Hi, Newbie here who is closing on a house on 8/21 and feeling incredibly anxious about pool maintenance (which explains why I'm up at 3am). I've read through pool school a few times and have some questions. Here's some background on my set up: 9 yr old Gunite pool with waterfall, DE filter, Tablet Chlorinator, Electric Heater, and Polaris vacuum.
1. What is my goal for TA? Pool School says 100-120 if you use trichlor and 60-80 if you run a waterfall often. The previous owners used trichlor so we plan to continue until next season and we plan to run the waterfall. Would I hope to average between 80-100?
2. Previous owners shocked the pool on a weekly basis without consistently testing the chemical levels of the pool. Pool School indicates that we should shock the pool if we see algae, FC = 0 or CC is 0.5. Since testing CC isn't part of the Daily or Weekly schedule, when would I normally test for CC?
3. Previous owners seem to always add 2 chlorine tablets after every backwash. I plan to monitor the pool chemical levels frequently by first checking CYA and then identifying the target FC based on the chart on TFP. I will add tablets according to the Pool Calculator, but if tablets come in 8oz pieces and the calculator tells me to add 4.4 oz, do you cut the tablet or round up to 8oz?
4. The Basic Pool care schedule indicates the first weekly step is to 'Clean out the pump strainer basket(s)." I assume this is the same as the skimmer baskets, right?
5. I've read on random web pages (not on TFP) that gunite pools require more maintenance than other types. Also read something about needing to re-plaster the pool every 5-7 years. Is that true? How do you know it's time to replaster?
6. I hate the idea of wasting precious dollars heating our pool using the electric pool heater. I read about solar pool heating rings as a way to increase the temp.. are these effective? Do they just destroy all FC in the process?
7. Do pool chemicals expire? The previous owners have a slew of chemicals (Dicalite, Omega Chlorine Free Shock, Phoenix Giant Tabs, Phoenix Reserve -Raise Calcium Hardness, muriatic acid, BlueShield pH decrease, Mega algaecide 60, and Bioguard Off the wall cleaner). I know they consistently use the Dicalite, Shock and Chlorine tabs so they are probably 'fresh', but have no idea about the rest. Any ideas on how long they last, or should I just toss and start over if the need arises?
8. I'm worried about closing the pool for the winter. I'm in Northern/Central Massachusetts and curious when people start planning for closing the pool down? I know it must vary year to year, but what would be some signs that it's time to close (other than snow on the ground )
9. Should I even consider closing the pool on my own for the first time without any prior experience with pools ? Or just suck it up and pay the pool folks $350 to do it? I read the threads about winterizing the pool, but I feel that without knowing much about my existing set up (the parts I can't see.. i.e. underground pipes), I may do something wrong.
Thanks again- this site has provided me with such a wealth of information - I can't wait to contribute back!
Please forgive me if I asked questions that are covered in pool school.. it's late and my sleepless night has left me overly anxious about pool maintenance!