Pool Store Testing vs. Mine

PfTXPoolDad

Member
May 24, 2021
20
Pflugerville, TX
Pool Size
12000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I’ve managed to go almost 6 months since we started up our pool without an issues and have become more confident in maintaining my pool without the “help” of the pool store or a pool service. Frankly, it’s because of this forum and the helpful people here. I managed to even advise strangers - but alas, it’s hard to save everyone.

Full disclosure - I don’t have a SWG and have been keeping CYA in check with a combination of tabs and liquid chlorine in my regimen.

At what point, did you ride without training wheels and give up on the seemingly random pool store test results? I’ve shared mine to give you a sense of where I’m tracking. Would love any feedback on what would be changed. I think I need my residual FC levels to be higher, but is everything else in check?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
50,823
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I have never been in a pool store. Started using the TF100 from the day the pool was filled.

Use your own testing. Do not get data that is likely inaccurate and confusing.
 
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Newdude

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
17,212
NY
+1. The dumbest kid in class got some test questions right at times too, but did you ever cheat off of him ? Heck no you didn't.

Also like the dumbest kid in class, the pool store rarely gets the same # right twice so we don't put any faith in 'Well they have been close to my XYX before'. Maybe they were close, maybe they were just lucky that day.

When you are wrong, it's by a drop and still are well within tolerances. Your TA can be 10 off without harm, the FC by .5, the CYA 10, the Salt by 200, the CH by 25......... see where I'm going here..... even if you're wrong, you get 95% partial credit and you are an A+ student. I would TOTALLY cheat off of you if given the chance, and I don't even know you. :)
 

EricJ320

Well-known member
Mar 27, 2020
50
Tennessee
Pool Size
23000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool Edge-40
At what point, did you ride without training wheels and give up on the seemingly random pool store test results? I’ve shared mine to give you a sense of where I’m tracking. Would love any feedback on what would be changed. I think I need my residual FC levels to be higher, but is everything else in check?
I dropped the training wheels as soon as my test kit arrived. No sense in checking yourself against inaccurate results at the PS. The best way to confirm your results is to educate yourself on how to properly conduct the tests through this website and YouTube videos, and use products that will help produce consistent results, i.e. speed stir and sample sizers. Those two are game changers for testing.

Your numbers look good to me, but like you said, I would raise your FC to the higher side of your range of 2-8ppm for 50ppm CYA, especially given the high temps. You don’t ever want it to drop out of the bottom end of the range. Without a SWG that’s on you to dose it, even a slight delay at a lower FC could risk it dropping too low. A higher FC would give you a better buffer.
 
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PfTXPoolDad

Member
May 24, 2021
20
Pflugerville, TX
Pool Size
12000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thank you for the encouragement and help here!

It seemed daunting at first, but with the right tools and patience, I think I have the mechanics down.

This forum has been a huge resource for a first time pool owner like me and I’m glad I discovered it.
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
50,823
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
This forum has been a huge resource for a first time pool owner like me and I’m glad I discovered it.
Great to hear!
We are glad you have found our information helpful. Please, if you can, consider making a donation to TFP. We are staffed by volunteers and are registered as an IRS 501 (c) (3) charity and donations are what keeps the forum operating without advertisements.

Support TFP!
 
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gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
692
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I think part of the hesitance in the beginning for a lot of new TFPers is the misconception that the pool store must be doing it right, so I have to double check against someone more experienced than me. They have all these fancy, digital machines, and and all the fancy potions to make my pool sparkle!

But, we know here, their "free" tests are only free because they sell a bunch of overpriced, "magic potions" that never work, and make you come back for something different, but that wont work either. Their machines, if properly calibrated, for a one time use, may be accurate at some point, but they are just mass running samples, no calibration, no science to it, an no help providing real help with the bad data generated.

I also have never had my water tested by a PS. I joined here when my pool was under construction, ordered the TF Test kit before my pool was ever done, and took control right from the beginning. Training wheels provided by someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart, are not training wheels I want.

I actually found the new member questions the best at learning this all. Usually someone who was using strips, or PS advice, and nothing was working, so they came here. Questions about the CYA/Chlorine chart, PH, TA, algae, SLAM, you name it, there was a question about it and the way people slowly stepped new members through the help is how I gained a lot of my knowledge.
 
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TampaKathy

Gold Supporter
Oct 2, 2020
793
Tampa, FL
I occasionally get a sample tested at the pool store since "official" test results are needed if there's a warranty claim with the plaster but I just take the paper they give me and stick it in a pile and continue on based on my test results :)
 
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bertschb

Bronze Supporter
Dec 11, 2021
392
Arizona
Pool Size
13600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
At what point, did you ride without training wheels and give up on the seemingly random pool store test results?
I found this forum about two weeks before we moved into our house (with our first pool). I had the test kit ready the day we took possession and after spending many, many, MANY hours here reading everything I could beforehand, found pool care pretty danged easy. I've never been in a pool store. I buy my muriatic acid from Home Depot and stabilizer from Amazon. Being retired, I actually kinda enjoy testing the water.
 
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Mdragger88

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 1, 2018
6,462
Hernando, Ms
Pool Size
26000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Intex Krystal Clear
I have never relied on the pool store for any other test than salt when i was relying on salt strips so I could get an average as they use a meter.
I live in the boonies- its highly impractical for me to regularly depend on their testing even if it was right. Your basic parameters need to be tested quite often. When u rely on someone else to test & tell u what u “need” once a week you aren’t getting the full picture- example: “did what I added get me where I was supposed to go? I guess I’ll find out next week 🤷‍♀️“ when by next week alot will have changed. The pool eats every day not just on Saturday.
Then throw in the confusion of inaccuracies-
Nope 👎🏻- do your own, the same way every time, with no cross contamination, when u need them & trust your reliable, repeatable, convenient results.
 
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BK MAC

Gold Supporter
May 27, 2020
52
York PA
Pool Size
18500
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-45 Plus
I did not have a "problem" when I came upon TFP. I was simply a new pool owner doing tons of research, trying to figure out what contraptions and pool chemicals I needed to take care of my pool. Then I stumbled upon this group I likened to a "bleach cult". Some nice people, some very opinionated people, but it caught my eye and held my attention. If I were to believe these people those pucks I was using had my CYA around 70 and I knew I had to make a decision to make in short order. There are so many gizmos and methodologies out there..........who is one to trust?
I cut the chord with the pool store after two things happened.
1) Understanding and buying into the TFPC methodology. It took time. Coming to the conclusion that the pool care product industry is a boondoggle didn't happen overnight.
2) Knowing my pool through my own testing. The last time I was in the pool store the kid told my I had no TA. He proceeded to tell me what I needed to correct the problem. At that moment I knew I was finished. My TA was high from the original tanker filling my pool and I knew it. I had been testing my pH and TA on a regular enough basis to know this guy was sooooooo wrong. I thanked him, left and never went back.

Consistent testing let's you know what's going on. You understand if there is an odd deviation and can retest immediately. You know the trends, you know your pool. Additionally, the TFPC methodology and pool store methodology are at odds with one another. While I understand the "apron strings" feelings one may have, at some point you have to realize pool store advice and testing is meaningless to a TFP'er.
 

Steve-D

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2020
134
SW Boston Suburbs
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I joined TFP mid season (July here in MA) 2020 but didn't actually REALLY put the TFP method into practice until this year with our new plaster/SWG pool. I still consider myself as being on "training wheels" but with all I've learned just so far this season I've felt confident enough to offer feedback to other newbies here in the forums [edit: citing my TFP sources for reference].

We had a smallish (18' round) ABG pool for 4 years and with its relatively small volume and being on town water it was fairly easy to maintain even when following traditional pool store advice. What I've learned since then is that "drain and refill" should not be a regular maintenance thing between pool opening and closing...If it is needed during the pool season it is a sign that the pool chemistry has not been maintained sufficiently to deal with normal usage...the occasional big storm that might drop a load of organics into the pool being an exception.

We sold our house with the ABG pool last Summer and we didn't get to use it while it was on the market. That made maintaining it a frustration, especially knowing that we wouldn't have a working pool of our own until the following year (this season). I spent that time familiarizing myself with the TFP method but it wasn't really until this year that I put it firmly into practice. So far this year I have not made a single trip to the pool store...just my local big box stores to stock up on liquid Chlorine, Stabilizer, Muriatic Acid and some Calcium Chloride. Any questions I've had have been answered quickly and with the "why is that?" detail that makes it easy for me to understand the logic and the science behind the method. When I had questions about testing the responses were patient and clear and now I KNOW to trust my measurements.

I expect I'll still feel like I'm on training wheels into next season after going through a first time closing and opening on my own (working with the pool builders) with the new pool but I know that I am in good hands.
 
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cledee

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 23, 2020
226
Concord, NH
Pool Size
18000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I stopped pool store testing after I got my test kit in the Summer of 2020. I don't miss it at all. Because I had such a terrible 2019 with the pool, my training wheels came off right away, because even if I screwed up, it would be because of me and not a pool store trying to get me to buy $500 worth of Crud that won't help me.

I used to test 3 time daily, it was a waste of reagents, but you have to get comfortable and confident in your testing.
 
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