Testing Your Pool Water Chemistry For Total Alkalinity
Total alkalinity is the alkaline substances in your pool, which should be between 90 and 120 ppm. A good TA level keeps the pH level neutral.
Low TA levels can cause:
- Murky, dark water
- Burning eyes and other irritations
- Corrosion of pool equipment and accessories
High TA levels can cause:
- Algae growth
How Often To Test For Calcium
If your pool water becomes cloudy, or you start to see scaling on your pool liner, or you notice any pitting in the concrete in or around your pool, its definitely time to test for calcium. At that point, though, youre a little late to the party.
To stay on top of things, prevent damage, and save yourself from having to make expensive pool repairs, test calcium levels at least once a month.
However, if you live in an area where the tap water is either hard or soft, or you get your water from a well that has a high level of calcium, you may want to test more often, maybe every two weeks, or even once a week just to be on the safe side.
When To Test Pool Water
To ensure the pH and alkalinity remain balanced, and to keep your sanitizer at optimal levels, test your pool water at least once a week. Youll want to test it more often if the pool is getting a lot of use or if its rained, and every time you add chemicals.
Even if you know how to test pool water yourself, take a sample to a pool store once a month for a pro check, and when opening and closing your pool.
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Why Test Pool Water
A swimming pool is just a hole in the ground without water, and swimming is no fun if not experienced in clean, clear and healthy water.
Since swimming pools are generally used by multiple people at any given time, it is imperative that pool water is tested and treated regularly to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and enhance the pool experience.
How Do I Test Pool Water
There are several types of testing supplies available on the market varying in price and accuracy. Since I work for a company that sells pool supplies, it was fairly easy for me to get customer input via our amazing review program, and I was able to narrow down the bestselling water testing supplies to make it easier for you to make the selection to your liking.
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Testing For Copper: Getting Rid Of The Green
If your pool water is cloudy, or you have greenish or black stains on your liner, copper is a prime suspect. Copper buildup usually happens for one of two main reasons.
First, the tap water you use to fill your pool may contain trace amounts of copper. As water evaporates from your pool, it leaves the copper behind. The less water in the pool, the higher the copper levels.
To counter evaporation, youll add more water, which means you add more copper, and then more water evaporates, and that leavesyou guessed itmore copper in your pool.
Second, low pH levels can cause copper elements in your pool filter or plumbing to corrode. The corrosion will then make its way into your pool water. The longer the corrosion is left unaddressed, the more copper buildup youll have in your water.
Greenish stains on the pool walls and floors may be an indication of too much copper in your pool water.
Aquachek Trutest Digital Reader
Another option from AquaChek, this digital tester is made to be used with TruTest digital test strips.
It’s very easy to use as well and much easier to read than the test strips themselves: you wont have to try to figure out if a color is closer to red or blue, you’ll simply get a numerical digital reading that takes out the guesswork.
It’s lightweight, water resistant and has a large print LCD display for easy reading.
It will test chlorine, bromine, pH and total alkalinity in about 15 seconds.
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How Often Should You Test Your Pool Water
No one wants a green pool. Its unsightly, unsanitary, and can be costly to fix. So how do we avoid it? The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure your pool is kept clean and the chemical levels correct. But how frequently do you need to test your pool water?
As seasons change and we experience bad weather such as rain and snow storms, pool maintenance has to change with it. Read more to find out clear guidelines on how often you should check your pool water year-round to make sure your pool stays healthy and clean.
How To Fix High Calcium Levels
You have three options here.
Replace Some of the Water
If your water source isnt hard, and your pools calcium level has risen due to other factors, you can drain a few inches of water from your pool, and replace it with softer water.
Use a Flocculant
When added to your pool water, a flocculant will attract the excess calcium and cause it to clump, making it easier to remove. Once the flocculant has worked its magic, clean your pools floors and walls to remove the calcium. Then backwash your pump filter, and clean it.
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How To Fix High Phosphate Levels
Addressing this issueand more importantly, the problems it can lead toactually isnt a matter of reducing phosphates.
The key to controlling algae is prevention, usually in the form of algaecide. If you also have problems with copper in your water, be sure to choose a copper-free algaecide.
Youll also want to make sure your chlorine levels are stable, and that your pH and alkalinity levels are correct. Keeping those three things balanced will go a long way to preventing algae from taking over your pool and turning it into a black lagoon.
Its also important to note that adjusting your phosphate levels will not get rid of algae once its formed. Once you have algae in your pool, you must take steps to kill and remove it.
Again, its about addressing the algae directly, not the phosphates.
Measure Cyanuric Acid Levels
CYA is a stabilizer that gets added to certain pool shocking chemicals, such as di-chlor. Its purpose is to prevent ultraviolet rays from burning off free chlorine, making sanitization more efficient especially on hot, sunny days. The ideal CYA measurement for your swimming pool is between 35 and 60 ppm, unless you have a saltwater pool. In that case, aim for 60 to 80 ppm.
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Run The Pool Pump And Filtration System
To balance the water and distribute chlorine throughout the pool, your pump and filter should be in good working order. Regularly clean out the pump and skimmer baskets to ensure good water flow, and clean the filter as needed to keep it running efficiently. To help fight off algae during warm weather, your pump should run long enough each day to turn over the water at least one time. For particularly toasty temperatures, longer run times may be necessary. If youre not sure how long to run your pump, check out our blog post for more helpful tips!
When To Call A Professional
If you arent comfortable testing your pools water quality yourself, you can always hire a professional. Many businesses will allow mail-in or walk-in with a pool water sample, which they will then test.
Alternatively, consider using a professional service for just a few key teststhe beginning, middle and end of the summer, or after an unexpected storm, for exampleand doing the rest of the tests yourself. This helps minimize any chance of an error with your home test kits and also gives you a second opinion, all while staying hassle-free and affordable.
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How Long Does It Take To Balance Pool Chemicals
It may take up to 24 hours to balance pool chemicals properly. The time required can increase or decrease depending on factors like the size and volume of the pool, the quality and condition of the water, whether youre shocking the pool and how many adjustments need to be made using chemicals like sodium bisulfate or calcium chloride. For instance, if you raise the pools alkalinity by adding baking soda, you should wait a minimum of six hours before retesting alkalinity levels.
Which Kind Should You Choose
Of the two main types of testing available to consumers, liquid reagent testing has been around the longest. Many of you may be familiar with the dual test kit, using OTO and phenol red, which although not as popular now, used to be the standard testing method for both pools and spas. Using two separate containers to put the sample water into, both chlorine and pH levels can be determined by adding a specified number of drops of each reagent into a measured amount of water. The water samples will then change color and depending upon the shade of the color, when compared to the graded color chart, will correspond to the correct reading as to chlorine in parts per million and pH level. For liquid testers, this was the only type available for many years until the advent of the liquid DPD test. The same general techniques are used with the DPD test, however the DPD test will give more accuracy and allow you to measure free chlorine, whereas OTO simply gives total chlorine levels. Remember, total chlorine is simply the sum of the good, effective chlorine available to do its job of sanitizing the water, AND combined chlorine this is simply spent chlorine bound up with organic waste thereby rendered useless, and needing to be burned off. Another advantage of the DPD test kit is that it will typically also test for more chemical levels than the simple OTO-Phenol kit, giving such readings as total alkalinity, calcium, cyanuric acid , to name a few.
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Testing your pool is a regular part of pool ownership. Its essential to maintaining water that is crystal clear and algae free. Its also important to maintain a good balance of chemicals in your pool because improper water chemistry can cause damage to your pool and equipment. Beyond that, imbalanced water can cause eye irritation and hair discoloration. Yikes. To get an accurate reading, you’ll need a test kit, a test strip, or a water sample for a pool professional.
Testing Your Pools Water Stabilizer Levels
In order to protect the chlorine molecule from the sun, it must have proper conditioner or stabilizer levels. The most common stabilizer is the chemical cyanuric acid, which is commonly found in most chlorine tablets. However, you may need to add extra stabilizers to your pool to increase the residual. A level stabilizer is between 40 and 80 ppm.
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The Effects Of Cya Imbalance
- Not Enough The pools chlorine is exposed to the suns UV rays, causing chlorine burnoff. Burnoff drops active chlorine levels in your pool.
- Too Much It acts as a barrier, preventing active chlorine from attaching to and acting bacteria and other organic material in the pool. Can cause Chlorine Lock.
How To Test Your Pool Water For Iron
Usually, the same strips or kit that test for copper will also test for iron. It just makes sense as both are metal elements.
The only difference will be that once youve filled the test tube with a sample of your pool water, youll add a special solution made to test for iron. Then compare the water color to the color coded chart included with the kit.
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How To Test Pool Water Accurately
It doesnt seem like it should be a complicated endeavor, and its really not. You even have a few testing options:
- Use test strips quick and easy
- Take a water sample to your local pool store the most thorough and accurate
How hard can it be, right? Theres just one key to making sure youre testing pool water accurately: the water sample.
Testing Your Pool Water Chemistry For Chlorine Levels
Chlorine is one of the most important things to test for, as it is responsible for killing off bacteria and viruses commonly found in pools. Everything from urine to fecal matter ends up in swimming pools, and chlorine is a great way to kill off bacteria before it has a chance to make someone sick.
Free chlorine is the chlorine in your pool water that has not reacted with contaminants yet, therefore it is fresh. Its important to test for free chlorine because too much or too little can lead to issues for swimmers, as well as for your pool. The ideal range is somewhere between 1.5 to 2.5 ppm.
Lack of chlorine can lead to:
- Algae growth in your pool and on pool equipment
- Cloudy water that is polluted with sunscreen, makeup, dirt and debris, etc.
- Water-borne diseases can thrive, increasing the risk for transmitting illness or disease.
Too much chlorine can be more dangerous than too little chlorine. Potential drawbacks to an over chlorinated pool include:
- Burning eyes, skin rashes, and other irritations
- Harsh fumes can irritate lungs
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How To Test Your Pool Water Chemicals
There are three different ways you can test your pool water chemistry: using pool test strips, using a pool testing kit, or using an electronic device. Each method has pros and cons. First, lets take a step-by-step look at the how-tos of each testing method.
Just remember: no matter which method you choose, its important to test and balance your water regularly ideally, at least two or three times per week. Regular water testing will help ensure that your pool remains cloud-free, crystal-clear, and most importantly, safe to swim in.
Why Testing Your Pool Water Is Important
Your pool, while it looks like a pond, is more of a chemistry lab. The chemicals in your pool can either keep it clean or make it potentially dangerous. Testing your water is the only way to know for sure what those invisible chemicals are doing in your water.
You need to test your water often. While it might seem like a hassle, its a good thing! The better balanced your water, the less cleaning and water changing.
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How To Pressure Test Pool Lines
Pressure Testing Pool Plumbing
Many of you have emailed me, asking about the follow-up piece and here it is 5 years later sorry for the wait! Essentially, you screw the pressure stick into the skimmer, with Teflon tape. Then connect a garden hose to it, also with Teflon tape on the male threads. Your pressure testing stick should be made with a 1.5 inch threaded male fitting on the end. If your skimmer has two inch ports, add a 2in. X 1.5in. threaded reducer to the skimmer, again with Teflon tape to prevent any pressure loss.
Then plug the pool returns, other skimmers, and the main drain, whatever pool pipes you want to test. You can use winter expansion plugs or use threaded plugs with o-rings, like the SP1022C or 195829 for 2 inch threaded pipes. You dont have to plug them all at the same time, because you will be testing each line individually. There are specialty test plugs that have straight side walls, not tapered like winter plugs, which hold better under high pressure. However, in most cases, these expensive test plugs are not needed, and winter plugs will hold 10-20 psi of pressure, as long as you tighten the wing nut very tightly. If you have problems, use the threaded plugs mentioned above.
If you are just testing the suction side , dead-head a valve at the pump . If you dont have a 3-way valve in front of the pump, you can open the pump lid and put a plug firmly into the incoming pipe.
How To Use A Liquid Test Kit
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What Water Tests Are Needed
In order for us to have a sparkling clean and well-balanced pool, we have to ensure that the levels of pool chemicals stay within the ideal range of:
- pH: 7.2 7.6
- Bromine: 3-5 ppm
- Cyanuric Acid: 30 50 ppm
Testing your pool water and maintaining perfect chemical harmony is not rocket science but it definitely involves regularity and consistency on your part.
How Long Should You Wait To Test Pool Water After Adding Chemicals
Id wait at least 3 days. Some chemicals dissolves very slowly in your filtration system. If you retest for it too soon, it may have not all dissolved and you think you need more.
You could end up with too high of a reading which would result in using excessive amounts of chemicals for no real reason.
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