Testing your Pool Water

After all of the time, energy, and money spent on creating the perfect backyard pool oasis for your family and friends to enjoy, it is time to start thinking about how to keep it clean and healthy for years to come! Much like a car or a home, a swimming pool requires regular preventative maintenance and diagnostic checks so that you can determine what it needs to function correctly without unnecessary breakdowns. While it is recommended that a pool professional perform some of the maintenance requirements, especially those that pertain to pumping and filtering equipment, you can easily manage the diagnostic checks through a simple water testing routine. Testing your pool water at regular intervals is the best way to know exactly what your pool water needs.

When beginning a water testing regimen, it is important to take a look at what basic levels the professionals test for to determine the health of your pool water which in turn will guide your corrective course of action if need be:

            Alkalinity

  • Alkalinity levels in a swimming pool reflect the amount of alkaline material, otherwise known as bases, present in the water. Testing for alkalinity provides you with a baseline to test pH balance in your pool. The ideal total alkalinity range for most pools is 80-120ppm.  

            pH

  • pH levels in a swimming pool refer to the relative acidity of the water and is measured on a range of 1.0 -14.0. The pH of your pool can fluctuate by season but the optimal range is typically between 7.4 and 7.6 with readings below 7.0 reflecting an acidic condition and readings above 7.0 reflecting an alkaline condition. A pH increaser like sodium carbonate, or a pH decreaser like sodium bisulfate can be added to adjust pH levels when they are out of range. It is important to maintain correct pH because water that is either too acidic or too alkaline can lead to serious equipment and structural damage. 

            Water Hardness

  • Water hardness refers to the amount of minerals present in your pool water, particularly calcium. Depending on the relative hardness or softness of the municipal or well water that you use to fill your pool, mineral levels should be maintained at between 200 and 400ppm. Low water hardness can be treated with the addition of calcium chloride but care should be taken in not allowing it to swing too much in the opposite direction. 

            Cyanuric Acid

  • Cyanuric acid is a water stabilizer that works with chlorine to help it withstand the degrading effects of sunlight. Maintaining the correct cyanuric acid levels of between 30 and 50ppm will help you get the most out of the chlorine added to your pool water.   

            Free Available Chlorine

  • Chlorine is used as a sanitizer to oxidize organic matter in your pool. This means stuff like bacteria and other contaminants that come from fallen leaves and regular pool use by you and your family. This process and other environmental factors like water temperature, exposure to sunlight, and dilution by rainfall, cause chlorine levels in a pool to regularly drop and therefore require that additional chlorine continually be added to maintain the proper levels. Typically the ideal range for free chlorine in a swimming pool is between 2 and 4ppm.

Home test kits for these 5 ranges are readily available at most pool supply stores and at online pool equipment retailers. The testing process is easy to learn and is a great way for you to get to know exactly what goes into maintaining that crystal clear water you are always looking for. Get started with home pool water testing and help lengthen the life of your pool equipment by ensuring that your pool chemicals are doing their job properly.