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How to test your pool water

There are now a wide variety of accurate and inexpensive tools to test your pool water, making it easier than ever before to keep your pool water well balanced and in check. Getting a good deal on your testing equipment is important, since you should be testing your pool water regularly. Buy refill kits rather than buying an entirely new test kit, and for even more accurate results consider a Digital Test Strip Reader.

For the most accurate sample size, pull water from the deep end of your pool and use a combination of tests to check the following chemical levels:

  • Chlorine dissolves in your pool to kill bacteria. You should be using a weekly shock treatment and maintain 1-3 ppm (parts per million).
  • Bromine is similar to chlorine in that it kills bacteria in your pool, but it is softer on sensitive skin and has a less harsh smell. Bromine is more commonly used in hot tubs and smaller pools because it reacts better than chlorine to warmer water. Bromine levels should be around 2-5 ppm depending on your pool size.
  • Acid demand tells you how much acid is needed to balance the pH level of your pool.
  • pH measures how acidic or alkaline your pool is. A pH level of 7 is neutral, anything above that is alkaline, and anything below is acidic. A pool’s ideal pH level is about 7.2.
    • Low pH level will lead to corrosion of metals and plaster, algae growth, sulphate stains, diminished chlorine effectiveness, dry itchy skin, and burning eyes and nose.
    • High pH diminishes the effectiveness of chlorine, and you pool becomes cloudy
  • Total Alkalinity measures how much alkaline there is in the pool. Ideally you want around 80 to 120 ppm.
  • Copper can enter your pool many different ways, most commonly through the local water you fill your pool with or through copper based algaecides. Too much copper results in low pH levels, which can eat away at your pool equipment. Copper also causes cloudy water, stains (on the pool and even on swimmers) and can also interfere with the accuracy of other tests.
  • Calcium (Hardness) high calcium content will build up and scale, but low calcium can also lead to metal corrosion. Calcium levels should be about 100 to 400 ppm
  • Salt if you have a salt generator system you should be testing the sodium chloride levels regularly and ensuring that salt levels are between 400 and 7000 ppm.