As a pool owner, you know how wonderful it is to have sparkling, clean, healthy water. You also know how keeping the water clean and inviting is a matter of diligence and care. When it comes to testing your pool water, there are various components that require continual balance. Perhaps you find yourself asking “how often should I test my pool water?” This can vary based on several factors such as the weather, how often there are bathers accessing the pool, and the temperature of the water. Regardless of the variables, here are our recommendations, on average, for water testing frequency.
The most recognizable pool component on the list, chlorine is critical to clean water. If imbalanced, your pool can turn a nice shade of green, and bacteria and germs can run rampant. Chlorine inhibits germs that cause health issues if not properly added. That being said, chlorine should be checked at least once per week, or more as needed. If you’re a new pool owner, you’ve experienced strong storms, or using the pool more often than normal (great!), checking the chlorine every day isn’t a bad idea. Chlorine levels should be maintained between 1-3 ppm, up to 5 ppm. Also, if you smell a sharp chlorine smell in the water, you need to add more chlorine (shock the pool). What you are smelling is combined chlorine (chlorine that has already done its job), and the additional shock dose will clear that up.
If chlorine is the peanut butter, pH is the jelly. You’ll want to check the pH levels every time you check the chlorine. They work together as a pair. For your chlorine to best sanitize your water, your pH levels must be balanced. If your pH is off, the chlorine may not be as effective at keeping your water clear and safe. You may also experience “red eye” and other irritations, as well as potentially damage your plaster or equipment. Because of this, pH levels should be checked at least twice a week, on the same schedule as your chlorine checks. pH levels should be maintained between 7.2 – 7.6, with optimum levels between 7.4 – 7.5.
What’s the difference between pH levels and total alkalinity? In short, total alkalinity levels help determine your pool’s ability to resist change in pH levels, or “buffer” the pH. If the total alkalinity is too high, you may see cloudy water or scale formation (or white mineral deposits). If it’s too low, you may have some pool issues like staining and corrosion. High levels of total alkalinity can also contribute to bathers experiencing physical symptoms like burning in their eyes. Total alkalinity should be checked once a week.
Calcium hardness is a measure of the minerals dissolved in your water. If the calcium of your water is too low (soft water), your water will want to “steal” calcium from any source it can find. Typically, this includes the plaster, mortar, or stone around your pool. You will begin to notice corrosion and chipping. If the calcium is too high (hard water), you may notice cloudy water and scaling in your pool. This can lead to damaged equipment. The calcium hardness should be checked once a month. Many home kits don’t offer this test – it is best to have your water tested professionally for optimal results. Hardness levels should be maintained between 200-350ppm.
Total Dissolved Solids
This phrase refers to all of the substances that have dissolved in your pool water over time. This includes minerals and all other things that the water has absorbed over time. Total dissolved solids should be checked once a month by a professional.