Help with family friend's pool - ammonia?


Jul 20, 2015
Wichita, KS
Sorry this is long, LOL

Background, I myself have had above ground pools for 10 years now. Been using the TFP method since the beginning. A family friend reached out asking for help with her pool. Her pool is serviced by one of the local pool stores (for 25+ years). She has a 22000gal vinyl inground. Husband passed away last year, all pool maintenance since then has been done by pool store guy. She visited pool store this spring and they gave her a list of chemicals to buy for the pool guy to use over the summer. Pool guy comes once a week, spends 30 minutes doing "stuff" (she doesn't really know)

She has the following in her pool shed:
Bioguard Pool Complete (no ingredients listed, best I can find is that it might be some sort of flocc?) 2 large jugs
Bioguard Pool Opening Complete (empty, assuming this has already been thrown in the pool)
Bioguard SilkGuard Complete 3" tri-chlor tabs
Bioguard Algae Complete (unsure if any has been used)
Bioguard Burnout 3 (20+ bags) cal-hypo


7/3/20 Pool store report "Did not add chemicals due to rain"
Cl .06
PH 6.7
CYA 53
CH 233
TA 50
(small note on the report says "shock when rain stops" - homeowner didn't see this or even know that she was supposed to be doing anything other than throwing a puck in the skimmer when the current puck dissolved.)

7/10/20 pool store report "did not add chemicals due to low chlorine, would be a waste of money"
CL .06
PH 6.7
CYA 33
CH 210
TA 30
Pool store delivered 45 gallons on 12.5% CL , "add 15 gallons at 7am, 10am, and 3pm. bring water for retest tomorrow). Friend takes pool sample 7/11 to pool store, person manning the store doesn't really know how to run tests he says, but "there isn't any chlorine in your pool, I don't know what to do, call back later". Homeowner called back 10 minutes before closing and they've already left for the rest of the weekend.

7/12/20 they ask for my help. Take my trusty K2006 over.
CL 0.0
CC 1.5
PH lemon yellow in color <7
CYA <30ppm (sample never got cloudy, filled it to the top of test tube and still clear)
TA between 20-30, CH 225 (i think, forgot to write that one down).
My research leads me to believe that there was an ammonia issue that ate up all the CYA and the pool store was attempting to take care of this via the 45 gallons of chlorine. Added 205oz 12.5%, got CL to read 10. 10 minutes later, test again, 4.5. Add more 12.5% , 10 min later CL is 5.5. waited 30 minutes, CL is 4.5-5, Added more to bring back to 10. Sun going down, Chlorine not disappearing as fast. Started floating CYA in socks. Also added about 6lbs of Alkalinity increaser (Sodium Bicarbonate) - will retest PH in AM.
water is blue, little on the cloudy side

7/13/20 K2006 test results
CL 0.5 (there is apparently a trichlor puck in the skimmer - assuming that is where the chlorine is coming from)
CC 1.5
PH <7 still lemon yellow
TA 50
Out of liquid chlorine, so used 3 bags of Burnout3 (cal-hypo) to get the CL back up to 10. waited 30-40 minutes CL is 9.5. Added washing soda (had about 2 lbs) will retest to see if PH is any better tomorrow). Told homeowner to put 2 more bags of the cal-hypo in tonight to bring the Chorine back up. I'll go back tomorrow AM and test again. Water is very clear, brushing does stir up dust clouds (grey - probably just pollen and dead algae)

Am I on the right track? I always fight high PH in my pool, so this super low PH and TA is new for me.

Pool store still hasn't returned her calls, but with no detectable chlorine and no stabilizer, with 100+degree temps and a full day of sun, she was going to end up with a swamp in no time, hopefully I'm keeping that from happening.

Homeowner does not have a test kit, so I must drive clear across town to test pool (85 year old, just wants to enjoy her pool, not learn how it works) I'm trying to convince her to learn how to test her pool - and I can provide advice over the phone (she lives on the opposite side of town from us - lucky for us, just a 25 minute drive each way)

Appreciate any advice you've got for me... and suggestions on a suggested "weekly maintenance plan" for her.


Jul 20, 2015
Wichita, KS

Things going well I thought... I've gotten the TA up to 60 from 30, and PH from <6.7 to 7.1. I believe chlorine is holding over night, the problem is that I cannot test it at sundown and before the sun has been on it a few hours. Pool is crystal clear.

We put in stabilizer to go from what we thought was <20ppm to 50ppm. It's 90% dissolved as of yesterday. I was planning to test the CYA levels tomorrow.

The pool store guy came today (a day early), and luckily the homeowner told him to call me. She has a contract for weekly cleaning/chemical additions. He said the pool had...."Chlorine lock" and that when there is no chlorine in the pool, then CYA, TA, PH will falsely show lower than they are... I basically tuned him out after he said that! He claims that the CYA was there the whole time and we just couldn't see it on the test because of the lack of chlorine. Anyway, he claims that the CYA tested at 93 today and chlorine was good at 2.63 (yeah, that's way too low if CYA is truly in the 90s)... Unfortunately I had not been able to get to the pool to test it yet, but I'm going to try and get there to test it with my own kit (skeptical of his testing numbers).

So... I've done a little searching and haven't found anything yet, but is there ever an instance where CYA will not show up on the Taylor K2006 kit (I have brand new reagents.)?


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
is there ever an instance where CYA will not show up on the Taylor K2006 kit
Only if it is not in the pool or the test is done incorrectly.

She needs to fire that one ----
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TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2009
NW Ohio
He said the pool had...."Chlorine lock" and that when there is no chlorine in the pool, then CYA, TA, PH will falsely show lower than they are... I basically tuned him out after he said that! He claims that the CYA was there the whole time and we just couldn't see it on the test because of the lack of chlorine.
Wow. Your friend should know that she's paying someone who knows nothing about pool testing or pool care to take care of her pool. That's just next level "he actually believes that?!?" This is like paying for a mechanic to work on your car and thinks it needs an oil change every week otherwise the gas gauge won't read correctly. Yes, it is that dumb. If ever you need proof that "years of service" is meaningless in this profession, let this be it.

Honestly, if she's going to continue to let that putz work on her pool, there's not a lot you can do to help. Anything you fix he's going to undo.


Jul 20, 2015
Wichita, KS
This is unfortunately coming from the largest pool company/store in town...they've been in business since 1954... you can imagine how many customers they have in our town of 400,000 people.

Perhaps I've got a new career in pool servicing if I can get her fire the pool store... She's been paying $65/week for this service:


1. Check and clean debris from skimmers
2. Check and clean debris from pool cleaning system
3. Clean waterline
4. Test pool water and treat*
5. Vacuuming up to 30 minutes
6. Backwash or clean filter as required
7. Check and fill automatic chemicals feeders
8. Brush pool steps and benches
9. Perform system check (i.e. lights, heater, blower controls)
10. BioGuard Optimizer Plus will be used unless requested otherwise
*Chemicals not included. (cost of chemicals added to bill)

Can't wait to get over there with my test kit.


Well-known member
May 7, 2020
Lathrop, CA
You're doing a good deed here, but be careful this guy doesn't put blame on you if things go south. Which I feel they inevitably will because there are two cooks in one kitchen. You have no control of what he's doing with the water or adding to it.

I would step away from this and let the "pros" of your friend's choosing take care of this.


Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2018
Hernando, Ms
Pool Size
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Intex Krystal Clear
She could likely use the $ spent weekly on pool guy to buy a swg & a robot & have a very low maintenance pool. She has a choice to make - go the tfp way or keep paying for & getting what she’s getting now. Mixing both is definitely a recipe for disaster.


Jul 20, 2015
Wichita, KS
She is going to fire the pool guy, and I'm taking over. She got the bill and they charged her for 50 bottles of liquid chlorine, however they delivered 45 and gave her instructions for adding 45.

Pool guy's numbers were FCL 2.32, TCL 3.0, PH 7.1, Alk 95, CH 180, CYA 93, Cop 0.6, Iron 0.0, Phos 2698, Bor 9 - he added some "Balance pak 200" (washing soda)
Mine (the next day) CL 4.5 (supposedly he didn't add any), PH 7.2, Alk 80, CYA 70-80 (hoping this will go down a bit, as she needs to add about 3-4" of water)

She is going to learn how to check chlorine and PH for me in between my visits to clean her pool. She isn't technology savvy, so I'm making up a little chart for her for chlorine and PH chem additions (until we know she understands what she is doing, she'll be calling me to confirm chem additions).

I'll be going through her very full shed, she said they used to have a robot vacuum, maybe it's still there :) .

Time to brush up on her equipment: Pentair Superflo VS pump and Pentair Tagelus Sandfilter both new last summer. And to find a more reputable pool guy that can do repairs... her liner is probably 4-6 years old and there is a lot of rust around the skimmer (all the screws are rusty, and rust stains on the liner itself around the edges of the skimmer mouth).

Thanks for the advice guys!
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