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A Beginners Guide To Testing Your Pool Water

A Beginners Guide To Testing Your Pool Water

One of the main reasons people will tend to back away from the idea of investing in a pool at their home, is the realisation of the ongoing cleaning and maintenance to keep the pool at a functioning level. Now, of course we know that water testing isn’t as simple as looking at the water clarity from the edge of the pool, with your hands on your hips. We also know it’s not dipping in your toe to feel the temperature… Water testing doesn’t need to be a daunting task to add to your workload.

Check out our simple tips below, on how to test your pool, keep it easy to maintain and enjoyable for you and your swimmers for the years to come.

Why do I need to test my pool water?

Especially in the health climate we are in right now with the heightened awareness of hygiene and preventing the spread of infectious diseases, treating the pool water becomes a non-negotiable task. Keeping the water clean and healthy will also prevent damage to your pool and equipment – and of course be more enjoyable for your friends and family! No one likes getting itchy skin from a highly chlorinated pool or swimming in murky ‘I can’t see what’s down below’ water!

What am I actually testing for?

Your local pool shop can sort you out with the different tools you can use, for you to compare your pool water to the ideal standards. See further down for the different tools you can use to test the water.

There are multiple facets of the water that we are testing, and striving to maintain, from pH and alkalinity, as well as other chemicals and metals. Keeping these at the ideal levels will prevent the spread of diseases and reduce the risk of other skin irritants and factors. 

The ideal levels are shown below: 

  • pH: 7.4-7.6
  • Total Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 200-400 ppm
  • Free Available Chlorine: 2.0-4.0 ppm
  • Bromine: 3.0-5.0 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid: 30-50 ppm
  • Metals: 0 ppm
  • Phosphates: 0 ppm
  • Total Dissolved Solids: 0-2500 ppm (non-salt water pools)

Don’t fret if your test results fall slightly outside of these ranges, because you can actively make adjustments to the water chemistry to get it back on track. While testing and maintaining the chemistry of your pool is a simple task when you are informed- it does require you to be consistent. Keeping your eye on the chemical levels is as important as clearing away the debris that can affect your equipment, because it can affect and unbalance levels too. 

Curious about Pool Alkalinity? Learn more about it here!

How often do I need to test my pool water?

It is recommended that you test your pool water at least once a week. You may need to step up your testing to twice or even three times per week if you are experiencing some of these conditions:

  • The pool is being used frequently
  • The weather has been more notably warm
  • You are having water clarity issues
  • If there has been a storm/s
  • If you are unfamiliar with the trends of your pool 

If your tests are outside of the ideal levels as per above, make sure you are adding in chemicals to re-balance the levels out. 

How do I actually ‘test’ my pool water?

Firstly, make sure all your testing equipment and chemicals are stored in a dry safe place, and keep an eye on expiry dates of your stock.

  1. Circulate the pool on the pump’s highest setting for at least an hour before collecting a water sample. (stagnant water may not produce accurate results)
  2. Gather water from around elbow deep. (avoid collecting the sample near floating chemical dispensers or from the filter returns)
  3. Once you have compared your sample to the levels, keep track of them in a daily planner, dedicated pool calendar or phone app. (recording your trends will help you maintain balance over time)

What are the different types of tests available, and which is best for me?

Test strips:

  • The most inexpensive and widely used
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Fairly accurate

Basically, you dip them in the water, shake off the excess and compare the colour codes on the bottle. They are fairly basic, but you can get strips that test individual chemicals as well.

Liquid Test Kits:

  • One of the most accurate ways to test
  • Higher priced
  • More reliable
  • Can help analyse your results into a treatment plan

This testing method takes maintenance a step further and results are based on the number of drops and the colour of the sample.

Digital Pool Testers:

  • Extremely accurate
  • Fast and easy to use
  • LCD displays/water resistant housing
  • Memory function to review history
  • No colour matching needed

Of course digital testers are more expensive than the alternative testing methods, but they are a complete, reliable and simple water testing solution.

Ideally, the digital reader is the one you would like to invest in, however, if you are wanting to save money without sacrificing the accuracy, you can use the test strips for regular maintenance 1-2 times per week, and then the liquid test once a week to confirm the water balance levels. This will give you a more complete picture of what is happening with the health of your pool.

Get more tips on how to stay on top of maintaining your pool water here!

For further information and guidance around the health of your pool, you can always head to your local pool store for a professional water test. They can also help if there are any gaps you are unable to rectify in your levels or treatments. Pool testing isn’t rocket science, but the importance of this simple task will maintain a healthy and happy pool – and family!

A Quick Summary:

It is best to test your pool water to prevent damage to your pool equipment and pool shell.

There are many things we test for when we test pool water, some of those include; Alkalinity, PH Level, Calcium Hardness, Bromine and many more.

It is advised to test your pool water weekly. If experiencing unusual readings, you may need to test 2-3 times per week.

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