A person using an electric pool test kit with the words checking pool chemical levels

Dirty pool water can contain all sorts of nasty things, including E. coli, protozoa, and hepatitis A. All of these pool water pathogens can make you and your family sick. Fortunately, there are chemicals that will keep your pool clean and sanitary – you just have to keep up with dosage requirements and monitor your pool chemical levels to make sure they’re high enough to keep disease at bay.

A pool test kit will give you a clear picture of how clean your water is and if anything can be growing in it. Here is how to use a pool test kit to check chemical levels:

Choosing a Pool Test Kit

There are numerous pool test kits on the market, and while most of them are fairly accurate, they’re not all created equal. Some require more inputs from the user, which may make them subject to human error. Pool test kits normally fall into one of three categories:

  • Manual – Most kits on the market are manual, meaning that you have to measure out drops of chemicals into a water sample and visually inspect the results. You may have to match colors, look for changing colors or measure the cloudiness of the sample to decipher the results.
  • Photometric – These kits use a photometer to measure chemical levels in the simple. For this test, you usually have to pour a pre-measured agent into the water and read the results on an electronic display.
  • Digital – Digital testers are the easiest to use. Simply dip the tester into your pool water and read the results on the display screen. There’s no measuring or analyzing involved, so it takes human error out of the equation.

If you don’t have confidence in your ability to measure agents and compare colors accurately, choose a photometric or digital tester.

How Often You Should Test

You should test your pool water 2 to 3 times per week. If people use your swimming pool a lot, you may want to check it more often. This is also true if you’ve had a lot of storms lately or if you find debris in your pool. Virtually anything that goes into your pool can affect its chemical balance.

Tips for Accurate Testing

To improve the accuracy of your testing, be sure to follow all of your pool testing kit’s instructions. Start with clean, dry test tubes and fill them only to the fill line. If you overfill or underfill, it can affect the results. Carefully measure out all test agents. Since most use “drop” measurements, be sure to add drops slowly to control the amount that goes into the test tube. You must be precise.

Never use an old or expired test kit, as it may be inaccurate. Also, if you’re comparing colors against a table on a card or box, make sure the table is in pristine condition. Once the colors fade or the results table gets damaged, replace it.

Paying Attention to Visual Clues

In addition to testing your pool regularly, you should pay attention to visual clues. How does your water look? If it’s green, cloudy, brown, or reddish, something is wrong with your pool water. Test your water immediately and add the necessary chemicals to stabilize your water before you swim again.  

Following are some common water colors and what they mean:

  • Green – There is algae in the pool.
  • Cloudy – There may be too many chemicals in your pool, or you may have elevated pH, alkalinity or calcium levels.
  • Brown – There is oxidized iron in your pool.
  • Red – There may be red algae or minerals present in your pool.

If you can’t figure out what’s going on with your pool water, you can bring a water sample to your local pool store. They can run a more thorough test and can also help you through the journey to resolve your water quality issues.

If you have any questions about your pool or want to hire someone to take care of the maintenance for you, call Liquidus Pool Services. Staffed with certified pool inspectors and certified pool & spa operators, Liquidus has the professionals you need for your next pool project.