New Owner - How do I turn on filter and vacuum?


LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2010
Northern Virginia
Another house purchase that came with a pool - our first. Only in the house a few days, had the pool guys who did work on it a few years ago come to open it yesterday and then drain and clean it (it had not been taken care of in a year and had dark brown very smelly water full of acorns). A couple thousand dollars later, I am very frustrated, feel taken advantage of and am now trying to learn quickly. The pool guys were so condescending, implying that as a woman it was all too much for me to learn and take care of, but they'd be back soon to do it all. Now I want to learn it all overnight so I never have to call those guys again (whose company seems to dominate the pool market here). I've read the Pool School (thank you!) and the whole philosophy of pool care here seems right up my frugal, sensible alley, so sign me up! Now on to my questions:
Given the setup I've described below, is this the correct way to turn on the filter - 1) circuit breaker on for main pump, 2) multiport set to filter, 3) jandy valve 1 open (does it matter whether left or right?), 4) mechanical timer for main pump switched to on? Then for vacuuming up all the acorns falling into the new clean water -- 5) circuit breaker on for booster pump, 6) jandy valve 2 open, 7) mechanical timer for booster pump switched to on, 8) vacuum plate in filter basket on pool surround? Should that work or am I missing something? What should the pressure dial on the filter read if I have done it correctly? Do I need to do anything to prime the pump or get air out before I start?
Pool store test results today on the municipal water I just filled pool with were: FAC 2, TAC 2, pH 8+, TA 90, CH 140, CYA 20, Phosphates 300. They told me to shock the pool, add 11 lbs of hardener. After reading this site, I will happily return the chlorine tabs and hypochorite 73% and buy bleach instead. Sounds like I still need to adjust the water hardness and reduce the pH. Anything else I am missing?
Many thank yous to anyone who can offer assistance - I just so badly do not want to pay those pool guys again and if I had any friends with a pool I would ask, but sadly not - we are just moving from England where outdoor pools are almost non-existent.


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
SW Louisiana
First I want to say welcome, second I want to say I hope this message makes sense, it is rather early in the morning here and I would rather not be awake, but since I am.....

1, you always want your pump motors off when you are changing any valve position (turn everything off, set the valves to the desired position then turn on), I can't help on your specific installation as to correct set up, or booster pump?

2, a circuit breaker may be your only way to turn off the pumps, although in an ideal world you would have a HP rated waterproof switch to do the job, long term repeated use of a breaker as a on/off switch can weaken it causing it to trip when it should not. (the water proof switch is probably safer around a wet area also, however in practicality many people just have breakers, and while they do wear out over time, you can probably buy multiple breakers for the cost of one good waterproof switch, particularly if an electrician is not involved to change it)

3, If you have a breaker for the pump, make sure it is of the GFCI (ground fault) type, if not plan to have it changed out when you can, they really are much safer and are now a code requirement for places that comply with the current NEC.

4, The position you choose for your multi-port when vacuuming will depend on what your wanting to do. If it is just acorns you probably want it in the regular filter position, since they are large and will get caught by your inline filter bag (if you have one) or by the pump strainer basket at worse. This is a situation where it would be best to have an inline filter bag going into the vacuum plate /strainer to lower the chance of an underground clogged pipe.

5, I am sure everyone else is also about to say get a good real testing kit ASAP, either the Taylor 2006 or the TF-100 test kit, I like the TF-100 personally, it is a better value. The majority of pool store test numbers are useless, if you have to use pool store numbers for now while waiting for your own test kit to get in, take a sample divide it into at least two samples and take to 2 different pool stores for testing. The different result spread will give you an idea of reliability of the numbers.

6, The cal-hypo is not a bad thing if your needing to raise both your calcium level and your chlorine level at once, again take any pool store test numbers with a BIG grain of salt, particularly on those things like CYA and Calcium hardness which can only practically be lowered through water replacement.

7, remember pH will show high while shocking (any time Chlorine levels are very high), so never try to adjust it then, I suggest trying to get the pH down before shocking, since chlorine works best at standard pH range.

I am sure there is more, and someone will be along soon

good luck


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
Houston, Texas
Hi, an FC of 2 is not too high to skew the pH reading. You need to use some Muriatic Acid or dry acid to lower the pH. According to The Pool Calculator you need to add 20 ounces of 31.45%-20 baume muriatic acid or 27 ounces of dry acid to lower pH to 7.5. Add the muriatic acid to a large bucket of pool water and mix with a stick. Pour the mixture into the water slowly in front of a return with the pump running. Be very careful with the muriatic acid! The fumes are strong and you want to avoid breathing them or splashing any acid on your skin or clothes. Since your actual pH may be higher than 8, you may need to repeat the process after re-testing.

If you can, take some pictures of your equipment and post them here. That will help us tell you what to turn, twist, ect... Everyone's set up is a little different.

I would like to stress the importance of a high quality test kit such as the TF 100 or the Taylor K2006. These kits contain drop based tests that measure the levels with far more accuracy than test strips. As far as pool store tests go, they are only as good as the clerk running the test and the system they use. If they are using strips with a computer they are no more likely to get an accurate result than you are just sticking your finger in the water. Accurate results are essential to dosing the pool correctly. Until you can get a high quality test kit, take a water sample to a couple of different stores to double check the CH and CYA levels. Both need to be a little higher based on your current results but we don't want to add too much and cause you to need to drain your water.

Welcome to TFP and congrats on the new home and pool!


Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 14, 2010
Stephens City, VA
You have come to the right place. All the advice is spot on. I might add to post a couple pictures of your set up and the pool. It can help people visualize what you are describing. (whoops...I just re read zea's post...this was already pre coffee!!)

The test kit is essential. The results you posted...had you already added either tablets or dichlor shock or CYA/stabilizer/conditioner before the test? Because tap water has no CYA in it. (although many stores will tell you it does when you take in your tap water and tell them it's pool water)

I don't even go to the pool stores anymore for testing (unless I just want entertained) because I always felt like they were being condescending to 'the little lady.' Kiss I call my mechanical guy directly if I need something. He hasn't been out all summer and he's gonna have a stroke when he sees I deplumbed my chlorinator and added the Liquidator...anyway... I know more than them and my pool has remained diamond sparkling and clean even through what is arguably the hottest summer we've had in years. Doing things the way I had been...and I'd be in a cloudy and possibly green mess.

Ask lots of questions and read read read both the pool school and forum posts. Start plugging other people's numbers into the pool calculator and seeing how it, see that you come up with the same numbers the responders do. Also put your figures in there and get comfortable with it. You will be an expert in no time.!!!



LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2010
Northern Virginia
Thanks for the suggestions. I have a Taylor test kit in a blue box, but it does not look like the photo of the K2006 so I will get one of your recommended 3 asap. I added nothing to the tap h2o before testing, so 30 CYA would seem to be suspect. I have dry acid to lower the pH. All the containers say to add while the filter is running and since I was nervous to start the filter without being sure... I will post photos asap (have to find camera cable in which suitcase!). Have GFCI outlets outside so assume breakers are also, but will check. I love spreadsheets and calcs, so I will definitely play around with the pool calc to see how it works.
My biggest concern is getting the pumps running as these acorns are staining the newly cleaned plaster by the minute. When you mentioned an inline filter bag -- I do have what the encyc photo calls a leaf bagger (though as of now without the bag) - should I run out and buy a bag for that and try to vacuum with that rather than the normal vac end. Thank you!


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
Sebring, Florida

I am a minimalist on instructions for newbies. I think you currently have two priorities as you are learning everything.

1. Lower your pH using that dry acid. Get it down to around 7.4 or so.

2. Make sure you keep chlorine in the pool. 4-6ppm wouldn't hurt. It'll also help reduce the stains from the acorns over a long period of time. Never let your FC drop to zero.

Getting a good test kit will make managing your pool water doable. Without it, you are at the mercy of the pool store which can be as off-putting sometimes as those guys that came out to fix your pool. :lol: :lol:


LifeTime Supporter
Jun 18, 2010
San Antonio
Welcome to the U.S. and the board. The people who have posted know far more than I so I defer to everything they suggest. I will make a comment on vacuuming the acorns. I think Ike was talking about the "leaf canister," but I will let him answer that. When I first started trying to take care of my pool the hardest thing to master was vacuuming through the skimmer. I still find it difficult to get and maintain a good suction. I get a lot of leaves and some small dead branches off my oak trees. If I let it go for awhile or we have a strong wind and I have a lot of leaves on the bottom of the pool, I find the easiest way to get the leaves out is the "leaf bagger." I suggest you get a bag for it - all the pool stores in my area carry the bags - and use the leaf bagger to vacuum the acorns. All you have to do is tighten the draw string on the bag so that it will not come off. Attach your garden hose to it and attach the whole thing to a pole and turn on the water. As you pass the bagger over the acorns they will be sucked into the bag. You can do this as soon as you get the bag. The only downside is it does add water to your pool, so as you vacuum keep an eye on the water level so you do not run the water over the edge. In fact I would stop when the level gets to the top of the skimmer and either drain some water or wait for evaporation to lower the level. You will not have to use the breaker to turn the pumps on and off. Each of the timers have a lever under the clock and that acts as an on/off switch. Get the test kit and the folks here will have you swimming in the best pool in the neighborhood in no time.