TFP test kit

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philboyj

Gold Supporter
Jul 8, 2015
330
Houston TX
Uh-oh - I have not purchased the TFP test kit as yet. Being my first pool, I figured that in order to fully appreciate the accuracy and detail of the TFP kit, I needed to try maintaining the pool with the guess strips first (PB also provided a container of the strips).

So far its been easy using the guess strips. I use it more as an indicative of where the pool is heading. When I started the salt system, I saw the chlorine levels going down - increased pump time and also increased salt cell to 60%, the readings came back up. Cyanuric acid was around 75 to 100 when I was using the trichlor pucks. After a bit of rain and having the SWG on for a month, its closer to the 50 mark.

The PH is the only troubling item - maybe because I dont want to believe that the pH is higher :) I added a gallon of acid a week ago and pH seemed normal - but it has been climbing again - I've read that its not uncommon with SWG and a new pool for the pH to creep upwards.

Since it is so simple to use the guess strips, I am prone to test the water daily - just as recommended on the TFP tests.

The guess strips also have specific instructions to be followed - dont swish the strip inside the water, it should be a quick in and out - I leave it inside water for 2 to 3 seconds tops. Dont wave the strip around like a polaroid camera photo - keep as steady as possible in horizontal position for 15 seconds. Then compare the colors. Surprisingly when I first used the strips without reading the instructions, it seemed natural to swish the strip inside the water and also wave the strip to get the water off it - both strict no-no's

So far so good. I do know that the first time I have an issue, I will be buying a better kit.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Why not just avoid the problem in the first place by maintaining the pool chemistry correctly?

It's like having a broken speedometer in your car and waiting for the $100s speeding ticket before getting it fixed.
 

domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
Uh-oh - I have not purchased the TFP test kit as yet. Being my first pool, I figured that in order to fully appreciate the accuracy and detail of the TFP kit, I needed to try maintaining the pool with the guess strips first (PB also provided a container of the strips).

So far its been easy using the guess strips. I use it more as an indicative of where the pool is heading. When I started the salt system, I saw the chlorine levels going down - increased pump time and also increased salt cell to 60%, the readings came back up. Cyanuric acid was around 75 to 100 when I was using the trichlor pucks. After a bit of rain and having the SWG on for a month, its closer to the 50 mark.

The PH is the only troubling item - maybe because I dont want to believe that the pH is higher :) I added a gallon of acid a week ago and pH seemed normal - but it has been climbing again - I've read that its not uncommon with SWG and a new pool for the pH to creep upwards.

Since it is so simple to use the guess strips, I am prone to test the water daily - just as recommended on the TFP tests.

The guess strips also have specific instructions to be followed - dont swish the strip inside the water, it should be a quick in and out - I leave it inside water for 2 to 3 seconds tops. Dont wave the strip around like a polaroid camera photo - keep as steady as possible in horizontal position for 15 seconds. Then compare the colors. Surprisingly when I first used the strips without reading the instructions, it seemed natural to swish the strip inside the water and also wave the strip to get the water off it - both strict no-no's

So far so good. I do know that the first time I have an issue, I will be buying a better kit.
It's your pool, manage it as you wish.

Test strips have proven to be unreliable, and their testing resolution to large to be useful.

To wait until you have a problem is throwing money away..... either at the cost of additional chemical use due to poor test results, or the cost of the liquid chlorine needed for a SLAM plus the cost of a proper test kit at the same time. There is also the 'cost' for your time that you now need to spend maintaining a SLAM.

You've just spent thousands of dollars on a beautiful pool, but are hesitant to spend $70 on a proper test kit, this I don't understand :confused:.
 

azdesertpool

Gold Supporter
Sep 11, 2015
86
Tucson, Arizona
Wow. Really surprised at the venom aimed at the OP. I don't think he is suggesting anyone not follow the TFP-approved process, just explaining what he has done so far. I ordered the test kit, and my pool consultant also threw in a container of test strips. I don't blame the OP for not wanting the test strips to go to waste - I feel the same way and have been using a test strip myself every few days in between the "proper" testing. I've learned my consultant's brand of test strip is not as accurate as the test kit, and actually hides the rise in pH.

I understand the OP intends long term to switch to a test kit - I wouldn't blame him for ordering it somewhere else after what he's been shown today.
 

gocubs418

Well-known member
May 3, 2016
385
Dallas/TX
The mods do come off as spewing "venom", but for a good reason.

This is their website and they educate pool owners to use their system out of the kindness of their heart. They don't want people theorizing that they can use an ineffective testing method instead of ponying up a few bucks for an adequate testing kit.

Posts like this can mislead someone to think its OK to cheap out and just use test strips.

In my opinion, it's like going over to your friend's house for dinner and saying the food is terrible.
 

PAGirl

TFP Guide
Jun 5, 2012
2,390
Central PA
Wow. Really surprised at the venom aimed at the OP. I don't think he is suggesting anyone not follow the TFP-approved process, just explaining what he has done so far. I ordered the test kit, and my pool consultant also threw in a container of test strips. I don't blame the OP for not wanting the test strips to go to waste - I feel the same way and have been using a test strip myself every few days in between the "proper" testing. I've learned my consultant's brand of test strip is not as accurate as the test kit, and actually hides the rise in pH.

I understand the OP intends long term to switch to a test kit - I wouldn't blame him for ordering it somewhere else after what he's been shown today.

The only way he would actually know if his "guess strips" are accurate is by ordering a quality test kit. If he doesn't plan to, that's his prerogative. He doesn't intend to by one until he actually has a problem. That's not what the TFP process is all about. It's about preventing problems before they occur.
 

Coastal Carolina

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 2, 2010
90
I agree with you gocubs418,

I would hate to think of where I would be today if TFP had not been on the web all those years ago. I DO know where I would be......without a pool. I would have given up a long time ago and said that it just wasn't worth it, or had a nervous break down trying to figure out why I couldn't have a beautiful pool. Thank you TFP and all the moderators on here who take time everyday to help people. I have had 6 to 7 years of beautiful, crystal clear and SAFE water to swim in. To me it is worth every penny to have that TFtestkit.
 

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domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
............I understand the OP intends long term to switch to a test kit - I wouldn't blame him for ordering it somewhere else after what he's been shown today.
1) The OP stated he would switch to a proper test kit when a problem arose, a reactive solution, not a proactive approach as we teach at TFP.
2) TFP does not sell anything, and nobody has stated otherwise. The OP can get a FAS/DPD test from the retailer of their choice.

The OP is free to manage their pool as they wish, we are just trying to help save them the headaches of new pool ownership that come from poor testing & advise.

No need to be snarky about it.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,744
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
16000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The OP is free to manage their pool as they wish, we are just trying to help save them the headaches of new pool ownership that come from poor testing & advise.

No need to be snarky about it.

I agree with Dom. The OP is free to manage his pool how he chooses.

I will offer my take on test strips - they can work in a rudimentary sense and will give you ballpark ranges but they are highly susceptible to interferences and failures. Part of the problem is that test strips have to be formulated with assumed set of water parameters in mind. In other words, if the pool water is mostly in balance, the test strips will give you a close approximation to what the actual values are. However, if one parameter is way out of balance, then it can affect all the other tests on the strip. This is why the reagent based test kits are better - all of the measurements are mostly decoupled from one another.

For example, the FC measurement of a test strip is based on a DPD dye formulation that will work from 0-10ppm FC. The lower end of the range has a fairly linear color response to FC and so you can, if your eyesight is good enough, differentiate between 1 and 3ppm FC. The problem occurs when, for some unknown reason, your FC goes above 10ppm. At that point, the FC color will bleach out and lead one to believe that the FC is actually zero. This can then lead to the mistake of adding more chlorine to a pool that is already over-chlorinated. As well, many of the other dyes on the test strips are sensitive to chlorine oxidation. This can lead to false colors and color bleaching thus skewing results.

This is why drop based testing is much better. Not only are the results more fine grained, but also the reagents are formulated to handle extreme interferences from other water parameters being out of balance.

Finally, the CYA (stabilizer) test strips are effectively useless. They typically have graduations that are far too widely separated to be useful. Most will only differentiate between 30ppm, 50ppm & 100ppm in terms of color change. So what if the color looks to be somewhere in between them? Is your CYA 30, 40 or 50ppm? The difference in the amount of FC you'll need is enough that your only option is to assume the CYA is higher than it might actually be and use more chlorine than is necessary. That is a waste of chemicals.

Again, you're free to test your pool water as you see fit. But, just as you are free to test as you see fit, TFP is free to demand that your results come from an approved testing method and the advice given will be predicated on that fact. If you run into trouble and give the guides and experts a bunch of results from test strips or the pool store, I can guarantee the response will be some form of - "we'll be happy to help as soon as you post results from a reliable test kit."
 

azdesertpool

Gold Supporter
Sep 11, 2015
86
Tucson, Arizona
The snarky and vitriolic post that I was responding to has now been completely removed by the mods or by that poster, which makes my first post (now listed as post #7, originally it was #8) a little out of context.

I appreciate TFP and all of the posts aimed at educating others and avoiding problems before they occur. I am sure the OP appreciates the constructive responses in this thread that aim to educate rather than to criticize him with a personal attack.

I stand corrected as to any connection between TFP and a certain retailer of test kits. It was confusing since many mods, TFP experts, etc. (including the post I was directly responding to) have links to that certain retailer in their signatures, and that retailer has links back to TFP, so I assumed (incorrectly apparently) that there was some connection. In that case, you really should ask them to help fund the forum for the number of test kits they must sell thanks to TFP.
 

SuzfromTexas

Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
TFP Guide
Apr 7, 2015
3,365
Houston, Texas
Hi Phil,
If my PB had given me test strips, I would have been tempted to use them in the beginning, but in addition to the test kit. For me, I'm as cheap (let's say frugal) as they come, and waste really bugs me. So if that's your reason for using the test strips, I certainly understand. I also know that I want to take care of my pool investment as I'm sure you do, too. From TFP's patient and excellent education of me, I understand the water balance has an effect on the plaster which begins from day one. So, I really wanted to start off on the right foot. Learning to do the tests did take some effort on my part, but it gave me confidence and reassurance that all was (is) going well with the water chemistry.

Knowing me, I would have used the test strips out of curiosity and as a back up on those in-between test kit days. I do wonder how our humidity affects test strips even if sealed. I know my pantry has proof that sealing products doesn't always protect from our gulf humidity.

Your pool is absolutely stunning and one of my favorites. Please do what you know and feel is best. I'm not a mod or TFP guide, and don't even post as often as I used to. I hope you'll forgive me for adding my voice in this thread - just couldn't help myself! I've thought of many more analogies to make the point, but that's already been done well enough. If you have (or have had) teenagers, you can imagine exactly what I'm thinking!

Now, I'd love to see some updated photos of your gorgeous pool!!!! Especially with people enjoying the pool and pool area!!!

Take care,
Suz
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Hey Philboyj, given that you are a Gold supporter, you are aware of the discount you get on the TF-100 right? And also a discount at INYOpools?

Sorry this thread seemed to get so heated for no reason, although I guess I am not too surprised given we are a passionate bunch. :D

We just do not want you to lose swimming time in a month if your pool goes green when we know that a little prevention now would save you the hassle.
 

Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
I agree with Jason, this thread blew up for no apparent reason, my guess is someone was having a bad day, and there have been a number of threads here lately with people that come here asking for advice, then the TFP contributors spend considerable time trying to help these people, just for the OP's (in other threads) to go off an decide to take the local "pool experts" advice instead.

As to the connection between TFP and TF-Test Kits, it goes something like this (if I get it wrong please remember much of this happened several years ago before I was a member here). The TFP forum existed before TF-Testkits, Dave the former owner of TF-Testkits started the business to provide a test kit designed with the TFP method in mind which utilizes Taylor brand reagents, but supplies them in ratios that fit well with the TFP testing schedule (more of the reagents you need the most vs the K-2006). Then a bit later TF-Testkits took over the ownership of TFP when the old owner wanted out, at this point TF-Testkits footed much of the bill to keep this place going as member contributions did not cover expenses. Dave who is still an active member here sold TF-Testkits and retired to Florida a couple of years ago, since then there has been an effort to make TFP self sustaining hence the various new supporter membership levels.

So even though there is some intertwining between TFP and TF-Testkits, there has always been degree of separation and none of the experts are paid or get any incentive to endorse one test kit or another. However most of us do endorse the use of the TF-100 vs the K-2006 due to it being a better bargain in the long run, the fact it helps support the site, and because you can be assured of fresh reagents that have been stored under the proper conditions vs buying a K-2006 from a major online retailer where you don't know the age of the kit or the storage conditions (Taylor kits have a 2 year shelf life).

Ike
 

Piolin

Well-known member
Sep 9, 2010
604
Miami, FL
I agree with Jason, this thread blew up for no apparent reason, my guess is someone was having a bad day, and there have been a number of threads here lately with people that come here asking for advice, then the TFP contributors spend considerable time trying to help these people, just for the OP's (in other threads) to go off an decide to take the local "pool experts" advice instead.

As to the connection between TFP and TF-Test Kits, it goes something like this (if I get it wrong please remember much of this happened several years ago before I was a member here). The TFP forum existed before TF-Testkits, Dave the former owner of TF-Testkits started the business to provide a test kit designed with the TFP method in mind which utilizes Taylor brand reagents, but supplies them in ratios that fit well with the TFP testing schedule (more of the reagents you need the most vs the K-2006). Then a bit later TF-Testkits took over the ownership of TFP when the old owner wanted out, at this point TF-Testkits footed much of the bill to keep this place going as member contributions did not cover expenses. Dave who is still an active member here sold TF-Testkits and retired to Florida a couple of years ago, since then there has been an effort to make TFP self sustaining hence the various new supporter membership levels.

So even though there is some intertwining between TFP and TF-Testkits, there has always been degree of separation and none of the experts are paid or get any incentive to endorse one test kit or another. However most of us do endorse the use of the TF-100 vs the K-2006 due to it being a better bargain in the long run, the fact it helps support the site, and because you can be assured of fresh reagents that have been stored under the proper conditions vs buying a K-2006 from a major online retailer where you don't know the age of the kit or the storage conditions (Taylor kits have a 2 year shelf life).

Ike
Also I will like to add the outstanding customer support we always get from Rebecca.... [emoji4]
 

Leebo

Admin
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
10,507
Eastern Ohio
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I think this thread has came to a conclusion at this point. philboyj is welcome to maintain their pool however they wish and we at TFP will give them the best advice we can with the information we are given. None of our members are required to purchase anything before we provide advice but it is very likely members will highly recommend results from a kit that contains the FAS/DPD test. This is because we simply have seen time and time again that test strips and pool store results are inconsistent at best. There are multiple different kits that contain the FAS/DPD test and all are welcome.
 
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