Conflicting advice

Hi All,

I'm in the "free" startup month of pool service that was included with my new pool and I am trying to A.) learn as much as I can, both here and from the pool guy while I have him, B.) make sure he doesn't do anything I will regret later, and C.) not step on his toes too badly. I like the guy and he hasn't said anything too crazy, but his advice seems to differ from what I find here and the differences bring up some questions for me. My fill water had a TA of 140 and a pH of >8 (per his test kit; my TF-100 has not yet arrived). He added some acid and calcium and said he'd be back in three days. In the mean time, I tested several times (mainly to play) with the junk kit that the builder gave me and watched the pH trend up past 8 (which seemed to make sense given new plaster and TA of 140), so I added some acid, knocked the pH down to about 7.4, turned on the fountains, and then repeated all that again after the pH came up. My thought process was that if I lowered the TA, I might not have to add as much acid and the pH might not creep up so much between his weekly (from now on) visits. Then today, while I wasn't here, he added bicarb and now (again, with the crappy PB test kit) the TA reads 170 with a pH of 7.6 and it's another 4 days until he plans on being here again. Am I off track to think that a lower TA might at least space out the intervals at which the pH drifts up out of range? Does the absolute TA actually matter much, as long as the CSI stays at 0 +/- 0.3(0.6?)? Does the absolute pH matter much within reason, again, as long as the CSI is okay?

I did leave him a note asking what ranges he was shooting for, and he may have just given me broad ranges as a guideline, but the note he left me back said the following:
FC: 1-10
pH: 7-8
TA: >80
CH: >180
CYA: <100

I understand the CYA to FC ratio espoused here. Though I plan on using liquid chlorine (still undecided on a SWCG), I think I'm okay with the trichlor he's using for now, given the free acid I'll get out of it, as long as the CYA levels stay low. I will tell him that I don't want the CYA driven up too high and will monitor it myself as soon as my test kit gets here. Should I (would you) squabble over a TA number, or just add acid between his visits to keep the CSI neutral (which it is, at a pH of 7.6)?

Thanks in advance, and feel free to tell me if I'm over-thinking this. I'm a critical care nurse and it's hard to leave my type-A side at work sometimes.


Well-known member
Mar 26, 2014
San Jose, CA
You're on the right track. You would be wise to keep the TA down, especially during your curing time for your plaster. The pH is gonna rise, no doubt about it, but it shouldn't rise as fast with a lower TA number. I wouldn't squabble with him over the TA number, just make sure he doesn't add anything else to raise it any more.

I would worry more about the CYA number if i were you. If he's just using trichlor tablets to raise the CYA for now, that's fine. But if he added stabilizer as well, you could find yourself on the wrong side of 50 very quickly. Hopefully your test kit gets there quickly so you can find out your real CYA number. Don't let it get above 50. Keep in mind that the trichlor he's using now is keeping your pH artificially lower because they are acidic, and when you discontinue using them, your pH will climb even faster. Plan on using lots of muriatic acid the first 6 months or so.


TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
Tucson, AZ
During the 30 day plaster curing phase the TA should be a little high so that your plaster can cure properly. If you reduce the TA too far, you can damage the plaster. The only thing you should be adding to the pool is acid to keep the pH at 7.6-7.8. You should not be pushing the pH any lower. The plaster curing phase is different than the pool maintenance phase. You should also be adding chlorine to keep the FC in range. Since no one should be swimming in the pool (that’s my personal recommendation during startup), keeping the FC a little on the low side is fine. You need to know what your CYA is so you can dose properly. You should also be brushing the plaster twice per day and you should not be using any sort of robotic cleaner or wheeled vacuum until you are past the 30 day startup.

As Maddie said, don’t mess with the startup guys routine or else you could void any future warranty claims.
Thanks for the advice, all. I am brushing twice per day religiously. I'll leave the TA alone for now and add acid only to keep the pH normal, then find what works after the startup is over. He's not doing a bicarb startup and, actually, the pebble manufacturer recommends a pH of 7.2-7.6. I'll definitely talk to the pool guy and make sure the CYA stays below 50.