There are a multitude of test kits for checking the quality of the water in your swimming pool; it is a good idea to check with your pool builder for a reliable product; in any case, use a kit that appears simple and straight-forward in instructions and is comfortable to use. Basically, the purpose for conducting a pool test is to determine the chemical levels present in pool water, the level of disinfectants or sanitizers and the pH; the pH is a value that expresses the acidity or alkalinity on a logarithmic scale; besides these, it is also advisable to test the alkaline levels in your swimming pool. Most pool test kits do not include an alkaline test; so it may be useful to buy one which includes the alkalinity test.
Using a test block. Some pool kits use a test block, where you fill in water; add a reagent tablet which mixes with the pool water dissolving in it; then there are multi-step tests that require you to place a tablet in the pool water, allow some reaction time, then introduce another tablet - the water attains a certain colour which should be matched with the colour comparison chart found in the test kit; this helps in determining if the chemical levels are low, appropriate or high and the necessary adjustments in chemical levels must be made after completion of the test.
Using a test-strip. There are pool test kits that provide a test-strip; handle the strips carefully using clean and dry hands; wet the test strip in the pool water by dipping it in; the dip duration is provided in the test kit instructions. These test strips are chemically treated and react by producing a particular colour upon being dipped in the water. Match the colour of the water with the scale provided in the kit. Adjust chemical, chlorine and bromine levels accordingly.
Using test-tubes or similar apparatus. Similar to the test block, some kits provide a test-tube or an apparatus that contains a couple of test-tubes and vials for filling pool water and different reagents are introduced to test pool water quality. Safety levels are indicated on a scale on the test-tube or beside it; match them with indicative readings on the test kit.
Important considerations. While using a pool-test kit, it is advisable to remember the following:
- If using a test-tube, test block or any other apparatus that requires collecting water from the pool, make sure to collect it from at least 18 inches below the surface of the water. The water must be collected away from the pump/motor inlet for accurate reading;
- After testing the water, do not throw it with the reagent into the pool; dispose water away from the pool; clean the apparatus and store the complete test kit in a cool, dry place away from sunlight; the contents of a pool test kit are quite sensitive and have short-shelf lives, so handle them with care.
- If using the strip method, check the instruction sheet for the number of drops to be introduced to the strip or whether it should be dipped directly into the pool.
In any case, do follow the instructions on the pool-test kit to obtain accurate results; it is certainly advisable to conduct this test at the least once in seven days; if you find the test results varying between tests, it is a good idea to get it tested by a pool expert or at the local lab; if you cannot locate one, again, ask your pool constructor or the local hardware retailer for suggestions.