If you’re a pool owner, you’ve gotta know how to test the water. It will not only help you keep the pool water looking great over the summer months, but it will prevent you from paying too much for chemicals. If you don’t test your water regularly, or you don’t perform the right tests, you could over-treat the water, which means you’re also spending money on chemicals unnecessarily. Finally, proper testing also keeps the pool water healthy, so you can swim without hesitation.
Here’s what you need to know about testing your water.
Taking a sample
Your sample should come from below the surface of the water, between 12 to 18 inches – or at least elbow deep. Once the system has been running for about one hour, take the sample.
Test in the a.m.
To get a proper reading, perform the test in the morning, as chlorine can burn off during the course of the day.
With test strips, be aware that it may take 10 to 20 seconds for the colors on the strip to change. Use a timer, or the old fashioned method, “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…” to allow the appropriate amount of time to pass before comparing colors. You should also know that if you wait too long to compare colors, you’ll get an inaccurate reading because the colors will continue to change.
If you add chemicals to balance the water after testing, wait a full day – or even longer – before retesting. It takes about 24 hours for the chemicals to properly circulate in order to get an effective reading from the retest.
Ideally, you should test the pool water every day with a test strip; however, daily testing is generally not feasible for most pool owners. At the least, try to check the water’s pH levels two to three times a week. If it changes, test the water’s TA. Otherwise, perform this test weekly. You can test calcium hardness and cyanuric acid levels every month.
Here are generally recommended levels to follow for testing:
pH: 7.6 to 7.8
Chlorine: 1.0 to 3.0 ppm
Total alkalinity: 125 to 150 ppm
Calcium hardness: 175 to 200 ppm
Total dissolved solids: less than 2,500 ppm
You can do your part of testing the pool water by taking a sample at the appropriate times and frequencies. Every month, take your water into your local pool store to have it professionally checked. Your pool professional can work with you to keep the chemicals in balance and advise you on what to do if you have problems.
Take water testing seriously. It doesn’t take a lot of time to conduct the test, but the information you glean is critical to ensuring your pool looks inviting and is safe to swim in all summer long.
What challenges have you had with water tests?