Beginner with TFP method - when to test after pool store opened?

jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
We are new pool owners, and just getting started with the TFP method. We like DIY and the "just what is needed" approach.

We did have a pool service open the pool yesterday (winter cover taken off, pool brushed, vacuum), because we wanted someone to show us how the filter, heater, skimmers etc work. From a chemical perspective I understand that wasn't ideal, but we did need the in-person tutorial. They added liquid chlorine shock, and some other chemicals which I didn't manage to catch.

We are ready to take over for rest of season ourselves, and have 3 questions for getting started:
  • When should we do our first baseline test? The pool service recommended we let their chemicals circulate with filter running fulltime for 48 hrs, and then doing our first test. Does that sound accurate? (I've attached pictures of what the pool looks like 24 hours after first open, water is semi-clear, some debris/algae which we need to vacuum and sweep out again)
  • We don't know for 100% certainty the pool type and volume, as we can't get in touch w/ former owners. The pool service yesterday said it was fiberglass, and it's roughly 16x40 (not sure depth yet but about 3-8 feet) so I calculate ~20k gallon volume. How important is it for the chemicals that we have 100% accuracy on both of these? (especially volume)
  • Will using a dark mesh pool safety cover when the pool isn't in use harm the pool / cover? The pool service said we need to leave it uncovered at least for the next couple days as the open chemicals will "burn" the cover. We prefer to keep the cover on for safety, heat maintenance (and because I thought chemicals burned off less?) Note: we want an automatic cover, install time is end of season right now and we have very young kids so want protection at all times.
We've already purchased all of the key chemicals from the TFP list, and have a Taylor test kit, so are ready to get started.

Thanks for the help!
 

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splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
We are new pool owners, and just getting started with the TFP method. We like DIY and the "just what is needed" approach.
This is the perfect place to come!

We did have a pool service open the pool yesterday (winter cover taken off, pool brushed, vacuum), because we wanted someone to show us how the filter, heater, skimmers etc work. From a chemical perspective I understand that wasn't ideal, but we did need the in-person tutorial. They added liquid chlorine shock, and some other chemicals which I didn't manage to catch.
If at all reasonably possible, I would request a list of what and how much was added.

We are ready to take over for rest of season ourselves, and have 3 questions for getting started:
  • When should we do our first baseline test? The pool service recommended we let their chemicals circulate with filter running fulltime for 48 hrs, and then doing our first test. Does that sound accurate? (I've attached pictures of what the pool looks like 24 hours after first open, water is semi-clear, some debris/algae which we need to vacuum and sweep out again)
Now! Run the full set of tests, let's see that water condition :)

  • We don't know for 100% certainty the pool type and volume, as we can't get in touch w/ former owners. The pool service yesterday said it was fiberglass, and it's roughly 16x40 (not sure depth yet but about 3-8 feet) so I calculate ~20k gallon volume. How important is it for the chemicals that we have 100% accuracy on both of these? (especially volume)
The closer the better, but experience (and actual measurements once it's swimmable) will help from "wasting" chemicals. :)

  • Will using a dark mesh pool safety cover when the pool isn't in use harm the pool / cover? The pool service said we need to leave it uncovered at least for the next couple days as the open chemicals will "burn" the cover. We prefer to keep the cover on for safety, heat maintenance (and because I thought chemicals burned off less?) Note: we want an automatic cover, install time is end of season right now and we have very young kids so want protection at all times.
As long as you aren't needing to perform a SLAM Process, we keep our pool covered at all times. The balanced level of chemicals should not harm a quality cover (ours is cheap-o and over 3yrs old, just for an example)

We've already purchased all of the key chemicals from the TFP list, and have a Taylor test kit, so are ready to get started.
You're in the game!!
 
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kevinskii

Gold Supporter
Aug 6, 2019
96
Los Angeles, CA
Hello! Welcome to TFP. Fellow noob here. First, there's nothing wrong with hiring help in the beginning. Even though I do my own maintenance and chemical additions, we still have a pool maintainer come once a week. I'm not quite ready to let him go yet because once in a while he'll catch me doing something wrong or give me good info.

As your questions:
- Waiting 48 hours sounds accurate. It can take the conditioner (cyanuric acid) that long to stabilize. [EDIT: But there's nothing wrong with testing in the meantime.]
- It's not important to get your pool volume exact. I calculated my pool as 18k gallons, but if I put more effort into it I might find that I'm off by 1000 gallons or so. Either way it's a lot of water, and as long as you stick pretty close to the chemical amounts recommended by the PoolMath app you'll find it's pretty forgiving. Just don't go dumping in gallons of acid at a time or anything like that. As you maintain your pool over time you'll start to get a feel for how much of what to add, and when.
- It's hard to imagine that the chemicals would burn the cover. If I were you I'd probably put it on. Better to keep the kids safe.
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
Jul 8, 2015
2,425
OV, CA
We've already purchased all of the key chemicals from the TFP list, and have a Taylor test kit, so are ready to get started.
Whoa.. that doesn't happen often. Someone who buys a TFTestKit and all the recommended chems BEFORE thier first post. Well DONE!

I can only add; post numbers for you first test so we can see where you are on your levels. and we will proceed from there!
 
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jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
This is the perfect place to come!


If at all reasonably possible, I would request a list of what and how much was added.


Now! Run the full set of tests, let's see that water condition :)


The closer the better, but experience (and actual measurements once it's swimmable) will help from "wasting" chemicals. :)


As long as you aren't needing to perform a SLAM Process, we keep our pool covered at all times. The balanced level of chemicals should not harm a quality cover (ours is cheap-o and over 3yrs old, just for an example)


You're in the game!!
Thanks a lot for the reply :) - will do the first test tonight then and post the results back here. Will also see if we can get the pool service to let us know what they added.
 
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jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
Whoa.. that doesn't happen often. Someone who buys a TFTestKit and all the recommended chems BEFORE thier first post. Well DONE!

I can only add; post numbers for you first test so we can see where you are on your levels. and we will proceed from there!
Thanks, and yes I'll post the first test numbers back here for some help on next steps...
 

jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
- It's hard to imagine that the chemicals would burn the cover. If I were you I'd probably put it on. Better to keep the kids safe.
Hello! Welcome to TFP. Fellow noob here. First, there's nothing wrong with hiring help in the beginning. Even though I do my own maintenance and chemical additions, we still have a pool maintainer come once a week. I'm not quite ready to let him go yet because once in a while he'll catch me doing something wrong or give me good info.

As your questions:
- Waiting 48 hours sounds accurate. It can take the conditioner (cyanuric acid) that long to stabilize. [EDIT: But there's nothing wrong with testing in the meantime.]
- It's not important to get your pool volume exact. I calculated my pool as 18k gallons, but if I put more effort into it I might find that I'm off by 1000 gallons or so. Either way it's a lot of water, and as long as you stick pretty close to the chemical amounts recommended by the PoolMath app you'll find it's pretty forgiving. Just don't go dumping in gallons of acid at a time or anything like that. As you maintain your pool over time you'll start to get a feel for how much of what to add, and when.
- It's hard to imagine that the chemicals would burn the cover. If I were you I'd probably put it on. Better to keep the kids safe.
Sounds like keeping the cover on, as long as we don't need to SLAM, should be ok. Definitely prefer it on always unless we're swimming for the kids.
 

jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
Pictures of pool post the opening shock are attached, and I've now done the first chemical test using the Taylor 2006 FAS/DPD kit. This is where we are:

  • Chlorine FAS/DPD - sample did not turn pink even after 9 dippers of powder. We stopped adding powder so as to not waste it, as it seems clear we need to significantly raise the chlorine. This is *after* the pool store dumped 8 gallons of 12.5% sodium hypochlorite into the pool about 50 hours ago.
  • PH - 6,8 (was yellow, which is below the color scale)
  • Base demand test - 8 drops required to raise to 7,6 color
  • Alkalinity - 20 ppm
  • Calcium hardness - 300
  • CYA - 50 ppm
Edited to add what Pool Math says we need:
  • 2.3 gallons of our 12.5% liquid chlorine to raise chlorine
  • 29 lbs calcium chloride to raise calcium hardness
  • 4 lbs borax 20 mule to raise ph
  • 15 lbs baking sode to raise alkalinity
A couple questions:
  • Is it strange that the chlorine level is so low after just getting so much chlorine? And should I log this as 0 free chlorine in the pool math app?
  • What order should I add chemicals in - I found this article which provides some guidance but I'm really unsure of this.
Note: main visual complaint is that the water is cloudy
 

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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
Jul 8, 2015
2,425
OV, CA
Yup, log it as zero chlorine...And its not strange at all to see zero chlorine in a pool right after an additions... especially after I saw how hazy your water is. Sounds like its SLAM time.
 
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splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
Pictures of pool post the opening shock are attached, and I've now done the first chemical test using the Taylor 2006 FAS/DPD kit. This is where we are:

  • Chlorine FAS/DPD - sample did not turn pink even after 9 dippers of powder. We stopped adding powder so as to not waste it, as it seems clear we need to significantly raise the chlorine. This is *after* the pool store dumped 8 gallons of 12.5% sodium hypochlorite into the pool about 50 hours ago.
  • PH - 6,8 (was yellow, which is below the color scale)
  • Base demand test - 8 drops required to raise to 7,6 color
  • Alkalinity - 20 ppm
  • Calcium hardness - 300
  • CYA - 50 ppm
Edited to add what Pool Math says we need:
  • 2.3 gallons of our 12.5% liquid chlorine to raise chlorine
  • 29 lbs calcium chloride to raise calcium hardness
  • 4 lbs borax 20 mule to raise ph
  • 15 lbs baking sode to raise alkalinity
A couple questions:
  • Is it strange that the chlorine level is so low after just getting so much chlorine? And should I log this as 0 free chlorine in the pool math app?
  • What order should I add chemicals in - I found this article which provides some guidance but I'm really unsure of this.
Note: main visual complaint is that the water is cloudy
  1. PH should be raised to 7.6 first (use half those amounts so as not to overshoot), keep the pump running and recheck in 30-60min, verifying it came up
  2. Then add enough chlorine to target FC/8 (FC over 10 will give false elevated PH results, so you need to keep it below that until your PH is good)
  3. How much CH are you targeting?
  4. Once the PH is stable
    1. ~ Because of the cloudy water and FC not holding, then you'll need to proceed with a complete SLAM Process.
    2. Be sure to stock up on liquid chlorine/liquid pool shock
Go slow and everyone here will help keep you on the right track!
 

jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
Thanks for the reply. For CH, the Pool Math ideal looks to be between 350 to 550, so was targeting 450. If there's no benefit to getting into ideal range now I'll forget it. So the plan is starting tomorrow morning:
  • Raise PH to 7.6, being sure not to overshoot
  • Then get FC up to 8
  • Make sure PH stays stable
  • Then start SLAM, trying to get FC level up to 20 (based on CYA of 50) and maintaining until the 3 SLAM criteria are met
2 questions to make sure I'm doing it right:
  • Should I focus only on PH and then FC for now, and forget about alkalinity and calcium hardness until after SLAM? If I should worry about alkalinity or calcium hardness now too, in what order do I address those (e.g. adding the baking soda and calcium chloride)
  • What do you mean "make sure PH stays stable before SLAM" - is maintaining stable PH for a couple hours enough? Or are we talking stable PH for a day or more before starting SLAM?
I'll keep this updated with progress, thanks again!
 

mguzzy

Gold Supporter
Jul 8, 2015
2,425
OV, CA
If you are going to SLAM.. just take the pH to 7.2-7.5 and the FC to 20... Why muck around in the middle with another level.. You are ready to do a SLAM now. That's my perspective.. @splashpad am I missing something?
Then once you get your FC to SLAM level don't worry about the pH, since its not accurate when the FC is over 10
Forget about the other levels until the SLAM is completed. Then we will get the other stuff fine tuned
 
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splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
Thanks for the reply. For CH, the Pool Math ideal looks to be between 350 to 550, so was targeting 450. If there's no benefit to getting into ideal range now I'll forget it. So the plan is starting tomorrow morning:
  • Raise PH to 7.6, being sure not to overshoot
  • Then get FC up to 8
  • Make sure PH stays stable
  • Then start SLAM, trying to get FC level up to 20 (based on CYA of 50) and maintaining until the 3 SLAM criteria are met
2 questions to make sure I'm doing it right:
  • Should I focus only on PH and then FC for now, and forget about alkalinity and calcium hardness until after SLAM? If I should worry about alkalinity or calcium hardness now too, in what order do I address those (e.g. adding the baking soda and calcium chloride)
  • What do you mean "make sure PH stays stable before SLAM" - is maintaining stable PH for a couple hours enough? Or are we talking stable PH for a day or more before starting SLAM?
I'll keep this updated with progress, thanks again!
  1. For the safety of your fiberglass, you need to stabilize your PH above 7. That is the most important (while slowly raising your FC so your pool doesn't go green)
  2. I would suggest to target the lowest end of fiberglass recommended TA w/baking soda (using a half dose) and definitely use Borax to elevate the PH "quickly" (again in partial doses) to 7.4/7.6 (the lower PH makes chlorine more effective)
    1. Add those in partial doses to the pool water, and retest after 30-45min with the pump running.
    2. Again don't overshoot, you can always add more, BUT most pool chemicals are harder to "remove" when there is too much!
  3. I would think once your TA is showing in the minimum range and your PH doesn't fall below 7.2 for 24hrs that would be ok to go full steam with SLAM Process. I do take a cautious approach with my own pool, so it's defintiely your choice.
    1. Once you have started the SLAM process, you only need to monitor the FC,
@mguzzy Low PH is bad for all pools and damaging if left for extended time. Getting the PH up with minimal FC interference is priority.
 

IceShadow

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 8, 2019
2,177
Milwaukee, WI
Guys, if he needs to SLAM, why target over 7.2?

- Get FC in the water. Take it up to 5ppm right away while you do the rest. Use only liquid chlorine for now.
- Get TA in to take it up to 50ppm Alk (that's the baking soda).
- Retest the pH so that you can tell if the baking soda raised it enough.
- If not, add half enough Borax to get to 7.2 from where you are. Test after 30 minutes. If need be, add more to get to 7.2.
- Once at 7.2, start the SLAM Process. Get the FC up to 20ppm for your 50 CYA. Scrub and vacuum often. As often as you can, up to every 30 minutes but at least 3-4 times a day, test the FC in the water. (Don't bother with other tests to start.) Add enough liquid chlorine again to get to 20ppm again each time you test. Pump runs constantly during this to get the pool to filter.

Another thing you could do is to start by deep cleaning the sand filter. Be sure the sand isn't clumped up and it's nice and loose. I'd hate for you to have trouble getting it to clear because they put clarifier or floc through your filter in the past.
 

IceShadow

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 8, 2019
2,177
Milwaukee, WI
This might be a good situation for Washing Soda instead of the baking soda + borax, if you have it. If not and you have baking soda and borax, you could use those instead.
 

jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
Spent the morning working on pool in this order:
  • Added 2 lbs borax to raise ph
  • Brush and wait 1 hr, test and ph is at 7 (from 6.8)
  • Add 2 more lbs borax to raise ph
  • Brush and wait 1 hr, test and ph is at 7.4
  • Add 7 lbs baking soda to raise alkalinity
  • Brush and wait 1 hr, test and alkalinity is 60 and PH is 7.5
So PH and alkalinity are now at ok ranges. I didn’t have washing soda so used baking soda and borax independently.

Should I let it settle overnight and then start raising chlorine? Or can I do that this afternoon? Clarity of the pool hasn’t changed, filter has been running continuously since this morning and I guess we keep it that way until SLAM is started and done.

Edit to add: will try to deep clean sand filter later today.

Making progress!
 
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splashpad

Bronze Supporter
Aug 2, 2017
2,708
SE Kansas!
Spent the morning working on pool in this order:
  • Added 2 lbs borax to raise ph
  • Brush and wait 1 hr, test and ph is at 7 (from 6.8)
  • Add 2 more lbs borax to raise ph
  • Brush and wait 1 hr, test and ph is at 7.4
  • Add 7 lbs baking soda to raise alkalinity
  • Brush and wait 1 hr, test and alkalinity is 60 and PH is 7.5
So PH and alkalinity are now at ok ranges. I didn’t have washing soda so used baking soda and borax independently.

Should I let it settle overnight and then start raising chlorine? Or can I do that this afternoon? Clarity of the pool hasn’t changed, filter has been running continuously since this morning and I guess we keep it that way until SLAM is started and done.

Making progress!
Those are perfect numbers :) I would go ahead with SLAM Process, your pool appeared clear enough, it may only be few days of elevated FC levels to have a safe ready to swim pool!
 
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jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
Thanks. So I'm trying to deep clean the filter before starting SLAM, using this post as a guide for how to deep clean. I'm stuck on how to:
  1. isolate the filter from the pool plumbing as instructed in the italicized part below
  2. how to get top of filter off to access the sand. in image 2677 do I need to remove the 3 pvc pipes (pump, waste, return pipes) and then loosen the bolt on the black ring until I can remove the top?
  3. I read in that same post that when I first start SLAM, I should run the filter on "recirculate" overnight, is that correct? I don't see that instruction referenced in the "official" SLAM instructions here
Some pictures attached of my filter setup. Here's the isolation instruction:

**WARNING -- Before starting this process, be sure that the filter is isolated from the pool plumbing. I filmed this video at the very beginning of the swim season, and my plumbing was not hooked up yet. If the filter is still connected, turn off valves, disconnect plumbing, or do whatever you need to do to isolate your filter from the system. If you don't do this step, as you fill the filter with water, the junk and crud will fall into the standpipe and go right back into your pool.**
 

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jlsmith123

Member
Jun 11, 2020
20
Northeast Ohio
An update - so last night I:
  • backwashed the filter taking psi from 20 to 16 (but didn't deep clean, was too worried I'd bork the system)
  • added 3 gallons liquid 12.5% sodium hypochlorite to get to 20 SLAM level (per Pool Math I needed .5 gallons more, but I wanted to be conservative, funny considering results below)
  • brushed pool, left pump running
  • tested 2 hrs later and free chlorine was 31 (!)
  • I tested early this morning (7 hours later) and FC was 29
  • pool looks slightly more blue/clear this morning, and I just brushed it
Clearly I got something wrong which made the amount of chlorine added way too much. I did the chem tests a couple times to be sure, and the pool volume I could be off by ~2000 max I calculate.

Reading about what to do if FC is too high I'm seeing that I should probably let it settle on it's own as there aren't great ways to get it down quickly and it's not terrible. Next 4 days are going to be very hot and sunny, so it should go down. Will test FC again in a couple hours and post back.