NEWBIE with half a brain..and several questions

Hello all,

I've been reading up and studying but have a few questions so here I go.

1st time pool owner 18.5 x 33 oval above ground (14,500 gallons)

Previous owner had "Perma Salt" I chose not to use it and will go with traditional chlorine

opened up about a week ago, water looks beautiful, took a sample to local pool store and here were the results

PH 6.12
CAL 10
TOTAL AKL 0 (I think its near 80 now)
CYA 55
CU. 0
FE. 0

I added about 15 lbs of sodium bicarb and now total akl is closer to 80
I dropped a couple of jumbo 90% chlorine tabs into the skimmer two days ago but have not seen any change in chlorine and they have not completely dissolved either

been in the 50's at night around here but it's supposed to get up to around 85 this weekend and I'd like to let the kids swim.

I found a bag of calcium chloride flakes in the closet? Not sure what that is for
and two small bags of a product called refresh which is 73% calcium hypochlorite?

What Say You?


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 17, 2010
East Texas
I say get your PH up into the mid 7 range first and use plain old bleach to get your FC in range for your CYA. THEN....order one of our recommended test kits. Welcome.

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Hello and welcome to TFP! :wave: Glad to hear you're taking charge of your pool, but you're missing one thing ... the test kit. :) You can't use the free pol store testing, it's almost always wrong. Best to have your own test kit. We recommend either the TF-100 (link below) or Taylor K-2006. You can't go wrong with either. Now, "IF" we were to assume those numbers above were correct, here's what you might hear from us:
- Based on a rounded-up CYA of 60, you need to keep your FC around 6-7 ppm using regular liquid bleach
- Confirm that TA; zero is no good; needs to be around 60 or so for now - 80 is fine if you confirm
- pH is extremely low; raise with borax or soda ash right away to about 7.5
- Take out and stop using the tabs. They raise CYA and you don't need that. Just use regular plain bleach from now on.
- Leave the calcium and cal-hypo in the closet for now.

Make sure to add all of your pool info to your signature next time you get a chance. But first... you really need to test the water on your own with one of those kits. Everything you do from here on out revolves around YOUR testing. Have a great weekend.


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Welcome! :wave:

Well, keep reading pool school for one thing.

Of more immediate concern, what are the readings now? Do you have your own test kit? The baking soda likely raised the pH some, so it's impossible for anyone to say what you need to add to fix the pH right now.

Chlorine is easy... bleach. Plain, unscented, bleach from the grocery store. That's going to be a daily thing. Since right now you essentially have none, and the CYA in round numbers is 60, add a jug and a half. That will get you up to 9 or so, which will drop over the course of a day to maybe 6, which is when you want to add another half a jug. See, this is why you need your own test kit. You're blind without it.

Don't use any more pucks. Each puck releases more CYA into the water when it dissolves. The chlorine disappears, but the CYA remains behind. And the more CYA you have, the more chlorine you need and you end up in a vicious cycle that ends with a green cloudy pool. No more pucks!

Calcium Chloride flakes raises the CH level. SInce your pool is vinyl not plaster, you don't need it. Someone at the pool store sold it to the unsuspecting, or it was to clear the icy walkway. Save it for next winter.

Cal-hypo is chlorine. You can actually use that instead of bleach, since you have it, but don't buy any more. It leaves Calcium behind, and too much is a bad thing. Substitute 1/4 pound of that powder for each quart of bleach. So today, for instance, add a pound and a half to raise FC to 9.

How to add these chemicals is explained in Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals

Pretty much what you need to know about chemicals, sources of chlorine, test kits, and number-crunching is all in this section of pool school: Pool School - Pool Chemistry

Test kit! :testkit:
Thanks Rich!! Headed out to buy some borax and look for a test kit, but I may order one online so I may have to wait. Until I get my own I'll stab at it with the pool store. Our local store owner is very nice and doesn't try too sell you stuff. They install pools and that is their bread and butter, so they don't rely on chemical sales.

Also gonna chuck those pucks!
Just for grins I took a sample to two different places one said it was all pretty good, the other said my Phosphate was 5000ppb and I need to add a Phosphate remover. She also said that she heard of kids getting staph infections from high phosphate pools and she wont let her kids swim in pools with high phosphates. I am ordering a kit today.


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
Grand Rapids, MI
She also said that she heard of kids getting staph infections from high phosphate pools and she wont let her kids swim in pools with high phosphates.
That is hilarious. Staph cannot survive in a properly chlorinated pool. Period. She runs a far greater risk letting her kids swim in a pool operated according to pool store puck protocol without regard to the FC:CYA ratio ;)

I'm so glad you found TFP! Welcome ;)