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A Guide to Using Chlorine Test Kits for your Pool

Just like with any other household appliances, furniture, and equipment you have at your home, it is important to ensure proper maintenance of your swimming pools as well; from changing the pool water to balancing water levels by using the right swimming pool chemicals. These are essential to do, especially if you want to keep your pool safe to swim into, and clean all year long. Part of these maintenance procedures that you have to perform is testing your pool water. This step is done with the use of chlorine test kits, which can identify which pool chemicals you have to apply to your pools, to keep water levels balanced all the time — making your pool safe and sanitized. 

In the process of using these chlorine test kits, particularly when it is time to balance your water, you might generally have to check for pH levels, the chlorine and bromine levels, as well as the total alkalinity.

You may test your water for each of these items using one of the many different types of kits that are available. Specialist kits can be used to test for more components of your water’s chemistry. Some may test for all of them, while others only test a subset. Some kits just include test strips, which can actually provide an easy and quick way to test your water. This type of test tends to be popular as well, since they are more affordable. However, solution or tablet-based chlorine test kits can be more accurate than those strips. And, depending on which one you choose, can offer more data.

Chlorine test strips can quickly determine how much chlorine is present in a sample of water, but sometimes it can be difficult to interpret these seemingly straightforward results. Thus, in terms of using chlorine test kits, it all depends on the brand and the actual product you buy. Of course, if you are buying from a reputable seller, each product will come with more accurate and detailed instructions on how to use it properly.

Difference Between Total Chlorine and Free Chlorine

Chlorination, which involves adding chlorine to drinking water, is the most common method of disinfection used by water treatment facilities. Chlorine may efficiently destroy bacteria and stop further down-stream contamination when introduced at the proper levels.

When chlorine is introduced to water, it interacts with both inorganic and organic substances to kill germs and deactivate bacteria. Total chlorine is referred to as the remaining chlorine that is not used to satisfy the chlorine demand. It is made up of free chlorine — which are those leftover chlorine that is ready to deactivate bacteria; and combined chlorine — chlorine that can no longer kill bacteria because it has interacted with organic or inorganic substances. Trihalomethanes or chloramines may be included in combined chlorine.

Steps in Using Pool Test Kits

In using chlorine test kits, what you must do initially would be to take a water sample. This step is done by dipping the plastic tester into the pool, while making sure that you are drawing water from a depth of at least 18 inches, for a more accurate result of the testing process. This is because the water chemistry on the pool’s top might not be reflective of the water deeper in the pool. Once you have taken a sample, you have to check the vial levels. In doing so, ensure that the vials are filled to the marked “fill” line on the column. A precise ratio of pool water to the testing solution is necessary for accurate findings.

Upon checking the vial levels, it is now time to test for free and residual chlorine. You have to add five drops of solution No.1 to the column for testing chlorine, using those typical chlorine test kits. However, there are some test kits that use dissolving tablets rather than a liquid testing solution. After this step, you have to now mix the solution. In doing this, place caps on the vials and repeatedly invert or turn them upside down.

Then, after a while, compare the color of the vial to the standards shown on the plastic tester. You may get a reading of the free chlorine level from this. Then, wait a couple of minutes again, then compare the colors for the second time to determine the residual chlorine level. Note that there are some chlorine test kits that have two separate tests for free chlorine and residual chlorine levels — each requiring different solutions or tablets.

Steps in Using Chlorine Pool Test Strips

There are some people who prefer using test strips. Though deemed to be less accurate than other types of chlorine test kits, they are becoming more and more precise, which can help you ensure that you can quickly establish whether you have to take any steps to address the chlorine levels in your pool.

To use these test strips, you have to hold a strip in your pool water for at least 10 seconds. Then, take it out and wait for another 10 seconds, and the strip will change color. Compare the color to the color chart of the chlorine which is normally included with the strips. Once you have learned the imbalance, you can now adjust the chlorine levels as required.

How to Balance Chlorine in Your Pool?

With the use of chlorine test kits, you can determine how much chlorine is present in your pool. However, you will need to make sure that it is at the right level.  Between one and three parts per million (ppm) should be the chlorine concentration. It is good if it is already in the ideal range. But then, if not, you will either need to add chlorine if the chlorine reading is too low; or add a chlorine reducer if the chlorine reading is too high.

How to Interpret Chlorine Test Kits Results

In terms of interpreting the results of testing pool water through those chlorine test kits, the optimal and ideal level should lie at 0.5 or 1 ppm, or parts per million. A free chlorine level of 0.5 and 1 ppm ensures that water will remain bacteria-free. Results with 0 ppm is not optimal, given that free chlorine will not be disinfected if new bacteria are introduced. Those with 2 ppm are not good as well; once there is 2 ppm free chlorine present in water, it will start to have an unpleasant taste and odor. And if pool water indicates that they have more than 2 ppm water levels, it is considered to be bad since it will taste and smell like chemicals.

Key Takeaway

Testing pool water using chlorine test kits is definitely essential, done at least once a week. Some experts may even recommend you to test chlorine levels at least two to three times per week, to ensure that the pool is certainly safe and sanitized to swim into. And as a pool owner, you are aware that pool upkeep is difficult and does not happen instantly. And the crucial step to avoid significant pool issues would be regular pool testing.

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