Recently, we discussed the importance of keeping your pool chemicals in balance. Now that you know how important pool maintenance is, we want to address how to use your pool test kit.

Pool maintenance 101 – what a pool test kit is and why you need one

A pool test kit is made up of chemical testing materials. The kit is intended to allow you to analyze the chemical levels in your pool water. You can then take the results and use them to guide your chemical-based pool maintenance.


Pool test kits generally fall into three categories:

  • Test strips
  • Liquid tests
  • Digital testers

Pool maintenance 102 – breaking down the types of pool test kits and how to use them

1. Test strips

Test strips are strips of treated paper that you dip into your pool 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 pool maintenance, keep things simple and get one of the variations that can detect all the chemicals on a single strip.


How to use test strips:

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


2. Liquid tests

Liquid tests feel like small, pool-oriented chemistry experiments. 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 color, revealing the chemical levels.  


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


How to conduct liquid tests:

  • Take the water samples at least 18’’ below the surface to avoid contamination
  • Add the instructed amount of the various reagents to the different samples
  • Cover the mixtures and shake to mix
  • 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 pool 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 pool test kit is the price, but you only have to buy it once.  


How to use digital testers:

  • Dip the digital tester in the water
  • Wait for the readings to appear
  • Check the readings


If you find readings you are concerned about or consistently find your chemicals off no matter how much pool maintenance you undertake, it is time to contact a professional Vancouver pool company.