if it's vinyl, plaster/pebble, or fiberglass
    • The type of filter you have (sand, DE, cartridge) and, if you know, the brand and model of the filter.
    • If you know, please tell us the brand and model of the pump, and mention if is it a two speed or variable speed pump.
    • Date of pool build/install, particularly important if less then a year old.
    • What kind/model of water test kit you are using
    • Other significant accessories or options, such as a spa , SWG, or cleaner
    • Please mention if you fill the pool from a well or are currently on water restrictions

    There are five chemical levels that every pool owner needs to keep track of:
    • FC - Free Chlorine - A sanitizer which keeps your pool water safe and free of germs. Chlorine must be constantly replenished. (level depends on CYA)
    • PH - Acidity/Basicity - Needs to be kept in balance to prevent irritation and protect the pool equipment. (7.2 to 7.8)
    • TA - Total Alkalinity - Appropriate levels help keep the pH in balance. High levels can cause pH to rise. (60 to 120ppm, sometimes higher)
    • CH - Calcium Hardness - Appropriate levels help prevent plaster damage. High levels can cause calcium scaling. (220 to 350ppm, vinyl lower)
    • CYA - Cyanuric Acid - Protects chlorine from sunlight and determines the required FC level. (outdoors 30 to 50ppm, SWG 70 to 80ppm, indoors 0 to 20ppm)


    These levels are designed for outdoor residential pools chlorinating with bleach or a SWG, and will need adjustments when ...

    Perhaps a cornerstone element of TFPC is understanding the relationship between the chlorine in your pool and the stabilizer you put in to protect the chlorine from the sun. Generally, the more stabilizer, the more chlorine you need to maintain its effectiveness. The charts below show the recommended relationship for outdoor residential pools.

    FC - Free Chlorine

    FC can be raised in many different ways. We recommend using either bleach, liquid chlorine, or a SWG. SLAMing the pool should always be done with bleach/liquid chlorine, since a SWG can not raise the FC level quickly enough. See How to Chlorinate Your Pool for a list of the pros and cons of all of the available choices.

    • Look at the water, notice the clarity and color.
    • Test the chlorine level and adjust if needed.
    • Test the pH and adjust if needed.
    • Examine the skimmer(s) and clean if needed.
    • Use a leaf rake to remove any surface debris.


    The circulation system of a pool plays a major role in cleaning, sanitizing and heating the water. Above ground or inground, temporary or permanent, simple or fancy, all pools have a circulation system and they are all remarkably similar. Water is pulled from the pool via one or more skimmers and sometimes one or more main drains by an electric pump. The pump provides pressure to push the water through a filter, and other water treatment or heating devices, then back into the pool via one or more returns.

    This section covers some of the most common problems that can occur with pool equipment. It bears repeating that having a working filter gauge and knowing your clean filter pressure can be invaluable when diagnosing plumbing problems. So here are some of the most common plumbing problems and their symptoms: