Beginner’s Guide to Pool Water Testing

testing-pool-water - the wrong wayWe have all heard of “testing the waters” but when comes to swimming pool maintenance, water testing is the best route to an easy to maintain pool.

You have to do more than touch the water, to test anything more than the temperature. Test kits, strips and readers are used to check pool water balance levels.

A swimming pool is just a hole in the ground without water, and swimming is no fun if not experienced in clean, clear and healthy water.

Since swimming pools are generally used by multiple people at any given time, it is imperative that pool water is tested and treated regularly, to prevent the spread of infectious illness, and enhance the pool experience.

In order for us to have a sparkling clean and well-balanced pool, we have to ensure that the chemical levels stay within the ideal range of:aquachek-7-way-test-strip-color-chart

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6
  • Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 180 – 220 ppm
  • Chlorine: 1-3 ppm
  • Bromine: 3-5 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid: 30 – 50 ppm

Testing your pool water and maintaining perfect chemical harmony is not rocket science but it definitely involves regularity and consistency on our part. It is recommended to test your pool water weekly and add chemicals if you see an increase/decrease in ideal chemical levels. There are several types of testing supplies available on the market, varying in price and accuracy.

Since I work for a company that sells pool supplies, it was fairly easy for me to get customer input via our amazing review program, and I was able to narrow down the bestselling water testing supplies to make it easier for you to make the selection to your liking.

Pool Test Strips:

pool-test-stripsThe most inexpensive and widely used method of water testing – test strips – is fast, easy, and fairly accurate. Water Testing Strips like the AquaChek Test Strips can be used to test for individual chemicals or you can buy something like AquaChek Select 7 Way Test Strips or Yellow 4 Way Chlorine to make multiple tests at the same time.

The most amazing feature of test strips other than their low price is that they are very simple to use; just dip them in water, swirl, and read the results within seconds. Usually the test strips are color coded and come with an easy-to-read chart that lets you easily determine which chemicals you need to add to your pool.

Liquid Test Kits:

taylor-troubleshooter-test-kit-Liquid test kits are an excellent way to determine chemical levels in your pool and maintain crystal clear water at all times. Obviously higher in price as compared to testing strips, the liquid kits offer a more reliable and complete testing solution. Liquid testing kits make use of reagents that are added to sample water and results are read on a user-friendly comparator.

Liquid Testing Kits like the 4-Way Test Kit Liquid Solution are economical and easy to use, and some like Taylor Basic Residential DPD Test Kit take maintenance a step further and include a dosage chart for translating test results into treatment.

Digital Pool Testers:

digital-pool-testerWhat is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word digital – accurate and fast, right? Well when it comes to digital water testers, accuracy and promptness is what these amazing testers offer. Extremely easy to use, the digital water testers often feature LCD display, water-resistant housing, memory function, and no color matching, so reading results is a snap.

Digital Pool Testers have electrodes that measure chemical levels in the water, with results that have more accuracy and dependability. Of course more on the expensive side, Digital Water Testers are definitely my favorite for a reliable, complete, and fast water testing solution.

As a pool owner, you know that pool maintenance is not easy and does not come at a flip of a button. Regular pool testing is an important foundation to prevent other pool problems. These water testing solutions mentioned above are perfect to keep water balance easy and make your overall pool maintenance a little lighter.

balanced-happy-pool-waterTest Strips, Test Kits or Digital? The type of pool test you use depends on the level of accuracy you want in your pool tests. Test strips are the least accurate, a liquid test kit has better results, and a digital reader is most exact, and also rules out [most] human error!

Until next time, adiós!

Ayesha Aslam
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Beginner’s Guide to Pool Water Testing — 8 Comments

  1. Hi

    I tested my pool for alkalinity this morning using an electronic tester one side read the alkalinity ar 120ppm the other side read 170ppm is this possible. Ph is looking w at 6.7. I’m finding it difficult to regulate the ph due to the alkalinity.

    • High alkalinity and low pH is one of the most troublesome conditions to deal with. You need to lower the pH to also lower the Alkalinity (using pH decreaser or muriatic acid), and then your pH goes too low, and you need to raise it back up, but the high Alkalinity fights the change in pH, by buffering the pH too much. It may be cheaper and easier to drain half the pool, refill with source water of a lower alkalinity and higher ph (use your test kit to test your hose water). Otherwise, buy the large bucket of pH decreaser, and the large bucket of pH increaser, and treat the pool each day over the course of a week, and you should be able to realign the two.

  2. Good morning! I tested the pool and seems like everything was in balance but water is greenish color. You can see the bottom but water is green. Its not slimy but I bought the yellow mustard chemical and put in the pool along with 2 lbs of chlorine. This morning still the same vacummed it and according to strip there was no chlorine so I added 2 lbs again of chlorine. Not sure what to do next.

    • Hi Jackie, keep adding chlorine shock until you see the water turn a blue/grey color. For dark green pools that can be over 10 lbs of pool shock. I would avoid yellow out (sodium bromide) and just use lots and lots of shock, with the pH on the low side (7.1-7.3). When the chlorine level drops to zero the morning after a shock treatment, the chlorine demand was higher than the treatment dosage. Double it and try again!

    • Hi – on most pH tests, yellow colors indicate low pH, and thus requires pH+ to raise the pH. ‘Bright’ yellow may also mean that the reagents are expired, or that the chlorine level is very, very high.

  3. Pingback: Water Test Fails: 12 Simple Mistakes You Could Be Making | InTheSwim Pool Blog

  4. Pingback: Pool Maintenance: DIY or Go With a Pro? | InTheSwim Pool Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *