Frst Time Inground Pool Owners

Can you please explain what to look for on a pool test strip and what to exactly add to make it safe for swimming? i.e., If it's one color, what do I add to make it the right balance?

Thanks for your help cause we are so lost on this.

Thanks for the question

That is an extremely broad question. It would take me a very long time to describe every scenario and situation that could occur. However, what I can do is to give you some basics and parameters to follow.

First, test strips are pretty useless. They're very convenient, but that's it. What you want to get is a Taylor K-2006 pool test kit and learn how to use it. It takes some getting used to but it's well worth the investment.

You want to test for the chlorine, combined chlorine, total alkalinity (TA), pH, calcium hardness and cyanuric acid (stabilizer).

Liquid chlorine is what you should use. It's 3.25 qrts. to shock per 10,000 gallons. Shocking is bringing the chlorine up 10ppm.

Baking soda (sodium bicarb) is used to raise the alkalinity. It's 1.25 lbs. to raise the TA 10ppm per 10,000 gallons. Muriatic acid is used to lower the TA. It's 0.8 qrts to lower it 10ppm per 10,000 gallons.

Baking soda, soda ash, and 20 Mule Team Borax is used to raise the pH. Use 1.25 lbs. per 10,000 gallons to raise it 0.2. Muriatic acid is used to lower it. It's 12 oz. per 10,000 gallons.

Calcium chloride is used to raise the hardness level. It.s 1.25 lbs. to raise it 10ppm.

When you say "If it's one color, what do I add to make it the right balance" that will mean that the chemicals are off some how. This is an either too high or low reading. Again, this is a very broad question. This entire site, along with the Q&A page is dedicated to these kinds of questions, but they're more specific in nature.

I get many questions that state the TA is "high" so what should I do? High is a relative term and means different things to different people. The range for the TA is 80 - 120ppm. High could mean 130ppm or it could mean 300ppm. I would need to actual numbers.

My best advice is to be careful who you listen to. I know from personal experience that many pool store employees are not, nor have they ever been, real pool guys. They work in a pool store and sell chemicals.

There's nothing wrong with that. You need a good store to get your products, but take advice on how to balance you pool, take care of it, and any troubleshooting that needs to take place from someone who knows what they're talking about and has done it. If you don't it will cost to hundreds of $$ and alot of wasted time. And you'll be no better off.

Do You Really Need All These Chemicals For A Pool Or Are They Just Trying To Get Your Money?

I have nothing to sell on this site. It's to help pool owners like yourself take care of their pools in the most efficient and economical way. A 25,000 gallon pool should cost no more than $20 - $25 per month for chemicals. I answer questions for free through my site and personal email. However, their are situations that arise when pool owners need personal assistance.

If you feel your situation is more complex and want immediate assistance (within 24 hrs) you can make a donation of $35 per hour and I'll answer your questions by phone.

To post a reply, or if you have a similar question, you can see your post on the Q&A page in the "Pool Water Testing Kits" category.

Check back to this post for updates or answers.


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Oct 02, 2013
Balancing Our Pool w/ Test Strips
by: Pam

Written very well Robert. About 4 years ago I signed up for your page as I had a few questions re. putting in a new inground pool. Prior we had an above ground and I was determined to look after it myself. Although I am not an expert I pretty much have a great understanding.

I have the expensive Taylor kit and find it hard to use to distinguish the true color. I tend to use the test strips and have found them pretty accurate.

One suggestion I would like to add is, find a knowledgeable pool store, not a big box store and support his business (somewhat or all for chemicals) and get some questions answered. I have also hired a pool guy when needed who kindly will come over and answer any questions, for a fee of course. He has walked me through my salt cell, how to clean it and remove it for the winter and other tips that I would not have known.

I keep my pool circulating all the time so he also had a few points on return valves, direction to put them in the off season and so on. All this knowledge isn't something that my installer told me and is relatively easy once educated. Many can't be bothered and pay. I find it very easy to look after my pool now and very inexpensive while I am able to save some money and not pay someone else.

Good luck, it gets easier.

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