New User, Help with Initial Questions and Thougths


Bronze Supporter
Jun 24, 2020
San Diego, CA
I am a new user, and new to pool maintenance. I have a weekly pool maintenance service, but I am considering switching to a different company, as I do not have confidence in the current company including whether they are doing things to make their life easier, or making my pool better. I live in San Diego, where the water has a very high CH (about 200 to 400 ppm) for refill water. And of course lots of sun, but not too hot. If someone can help with the below that would be great. I travel for work often (just not currently) so I cannot manage the pool daily. Can you comment on the below?

1. What should be the min, target and max values for FC, TC, pH, TA, CH, and CYA based on my pool type and pool location/weather?
2. Should I be satisfied if a pool maintenance company only uses test strips? I presume not, since the accuracy is not particularly good, and CH cannot be measured, FC precision is difficult to differentiate, etc.
2. My current pool service says the right target for FC and CYA is 10ppm and 90ppm respectively. Why do you think they are targeting such high values? To make their work easier? I had yellow algae spots in May and the pool service was not keeping FC above zero but the pool service wanted to blame me for the algae as a result of low circulation time. Note the pool service thinks the pool should circulate 8 to 10 hrs per day. I have been using 5 hours per day and am estimating 50 gpm (complete guess) which is about 1.5x turnover. What should I target for circulation time, time of day, and relationship to when the pool service comes to the house? What should be the theoretical turnover? I am working on trying to estimate the pool circulation rate gpm more accurately but have not yet undertaken that item yet. Electricity in San Diego is about $0.50/kW-hr so it is expensive.....welcome to CA!
3. The pool service wants to use chlorine tabs (e.g. I am not sure if it is dichlor or trichlor) to keep the FC level higher (e.g. keep algae away). They say chlorine tabs are needed in the summer in San Diego. Is this correct? Should I tell them to stop using them? Or, instead (which is what they used to do) would it be preferable if they would add 1 to 2 gallons of liquid chlorine per week (all on one day when they service the pool)? I am not able to manage the pool every day myself as I travel for work 50% of time, and can be away for 2 weeks at any one time, or I would manage with daily chlorine addition myself.
4. I have had calcium deposits on the glass tile at the water level in the past. So I am interested in avoiding this again. To clean it with a bead blast cost $750. Since I travel, I am considering a new weekly pool maintenance service and they recommend an online analyzer and automation for liquid chlorine and muriatic acid to actively/real-time measure and manage FC and pH between their weekly visits for service, to keep FC and CYA lower, and better manage water quality to not have high CH. Should I consider this a better alternative than the dichlor/trichlor tabs? Is it a better alternative than the 1 to 2 gal per week (all at once) liquid chlorine addition?
5. With the high CH in water in San Diego, would it be normal/expected to drain the pool each season? Every other year? Anytime? Does this change based on weather chlorine tabs are used or not? Etc? What is the best water quality management option for me given I cannot manage the pool every day? thoughts?
5. I have attached testing results - does anyone see any concerns or suggestions?

Thank you for your help. I am trying to get much more knowledgeable so I can pick a better maintenance service, ask the right questions, keep a look over their work, and be sure they are managing the pool in a trouble-free way. And then also decide if I should upgrade some of the pool equipment.

Thank you. Scott


  • Pool Chemistry Log_July2020.pdf
    200.5 KB · Views: 3


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Welcome to the forum!
TFPC and weekly pool service methods do not mesh well. TFP is based on accurate owner water chemistry testing and the use of basic, low priced chemicals to maintain the pool water chemistry.
1. Recommended Levels
2. No. Strips are worthless. You need a proper test kit. A pool service will never take the time to properly test your pool water.
3. Refer to 1. And my opening statement.
4. They will use chlorine tablets. Each one adds CYA. Which rises. Then you need another potion (algaecide) to help. Then you will have chlorine lock, or high TDS, and will need to drain. Bogus reasons, you just have out of control CYA due to the tablets.
5. Addition of acid is not a bad idea via a Stenner pump and tank. But do not automate with a pH probe. Bad things can happen. And FC should never be automated. ORP does not work in outdoor pools. You must have nearly 0 CYA in your pool water for ORP to hope to work. Properly maintaining your pool yourself is much better. A Salt Water Chlorine Generator can allow you to manage the pool your self even with some trips. It just takes time to understand what your pool needs and how to achieve that.
6. To be honest, I do not look at pool store tests. Get your own test kit.
I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry.


Well-known member
May 7, 2020
Lathrop, CA
The pool service company will do what's convenient and cheapest for them. They can come up with all sorts of reasons when things go south so that you end up paying for more chemicals and services.

You know what they say about wanting things to be done right...?

If you travel a lot, an SWG will be the best investment IMO.


Bronze Supporter
Jun 24, 2020
San Diego, CA
Thank you both for your guidance. It is much appreciated. To clarify, which I did not articulate well in my original post, the test results on the PDF page are the current maintenance company ("test strips") and my first test result (Taylor tests), as I am starting to test the water myself to get a handle on what the maintenance guy is doing/not doing and asking more questions to gauge their knowledge and ability to manage the pool. Unfortunately, I just am not home consistently enough to manage the pool on my own. So I am looking now at switching maintenance service and changing to either maintaining a chlorine pool (where perhaps I measure and add liquid chlorine and acid when I am home), changing to SWG, or automating somehow (which is another learning process). It appears your recommendation is against the latter (automation) unless there is a way to automate for chlorine which does not use ORP???

I appreciate your recommendations even though I am not the typical target audience (fully self maintained pool), as learning more about the pool helps me to choose and partially maintain the pool, and when I am retired someday (or not traveling for work) then I will be able to fully self maintain the pool based on TFP principles which I am starting to learn.

I have read a few times many of the writeups and will continue to do so. I have a chemical engineering degree from 1990, so it helps me to read the materials to get an understanding. They are well done. I have certainly been able to ask much better questions of the several pool maintenance companies I am interviewing.

Regarding SWG, given San Diego has very high CH, does SWG in and of itself increase the change of calcium carbonate precipitation on the pool wall, heater, pipes, etc? And for the recommended pool levels, what should I target for the "bit lower" pH and TA to offset the higher CH? Would 7.4 to 7.5 pH be best? And 60 for TA? Each to help keep cloudy water away. If you can also comment on, should I routinely (e.g. weekly) measure the calcium SI, or is monthly probably appropriate?

Thank you again.
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