How to Test Pool Water | Pool Maintenance Advice

The enjoyment of your swimming pool can be dramatically reduced if your start to find you are swimming in slime or you find swimming in your pool leaves your eyes burning and your skin itchy. No one wants to jump into a pool, only to get out with green hair! That’s why we wanted to share a a few tips on how to test pool water.

Testing your pool water needs to make up a part of your regular maintenance, and during the hotter months you may need to test your water up to 3 times a week. However, testing can be very easy to do and monitor, if your follow a few simple tips.

What are you actually testing for?

There are a number of things you can test for. Most common at home strip or drop tests measure a range of common factors, such as pH, Chlorine levels, Alkalinity, water hardness and cyanuric acid.


pH is probably the most important factor in your swimming pool. The ideal pH for a swimming pool is 7.4 – this is because the pH of your eyes is equal to 7.4. A common misconception is that burning eyes are caused by to much chlorine. While excessive chlorine is not ideal, it is generally a pH level of less than 7.4 that causes burning eyes – anything below pH 7 is considered as acidic. At pH 7.4, chlorine easily dissolves through your swimming pool, ensuring the least amount of chemical is needed for effectiveness.

Free Chlorine and Combined Chlorine

Chlorine works as a disinfectant and sanitizer for your pool water. When chlorine is added to your pool it combines with ammonia and nitrogen to form combined chlorine. While this combination assists in the sanitation of your pool, the combined chlorine attached to these compounds is now less effective in sanitizing your pool. Therefore, more ‘free’ chlorine has to be added to the pool to do the cleaning tasks.

Water Hardness

Testing water hardness is actually a test for calcium and magnesium dissolved in your pool water. The major concern with this is the level of calcium in the water. The ideal level of calcium is 200-400 ppm. To little calcium can lead to a corrosive water that eats away at tile grout, plaster and metal. To much calcium leads to scale formation throughout pipes, filters and plumbing.

Cyanuric Acid

One of the reasons chlorine needs to be regularly added, is that ultraviolet rays from sunshine actually breakdown free chlorine. Cyanuric acid works as a stabilizer of your pool and counters the effects of these ultraviolet rays. However, to much cyanuric acid can also inhibit the effectiveness of chlorine – which is why it is one of the important levels to test.

A few Ways to Test  Pool Water

There are two simple and effective ways to test your pool water: drops or strips.

Water Drop Kits

Drops work with the use of a sampling kit. To test your pool water you simply take a sample of water, using the provided sample container. Then you add the right level of drops to the sample and compare the resulting colour against a colour panel to see if your water is in the recommended range for the selected factor.


Using strips is really straightforward. You simply dip your strip into the pool for up to 10 seconds, remove, wait for up to 15 seconds and then compare the strip test with the colour swatch on the strip packaging.

Getting a professional Test

The above DIY tests are appropriate for regular pool maintenance, especially given these tests should be completed multiple times a week. However you should also include an regular professional test. Professional testing covers a much larger range of testing parameters. These extra tests are important in regular pool maintenance as early detection can save you from costly water replacement or purchasing additional chemicals.


Depending on the outcome of testing will determine the treatment of your swimming pool water. Most DIY pool treatment kits include specific advice on what you should do to treat your pool. As with all things though, upfront ongoing maintenance is much more effective. Also, especially with chemicals such as chlorine, less, more often is better than more, less often.  If you have any issues or you are not sure you can contact us for some further advice.

We find that having a pool blanket is an effective way to reduce the amount of chemical you need to add to your pool, as it not only reduces the impact of sunlight, but it helps in stabilizing the pH and chemical levels in your pool.


Have Questions?

Want to know more about pool maintenance? If you need your pool serviced today feel free to or contact us on 07 3829 3324 and we would be more than happy to talk to you about your pool and how we can help you today.

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