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Owning a pool means regular maintenance, which includes testing the water to ensure it’s safe. Many outdoor elements can affect the water in a pool, and it’s important to keep the chemicals in check throughout the season. Learning how to test the water can be a bit of a learning curve for new pool owners. In this article, we’ll discuss how to test swimming pool water.

How Often Should You Test Pool Water?

If you are new to pool ownership, you should test your water 2-3 times a week to get used to any potential fluctuations. After a while, you may feel comfortable testing once a week. At Stevenson Brothers, we recommend testing your water at least once a week. However, if you use your pool frequently or specific issues come up, such as cloudy water, algae, or water clarity issues, you may have to test more often.

Types of Pool Water Tests

Test strips and liquid pool chemical test kits are two popular ways of testing a swimming pool. While the test kits are more accurate and efficient, swimming pool water tests will work.

Person testing the chemical levels in their pool water.

Swimming Pool Test Strips

Pool test strips are a convenient option for fast testing. They show results for total chlorine, total hardness, free available chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, and stability. To test the pool water, you’ll simply follow the directions on the package of strips. While the instructions may vary per manufacturer, the idea is the same.

To test the pool water with a strip, you’ll dip it into it and hold it for a specific time. When the time is up, you’ll remove the test strip from the water and compare the results to the chart in the package. If you’re wondering how to read swimming pool test strips, the directions will give you specific instructions. Based on the result, you’ll treat your pool accordingly.

Someone holding a liquid pool chemical testing tool by the pool testing the water.

Liquid Pool Chemical Test Kits

While test strips make it easy to test your pool water, using a liquid pool chemical test kit will give you better test results. Two main types of liquid pool technical test kits are DPD and OTO-Phenol tests. The tests use a testing container and reagents, which are the chemicals in the dropper bottles that help you test the water. Like the test strips, the instructions per kit may vary. But essentially, you’ll add the pool water to the testing container. Then, an appropriate amount of reagent solution is dropped in the water sample. The reagent solution will change the color of the water to help you determine what pool chemicals you’ll need to add to ensure your pool is safe.

Advanced Pool Water Testing Methods

Some pool owners prefer the accuracy and ease of using advanced pool water testing methods, such as digital pool water testers and pool water test labs. The results of these testing tools are often easier to read and more convenient for pool owners.

Someone holding a digital pool water testing device above a Salt Lake City pool.

Digital Pool Water Testers

Unlike pool test strips and kits, which rely on the user to compare colored results to a chart, which can be difficult to interpret and can cause user error, digital pool water testers give precise readings that are fast and straightforward. To use a digital tester, you dip it into the water and wait for the result to appear on the screen.

Pool water being tested in a lab for a salt lake city pool.

Pool Water Test Labs

In some situations, users may want to send a sample to a professional. Some pool owners occasionally opt to have a professional test their water to ensure it is properly balanced. To do this, owners collect a sample from their pool and take it to their local pool store or water lab.

Steps to Test Swimming Pool Water

You must do a few things to get your pool ready after the winter. If you’re wondering how to test swimming pool water, here’s an easy list of directions. To collect a sample from your pool, simply follow these steps:

  1. Gather Necessary Equipment – Using test strips, a test kit, or a water tester, collect all the equipment you’ll need according to the instructions.
  2. Follow Safety Precautions – Read the instructions for your testing method and follow all safety precautions.
  3. Collect Water Sample – Place the test strip, kit, or digital tester about elbow deep into the water. Ensure you’re staying away from jets.
  4. Perform Test According to Test Kit Instructions – Use your water sample to perform the test or note the results on your digital tester.
  5. Record Test Results – Compare the color of your testing strip or kit to the chart on your test, or note the result from your digital tester.
  6. Take Necessary Actions Based on Results – Using your results, determine what chemicals you need to add to balance the water in your pool.

Interpreting Pool Chemical Test Results (H2)

Pool testing strips are being used to test pool water in Salt Lake City Utah.

Now that you have the results, the next step is learning to read swimming pool test strips, test kits, or digital testers. Ideal levels in the pool should fall between:

  • Free Chlorine: 1.0 to 3.0 ppm
  • Free Bromine: 3-5 ppm
  • pH: 7.2 to 7.6
  • Calcium Hardness: 175 – 225 ppm for vinyl pools, 200-250 for concrete pools
  • Metals: 0 ppm
  • Total Alkalinity: 120-150 ppm

It’s important to note that level requirements may vary based on pool and location. We always recommend checking with your local pool professional to verify the ideal results for your pool.

Swimming pool with custom rock waterfall pool slide in Salt Lake City, Utah - Stevenson Brothers Custom Pools

Stevenson Brothers is Your Local Pool Professional

Regular testing and maintenance are critical to operating a safe pool environment in your home. Whether you’re a pool novice or an expert, keeping up with testing and water levels is important. And if you don’t have a pool, Stevenson Brothers can create a custom pool for you. Contact us to get started today!