How to Test Pool Water

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You finally broke down and purchased that pool that the kids have been begging for. Now, you find yourself daydreaming of all the fun to be had with your family, neighbours, and friends as you all cool off on those hot summer days.

Then, the thought hits you—is the pool water ready? And if not, how will you know? The answer is simple—test the pool water. When we say test the water, we mean testing for chlorine levels and the balance of pH.

Other potential contaminants are present naturally in pool water, including copper, calcium, and iron. If you have a saltwater pool, is your salt to water ratio where it should be? If you are not aware of what is in and isn’t in your pool water, you are taking the chance of not only potential damage but some nasty-looking coloured water.

Why Test The Pool Water?

Test Pool Water

When it comes to having a pool, you must test your water often in order to maintain the water’s health. If you fail to test the water periodically, how do you know the various chemical levels? Or, for that matter, what is in the water that you do not want to be swimming around in.

It is essential to learn how to test your pool water accurately and to make it a point to perform that test on a regular, routine basis. Over the life of your pool, you will find that testing the water is what you will do in regards to its maintenance than anything else.

Testing Accurately

Testing your pool water doesn’t appear to be that difficult of a task—and to be honest, it’s not. In fact, there are a variety of testing options available out there to you:

  • Liquid test kit – perhaps the most comprehensive form of test
  • Test strip – undoubtedly the quickest and easier choice
  • Water sample – providing us with a water sample is the most accurate and thorough choice on this list

Now, that doesn’t sound so hard. There is one caveat that will determine that any of these pool water testing techniques are accurate—and that is the water sample itself.

Taking A Proper Water Sample

When taking your water sample, the essential factor is where the sample itself is taken from and the manner in which you collect it. If at all possible, and to get the most accurate reading, you will need to take a sample from as close to the middle of your pool as possible, using the following procedure:

  1. Make sure that the cup or bottle you are using is clean and, if possible, has a cap
  2. Hold the bottle itself upside down so that the opening of the bottle is facing the floor of the pool
  3. Insert the bottle into the pool water, elbow-deep, and then turn it upward in order to collect the sample effectively

It is vital that you the samples not be collected near the opening of the skimmer or any of the pool’s return jets.

Using Test Strips

Of all the methods available to test pool water, test strips are the quickest and easiest out there. In many cases, the use of test strips can be more accurate than even the liquid test kits, as human error often makes it difficult in the matching up colours to the chemical drops that are used.

There is also the fact that test strips are much more economical than liquid test kits. However, it is essential to know that you will have a tendency to go through the test strips faster than the liquid test kit, so in the long run, the overall cost pretty much balances out.

To perform a proper test of your pool water with a test strip:

  1. Collect a water sample – again as close to the middle of your pool as possible
  2. Quickly dip one of the test strips in and then out of your water sample – it is best not to let the strip get soaked
  3. Allow it to air dry for about 15 seconds – do not shake the test strip
  4. Using the guide provided on the test strip packaging match up the colours
  5. You will then use the colour guide to adjust your pool water’s chemical balance

Most test strips will check for those components in pool water, such as chlorine, pH, and alkalinity. However, specialized test strips can test for other components such as salt, iron, and copper.

Using A Liquid Test Kit

When looking to perform regular testing maintenance on your pool water, a basic liquid test kit will get the job done. It is essential to ensure that the kit you use contains both phenol red and orthotolidine (OTO), which are needed to test pool waters’ levels of chlorine and pH.

To properly test your pool water with a liquid test kit:

  1. Take a sample of your pool water – from as close to the middle of your pool as possible – and place it in the provided collector
  2. On the side that indicates pH testing add the indicated number of red phenol drops to the water
  3. On the side that indicates chlorine testing add the indicated number of OTO drops to the water
  4. Hold the container up against a white background and compare the colour of the water to the scale of colours provided on the collector
  5. The higher the pH, the redder your water will be – the higher the chlorine, the more yellow your water will be

If your pH and chlorine levels are rather low, the colours will be faint and hard to make out. That is why you will need to hold the tested sample up to a white background.

Professional Testing

If you decide to choose the route of having Bliss Home Leisure test your water, you will need to collect your sample in the same manner as the other two methods. Contact us today to have your pool water tested!


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