In Canada, most of us have the luxury of having access to clean, clear and reliable drinking water. Because of this, it can be surprising to some pool owners when they find out that they need to conduct regular water testing on their pool. Even if water comes from the tap safe and clean, water that is left to sit stagnant outdoors can quickly become dangerous.
Exposure to outdoor pollutants, animals and insects can cause problems with the sanitation in your swimming pool water. But, the chemicals you use to treat your pool for these issues can cause balance issues of their own. Water that is left untreated is unsafe in the short-term, and can cause damage to your pool in the long-term. Water testing allows you to make sure that your swimming pool water is safe during every point of the summer season, and needs to be conducted regularly.
Why is water testing important?
Many pool owners skip out on water testing, or perform their tests less often than they should. But, water testing is essential for the safety of your swimming pool, and the function of all of your equipment.
When you test your swimming pool water, you’re usually measuring the pH level, the alkalinity level, and the chlorine levels in the water. All of these readings will provide you with the information you need to keep your water safe.
The measurements in your pool water also impact the structure and equipment in your pool. If your pH, alkalinity or chlorine levels are consistently too high or two low, it can lead to scaling, damage, and corrosion in the many parts of your swimming pool. Regular testing and balancing helps you to avoid this long-term damage.
Testing your swimming pool water at home
It can seem intimidating to need to test and balance your swimming pool water yourself. Most people don’t even truly understand the concept of balancing their water. Luckily, there are testing kits that make it easy for you to keep your pool and equipment in excellent condition. Home testing kits have been designed to provide you with a fast and easy way of testing your water. These specific readings will tell you exactly how your water is out of balance, and help you discover what needs to be done to correct the problem.
Pool owners and operators can choose between testing strips and water drop tests. Both are effective in telling you how your pool is out of balance, and what you should do to correct it. Balancing your water is as simple as taking a reading, and following the steps recommended to bring your pool back into good shape.
Professional water testing services
A swimming pool professional can keep your water safe, tested and balanced. Many pool companies will provide you with free or paid water testing for your swimming pool. But, the test kits you can buy for your home should give you all the information you need to successful test and balance your swimming pool.
What are you checking for when you test your water?
The tests done on swimming pool water will give you a great indication of the quality of your water. But, these tests are not actually as detailed and scientific as many people might imagine. Your swimming pool test kit will not be able to test for specific germs, compounds or substances in the water. But, the testing will reveal any balance issues that might result from additional chemicals.
Factors that impact water testing
When you’re testing your water, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting a good reading of the levels in the water. There are many things that can impact your water testing, and having a good understanding can help you to avoid false test readings.
A few things that can impact the results of your water test are:
- A contaminated container: If there are trace amounts of chlorine or other chemicals in the container you use to take a sample of pool water, it can skew your results
- Temperature: Temperature can impact the reading of your pH. Be sure to test your pool water when it is at a similar temperature to your pool for best results
- Circulation: It can take time for your pump to circulate water throughout your pool. Be sure to let any newly added chemicals circulate before you take a water sample for best results
- Retesting: To be sure you have accurate results, be sure to test twice (especially if you’re having trouble balancing your water)
- Testing kit issues: Avoid using a testing kit that is damaged or expired. Be sure to get a new testing kit if yours is a few years old, or if it has been exposed to damp conditions.
Acting on water test results
Once you have mastered the art of testing your swimming pool water accurately, the real work can begin. A water test is only helpful to you if you act on the results, and get your swimming pool back in balance. Depending on the results of your water testing, you’ll need to take action to get your water back in balance. Some of the things you may need to do will include:
Steps to take after completing a water test
- Adjusting chlorine levels: If you find that your chlorine levels are too high or too low, you’ll need to make an adjustment. For levels that are too high, you’ll need to reduce the amount of chlorine you add until the levels stabilized. For levels that are too low, you may need to raise the levels temporarily, or over the course of the summer. Regular water testing will let you know if your weekly routine or chlorinator is getting the right amount of chlorine into your water. If you find that your chlorine levels often rise and fall dramatically, you may want to try a stabilizer.
- Raising pH levels: Ideally, your swimming pool pH balance will sit between 7.2 and 7.6. If your pH reading is too low, you can raise it by using a product like pH Plus. Using your test results as a guide, you’ll be able to raise your pH to the right levels.
- Lowering pH levels: pH that is too low is also a problem for the pool. If your pH reading is above 7.6, you’ll need to use a product like pH Minus to get it into the correct range.
- Adjusting alkalinity levels: Alkalinity has a major impact on your swimming pool’s pH balance. After you complete your water test, you may need to add an alkalinity stabilizer like Pure ALKA to get your levels back to normal.
Balanced water keeps your pool in great shape
It is always more fun to swim in your pool than to maintain it. But, swimming pool maintenance always pays off in the long run. Keeping water in balance is the key to comfortable water, and to keeping your swimming pool in great shape.
Understanding what you’re testing for and how balance impacts your pool will make it easier for you to test and adjust your water as needed. Over time, you’ll have less frustration, fewer problems with your pool, and equipment that lasts years longer.