Pool Water Testing – Your Complete Guide

Your pool’s water quality matters a lot, more than just keeping the water clear and beautiful. Is the pool water clean and safe to swim in? Are there contaminants that might compromise the water’s safety and hygiene?

Luckily, you can test your pool water to get the answers. This guide explores everything you need to know about pool water testing.

Why Test Your Pool Water?

Keeping the water clean is not the be-all and end-all for keeping your pool safe and hygienic. While cleaning and removing debris can go a long way, various contaminants won’t disappear after cleaning.

These contaminants require the use of chemicals to get rid of them. Since your pool contains several pool chemicals, keeping them at their required amounts is advisable.

Failing to balance chemicals may cause health issues and damage various pool parts, including filters, pumps, and linings.

When To Test Your Pool Water

Conduct a pool water test at least once every week for a safe and healthy pool. In case of any pool chemical fluctuations, you can easily tell and aim for the necessary adjustments.

That said, the frequency of testing your pool water depends on various factors. Your pool professional might recommend more frequent tests. You may be required to test your pool water at least 2-3 times weekly. Below are circumstances for testing your pool water:

  • When reopening your pool – If you’ve not used your pool for quite some time, it might have suffered wild swings in chemical fluctuations. Opening your pool for summer use and taking a dip without readjusting its chemistry might cause health issues. Test and conduct necessary readjustment for safe and healthy swimming.
  • During summer – When the summer seasons come, everyone might be yearning for a dip, especially when it heats up. During this season, pools are hotspots for pool parties and daily usage. Excess usage will likely cause an off-balance on your pool’s chemistry. Ensure to test it after every 2-3 days a week.
  • After a rainstorm – If there has been a recent rainstorm, you should test your pool water regularly. Rainwater is acidic and will reduce your pool’s pH levels. Also, the rainstorm might introduce debris into the pool, causing chemical fluctuations.
  • After adding water – New water might come with chemicals, affecting the chemical balance in the pool. The water will also dilute your pool’s chemical levels, requiring you to test and add more chemicals.
  • Before and after any form of algae treatment – Algae affects your pool’s pH levels and should be tested before treatment to ensure effectiveness. The treatment will undoubtedly alter the chemical levels. Ensure to test and readjust your pool’s chemistry after algae treatment.
  • If your pool water turns cloudy or discolored.

How to Test Your Pool Water

You can test your pool water with the right equipment in a few minutes. The most important thing is understanding the nature of your pool and the testing options that will provide accurate results. Here are the three testing options available for a DIYer:

  • Test strips
  • Liquid test kits
  • Digital pool testers

When buying these testing supplies, ensure they haven’t expired and always keep them in a dry area. You don’t want to get inaccurate readings and add chemicals than required. After buying your suitable test supply, it’s time to take a deep dive into the testing processes.

Collect Samples of Your Pool Water

Knowing where and how to collect a water sample from your pool is the first step to ensuring accurate tests.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid collecting a water sample around your pool’s skimmers or return jets. The water around your pool’s skimmers might have high concentrations of particles. Collecting such water will provide inaccurate information regarding the pool’s water condition.

Conversely, water around the return jets might be cleaner than the overall pool. This water has just come from the filter and might have gone past a chlorinator. Collecting such water for testing won’t give accurate information about the entire pool.

The best place to collect your water samples is in the middle, away from the skimmers and return jets.

After locating where to take your water sample, use a clean container or water bottle to collect the water.

Hold the water bottle or container upside down, ensuring the opening touches the pool water first – this will trap air inside so you can collect your water sample below the surface. Immerse your water collector about your elbow depth and turn it over. Turning the water collector will allow the air to escape, thus collecting a water sample that guarantees accurate reading.

Test Your Pool Water

After collecting your water sample from the pool, it’s time to use your testing kit. Here’s how to use each.

Test Strips

Most DIYers, especially on a budget, prefer using test strips for testing pool water. Test strips are simple to use and give accurate real-time information.

You can use test strips for pH, chlorine, and alkalinity. Alternatively, you can find other versions if you want to test a combination of different components, but at a higher price.

Dip one test strip into your pool water sample for a few seconds. Remove and hold it for about ten seconds with the test dots facing up. Avoid shaking it to ensure reagents remain intact.

Alternatively, place the test strip on a dry, level surface until the recommended time elapses. Use the colour chart on the test strips’ box to compare your results.

Liquid Test Kits

A liquid test kit can come in handy if you’re looking for affordable kits with more accurate readings. However, they are a bit tricky because the process involves using reagents on your water sample. Any error in the reagents will result in an inaccurate reading.

Your liquid test kit should have phenol red for testing water pH and Orthotolidine (OTO) for testing chlorine.

Put the recommended drops of phenol red into one container with your pool water sample to test pH levels. The redder your pool water sample becomes, the higher the pH levels.

When testing for chlorine, add the required drops of OTO into the other container with your pool water sample. The more yellow your water sample turns, the higher chlorine there is in your pool water.

To examine colors with liquid test kits, use a white background, such as white paper for accurate color examinations.

Digital Pool Testers

A digital pool tester can be your best bet if you’re color blind and wish for accurate pool water tests. While this kit comes at a higher cost than the other test kits, a digital pool tester is easy to use and guarantees precise and fast readings. You need to insert the kit’s probe into your pool water sample and read the results on the LCD.

What To Test for in Your Pool Water

Most pool owners test total alkalinity, chlorine levels, and pH levels weekly. You may be required to test for other components such as calcium hardness, metals, and total dissolved acids.

If you discover the levels of these components aren’t optimal, be sure to balance them before using the pool. You might be required to add more chemicals or water to readjust your pool water’s chemistry.

After this process, test your water again to ensure all chemicals are balanced. Here’s what you will look for in each component:

  • Chlorine Chlorine is a vital chemical that keeps pools free of bacteria and microorganisms. The optimum level of chlorine in pools is between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm.
  • pH – Checking your pool water’s pH level is crucial to ensure it’s not too acidic or alkaline. pH below or above the optimal levels will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine, corrode your pool and cause irritation on your skin. Ensure your pool water’s pH optimal levels are between 7.2  and 7.8.
  • Total alkalinity – Your pool’s pH and total alkalinity are closely related. Keeping your pool’s pH levels at optimal should stabilize the total alkalinity. Your pool’s total alkalinity levels should be between 80 and 120 ppm.
  • Total dissolved solids – Dissolved solids may include dust, pollen, and sunscreen. Ensure your pool’s total dissolved solid remains between 1,500 and 2,000 ppm.
  • Calcium hardness – Do you wish to know how hard or soft your pool water is? If your pool’s calcium hardness gets too high, your water becomes cloudy. On the other hand, low calcium hardness will cause corrosion in your pool. Aim for calcium hardness between 200 and 400 ppm.
  • Metals – Metals such as copper, iron, and manganese in your pool can turn the water rusty and stain the surfaces. Aim for 0 ppm to ensure no metals are in your pool water. Iron and copper concentrations shouldn’t exceed 0.3 ppm.

Pool Water Testing in Surrey and Langley

The above tips and steps should guide you on how to test your pool water. Ensure to test regularly and keep your pool water’s components balanced. If you deem pool testing a hassle, hire a team of professionals such as Jacuzzi Backyard Living. A pool professional minimizes the chances of errors and will advise you on the best pool management practices.

With Jacuzzi Backyard Living, your satisfaction always comes first. We have a dedicated team of hot tub, swim spa and swimming pool experts who can help you bring your backyard space to life and enjoy it for many years to come. For more information or help getting started, contact us today!

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