Good news! The pool season is here, so we look forward to spending our leisure time in the swimming pool and planning pool parties. We are ready! But the question is, how ready is the pool water? To answer this, you will need to test your pool water with a test kit.

Many pool owners are already familiar with pool water test kits that test the water for parameters such as pH levels (total alkalinity and acid demand) and chlorine levels. But that’s a far cry from the scope of things to test for pool water testing. You should also consider testing for iron, copper, phosphates, calcium hardness, etc. Failure to test your pool water may result in an unpleasant appearance and pool damage.

Ways to Test Pool Water With a Kit

Knowing how to test pool water shouldn’t be considered complex or hard to do because it’s not.

Testing options include test strips (a very quick and convenient testing method), pool water test kits or liquid test kits (may be more complex than using pH test strips), digital pool test kits, and taking a sample from your pool to the local pool store.

All the above-mentioned testing options have one thing in common for accurate test results: the water sample. So before we go into the process of testing your pool water with a test kit, you must know how to get a proper sample.

The first thing to consider here is where the sample is taken from. The second thing is how you scoop your sample. If you can, go to the very center of your pool to scoop your sample. That’s the farthest spot from the pool walls and floor.

If you’ve decided to drop by the local store for professional testing, scoop your sample with a clean bottle or cup and ensure it has a covering. When scooping, ensure your container is held upside down so that the entrance is towards the pool floor. Then, put your container in the water elbow-deep and move it towards the right side and upwards to scoop the water.

Ensure to not take your sample near pool surfaces.

Test Strips

Swimming Pool Test Strips

Strips are preferred because they are very fast and straightforward to use. A testing strip is more precise than a liquid test kit in some cases. This is because there’s less allowance for human error, which can occur when you want to align the colors with the aid of chemical drops to test the pool’s pH levels.

Another plus for pool test strips is that they cost less than liquid test kits. Although a testing strip can only be used once, meaning you’ll exhaust several test strips quickly. So I think they even each other out on which pool water test kit is more affordable.

Follow the below steps to use test strips:

Step 1: Get a pool water sample.

Step 2: Insert a dry test strip in the water and pull it out as soon as it goes in. Avoid soaking your pool test strips.

Step 3: Hold it up and keep it still for roughly 15 seconds. It’s important to stay still because it can alter the results if you shake.

Step 4: At this point, the strip will have changed color. So compare the color you see to the chart on the packaging of the test kit.

Step 5: Based on what you’ve seen of your pool chemistry, make the necessary chemical modifications to your pool.

You’ll get most test strips for pH levels, free chlorine, and total alkalinity. However, ensure you also get special test strips that can test for salt, iron, and copper.

Liquid Test Kits

Liquid Solution Pool Water Test Kit

This is an alternative testing option to test your pool water. Ensure the test kit contains orthotolidine to test free chlorine and phenol red to test the pH level.

Follow the steps to use liquid kits;

Step 1: Use the collector that came with the test kit to gather a sample from your pool.

Step 2: Add the specified drops of phenol red to your sample on the side allocated for testing pH.

Step 3: Then, add the specified number of drops of orthotolidine to your sample on the side allocated for testing free chlorine. Free chlorine measures the concentration of chlorine to cleanse your pool water.

Step 4: Take the collector you used to take your sample and hold it to a white background. Then compare the watercolor to the collector’s color scales. The degree of redness determines the pH level. On the other hand, the degree of yellowness determines the chlorine level in the water.

If the water is barely red, it means the water needs more acid. An acid demand test determines how much acid needs to be added to the water to balance the pool pH. Holding the collector to a bright background ensures higher accuracy in determining results.

Digital Test Kits

Digital Pool Water Tester

Getting a digital test kit for your pool water is the quickest, most precise, and most convenient testing method. They are also straightforward to use, plus they come with bright LCD displays, a memory to view and compare previous readings, and water-resistant housing. Unlike the pH strips, it doesn’t require you to match colors. You just need to view the results displayed on the LCD display.

There are various types of digital pool test kits. Some are equipped with electrodes that can measure certain chemicals and salinity (if there’s too much salt or not) and give you precise readings. There are also hybrid digital kits that incorporate either reagents or a test strip to produce readings.

Unlike the traditional test strip or reagent, the digital tester eliminates any allowance for error that may occur with results that involve the naked eye.

Digital kits are also a plus for owners who are colorblind. Though digital kits are more costly than other testing options, they make up for their cost by giving value in terms of being simple to use, reliable, precise, and quick.

Going to the Pool Store

If you’ve decided to head to the store with your sample to test alkalinity, or total chlorine levels, cyanuric acid levels, and total dissolved solids (TDS), ensure you scoop your sample the same way you should if you’re testing at home with pool testing strips.

You’ll likely be able to test your water as you walk into the store, but we recommend calling ahead to ensure that they will be available for you.

When Is the Right Time to Test Your Pool?

Alkalinity and pH are more volatile than other parameters, so you’ll need to check them twice weekly to ensure they are balanced. However, you may test it more if you’ve added chemicals, the pool is being swum in a lot or during the rainy season.

Testing it yourself isn’t enough; we still recommend visiting the store with a sample from your pool for a professional test.

Testing Your Pool for Calcium Hardness

You should test your pool monthly for total hardness. The concentration of magnesium and calcium hardness should be between 200-and 500 ppm. You’ll need a digital kit to determine the total hardness of your water. Get a test kit that can measure calcium hardness, copper, iron, pH, free, and combined chlorine.

The calcium level of your pool should neither be too low nor too high. Place a chemical indicator to monitor the calcium levels in your water. You can get rid of calcium hardness by using a flocculant, muriatic acid, or changing some of the water in your pool. You can also test calcium levels bi-monthly to be on the safe side.

Testing Your Pool for Chlorine

If you’ve tested your water with a digital kit and the chlorine levels are too low, you can fix this by using a chlorine vial or adding chlorine tablets to your water. On the flip side, if chlorine levels are too high, you’ll need a chlorine neutralizer. Too much chlorine can trigger eye and skin irritation. This is more common for saltwater pools that require a chlorinator for sanitizing.

Why Is Pool Water Testing Important?

You need to be familiar with pool water chemistry to conduct pool testing. Without pool water testing, you’ll be in the dark about the chemical levels, chlorine level, pH balance, and the number of certain substances (for instance, if there’s too much iron or chlorine in your pool water). In addition, without testing your pool water, you won’t know the right pool chemicals to add to make your pool safe and clean.

It doesn’t stop at just testing swimming pools. Testing them regularly is also just as important. It’s the most frequent pool maintenance task you’ll perform as a pool owner. Lastly, you should have testing supplies such as pH testing strips and liquid testing kits for the various things you’re testing.

About the Author

Lucas Greer

Lucas vs. Wild - Lucas is a true nature lover and survivalist. When he's not teaching science at school, he can be found in nature, hiking, climbing, camping, and rafting. He knows all the tricks and DIYs for making unclean water drinkable with simple means in an emergency. At school, his students love him for his exciting water filtration projects.

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