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Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

How To Use Pool Test Kits? | All You Need To Know

How To Use Pool Test Kits

Different pool testing kits are available to test the chemistry and water quality in a swimming pool. However, the instructions for using each test kit usually vary, and not all kits offer accurate readings of the pool chemicals. 

When it comes to testing the chemistry and quality of your pool water, you need only the best pool test kit offering impeccable accuracy. 

Testing water health is the best way to regularly maintain and take care of your swimming pool. Merely checking the water temperature isn’t enough for proper pool maintenance. Instead, you’ll need to conduct thorough chemical tests using the right pool testing kit. Today, we’ll discuss how pool testing kits work. 

Why Do You Need To Test Pool Water?

Person holding complete water test kit with blurred pool background, Hand holding Water Test Kit on blurred pool background, Hand holding a pool ph and chlorine tester. Why Do You Need To Test Pool Water.

What’s a swimming pool without water? A large hole in your backyard! 

But simply having water in your pool isn’t enough to enjoy a fun and relaxing time. You need to make sure that the pool water is clean and healthy to avoid health risks. 

Multiple people use swimming pools at any given time, especially if it’s a public pool. So, it’s crucial to test the pool water and treat it regularly to keep it crystal clear and prevent the spread of infectious water-borne diseases. Plus, clean water can significantly enhance your pool experience while preventing erosion and damage to the pool itself. 

What Are The Tests To Check Pool Water?

If you want to keep the pool water sparkling clean and maintain its water chemistry, you need to ensure that certain factors are kept in check. The water chemistry of a clean and healthy swimming pool should have the following characteristics:

  • Water pH: 7.4 to 7.6
  • Total alkalinity: 80 to 120 ppm 
  • Calcium hardness: 200 to 400 ppm 
  • Free available chlorine: 2 to 4 ppm 
  • Bromine: 3 to 5 ppm
  • Cyanuric acid: 30 to 50 ppm 
  • Metals: 0 ppm 
  • Phosphates: 0 ppm 
  • Total dissolved solids (TDS): 0 to 2,500 ppm in non-salt pools

Pool kits might show slightly different results when testing the pool water, but that’s usually normal. Try to adjust the water chemistry levels regularly to keep them as close to the ideal range as possible. If you test and treat the pool water regularly and consistently, there’s no need to worry. 

Special Pool Tests

Standard pool testing kits can accurately perform four or five tests, such as pH, total alkalinity, chlorine, and acid demand test. However, there are specialty tests that come in handy under certain circumstances. 

For instance, the biguanide test strips work for the biguanide water treatment systems present in some pools. These test strips determine the pool pH, sanitizer levels, calcium hardness, and alkalinity. Similarly, you should use a salt test strip to test the salt levels in saltwater pools. You’ll also need to check for chlorine if there’s a salt-chlorine generator. 

Furthermore, you need a phosphate test kit to check the phosphate levels of the pool water. Phosphates can leach into the pools from lawn fertilizers or other sources and can cause algal growth. On the other hand, if your pool surface shows water stains, you can check for metals, like iron and copper, using special test strips.  

You can also use a DPD kit to test for chloramines. A ShockCheck test strip will help you determine when to perform shocking to get rid of chloramines. At the same time, you can use the SafeDip test meter to check the TDS levels of your pool water. 

Warning: People often ignore discoloration of the pool walls, but it signifies algal deposition. Your pool water will need frequent testing and super-chlorination to remedy the situation. 

What Are The Different Pool Test Kits?

Different standard test kits are available to test your pool’s water chemistry and chemical levels. These standard test kits are primarily responsible for testing the pool’s pH, acid and base demand, chlorine, and alkalinity. So, let’s take a look at these different test kits for your pool maintenance. 

1. Pool Test Strips

Test strips are the most inexpensive way to test your pool water, and they are fast, fairly accurate, and easy to use. There are some basic testing strips that you can use to check the individual chemical levels while testing pool water. But it’s best to use the 7-in-1 or 4-in-1 testing strips to carry out several tests using one test kit to check different pool chemical levels. 

One of the standout features of these testing strips is they are super simple to use. You can dip them in your pool water, shake off the excess water, and get the readings within seconds. Most test strips are color-coded, so you can quickly identify which strip to use for a particular water test. They also have an easy-to-read guidance chart on the bottle for your reference. 

2. Liquid Test Kit

A liquid test kit is more accurate than test strips when measuring the pool water’s chemical levels. If you want to compare these liquid titration pool test kits vs. strips, the former is more expensive than the latter but offers a complete and superior testing solution. 

These kits come with chemical reagents, which you add to the collected water sample drop by drop. You can determine the pool water testing results depending on the amount of reagent added and the water sample’s subsequent change in color. Some liquid testing kits are low-maintenance and easy to use, while others, such as the DPD test kit, need careful maintenance. 

3. Digital Pool Testers 

People often ask – are pool testing strips accurate? They are not 100% accurate, and that’s why you have digital water testers. These digital testers are the fastest and most accurate at detecting the chemical readings of your pool water. They usually come with an LCD display, a waterproof housing, and a memory chip to record and view previous test results.

Unlike other water tests, you don’t need to color-match the water sample. Instead, you can get the digital readings straight from the device. You can use digital testers having electrodes to detect the pool chemical levels because these testers can offer the most accurate readings. 

There are also hybrid digital water testers that use a reagent or test strips to determine measurements. These digital testers are better at reducing any margin of error related to determining results with your naked eye. Plus, they are excellent for pool owners having color blindness.  

Warning: Keep in mind that any digital pool tester will be more expensive than regular test strips and liquid test kits. So, if you want to purchase a digital tester, always consider your budget. 

How Frequently Should You Test Pool Water?

Even though there’s no thumb rule, it’s best to test the pool water once a week. You can increase or decrease the chemical levels of your pool water after testing it. However, if you use the swimming pool frequently or the water shows some clarity issues, you might require frequent pool water testing – around twice or thrice a week. 

Moreover, some pool owners prefer to test the chemical levels of their pool water on a daily schedule. You can stick to the following schedule to test your pool water:

  • Chlorine test: Twice or thrice a week 
  • pH test: Twice or thrice a week 
  • Acid demand test: Whenever the water pH requires adjustment 
  • Total alkalinity: Weekly, but also test it when the pH level changes 
  • Total hardness: Once a month 
  • Cyanuric acid: Once a month 
  • TDS levels: Once a month 

The levels of other components, such as phosphates and metals, usually change much more slowly, so you can test for them once a month under normal circumstances. Most standard test kits are enough for fulfilling your weekly pool testing requirements. However, you might need to buy a larger or more robust pool water test kit for accurately conducting the monthly tests. 

How To Test Pool Water Using A Kit?

Pool worker made a mistake in pool chemicals. How To Test Pool Water Using A Kit.

The type of pool test kit you choose will depend on your budget and the kit’s accuracy. Although test strips are the most affordable, they are not ideal for getting accurate readings. On the other hand, digital readers show the most accurate readings but can be pretty expensive.

Liquid testing kits offer the ideal balance between price and accuracy since they are much more accurate than test strips but a lot cheaper than digital testers. So, we’ve discussed the steps to use a standard 4-in-1 liquid kit to test the residual and free chlorine, pH level, acid demand, and total alkalinity of your pool water. 

1. Collect Water Sample

Dip the tester in your pool and draw the water sample from at least a depth of 18 inches to get accurate readings. Since the chemical levels can vary based on the water depth, ensure to maintain the 18-inch depth measurement while collecting the sample. 

Fill the vials until the water reaches the line marked as “fill” because you need to maintain precise pool water to test the solution ratio to get accurate readings. 

2. Test For Residual And Free Chlorine

To test the water sample’s residual and free chlorine levels, add some drops of the chlorine testing solution to the vial. Follow the dosage chart to add the right amount of the solution. 

Some test kits come with chlorine tablets instead of a liquid chlorine solution to determine the free chlorine level. In that case, add the number of tablets mentioned in the instruction guide to your water sample. 

Next, close the vial caps and shake the vials gently to mix the solution or tablets with the water. After a few seconds, you can see the color of the water sample changing. Now, compare the color inside the vial with the provided color chart on the tester to get the free chlorine reading. 

Then, wait a few more minutes before comparing the colors again to check the residual chlorine level. Some popular test kits come with different solutions or tablets for the free and residual chlorine tests, so make sure to follow the instruction guide closely. 

3. Test pH Level 

Clean and rinse the tester thoroughly and take a new water sample like before to perform the pH test. Then, add one drop of sodium thiosulfate solution to the water sample, a chlorine neutralizer, for the pH testing and swirl the vial gently. 

Next, add five drops of the red phenol indicator and mix it with the water sample by swirling it to see the color change for an accurate pH reading. Now, compare this color with the color standards provided by the tester to detect the pH levels of the pool water. 

Warning: Don’t conduct this test if your pool water’s residual chlorine level is more than 3.0 because the pH reading won’t be accurate. Adjust the residual chlorine to the standard range before checking the pH. 

4. Test For Acid Demand

Take a sample of the water you used for the pH testing to accurately test for the acid demand. Slowly add the acid demand titrant and carefully count every drop while swirling the sample between each drop. 

Keep adding the titrant until the sample color matches the 7.4-indicator on the tester. Check the acid dosage chart to evaluate how much acid you must add to the pool water to adjust its pH balance. 

Warning: Avoid this acid demand test if the water’s pH is more than 7.5 and its residual chlorine level is more than 3.0. Bring the residual chlorine to normal levels before this test. 

5. Test For Total Alkalinity

Rinse the tester and fill the vial upto its lower alkalinity line with a fresh sample of your pool water to test for total alkalinity. Now, add one drop of the chlorine-neutralizing solution and mix it well to get accurate readings. Then, add one to three drops of the total alkalinity indicator solution (blue in color) and swirl the vial or test tube until the sample turns blue. 

Next, add the titrant solution drop by drop and carefully track the number of drops you’re adding. Keep adding the titrant until the water in the vial changes to light green or light yellow. Lastly, multiply the total number of drops of the titrant you added by 10 for total alkalinity.

Warning: Don’t test for total alkalinity if the water’s residual chlorine level is more than 3.0. Adjust the chlorine to a proper range before performing the TA test. 

What Are The Common Mistakes To Avoid While Using Pool Test Kits?

There are certain things to keep in mind to avoid common mistakes while purchasing and using a pool test kit. For instance, don’t buy excess pool chemicals because they expire over time. The reagents in a liquid testing kit usually last around a year. 

Furthermore, it’s best to avoid using test strips because they don’t produce accurate results, and the chances of error are high. Also, if you’re using a liquid kit, you can buy replenishment bottles to replace individual testing solutions once they run out instead of buying a whole new kit. 

measuring pH level in blue outdoor pool by chemical tester. How To Use Pool Test Kits Conclusion.

How To Use Pool Test Kits Conclusion 

After going through the guide, you must’ve gathered a better understanding of how the most popular test kits work in detecting the chemical content of your pool water. That said, we highly recommend using a liquid testing kit because they are easy to use, accurate, and fairly affordable. 

However, as a pool owner, if you want professional testing, you can collect the water samples and take them to a local pool store. You can also purchase special testing supplies to test for metals, phosphates, total hardness, salt, and other chemical compounds in your pool water. 

No matter which chemical tests you perform or what test kit you choose, always maintain consistency and regularity to maintain good water health in the swimming pool. Also, if you enjoyed reading this informative guide, don’t forget to check other articles like how do wireless doorbell systems work on our website. 

Until next time! 

Ann Hutchinson

Ann Hutchinson

Ann Hutchinson is the heart of the team, senior editor and our Head of Product Reviews which means she sets the testing parameters of each group review ensuring that tests resemble everyday use.

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