Reading the recommendations on TFP makes me concerned pool care is too difficult.

NicoleIvy2004

Member
Aug 31, 2021
10
Tampa, Florida
Pool Size
15000
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Hello TFP! I recently joined and have read a lot of articles, pool school, and forum postings. I have a gunite pool with roughly 15000 gals and attached spa in Tampa FL. I just bought this home and am new to pools, so I have a pool guy for now. He uses liquid chlorine and puts a few pucks in the floating container once a week (plus cleaning filters and such). The pool looks great. I asked him what he uses to test the water.

He uses test strips. I know you guys really suggest the other (more accurate) method involving drops and such. Honestly, that overwhelms me. It seems needlessly complicated when starting out, and if the pool looks (and feels) great using strips, is it *really* wrong to use strips?

I want to try and save money by taking this over myself. I'm starting to look into chlorine costs (and how much I put into a 15K gal pool each week). But I also don't want to feel like this is being made more difficult than it truly needs to be. I know enough so far to know that I want to keep my CYA levels down via liquid chlorine (which I think you call FC). I know that there are lots of extra products out there that I don't really need.

Below are the past 2 weeks pool results from the pool guy, thank you!

27 August:
Primary Readings
Free Chlorine2.9
Total Chlorine2.4
pH7.2
Total Alkalinity120
Cyanuric Acid60
Calcium Hardness300
Phosphates0
Temperature85
Cleaned FilterYes

Service Checklist
Vacuum PoolYes
Brushed PoolYes
Emptied Pump BasketsYes
Emptied Skimmer BasketsYes
Emptied Cleaner BagYes
Skim/Net SurfaceYes

Status & Comments
Safe to Swim4hrs
Water LevelGood



03 September:
Primary Readings
Free Chlorine3.2
Total Chlorine2.7
pH7.2
Total Alkalinity110
Cyanuric Acid50
Calcium Hardness260
Phosphates0
Temperature85

Service Checklist
Vacuum PoolYes
Brushed PoolYes
Emptied Pump BasketsYes
Emptied Skimmer BasketsYes
Emptied Cleaner BagYes
Skim/Net SurfaceYes

Status & Comments
Safe to Swim4hrs
Water LevelGood
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2014
33,605
Texas, San Antonio/Marion, South-Central Area
Pool Size
17888
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-45 Plus
Nicole, there's a reason we say to avoid test strips. Besides the poor color matching, look at the wide ranges on the strips. There is no way to get an accurate result. Is accuracy necessary? Can it just be "close enough"? No way. Your water is clear for now, but that can change quickly. Even if it's clear doesn't mean it's sanitary. If your numbers above are correct, y our FC is much too low based on the FC/CYA Chart.

TFP is all about easy and saving money. A proper test kit is a must to ensure both of those. The testing and chemistry is not difficult, and if you ever have a question, just ask.

As for your pool size and chlorine, I can tell you that my almost 18K pool required about a 1/2 gallon of 10% per day in the hot TX summer with a CYA of 60-70. Hot areas need an elevated CYA or you will loose free chlorine to the sun. Watch those tabs in the floater. They will increase your CYA.
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,648
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
Welcome to TFP :)

After a couple days testing you will be a pro.. it really is easy but I understand it can be overwhelming at first...

the guess strips he is using are really just that, they get a ball park area but it is not what you need, you need to know exactly what you have...

With a CYA of 60 (if it is 60) your FC should be between 7 and 9 daily and 2 tabs this week your CYA next week will be 70.. At 70 you will need your FC to be between 8 and 10 daily.. see how fast it gets away from you..
We are not here to scare you into buying anything, we just want you to be able to take care of your pool and it not be overwhelming :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wolfepack88

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
44,307
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
To indicate the fallacy of the data you posted, the Free Chlorine is higher than the Total Chlorine. Not possible. I suspect they use a reader for their test strips that gives that bogus 'accuracy' level.
If you have a plaster pool, I would be worried about damaging the plaster with a low pH and low CH.
 

phonedave

Well-known member
May 30, 2012
1,016
Montville NJ
Pool Size
17000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Turbo Cell (T-CELL-5)
To indicate the fallacy of the data you posted, the Free Chlorine is higher than the Total Chlorine. Not possible. I suspect they use a reader for their test strips that gives that bogus 'accuracy' level.
If you have a plaster pool, I would be worried about damaging the plaster with a low pH and low CH.


I was going to say the same thing right off. Total Chlorine is made up of Free Chlorine and Combine Chloramines. Total cannot be less than Free. The fact that he reported this to the OP means either he didn't catch it and his tests are just that inaccurate, or that he straight up does not know what he is doing.

To the OP:

TFP is only complicated in the sense that it is not as easy as "Go to the pool store (or pool guy) and have them recommend some magic chemicals to dump in your pool"

I liken it to baking, you have different levels of making a cake: Buy a cake at the store, make a cake from a box mix, make a simple cake following a tested recipe, make a complicated cake like an angel food cake, make your own cake and develop your own recipe. TFP is in the "make a simple cake from a tested recipe area."

It is not hard, but you do have to understand what is going on in your pool from a basic level. The TF-100 test kit is what allows you to do that. The test kit is really easy to use, and is much better than test strips. The other thing that you really need to understand is the relationship between Free Chlorine, CYA, and proper sanitization levels. Again, its not hard, about 15 - 20 min of reading will bring you up to a working level.

Free Chlorine is just the amount of chlorine that is floating around in your pool waiting for something to do. It either gets burned off by the sun, or gets consumed by fighting biological items.

You can add free chlorine to your pool in any number of ways - bleach, liquid chlorine (which is just stronger bleach), a salt water chlorine generator (SWG), chlorine gas, or various tabs, sticks, or granules.

The issue with tabs, sticks and granules, is they are also adding other things at the same time - especially CYA - so it next to impossible to use only them, because they cause other things to get out balance
Chlorine gas is mainly used only in large commercial pools. Most residential pool owners do not have the ability handled compressed gasses
That leaves bleach or a SWGC. Both of which add nothing but chlorine. (Of course you need to be running a salt pool to use a SWGC)

The group of people here will also walk you through the entire process, and are more than happy to answer any questions.

Thanks
 

BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
647
"Old" Katy, TX
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
You almost certainly can control and maintain your own pool. Save money and have a healthier pool at the same time. For starters, you cannot maintain a pool once a week. There are weekly things but a lot of stuff needs to be checked daily or every couple days, or after a rainstorm or other weather events. The good news is it's really not rocket science. Read and follow directions and you can test everything. Get the top of the line test kit from


It includes every test you need plus the SpeedStir to handle the "swirl" when called for. Liquid chlorine, baking soda, and maybe some calcium. See the pool school here for the free chlorine, calcium hardness, and total alkalinity objectives you want. Read the forum for questions others have, and you'll learn at the same time. Of all the things I've done in my life, maintaining a sanitary and algae-free swimming pool has been the easiest to master. Yes, over time, you may decide to change how some things are done, but you don't need an initial investment in anything but the test kit above, a brush, a net, and a few gallons of liquid chlorine (get pool chlorine, so it's free of additives.)
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2009
5,150
NW Ohio
It seems needlessly complicated when starting out, and if the pool looks (and feels) great using strips, is it *really* wrong to use strips?
I did pool management professionally for a short time. One of my first clients hired me after her 3 month old pool heater burst in to flames. Her test strips told her everything was good and the water looked fine, but her pH and TA had actually crashed and over the course of a few days ate through the heat exchanger and then the water leaking out apparently ate through the burners as well. When she first had me over my TF-100 quickly clued me in to the issue and we corrected it on the spot. The rest of the summer I would clean blue gunk out of her filter, the remains of her pool heater.

So that's one reason I would never recommend the use of test strips. Especially to someone just starting out since strips have a tendency to show impossible and improbable numbers and someone without experience might miss that they are trying to fix imaginary problems or ignoring real ones. Lack of experience makes reliable testing more important, not less.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mdragger88

superuser

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2020
204
Spring, TX
Shoot, caring for your own pool is faster and easier than paying someone once you get the basics down. I was in the same boat almost a year ago, bought a house with the first pool I've ever owned much less had to take care of. I knew zero. My brother introduced me to the TFP method, walked me through testing for the first time, and it was off to the races. Never hired anyone. As I learned more, I made a bunch of fixes and corrections myself to issues left by the previous owners which made life even easier. I like being confident that my pool is always 100% swim ready, and I spend maybe 10 minutes a week on its care.
 

NicoleIvy2004

Member
Aug 31, 2021
10
Tampa, Florida
Pool Size
15000
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thank you all very much for encouraging me. So it sounds like--from a couple of suggestions--I should start out with the TF-100 kit. It looks like it's $77. Assuming I must test daily (do I need to test daily once I get the hang of things?), how long does this kit last?
Does the kit come with instructions or do I need a link here to know what the heck I'm doing?

I daily do skim, brush, and check/clear the basket/filters.

The pool guy showed me how to turn on the spa. He showed me how to turn on the aux pool jets (before only the overflow/waterfall from the spa was on). He showed me how to access the filters at the pool equipment on the side of the house.

I do see this site says when adding chlorine to add it "at the return". What is considered the return?....is that where the skimmer is or would that be where the waterfall from the spa into the pool is? (And do I need to pour some of the chlorine directly into the spa or does it do that enough via the circulation?)

Finally, I only know my pool is a gunite pool. What category of type does gunite fall under: plaster or fiberglass (I assume not vinyl)?
Thanks again!
 
Last edited:

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2014
33,605
Texas, San Antonio/Marion, South-Central Area
Pool Size
17888
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-45 Plus
You will probably do all the tests initially once when you get the kit, then test FC daily, perhaps the pH as well. The others don't change as much unless you change water. The kit should last all season if kept inside in a cool room. The kit has instructions, but of course we're all here to help as well. Chlorine gets poured slowly at the return jets going back into the pool. Gunite = plaster. :)
 

Msch99

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 11, 2018
1,015
Verona, MO
I was going to say the same thing right off. Total Chlorine is made up of Free Chlorine and Combine Chloramines. Total cannot be less than Free. The fact that he reported this to the OP means either he didn't catch it and his tests are just that inaccurate, or that he straight up does not know what he is doing.

To the OP:

TFP is only complicated in the sense that it is not as easy as "Go to the pool store (or pool guy) and have them recommend some magic chemicals to dump in your pool"

I liken it to baking, you have different levels of making a cake: Buy a cake at the store, make a cake from a box mix, make a simple cake following a tested recipe, make a complicated cake like an angel food cake, make your own cake and develop your own recipe. TFP is in the "make a simple cake from a tested recipe area."

It is not hard, but you do have to understand what is going on in your pool from a basic level. The TF-100 test kit is what allows you to do that. The test kit is really easy to use, and is much better than test strips. The other thing that you really need to understand is the relationship between Free Chlorine, CYA, and proper sanitization levels. Again, its not hard, about 15 - 20 min of reading will bring you up to a working level.

Free Chlorine is just the amount of chlorine that is floating around in your pool waiting for something to do. It either gets burned off by the sun, or gets consumed by fighting biological items.

You can add free chlorine to your pool in any number of ways - bleach, liquid chlorine (which is just stronger bleach), a salt water chlorine generator (SWG), chlorine gas, or various tabs, sticks, or granules.

The issue with tabs, sticks and granules, is they are also adding other things at the same time - especially CYA - so it next to impossible to use only them, because they cause other things to get out balance
Chlorine gas is mainly used only in large commercial pools. Most residential pool owners do not have the ability handled compressed gasses
That leaves bleach or a SWGC. Both of which add nothing but chlorine. (Of course you need to be running a salt pool to use a SWGC)

The group of people here will also walk you through the entire process, and are more than happy to answer any questions.

Thanks
I love the cake analogy! 👍😀
 
  • Like
Reactions: phonedave

Msch99

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 11, 2018
1,015
Verona, MO
I recommend the speed stir along with the TF100 kit. Well worth it! Cheaper if add to the original purchase I think due to shipping etc.
Don’t sweat the testing, the experts here will have you up and running in no time!

:crazy::lovetfp:
 
  • Like
Reactions: cowboycasey

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,648
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
I second the Speed Stir, it is a life saver :)
 

gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
390
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
It seems needlessly complicated
It really is not. It may seem that way in the beginning, only because the perception is someone else is managing the "complicated" things. But in reality, most pool services aren't really doing anything complicated, and probably doing it wrong, so when you boil it all down, the TFP methods are actually purposefully simple.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,033
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Assuming I must test daily (do I need to test daily once I get the hang of things?),

Not all test need to be done daily.

You test FC, CC and pH daily until you get to know your pool and then every 2 or 3 days. Youc an run through this in 10 minutes or less once you get the hang of it.

Test TA before any pH changes.

Test CH and CYA monthly or after large rains.

 

Tcadwall0

Gold Supporter
May 19, 2021
137
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
12900
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
Lots of really good answers here - but one thing I didn't see that made this method incredibly simple for me is the pool math app. The value of that app, is that it makes your management an EASY job - along with the guidance here.
 

poolnoobgrandma

Gold Supporter
Sep 15, 2018
730
Seminole, FL
Thank you all very much for encouraging me. So it sounds like--from a couple of suggestions--I should start out with the TF-100 kit. It looks like it's $77. Assuming I must test daily (do I need to test daily once I get the hang of things?),
No, once you "know your pool" you can tell by looking that everything is good, and test a couple of times a week. That may take a while, and there will be times that you test daily.

how long does this kit last?
Does the kit come with instructions or do I need a link here to know what the heck I'm doing?
I daily do skim, brush, and check/clear the basket/filters.

The pool guy showed me how to turn on the spa. He showed me how to turn on the aux pool jets (before only the overflow/waterfall from the spa was on). He showed me how to access the filters at the pool equipment on the side of the house.

I do see this site says when adding chlorine to add it "at the return". What is considered the return?....is that where the skimmer is or would that be where the waterfall from the spa into the pool is? (And do I need to pour some of the chlorine directly into the spa or does it do that enough via the circulation?)
The return is where water is coming into the pool from the pump. Looks like some kind of jet.
Finally, I only know my pool is a gunite pool. What category of type does gunite fall under: plaster or fiberglass (I assume not vinyl)?
Thanks again!
Plaster
I've been ONLY following TFP methods for about 2 1/2 years now. You will LOVE your pool once you see that TFP clarity, and you KNOW what the chem levels are.
 

NicoleIvy2004

Member
Aug 31, 2021
10
Tampa, Florida
Pool Size
15000
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thanks again, guys. I got the TF-100 and speed stirrer ordered. I also downloaded the Pool Math app. Once the kit comes in, I'll take some quiet time to read the instructions, and then give it a try. I'll keep you posted.

And to clarify the return...is that the same as the two "auxiliary" jets I asked the pool guy about and he showed me how to turn them on? They originally weren't on, and only the spa waterfall was on.
 

CraigChing

Gold Supporter
Jun 15, 2019
189
Plymouth, Minnesota
Pool Size
22000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thanks again, guys. I got the TF-100 and speed stirrer ordered. I also downloaded the Pool Math app. Once the kit comes in, I'll take some quiet time to read the instructions, and then give it a try. I'll keep you posted.

And to clarify the return...is that the same as the two "auxiliary" jets I asked the pool guy about and he showed me how to turn them on? They originally weren't on, and only the spa waterfall was on.
Come back here and ask any questions you have about testing. The forum is filled with these, we’ll help you!

About the return, put your hand in front of it, if water is gushing out, that is a return. Returns in your pool usually are only off when you aren’t running your main pump.
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support