Old Pool - New Keeper - I need help :D


Jun 23, 2010
My dad recently passed away and he was the one doing all the upkeep on the pool. My mom has asked me to take care of it.
The details:
In ground pool, roughly 20k gallons.
Vinyl Liner.

I opened it up from winterization a couple weeks ago and the pool was crystal clear other than some leaves and dirt that made their way in. I immediately shocked just to stave off any algae growth because our test kit was a couple years old and I didn't know how effective it would still be. I checked for reviews on dip test strips and got a set of those, even though I knew they weren't the most accurate. Just needed something. Everything tested as zero (or below the threshold where applicable.) I know I need to get the alkalinity sorted early on as that influences much of the chemistry (or so I have been told.) I read that I do not need to add cyanuric acid if the chlorine I was adding was di or tri-chloro, but after shocking with that chlorine the levels on that still read zero so I added half of what the pool would require. No change on the test strip. Chlorine levels read fine for the first day after I shock but they rapidly decrease. I have currently added 10 lbs of bicarb to the pool and see no change in the alkalinity on the test strip. I also used ph booster to get the ph up and there was still no change.

After seeing relatively no change after my additions I went to our old liquid test kit. I tried the alkalinity test only. I was to use a chlorine eliminator and then a single drop of a violet solution to turn the test water violet and then count the drops of another solution to determine the alkalinity. However, the instant I put one drop of the violet solution into the test water it turned yellow. The violet solution didn't even have time to disperse, looked like that magic ink stuff you can get in trick shops, just disappeared!

I am at a loss and I do not want to spend a ton of money making mistakes, and I have little money. I have all of the basic chemicals such as muriatic acid, ph booster, shock, granulated chlorine, chlorine discs, cyanuric acid, baking soda.

Where should I start and what should I do?

Thank you!


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 17, 2010
East Texas
The CYA you aded will not show up on the tests for a few days. Raise your chlorine level to match the CYA level in pool school. There is a chart. If that doesn't hold reasonably, you may not have brought it to shock level the first time. Without a decent or recent test kit, at least have your water tested at the pool store and post your numbers here so folks can help. Most folks here use Clorox/store brand bleach for chlorine. See the pool calculator for how much to add after getting some numbers.


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Feb 23, 2008
Denton, TX
Welcome to TFP! I am so sorry to hear about your dad.

Please read Pool School. You will find the button on the top right side of every page here on TFP. It's important that you get familiar with the pool chemistry involved. It's really not hard to get a handle on and it is so necessary for you to learn.

I really cannot tell you much of anything without accurate test results. There is really no way of knowing what is going on in the water without them. You will need to get a good test kit. Strips are notoriously inaccurate. Drop-based kits are the way to go. The best value on the market is the TF-100 (link in my sig line). It is available via internet order only. In the meantime, I would ask that you take a sample of your water to a pool store so that they can run some tests for you. Pool store testing is not always very accurate either, but this will be much better than anything that you can get with a test strip.


LifeTime Supporter
May 16, 2009
The Triangle, NC
I know that you said that you don't have a lot of money. Please do not let this put you off of the idea of buying a good test kit, as the posters above recommended.

Definitely read Pool School.

Very important: When you go to the pool store to get your water tested, please do not fall prey to their desire to sell you all sorts of stuff that you do not need. In fact, some of the stuff that you already have is stuff that you ought not be using.

Pool School--do your homework! :-D



Jun 23, 2010
Thanks for the info.
I do plan on getting the tf-100, I was reading about that earlier. Just right now its cost is somewhat prohibitive. However, I will make it a priority as far as pool supplies go.

Ive worked in sales, so I know how the people at stores like that work. I've had to do it myself!

I mostly just needed some finger points in the right direction. Thanks!