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Choosing a Good Pool Water Testing Kit
Good pool chemistry should include a good water test kit and appropriate levels:
1. pool chlorine
2. Combined chlorine (chloramine)
4. total alkalinity (TA)
5. calcium hardness
6. cyanuric acid (CYA)
Pool chlorine is a pool cleaner and should be kept between 1.5-3.5 ppm. Your pH should be between 7.6-7.8, not 7.2. You will use a lot of pool acid to keep it at that level. Total pool alkalinity (TA) is between 80-100, calcium hardness between 150-250, and cyanuric acid between 20-40 ppm.
The maximum TDS you should allow is 1,500ppm. There is really nothing that can be done to lower your TDS so drain some or all of the pool water and start over. The best thing to do is to take your water to your local pool store for a proper TDS test.
There are basically two types of water test kits:
1. Water Dropper Testing Kit
2. Test Strips
CYA is a stabilizer for your chlorine and is only used for outdoor pools. A good water test kit will have a CYA reading. Careful reading must be taken for CYA as a sudden drop or rise will cause your chlorine to lose its effectiveness.
The first is a dropper kit that should include readings for chlorine, combined chlorine, (chloramine) pH, alkalinity, and hardness. The most widely available type of dropper test kit is called FAS-DPD K-2006 Taylor Reagent. These pool water test kits usually use some type of “test tube” and eye drop application.
Adding Reagents to water causes a change in the color of the test water. This color change is then compared to the attached map. Some kits may “calculate” for you and do a little math to get an accurate reading. The two basic types of discharge systems are called DPD and OTO pool water test kits.
DPD, or N,N Diethyl-1,4 Phenylenediamine Sulfate, measures free chlorine as well as pH, combined chlorine, hardness, cyanuric acid, and alkalinity. It is also called the “pink test system” because the chlorine will initially turn pink. You should keep your DPD pool water test kit fresh and out of direct light as this may distort your reading. The best value for your money is the FAS-DPD K-2006 Reagent Test Kit.
DPD is less time consuming and complicated due to the regular “swirling” technique, but when done properly you will find that this is the most accurate testing system.
OTO, or OrthoTOlidene is another brand of dropper pool water test kit. This pool water test kit can test for all readings, but most commonly tests for chlorine and pH, and is commonly called a Duo Test Kit. If you are going for a less expensive brand then this would be the pool water test kit for you. Designed for a pool or spa with a smaller footprint and for do-it-yourself use, it’s the perfect system for great pool maintenance in one convenient package.
The 2nd type of test kit is called Test Strips. These strips allow you to simply dip the strip into the pool water and then compare the different squares on the strip to the corresponding chart. The water should have proper chlorine, pH, alkalinity and hardness levels.
These strips are quick and easy and eliminate the need to take samples and count drops. Basic 3 and 4 square meters can measure chlorine (detergent), pH, alkalinity, and hardness at the same time. You can get these pool chemistry readings in minutes. Remember to follow the directions carefully and take no shortcuts when experimenting with your chemicals.
Use your best judgment and get the best water test kit for your situation. Some like DPD or OTO water test kit. Some like Test Strips. The key is to test your water regularly, at least once a week, maybe even twice, to get the best pool water you deserve.
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