A Guide to Pool Water Testing: Quick and Easy Steps

If you are thinking about testing your pool water yourself, here is a quick guide on how to do pool water testing. It is easy, quick, and you will have the answers you need to know right away. You can read more here.

You are in for a treat, this guide is for the true pool lover. Check out these simple steps to help you understand pool water testing so you can be the best pool owner ever!

Man Testing Pool Water Using Kit

Pool water testing can be daunting at first, but it’s easier than you might think with a bit of education. In this article, you’ll learn what you need to know about pool water testing.

How Frequent Should You Test Your Pool Water?

It’s recommended to test your pool at least once a week and more frequently if you use the pool heavily.

If you are new to pool care, you may wish to test your pool 2-3 times a week until you become accustomed to fluctuation (making a weekly commitment to testing your water is also very beneficial)

What Is Normal Pool Chemical Levels?

The pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and chlorine levels in your pool are the most important chemicals to monitor. In some cases, you may also wish to check for metals and stabilizers, although this is not always necessary.

The following are the recommended levels for maintaining a well-balanced pool:

pH7.2 – 7.6
Total Alkalinity120 – 150ppm
Calcium Hardness(Concrete Pools)200 – 250ppm
Calcium Hardness(Vinyl Pools)175 – 225ppm
Free Chlorine1 – 3ppm
Free Bromine3 – 5ppm
CYA30 – 50 ppm

What Are the Different Pool Water Testing Kits to Use?

There are many different pool test kits on the market. Buying the best is not easy because this is a very personal choice. Many people believe that the more kits you have, the more accurate your results will be; this is not true! 

It’s easier to do testing with an automatic test kit than it is to use manual methods. These cartridges specifically target certain chemicals and help you get a better reading if you have multiple tests done on your pool once per day, once per week, or once per month. Here are four types of liquid pool test kits.

Liquid Test Kit

Pool Water Test Kit

A liquid test kit is a chemical analysis used to measure the chemistry levels of the pool water. They are commonly used for testing pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels, copper, and iron levels. These types of tests can be found at your local pool store.

Whatever you’ve got, an in-ground or above-ground pool, it’s essential to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s instructions. The liquid kits are pretty convenient to use, and they will provide you with a reading that coincides with the color on the package.

Digital Pool Test Kits

Hand Testing Pool Water Using Digital Test Kit

Digital Water Test Kits are a test kit that measures chemistry levels with dips in the pool water. They are often used for pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels, and copper and iron levels for above and inground pools. These kits help you get a quicker reading than the liquid pool test kits because they take less time to read.

Test Strips

3 Test Strip by the Poolside

Test strips are small strips of paper that have a chemical written on them. These strips are soaked into the water for seconds. Then you simply compare the color to the package provided by the manufacturer to determine if there’s anything wrong with your pool water.

Unfortunately, these tests are less reliable than liquid pool test kits because they expire. You can also use test strips one time only, so they are kind of expensive in the long run.

How to Use Digital Testing Kits

Digital testing kits are pretty easy to use. It also minimizes the user error because it reads the results for you. Digital test kits can measure free chlorine, total chlorine, CYA, alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness, and bromine. 

Each digital test kits are pretty different, so you’ll want to follow the instructions for your unit. You can download some apps on your phone, but they are primarily calculators and scheduling tools, not pool testers. 

Steps to Use a Liquid Test Kit (Reagent Color Test Block)

Step 1: Take out the clean and empty testing container inside the kit

Step 2: Keep the samples away from jets and skimmers. 

Step 3: Dip the container for about 18 inches below, then scoop a sample. 

Step 4: On the left side is usually chlorine. Add the recommended drops as suggested in the instructions. The right side usually measures pH. Again, add the recommended drops as indicated in the instructions provided.

Step 5: Completely seal the container and shake. Whenever possible, avoid touching the top with your hands.

Steps to Use Test Strips

Step 1: Get a sample of pool water in a container

Step 2: Dip the testing strip into the water in and out. You don’t have to let the testing strip submerged or soak in the pool water for too long.

Step 3: Hold it in the air for about 15 seconds without shaking.

Step 4: Compare the strip to the color guide, and match both colors.

Step 5: Adjust your chemicals as necessary. 

How to Provide a Sample to a Local Pool Store

Step 1: Find a sterilized empty water bottle about 12 oz – 16 oz. 

Step 2: Go in the middle of the pool away from jets and skimmers.

Step 3: Dip the bottle upside down on about an 18-inch dip, then scoop a sample. 

Step 4: Bring the sample to your local pool professional.

Extra Pool Water Sampling Tips

Man Testing Pool Water
  • Sample deep
  • Make sure the pool has been running for at least 15 minutes before using it again. 
  • Make sure to fill the liquid testing kits completely. 
  • It’s best to mix the solution with a cap if possible. Fingers touched on acid can affect the results.
  • Make sure not to rinse in the pool after working on the chemicals.
  • Testing strips should be stored in a cool area, not in a place directly exposed to sunlight.

What to Do After the Sample Is Taken?

The rule of thumb is that the fresher, the better. Taking the sample in the morning and doing some errands, work, etc., is something you don’t want to do.

If the sample is left in your cubicle or your car all day long, the sample could be altered. More so, if you’ve taken the sample in the morning and it rains,  the sample is no longer viable because the rainwater altered the current state of the entire pool.

Check out our collection of interesting pool articles. These tips can help you keep your pool clean and maintained. Take your family out to a clean, safe pool and have fun!

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About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

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