My testing recommendation


LifeTime Supporter
Jun 15, 2010
This is an unsolicited recommendation for the TF-100 test kit from (I am not connected to them in any way, other than as a customer.)

Step 1 - Obtain a pool

I am a new pool owner this year. Like most people that inherit a pool, I started with what the last owner left me. I knew I needed to test my pool, so I went to Wal-Mart and bought the hth pool test kit (ph and TC). I also bought some test strips to test some other things that seemed important to know (hardness, CYA).

I used the kit and the strips, but I found that I was getting inconsistent results and that the strips were especially hard to read. I figured I just needed practice, and it would come to me. I bought some "shock" (the product, not the process - there's a difference) and a pail full of tablets at Costco and began dumping shock in after the kids swam. I was troubled by the lack of a "system" to maintain my pool. I began to search for some truth to what I was doing.

Step 2 - The Pool Store

Since I was having trouble with reading my results (is that pale pink-brown or moderate pink-brown? orangish-brown?), I took some water to the pool store for testing. I stood in line and watched a few tests, a few results, and a collection of products rung up. Nothing under $100. My turn. I got an impressive test sheet with a series of numbers (which it turns out were not accurate, but we'll get to that part later). Interestingly, the form they used had a back page printed with all the things I'd need to buy/add to my pool (powdered shock, algae control and clarifier). They checked off a bunch of items, and suggested I follow the steps and then bring back more water. I was suspicious, so I told them I'd check what I had from the previous owner and come back for anything I needed.

I stared at their numbers. I ran my own numbers. I could not understand what the heck they were asking me to buy and how it might change my numbers. I began searching the Intertubes.

Step 3 - TFP, my way

I stumbled onto TroubleFreePool and began to read the Pool School articles. Every time I saw "buy a good test kit" I thought to myself I could skip that step - I had a set of testing kits/strips. There can be much of a difference, right? (Wrong!) I began to read more. I started using bleach. I had way too much CYA. My kit was useless for my problem. I began a series of drains and refills. I grew to hate my strips, since I knew I took out X% of water, but the tests did not confirm the changes.

Step 4 - TFP, the recommended way

Then I took a leap of faith, based on the quantity of posts and the insistence that the purchase of a good test kit was an investment in my pool. I bought the TF-100. It took a bit of time to get to me, but I decided to wait to get some results from the kit before I did anything else. This turned out to be a great move.

The kit arrives, well packed, full of bottles of various reagents. The instructions were very clear, so I ran a full set of tests. The results were surprisingly different from the strips and from the pool store's results. I repeated the tests a day later. My results were consistent. The tests were easy to read (except CYA, which is a little tricky and somewhat subjective and requires a bit of experience.) The Chlorine test is remarkable. The results are clear, the test is wonderful compared to the yellow, darker yellow, another yellow nonsense that the basic test kit provides. Pink = I have chlorine. Drop, drop drop...not pink anymore, that's my answer. I know if I have good chlorine (FC), used-up chlorine (CC), and I can get a total number (TC) by adding the two numbers. A test that says, yup - there's chlorine, but it could be good, could be bad - how useless is that??? :grrrr:

Based on the results, I began to gain faith in my ability to test, diagnose (with TFP help) the results and take action. My water looks, feels and tests fantastic now.

If you are on the fence, concerned with the cost, or think what you have is just as good, please listen to me: You are wrong. This is absolutely the best thing you can do. Just buy it. You won't be sorry.

Now I am driving with a clear roadmap. Before, I was stopping and asking for directions from "experts" at the pool store who didn't really care if I reached my destination. Their directions were sloppy. Driving with a real, current, trustworthy map is exactly like buying the test kit. You can drive with confidence.

Mine is just one example, but I suspect there are many in my shoes every year. Trust me - you need this kit.

- FolsomEJ


LifeTime Supporter
Jun 15, 2010
Step 5 - Donate

"your donation is now complete"

Thanks for all the help and advice, TFP!


LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2010
I couldn't agree with you more. I am ashamed to admit I have been pool-stored for over 25 years :oops: I cannot thank this site enough and feel so in control now. If you haven't bought the thingy that swirls your water for you, you should definitely buy it, it makes the test completely precise. I will never have to get my water tested again at the PS and can get everything I need except the muriatic acid(can't seem to find it except at pool store) in the grocery store. If you are on the fence about the test kit get it. You will save a ton of money in the long run for a small investment in it. I was dumping CH, Shock, Stabilizer etc and it took this site to get me straightened out. Now I just have to get my stabilizer down a little. Its down to 90 from 100+ and CH is down from 500 to 375 so I'm making progress. Thanks again TFP for making me feel like a pool expert lol :party:


LifeTime Supporter
Apr 24, 2010
Austin, TX
FolsomEJ said:
Step 5 - Donate

"your donation is now complete"

Thanks for all the help and advice, TFP!
I don't even have my pool yet and I feel like the advice has saved my countless bad decisions and dollars down the drain (or backwash?). I always told my self, "I'll become a member..., later," but I finally did and now I can order my discounted test kit! I ready to test my tap water, just to know what's going to go into my pool - although I think Austin has pretty standard stuff.

Y'all will be the first to know my numbers.



LifeTime Supporter
Jun 15, 2010

I'm glad you did the donation!

On the Polaris pump, might I suggest spec'ing the Polaris Halcyon Booster Pump PB4-60Q. It is quieter than the standard motor.

Also, just a thought, I went with the Pentair IntelliPro, which is a black, rebranded IntelliFlo VS. It comes with couplers, if that is something you might want (for future pump replacement.)

I also got the EasyTouch 4 and the IC40 salt water Chlorine Generator. I LOVE it. If I were building new, I would get exactly this setup. FWIW.

Good luck in the pool build, and congrats on preparing properly with the best kit and the best advice around!



Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 14, 2010
Stephens City, VA
The info, support, and fun times ( I tried to spell comraderie..and I couldn't get it right without are well worth my membership. I chose the higher level...because at the time, I could. This website and her members are hands down worth 10 times what a supporting membership is...

I figured if I'd drop a hundred at the pool store blindly on stuff that doesn't work, that I could INVEST that here.



LifeTime Supporter
Jun 18, 2010
San Antonio
Kelly, I will be interested in how your tap water tests. I am just down the road in San Antonio and my tap water is high in CH & TA. The TA is not a problem because I know how to drop it but the CH put's a limit on how low I can get it. I have to be careful not to add anything that will raise my CH. Good luck on you new pool and I agree with the OP the test kit is essential.

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