Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Kindness of Internet Strangers

A few years ago I stumbled onto the pizza making forum and I love it. I could spend hours and hours sifting through posts there. I’ve learned invaluable pizza lessons. I’m more of a reader than a writer on the forum but I do chime in once in awhile.

This spring I spent a lot of time doing searches on pools and maintenance. In the course of those searches I found another forum - pool forum. Trouble Free Pools. Turns out that pool forum people are just as nice and helpful as pizza forum people. Who knew? Ready for something else that blew my mind? You can pretty much take care of a pool with a testing kit, bleach, Borax and baking soda. The active ingredient in bleach is the same active ingredient in pool store chlorine – just different concentrations. If you are in a Walmart or Target and you see someone buying 16 gallons of bleach, they are most likely taking care of their pool and not cleaning a crime scene.

Now, I don’t want to bash any local pool stores - don’t have any experience with them other than a quick pickup of chlorine. But…I have read many stories where people have gotten terrible advice from professional pool people. I guess like anything, all pool experts are not created equal. According to the forum, the test strips you dip in pools are very unreliable and having your water tested at the pool store can often be wrong too. The home testing kit I got from the forum is pretty easy to use. I kind of feel like a chemist using it. There is a lot of add 5 drops of this, swirl then count the number of drops it takes to change color. I've also kind of matched the colors on the test strips to better numbers from my test kit so I sometimes still use the strips as a quick ballpark check of the water.

I’ve read through the pool school a few times and I think I have the hang of it. I’ve learned about cyanuric acid (a stabilizer that helps keep chlorine in the water). The right amount of cyanuric acid is good – and necessary. Too much is less good. Way too much and it’s time to drain water from your pool. Without the forum, I think my cyanuric acid level would be rising into the less good category now. I’ve also read up on the forums way to shock a pool (SLAM – Shock Level And Maintain) in case I ever need it. So far so good. I haven’t needed it. There's also the pool math calculator which gives pretty good estimates on what adding something to your pool will do.

When the forum talks about clear pool water, they mean you should be able to drop a quarter in the deep end and be able to see if it’s heads or tails. This picture was taken with my phone. The quarter is in front of the sneaker on the floor of the pool. The zooming in isn’t the clearest. What do you think?

Standing there, I could tell it was heads. Not as easy with the phone picture. So far, the only problem I’ve had using the Trouble Free Pool forum’s maintenance methods is that I can see every speck of dirt on the floor of the pool. And since the pool is surrounded by sand, it’s been driving me nuts. But that's slowly changing. Some more construction started this week.

Anyhow, if you have a pool – in ground or above ground – you might like looking around the Trouble Free Pool forum. I’ve learned a lot there.