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How To Test Salt Water Pool

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What To Measure & How Often To Test

How To Test The Salt Level Of A Pool

For balanced pool water levels, heres what you need to measure and often you should do the tests:

Free Chlorine

  • Helps prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.
  • Test 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Ideal range: 1 to 4 parts per million .
  • Helps prevent swimmer discomfort, improves chlorine effectiveness and protects equipment.
  • Test 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Ideal range: 7.2 to 7.6.
  • When a pool’s pH falls outside the acceptable range, you may need to use pH adjuster.

Total Alkalinity

  • Helps prevent pH from swinging in and out of range.
  • Test weekly.
  • Ideal range: 80 to 150 ppm.

Calcium Hardness

  • Helps prevent surface damage such as scale and corrosion.
  • Test monthly.
  • Ideal range: 175 to 275 ppm.


  • Stablizer extends the life of chlorine by preventing chlorine burn-off due to sunlight.
  • Test 2 to 3 times per season.
  • Ideal Range: 30 to150 ppm.

When To Test Your Pool More Often

You may need to test your pool water more often depending on how much you swim, who uses the pool and what the weather is like. When youre going for a dip or swimming laps more than once a day, measure the free chlorine four to five times each week.

If pets or little kids use your pool, you should also be testing the free chlorine four or five times each week. Pets and kids are more likely to go to the bathroom in the pool, which affects the chemical levels greatly.

Having a pool party? Test the pool water before your guests arrive and after they leave. The more people who use the pool, the more the chemical balance will be affected. Taking measurements prior to the party and afterward will help you see exactly how the numbers change.

When it rains, a lot of fresh water can end up in your pool, which can make the water more acidic. After a storm passes, test your pool waters free chlorine and pH as soon as possible.

Regular pool water testing lets you know which chemicals need to be adjusted. Keeping the right chemical balance may require you to check your pool water as often as every few days.

Have plenty of pool test kits or pool test strips ready to use throughout the swimming season. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.

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Cost Of A Salt Water Pool

Salt pools need hundreds of pounds of salt, which is fairly inexpensive when purchased locally the main cost of a salt water pool is for the equipment, including the controller, sensors and salt cell.

The cost of a chlorine generator varies by the size of the unit. Small chlorine generators for above ground pools cost between $250-$550, and inground chlorine generators are priced from $550-$1250.

More expensive salt chlorine generators have more features, such as the ability to super chlorinate or shock the pool. Some have a self-cleaning salt cell, capable of reverse polarity and LED display of salt level, water temperature and diagnostic lights for required service.

Over a 3-5 year lifespan, the salt cell will lose the metallic coatings on the metal plates, chlorine output diminishes, and eventually needs to be replaced. Replacement salt cells can be costly, up to half or more of the cost of the entire salt system.

Annual booster additions of pool salt are usually required, but only to replace salt lost from backwashing, splashout or lowering the water for winter. If you fully drain the pool for maintenance, you will need to replace all of the pool salt.

Over a ten-year timespan, the cost of a salt water pool vs. the cost of a chlorine-tablet pool, can be surprisingly close. In other words, you wont save a lot of money with a salt water pool. The cost of the salt equipment offsets the chlorine cost savings fairly closely.

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Everything You Need To Know About Salt Water Pools

Have you heard people talking about salt water pools and wondered what all the hype was about?

Im not here to convince you one way or the other.

The decision on whether to have a salt water pool or not is usually just a matter of preference.

All I’m here to do is give you the low-down on what they are so you can decide for yourself.

Why Testing Your Pool Water Is Important

Best Salt Water Pool Test Kit in 2021

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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Consistently Checking On The Waters Salinity

Salinity should be connected to the amount of sodium chloride in water. As a pool owner, you should educate yourself about the oceanographic research tables, so youll know how to calculate the waters salinity and conductivity accurately. One of the most used equipment is the Palintest Pocket Sensors to get a more accurate result.

The Best Salinity Meters For The Home Pool

Lets be frank no one likes pool maintenance. If you have a saltwater pool or a spa, theres a device that can help take the guesswork out of maintenance and ensure you get the use of your pool this summer.

Whats the device? A salinity meter!

Instrument Choice Scientists have put together a review of the five best salinity meters for home pool use.

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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.

Best Ways To Test Pool Water

Testing Salt Levels in Your Pool

The two most popular ways of testing pool chemicals are pool test strips and pool testing kits. Whether you use a kit or a strip, it should measure chlorine and pH levels. These measurements show two of your pools most important chemical readings.

Its best to find a kit or strips that also measure total alkalinity and total hardness. Total alkalinity can negatively affect your waters pH. Unbalanced total hardness can cause damage to pool surfaces and equipment.

As you conduct pool water testing, track the chemical levels. Use a journal or logbook to write down the data from each weekly test.

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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.

Perform A Final Water Test

Muriatic acid only takes a few minutes to work, but its worth allowing up to 15 minutes before running another test on your water.

During this time, its important to keep your pump on and return jets angled to promote circulation. You also should not be adding any other chemicals to the water before retesting.

Remember, you want your pH level between 7.2 and 7.8. If its still not low enough, youll need to add more acid.

Note: Dont be alarmed if your total alkalinity has dropped too far. We have a section below on how to deal with that.

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What Is A Salt Water Pool

Most people think of the ocean when they think of salt water, but a salt water swimming pool is not the same thing.

In other words, when you get a mouth full of ocean water, you can taste the salt.

But in the world of swimming pools, a salt water pool is one that uses a salt chlorine generator instead of traditional chlorine for sanitizing. This means that the pool is still chlorinated, just with a different type of chlorine.

The way the salt generator works is by creating its own chlorine with an electrical reaction between the salt in the salt cell and the electrode in the generator.

So, instead of pouring chlorine into your pool or adding tablets, the generator is constantly creating it.

And if it’s working right, it will also monitor the levels you set it to in order to keep your sanitizer levels balanced.

Salt Water Test Kit Safety

AquaChek Test For Salt â Pool Geek

It’s always important to keep safety in mind not only for yourself but for anyone else around you when working with the chemistry of your pool. If you are using a drop tester or reagents that requires the mixing and adding of chemicals always wear gloves and protective eyewear. It’s also a good idea to keep children and pets away from the area you are working.

There is a wide range of salt water test kits available on the market today. The simple test strips are often sufficient for residential pool owners to keep an eye on salt and chemistry levels between servicing from a professional. If you carry out your own balancing and maintenance we recommend a quality drop test kit.


Please use all appropriate and proper safety precautions when attempting projects on this website. All projects are attempted at the reader’s own risk.

Salt Water Pool and Spa participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, as an Amazon Associate we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

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How To Test Your Pool Water For Calcium

The total hardness level in your pool should be somewhere between 200 and 500 parts per million . A professional-grade water testing kit is going to be your best friend. The best pro pool water testing kits will test for calcium levels along with chlorine, pH, copper, iron, and other substances.

Youll simply add a chemical indicator to a small sample of pool water and compare the water color to the included color-coded chart to determine whether your pool waters calcium is too high or too low.

Salt Water Testing With Electronic Meters

This testing is the most accurate and fastest method to use. And along with its superior performance among the testing methods, this is also the most expensive. A handheld electronic meter will cost around $50 – $100+. If you have the luxury to spend on this, then we would recommend getting one. This pen-style meter works by dipping the meter tip into the pool then as easy as that, the electronic meter will display your pools current salt levels. Aside from pen-style meters, there is another type of electronic meter wherein you will put a small sample of water into a reservoir then, after pressing the test button, the analog needle will swing to measure the salt levels of your pool. This type of electronic meter is not recommended since they need to test multiple times per day and are more expensive than the pen types.

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Instant Salt Reading Feature Of Your Chlorinator System

My Hayward chlorinator has an instant salt reading that constantly keeps an eye on the salinity level of the water. It looks for a salt reading of between 2700 ppm and 3400 ppm.

If the salt falls outside either the top or bottom range, eventually the salt cell will automatically shut down to protect the cell from damage. So thats a great side benefit of this particular model!

But checking on the salt level is just a few button clicks away on this system. I just toggle to the screen that shows the instant salt reading and it tells me right away as long as the pump is running what the current active salt level is.

Pros: The salt level is live and instant. The salt level is measured as the water flows through the system and assuming you have a quality chlorinator, it should be an accurate reading.

Cons: Technology can fail or be inaccurate from time to time. The reading only works when you have the pump running.

Test For Total Alkalinity

How To Test & Adjust Swimming Pool Salt Levels

After rinsing the tester clean, fill the large tube to the lower dash line. Add one drop of No. 4 solution and swirl. Next, add one drop of solution No. 5B, a total alkalinity indicator, and swirl. Add No. 3 solution, drop by drop until the color changes to clear, light yellow, or light green.

Finally, multiply the number of drops of solution No. 3 you used by 10 to determine the total alkalinity.

Note: Don’t perform this test if the residual chlorine is above 3.0. Chlorine must be in normal ranges before testing for TA .

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Using Salt Testing Strips For Manual Testing

Sometimes it is not good to rely only on the equipment. Machines can be wrong at times. So you could use manual methods to check the salt levels in your pool. The strips are placed in your pool for 20 seconds, and change in color is compared to the chart given with strips. If the strip is Aquacheck strip, then the testing strip is placed for 10 minutes in a container filled with pool water, and the color change is noted.

Converting To A Salt Water Pool

To convert a traditional chlorine pool to a salt water pool, you dont need to drain the pool, or do anything special. Besides normal and good water balance, all you need for a salt water pool is a chlorine generator and enough pool salt to raise the level to the salt system manufacturers recommendation.

You will still need to maintain good water balance on a salt water pool. Your pool pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness must be maintained by testing and adjusting the levels as needed, just as with a traditional chlorine pool. You will also still need to use cyanuric acid, or chlorine stabilizer, to control UV chlorine degradation, and prevent overworking your salt cell.

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Tips For Testing Pool Water

  • Dont buy more pool chemicals than youll use in a season because they can lose effectiveness over time. The test solutions typically last about one year.
  • Avoid test strips. Test strips are available to conduct individual tests simply by dipping the strips into the pool water and “reading” the color. However, these are not as accurate as test kits that mix the water with a reacting solution.
  • When you run out of testing solutions, you can purchase replenishment bottles rather than buying an entire testing kit.
  • Comprehensive kits are available that offer the testing solutions and materials required for nearly any chemical test you might need. These deluxe kits can cost between $30 and $60.

Utilizing A Handheld Digital Test Strip Reader

How to Test the Pool Salt Level by Using any Methods

This test uses both test strips and digital technology. These digital test strip readers cost around $60 but this test can give you several measurements, which is pretty convenient and easy to use. To measure your salt water, dip a test strip into your pool, insert the strip into the reader and after 15 seconds, the display will show you the measurements.

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Saltwater Pools For Health

Swimming in a saltwater pool may be better for someone who has asthma or allergies. Thats especially true when it comes to indoor pools. You might notice a strong chlorine smell upon entering an indoor pool area. Thats because of the chloramines, the mix of chlorine and ammonia. In an outdoor pool, the smell quickly evaporates, whereas its contained indoors.

It usually is most strong around the surface of the pool, where swimmers take their breaths. If you have trouble breathing, you may find swimming in an indoor chlorinated pool irritating.

One 2003 study found that young children who swim regularly in an indoor chlorinated pool were at greater risk for lung inflammation and developing asthma. But more research is needed to determine if a saltwater pool is the best alternative.

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.

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How To Fix High Salt Levels

To prevent your chlorinator from having to work too hard to assimilate an overabundance of salt, its a good idea to reduce too-high salt levels. You can easily accomplish this by draining a few inches of water from your pool, and adding fresh water to bring the level back up.

Retest, and continue the process until salt levels are back in the optimal range.

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