How do you know when it’s time to change your pool water? Unfortunately, many people don’t know and end up wasting a lot of money and causing damage to their pools.
Test strips can be a lifesaver when it comes to testing the condition of your pool. They’re a much cheaper alternative to using a full-service company. Moreover, they provide readings so quickly that you don’t have to wait for days for the results.
This post will teach you how to read a pool test strip color chart and what it means for you and your swimming experience. In addition, we’ll give tips on what each result means for you so that you can have a clean, vibrant, and healthy pool all season long.
Why Test Pool Water?
There are many benefits to testing your pool water. A water balance test will help you avoid any chemical or pH changes that could hurt your family’s health, not to mention the environment. Plus, you can do it in your own home for a very low cost!
How Do I Test Pool Water Using a Test Strip?
First, you need to decide which type of pool test strips to use. Mostly, we recommend 6-way test strips, such as the Clorox Pool & Spa Test Strip.
What you’ll need
- A pool test strip
- Color chart/pool app
Step 1: To get the most accurate reading, dip your test strip at elbow depth into a pool of water and wait 3 seconds before removing it. Never dry, wipe or shake the test strip after dipping.
Step 2: Read the color on the test strip in natural daylight.
Image Source Amazon.com
Step 3: Compare to the included color chart to determine where the chemical levels lie. Do this by lining up the test strip colors with the color-coded chart. Alternatively, you can scan the test strip on the pool test app. The colors will tell you the chemical content in terms of parts per million (ppm).
NB: The corresponding color results should be selected within 15 seconds of wetting. Otherwise, the test strip will dry up, leading to inaccurate results.
Step 4: Depending on the results, increase or decrease the pool chemicals as needed.
Meaning of the Different Water Tests
A pool test strip will test the pH level, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, and Stabilizer/amount of cyanuric acid in your pool water.
The pH of your pool water is the measure of how acidic or basic it is. When the pH in your pool gets out of balance, you could experience damage to pool equipment, discomfort when swimming, and reduced performance with sanitizers. The best way to avoid these problems is to keep your pH between 7.2 to 7.6 ppm.
Total Alkalinity is the water’s ability to resist changes in pH. A high Total Alkalinity level can lead to problems such as an imbalanced pH level, which contributes to high calcium levels. It can clog your filters, cause scaling, or turn the water cloudy. In addition, it causes discomfort, such as itchy skin and eye irritations. To stay safe, keep the Total Alkalinity level at 80-150 ppm.
Calcium Hardness/Total Hardness
This measures the mineral content in your pool water, including calcium. Too little or too much Total Hardness in your pool can affect the performance and longevity of your pool equipment, as well as the feel and look of your pool surfaces. When it comes to total hardness, the safe range is 175-275 ppm.
Total Chlorine is an important measure of water quality. It determines how well it can kill bacteria and other microbes that live in water. The safe range for Total Chlorine is 1-4 ppm.
Free Chlorine is a chemical often found in pools. It’s the pool’s primary disinfectant that kills bacteria and other microorganisms. Like Total Chlorine, the safe level is 1-4 ppm.
Chlorine Stabilizer/ cyanuric acid
A Stabilizer, mostly cyanuric acid, stabilizes the chlorine in your pool to make it last longer, up to 5-10 times longer than liquid chlorine. Also referred to as a pool conditioner, it keeps the pool water clean for a longer period. The recommended level for chlorine stabilizer is 30-50 ppm.
What To Use Besides Pool Test Strips
Besides test strip kits, there are other approaches you can take to maintain the quality of your pool water. Below are some tested and proven methods for testing pool water quality.
Liquid Test Kits
One of the most accurate methods for testing chemical levels is by using a liquid kit. Although more expensive than strips, liquid kits are more reliable and offer a wider range of testing options. Like tests strips, liquid test kits use color matching for reading the results.
Digital Pool Testers
Digital testers are more on the expensive side. However, they provide the most accurate way to test the quality of pool water. Also, reading results is a snap, thanks to the LCD screen that eliminates the need for color matching.
How Often Should You Test Your Pool Water?
The EPA recommends that you test your pool water at least once a week and more often if there is a problem.
For your attention, there are two types of testing: routine and spot. Routine testing is weekly. As the name suggests, spot testing should be done whenever something has changed in the water, such as after someone uses the pool or if the chemicals in the water change.
PH and chlorine levels can be tested more often, even daily. The other readings, however, tend to move more slowly. Hence, you can perform the test weekly or even monthly.
How often you test your pool water also depends on what kind of filter you have, how often you use your pool, and what size of pool you have.
NB: You can save money by using 2-way test strips for daily chlorine and pH level checks. Save your more expensive 6-way test strip for more comprehensive monthly tests.
Reading a pool test strip color chart is a no-brainer. However, ensure to use a more comprehensive pool test kit. It should cover all the tests: PH, chlorine, alkalinity, hardness, and cyanuric acid.
Well, as a test strip user, don’t fret that it’s less accurate than liquid or digital pool testers. After all, they’re a favorite for most pool owners and deliver great results. So, if you want to use them, go ahead.