Swimming pools are a great place to relax or to burn some calories. While it seems like a really fun place for you if you are a swimmer, if you are a pool owner who actually has to maintain the pool, it can be quite a challenging task at many times.
Pool testing kits are a great way to let you know how your pool is doing. Any discrepancies in the chemical levels will be highlighted by these tests, alerting you at once that changes are needed.
Swimming pool water needs to be clean and healthy, regardless of it being a public or a private pool. There are a number of infectious diseases that can spread by water if the pool water is not treated properly, this is specifically a problem in public pools where a large number of people might be using it at the same time. Having water that is properly treated will ensure there’s no risk to the swimmers.
A pool water test kit generally gives you results in a few minutes and you know what needs to be done to improve the condition of the water in your pool. These test kits are easily available on Amazon and one can order them in just a few clicks. Over the course of this article, we try and understand what a pool test kit is and how they compare against one another.
Getting a bunch of these test kits at your home is essential if you are a pool owner because it is best to keep testing your waters before you take a swim. Let us take a closer look at some things that you MUST know about pool testing kits if you are a pool owner, or are planning to get one soon. Some of these are also valid to pool and spa setups, so that makes it even more useful.
8 Best Pool Test Kits in 2021
Why Should I Test My Pool Water?
The simple answer to this question is – to avoid any waterborne disease that might affect you. If the chemicals that keep your water clean aren’t balanced properly, and if they are present in smaller quantities than they should be, you are at risk because they won’t be able to counter the microbes present in the water.
If the chemicals are present in a quantity greater than their ideal levels, you need to reduce the levels or they are going to have a bad effect on you by giving you rashes or skin irritation.
Algae buildup is one of the biggest reasons why swimming pool water is treated with Chlorine. Testing your pool water is important because if the Chlorine levels drop, your water is susceptible to the development of algae.
Besides that, there are problems such as calcium buildup which can affect the equipment that has been attached to the pool.
Hence, testing your pool will keep you alert about any changes to the chemical composition of the water in it. These pool water test kits help keep you healthy, your pool safe, and your equipment from getting damaged.
What Is a Pool Test Kit?
Pool kits are testing kits that help you test various things about your swimming pool. These include the following:
- Chlorine levels in the water
- The pH level of your pool water
- Total alkalinity of your water
- Acid demand of your pool water
It is based on these four observations that you would make changes to your swimming pool water content so that it remains under ideal conditions. To get an example of what this kit is like, check out the Poolmaster Water Chemistry Case, which is one of the most ‘perfect’ testing kits available out there.
Chlorine Levels of Swimming Pool Water
The ideal Chlorine levels of swimming pool water need to remain between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm (Parts Per Million). If you go beyond these levels, swimmers are going to get itchy skin or rashes, and red eyes. If you keep the levels below this, you risk getting algae in your pool.
pH level of Swimming Pool Water
The pH level of ‘7’ is the ideal swimming pool pH level. Any more than 7 and your water is alkaline and going below 7 means your water is acidic. A slight variance is permissible, 6.8 to 7.6, with 7 to 7.2 being the ideal range.
Any more than 7.6 and you risk skin irritation, any lower than 7 and you risk eye irritation. Sometimes, heavy rain can cause the pH levels to change, so keep an eye out for that. Getting a Taylor K1001 Basic Residential DPD Pool or Spa Test Kit is a great way to keep an eye out on your pool’s pH levels.
Total Alkalinity of Swimming Pool Water
‘Total Alkalinity’ is basically the sum of all alkaline chemicals present in the water. If the overall alkalinity rises or falls, the pH levels can be affected.
Acid Demand of Pool Water
The acid demand of the pool water rises when you need to lower the pH levels. If the pool water pH levels go beyond 7.6, you are likely to add some acidic chemicals which will help counter the alkalinity of the water.
Types of Pool Test Kits
Before we proceed further, you need to know about the three major types of pool test kits:
1. Liquid Test Kits
These liquid test kits basically feature dropper-like bottles where a liquid reagent is used to test the waters. In these test kits, the pool water sample is placed in a vial and the reagent is added to the vial via the droppers.
There are different reagents to test different levels in the water. Some of these test kits come with color charts so that it is easier for colorblind people to match it up, and sometimes you also get digital liquid test kits which makes it even easier to gauge the levels of chemicals in the water. The Blue Devil 5-Way OTO Swimming Pool Test is a good option for anyone looking for the ideal liquid test kit because it allows to test a large range of things in the pool water.
- Very easy to use
- Accurate results
- Has an expiry date
- A little more time-consuming process than other tests
2. Pool Test Strips
Test strips are the most common types of testing kits that are used to test pool waters. They are also the cheapest and the quickest. However, the accuracy of these tests is always debated and people sometimes perform multiple tests to ensure they are getting correct results.
The process is quite simple. You don’t even have to take the pool water out to test it. You simply dip the strips in the pool and wait for them to change color. One of the best examples of these testing kits is the Poolmaster 22211 Smart 4-Way Swimming Pool Test Strips. Poolmaster is among the most reliable brands when it comes to pool testing kits.
These strips also have a color chart which you can place next to the strip to compare the color of your test strips with the colors on the chart to know what that color means.
- The cheapest form of pool test kits
- Quick results, easy to use
- Has to be stored carefully because it can get contaminated very easily
3. Digital Pool Testing Kits
These are the third and the most effective, but the costliest of the three types of test kits. These are generally considered the best pool test kits because of the accuracy that they provide.
You are not left to reading any colors but are provided numbers on a digital screen, which is way more accurate than any other pool test.
Even in these test kits, you need to add a reagent to the water, but the biggest difference is that the results are shown to you electronically on a digital screen and you don’t have to rely on a color-coded chart to gauge the levels of chemicals. One of the best examples of these kits is the LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit, which is simply a top-notch product that gives the most accurate results.
- Highly accurate
- Easy to read
- Good for colorblind people
- Very expensive
What Should the Correct Swimming Pool Chemical Levels Be?
All the chemical levels need to be correctly balanced in order for the pool water to be safe for use. If any of these levels fluctuate by a significant margin, the water will no longer be ideal for use. This applies to both pool and spa waters.
The idea behind using a pool test kit is to know the exact condition of your water so that it can be corrected if it is not ideal.
pH levels of the pool water need to be between 7.2 to 7.6
Total alkalinity of the water needs to remain between 80 to 120ppm (parts per million)
Calcium hardness levels of the water need to remain between 180 to 220ppm
Chlorine levels need to be maintained between 1 to 3ppm
Bromine levels of the pool water should be between 3 to 5ppm
Cyanuric acid levels in the pool have to be maintained between 30 to 50ppm
Using a pool test kit ensures that you are constantly aware of the chemical composition of your pool and if anything changes, you are ready to make the changes quickly. The Taylor K2005 Swimming Pool Test Kit is a must-buy if you are looking for a test kit that covers most of these elements, and even offers more testing options.
An Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Pool Test Kits
Planning on buying a pool test kit but not sure which one to buy? Here are some of the things that you need to keep in mind when you are buying the kits. Use this list as a checklist of sorts to ensure that you are getting the best pool water test kit that is going to meet all your needs:
Number of Tests
One of the first and the most important things that you need to check is – how many tests are you going to get out of the test kit. Make sure that you are getting a kit that offers you the maximum possible tests, but also check the expiry date of the test kit. A good test kit will feature reagent bottles or test strips that will last you for a long time and will have enough of them to last the season.
Consistency and Accuracy
Keeping these two factors in mind, we recommend getting a digital pool testing kit rather than getting a strip-based or a liquid testing kit. Digital tests are the most accurate tests because they give you the precise reading on a digital display and it leaves no scope for doubt. Liquid tests are not a gold standard but at least they are more accurate than strips.
Type of Testing Kit
Based on what we just said above, the type of testing kit is also quite important. All three provide you with pH and Chlorine levels, but a strip-based testing kit doesn’t allow you to test Calcium hardness, Cyanuric acid levels correctly (if at all it does). Digital kits are the best but are the most expensive too. People usually get a mix of strips and liquid tests which lasts them a season. If you are running a professional-grade public pool, we recommend you get an electronic/digital testing kit.
Ease of Use
If you are someone who is just starting out and has never tested pool water before, we recommend you start with a strip-based test, move to a liquid test, and then purchase an electronic or a digital testing kit. This is based on ease of use. While accuracy is the highest in the digital kits, they are also the most complex in terms of the process.
We all hate a spillover! The best pool test kits come with bottles that can be sealed properly after use else the chemicals will end up spilling all over the box and it will be quite an irritating process for the pool owners to sort the mess.
The price of the pool test kit obviously plays a major part in the decision-making process. If you are not looking forward to spending a lot of money on the testing, you might want to check out a liquid-based test, while a strip-based test is the least expensive of the lot. If the budget permits, we strongly recommend you go for the digital pool test kits as they provide accuracy like no other. If you are looking for an inexpensive but reliable option to test your swimming pool water, you might want to take a closer look at the Jed Pool tools Inc 00-481 Standard Dual Test Kit.
Tips for Testing Pool Water
Now that you know practically everything that there is to know about a pool test kit, here’s a look at some pro tips that will help you test your waters in a better manner:
Remember That There’s an Expiry Date
Both, test strips as well as the liquid test carries an expiry date. You have to use them within a certain time period or you won’t really get accurate results. To ensure that your results are accurate, make sure you are not using them past their expiry date.
Buy Replenishment Kits Rather Than the Whole Setup
If the chemicals or the reagents finish up, you don’t need to buy a whole new kit but you can buy the reagent bottles or chemicals separately to test your pool water. This is cheaper compared to getting a whole new kit. Make sure you are getting the replenishment kit from the same manufacturer as earlier.
Refer to the testing schedule in the FAQs below to know how frequently should you be testing each element. And we don’t mean only the regular ones such as Chlorine and pH levels. You need to check all the elements such as calcium hardness, cyanuric acid among others.
Avoid Test Strips
We strongly recommend you either use liquid test kits or digital pool test kits because these are the two which give a more accurate result. In strips, you risk getting an inaccurate reading many times, especially because they get contaminated very easily. Strips aren’t a great means to measure cyanuric acid levels too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Pool Test Kits
Here are the answers to some of the most common and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about these test kits:
Do these test kits work on saltwater pools?
These kits work well with both, freshwater as well as saltwater pools. However, if you want to measure the salt levels in the saltwater, you might want to get a test kit that offers this specific feature. For saltwater pool owners, we have a special recommendation – the Taylor technologies INC K-1766 pool testing kit, which is specifically designed to be used in saltwater swimming pools.
Which kind of test kit suits colorblind people?
Test strips, as well as liquid tests, are both heavily reliant on one’s vision as you need to match the color in the vial or the test strips to the color on the color chart. However, an electronic test kit requires no such color-coding and visual identification, but gives you hard stats on a digital display, making it the best-suited option for colorblind users.
Can I use a swimming pool without using a pool testing kit?
Well if you are a regular swimmer you should just dive into the pool hoping that the pool owner performs regular tests and checks on the pool. However, if you are a pool owner, you really need a pool test kit and there’s just no avoiding that. These test strips and liquids help you ensure that the water in your pool remains safe to use. Given pools are generally public places, you are not only putting yourself but others at risk if you aren’t using them regularly.
How Frequently To Use A Pool Test Kit?
A pool test kit has to be used at different intervals for checking different compositions. Here’s a closer look at how frequently you need to check each element:
pH levels need to be tested every 2 or 3 days
Chlorine levels need to be tested about 2 or 3 times a week
If your pH level has changed, you need to check for your acid demand and total alkalinity levels as well
Calcium hardness test needs to be carried out at least once a month
Levels of Cyanuric acid need to be tested once a month too
A TDS test, which tells you about the Total Dissolved Solids, also needs to be carried out on a monthly basis
Why Do Swimmers Get Red Eyes/Rashes/Itch in a Swimming Pool?
Sometimes, if the Chlorine levels are too high, swimmers can get an itch. A similar problem can happen if the pH levels are high. If the pH levels fall too low, red eyes are common because the water becomes acidic then. Lastly, if the Chlorine levels are too low, algae can develop on the pool’s surface and it can cause rashes.
A pool test kit is a very important thing to keep at your home if you are a pool owner. A pool owner needs to ensure the hygiene of their pool because pools are generally community spaces and hence sanitation is very important. If multiple people are using the pool at the same time, there’s a big risk of people ending up sharing infections if the chemical balance is not right. Similarly, a badly sanitized pool or one with chemical imbalances can cause quite a stink, which is not suitable for swimmers.
We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the different types of kits and you now know which is the best pool test kit for your needs! If there are any more questions or doubts, feel free to send us a mail or let us know in the comments below and we shall get back to you as soon as we can.