Where do we even start?

Jun 10, 2012
We just purchased our first pool-basically bought whatever the salesman told us was "best" to have, we are pool virgins. Installation came and went with little info except "put your hose in it, you're all set!". Well, after reading all the articles and searching this website I'm still left wondering - "it's all full...now what?"

I keep reading test results, test results! But since it's a new fill, do we start by turning on the pump and shocking it first? We have well water so it looks pretty disgusting. The salesman talked us into upgrading to the nature pro vision sanitation and chlorination system, but it says we shouldn't start that up until the water is at stable levels? Don't we need the chlorine to start filtering thru that? We really feel lost and just need some guidance to get started. Our kids are ready to jump in dirty and all, and I know it's going to take some time to get it swim ready. The company did leave us with some starter chemicals...stabilizer, super shock, ph up and down, etc. suggestions? I follow directions really well :-D thanks!!!


LifeTime Supporter
Platinum Supporter
TFP Expert
May 7, 2007
Silver Spring, MD
Starting after the pool is full, turn on the pump, run it for at least an hour, and then measure PH, TA, and CH.

In the mean time, once the pump is running, add 2 ppm of chlorine.

You are going to need to raise CYA up to around 40 to 50. It is best to do that in two steps. Aim for 30 initially, give it a week, test CYA again, and adjust from there.

If you don't already have one, get a really good test kit. I recommend the TF-100 or the K-2006.
Welcome fellow Hoosier!! :wave:

You're off to a good start by finding this place and being interested in learning how everything works.

Order yourself that test kit that was already mention and start reading through pool school. It will sound a little complicated at first, but once you get started it will all make sense.

If you are using well water, there is a change you will have metals in it. If so, That might be the reason your water is brown, or could turn brown later with chlorine. If you know you have metals in your pool, you will likely want to use sequestriant to clear the water and keep it from staining things. Some are lucky enough that the metals fall out and hey are able to remove them with a vacuum, but I wouldn't count on it.


LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jun 5, 2012
DFW, Texas

As you can see from my signature below, I am a big believer in regular frequent testing with a good test kit. There simply is no substitute. I test at least once per day.

Is the nature pro vision sanitation and chlorination system a salt chlorine generator (a.k.a., SWG) or ???

I would follow Jason's suggestions to get you started.

As for the "starter chemicals" (stabilizer, super shock, ph up and down) that your pool company left you, I would put those aside until you have run a series of tests for FC, PH, TA, CH, CYA, and the OCLT.
  • • The stabilizer will add CYA. This is needed if your CYA is less than 30. If 30 or greater, I would not add any additional stabilizer until you get a feel for how much FC is lost each day. I tend to be conservative when it comes to CYA since it is much easier to add more if needed than it is to reduce it if it gets too high.
  • • As for the "super shock", the first thing I would do is read the label. If you see either of the words "dichlor" or "trichlor" listed as an ingredient, that means it has stabilizer (CYA) . If you see "Calcium Hypochlorite" then it has calcium. If you run an OCLT and pass, you will not need to use this "super shock". If you fail the OCLT, I would still be very careful about using this product. If the "super shock" contains either trichlor or dichlor and your CYA is under 30, then you are probably OK to use it on a limited basis. Otherwise, keep it aside. If the "super shock" contains Calcium Hypochlorite and your pool has a vinyl liner, I would not use this product since it is slow to dissolve and could bleach your liner.
  • • The good news is that you will probably get a chance to use either the pH UP and/or pH Down since pH tends to fluctuate a bit in most pools (especially if they are aerated with a cascading waterfall or other similar feature).


LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
May 10, 2010
SW Louisiana
Like others have said you will need a good test kit to know what your dealing with, it is VERY unlikely you will find one locally, pool stores rely on offering their "free testing" as a way to get you in the door to sell you chemicals you probably don't need, so tend to only stock basic test kits (which are often good enough for daily testing once things are balanced, but not more detailed which is needed every week or two) so you are forced to rely on them for detailed testing. I use the TF-100 test kit from TFTestkits, it is the best value out there as it gives you more of the reagents you use the most, and helps support this site. One thing the TF-100 does not include is a test for metals, this is because many people don't have metals in their fill water, and those that do don't need to test repeatedly once they find out metals are there, they just need to treat them.

Until you can get a good kit I suggest adding some chlorine to the water to hopefully keep things from starting to grow (Pool calculator says 1 gallon of 6% bleach should get you to an FC level 3.5, this will of course disappear shortly in sunlight without any CYA to shield it, but should buy you a little time to read pool school and get things in order)

Second I suggest taking a water sample to a pool store for their free testing, don't buy anything unless they tell you that you have metals in the water, in which case you might consider buying what they sell (many people around here prefer Jacks Magic brand, I don't have very many metals in my water so don't have first hand experience), get the numbers from their test and post them here, and it will give us an idea of where to start, you may also want to buy a simple drop based OTO Chlorine/pH test for around $10-$15 which you can use for basic testing until your good test gets in (whatever you do don't buy a multiway strip test, they are JUNK and unreliable).



LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Nov 5, 2008
You must start at Pool School -- right there at the top of the screen. Take notes and maybe even print off any section that seems important. Pay attention to the Test Kits Compared section and go on and order a good test kit from the recommended kits. You have to know where you are before you can start out correctly.
Jun 10, 2012
Well, the pump is up and running, that was another trip to the retailer because we didn't hve the right adapter! While I was there we got some advice from the "pool guys" on what to do next. He suggested to add one gallon of muratic acid every four hours until the brownish color is gone-which he said could take several gallons!

I've taken the advice from all of you to keep ready pool school and I've checked out the pool calculator to see what are some ideal numbers. At my initial test with the generic dip sticks it appears the total alkalinity and ph are extremely high. So, at least we are now underway! I am going to get on line a little later an order one of those tf test kits. It sounds much better!

Nina Li

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2012
Tampa, Florida
Hi...don't feel bad..I'm a newbie too! But.as I informed myself on chlorine vs saltwater pools with friends that already have pools..I chose Saltwater...I've had my pool up over a month..run my pump 8 hours and my sw filter for 4 hrs a day..and so far it's been trouble free...I vacuum every couple of days and that's it. Maybe an option you might consider...no chlorine, measuring, etc etc...it's really great...the water is soft and always clear. :)


Bronze Supporter
Apr 24, 2012
Nashville, TN

I was, about 2 months ago, right where you are. Brand new pool, pool newbie, had brought home lots of chemicals from the pool store, and had my handy pool store"ABC's of Pool Maintenance" DVD in hand. I'd already thrown a pound of stabilizer into the freshly filled pool, because, after all, that's what the DVD said to do!

Somewhere around step 197 of "Starting up your new pool", I got a little annoyed and thought there has GOT to be a better way. Enter TFP.

What we've wound up with was:

An incredibly east start up, that had us swimming in a day.
A crystal clear pool that's the envy of our pool owning neighbors.
Less than 30 minutes a week of effort.

If that's what you're after, here's my advice:

1) Don't argue, don't quibble, don't try to find reasons not to...go to http://www.tftestkits.com right now, and buy a good test kit. Everything you will do will begin with reliable and complete test results. In the amount of time it will take you to read on these forums how consistently alternatives wind up causing problems, Dave will have shipped the kit to you. :)

2) Read Pool School. When you're done, read Pool School. After that's finished, read Pool School. And finally, when you're ddone with those, read Pool School.

3) Roughly once a week, read Pool School.

4) Stop going to pool stores. :) There's absolutely nothing there you need to spend your hard earned money on, and the temptation to listen to the "knowledgeable" sales guys just creeps up on you, and before you know it, you've been pool stored. Don't go there for chemicals (you don't need anything they sell there except perhaps muratic acid or dry acid, and you can get those elsewhere), don't go for pool toys (Wal Mart and Target sell the same cheap plastic things for less), don't go for water testing (theirs are unreliable, the drive is time consuming, and you'll have your own test kit anyway).

5) If you have questions or concerns, ask them here. The folks around here LOVE to talk about pools...yours, theirs, anyone's. They'll give you straight info, that has stood the test of time, and back it up with facts, figures, and results.


Really...all kidding aside. get a good test kit, read pool school, and ask questions here. Your pool will be stunning, promise.