On our blog, we have previously outlined the importance of keeping your hot tub’s chemicals in balance. Now that you know how important hot tub maintenance is, we want to address how to use a spa test kit.

Hot tub maintenance 101 – what a spa water test kit is, and why you need one


A spa test kit is made up of chemical-testing materials. The kit is intended to allow you to analyze the chemical levels in your hot tub’s water. You can then take the results and use them to guide your chemical-based hot tub maintenance. Regularly using a test kit is necessary in order to keep your hot tub’s water safe, clean and healthy.

We recommend using a test kit at least once a week if you are getting into your hot tub regularly. If your spa sees a lot of activity or it has recently been rained on, test it more often. And of course, test it whenever you add chemicals.

Test kits generally fall into three categories:

  1. Test strips
  2. Liquid tests
  3. Digital testers

The 3 types of spa test kits and how to use them


1. Test strips

Test strips are strips of treated paper that you dip into your hot tub’s water to check its chemical levels. Depending on the chemical levels, the testing areas will change colours. Some varieties of test strips only react to one chemical per strip, forcing you to use multiple strips to establish the levels of all the chemicals present. Other varieties can detect all the chemicals on the same strip, allowing you to do all your testing with a single dip. 

Quick, easy to use, and cheap, test strips are the most common form of pool test kits. The only downside is that they are not as accurate as some of the other options. If you are going to use test strips for your hot tub maintenance, keep things simple and get one of the varieties that can detect all the chemicals with a single strip.


4 steps to use test strips for your hot tub maintenance:

  1. Check to make sure the test strip hasn’t expired
  2. Dip the strip in the water, swirling it around
  3. Wait four seconds
  4. Test the colour of the test bands against the chart provided in the kit to get the ranges for your chemicals


2. Liquid tests

Each liquid test kit will include containers for sample water to be collected in, as well as reagents, which are substances used for chemical analyses. To test, you will have to collect water samples, then add the reagents for various chemicals to the different samples. Like test strips, the sample water will change colour, revealing the chemical levels.  

Liquid test kits are a favourite for more experienced hot tub owners. While these kits are a bit more expensive than testing strips, they are more accurate. 


4 steps to conduct liquid tests of your hot tub chemicals:

  1. Take the water samples at least 18 inches’ below the surface to avoid contamination
  2. Add the instructed amount of the various reagents to the different samples
  3. Cover the mixtures and shake to mix
  4. Check the colour of the samples against the provided colour guide to get the ranges for your chemicals


3. Digital testers

Digital testers are like digital thermometers, only they check chemical levels instead of temperature. There are no colours to read or results to interpret. Instead, the LCD screen of the tester displays the results of the chemical readings.  

Of all the test kit options, digital testers are the most accurate and the easiest to use. All you have to do is dip and go. The only downside for this type of test kit is the price, but you only have to buy it once.  


3 steps to use digital testers to measure hot tub chemicals:

  1. Dip the digital tester in the water
  2. Wait for the readings to appear
  3. Check the readings and adjust the chemicals as needed


If you find readings you are concerned about or consistently find your chemicals off and your hot tub’s water is discoloured no matter how much hot tub maintenance you undertake, it is time to contact a professional Vancouver pool company that specializes in maintenance for inground spas, such as Trasolini Pools.