We call it the Pool House, and it's a simple diagram that clearly shows you the chemical structure of a healthy pool. Think of the various elements within your pool water like the different components you'd use to build a house. The foundation for crystal clear water begins with a total alkalinity of 70 to 140 ppm (ideal range varies based on pool finish). Moving up to the first floor, pH levels should be maintained as close to the ideal of 7.4 as possible. A proper chlorine level of 2 to 4 ppm forms the second floor, and a stabilizer reading of 40 ppm tops everything off as the roof. Calcium hardness is the walls which keep the floors in place, and should be maintained at 200 to 400 ppm. So keep this structure in mind when testing your water â€“ it's an easy way to clearly picture the components of a perfect pool.
All this talk of pH and ppm seems confusing until you apply it to a test kit, which is a simple way to determine the various characteristics of your pool water. That's where it all comes together. There are many types of test kits available, including test strips. For the most accurate assessment of your pool water, you should use (at the very minimum) a test kit that allows you to test for chlorine, pH and total alkalinity. Test kits are also available to test calcium hardness, stabilizer, and lots of other things.
Your Pinch A Penny expert can help you select the test kit that's right for you, to help you keep track of your pool's health in between your free water analyses at Pinch A Penny. Remember to store your test kit in a cool, dark place and replace your test kit reagents annually. Just date the bottles when you buy the kit and be sure to bring them into Pinch A Penny after a year for replacement.
Now that you know what a test kit is, here's how to use it to your advantage. First, each time try to perform your water test at the same time of the day and before you add any chemicals. During summer months, a test every day can help avoid the problems associated with heavy pool use or rain.
To get the best results, after the pump has been running for at least one hour, take water from the deep end of your pool, submerging your collection vessel upside down up to your elbow before filling. Put your water sample into the appropriate tubes and follow the directions for adding specified solutions (usually just a few drops) to the appropriate tube. Changes in water color will tell you the chemistry levels.
Test strips, the easiest method for pool and spa water testing, are fast and simple to use because they eliminate the need to measure samples and count drops. Typically, you simply dip a strip in the water for one second and then remove it. You then compare the color on the strip to a color chart provided to get the results.
Test strips are comparable in accuracy to liquid kits. In fact, many believe they actually deliver greater accuracy than liquid kits because they are more user-friendly and easier to utilize for reliable results. Many local and state health departments now recognize test strips as an approved testing method. This means that professional pool and spa service technicians, as well as other industry experts, trust the accuracy of pool and spa test strips. Test strips are available to measure all of the critical water parameters such as chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, hardness, cyanuric acid and much more.
Even though you test your water at home, you should always follow up your own readings with a free water analysis at Pinch A Penny every week or two. Using Pinch A Penny's 7-point free water test program, our experts can help spot a potential problem a home test kit can miss. And because we keep a history of your pool's condition each time we test it, we get to know your pool better each time you bring us a sample.
Water testing and correcting potential problems can't be accurately done if you don't know how much water your pool holds. Plus, you can end up spending a lot more in chemical treatments in the long run. Here's a simple method for measuring the number of gallons in your pool. Once you have this figure, it's important to bring it in with you when you have your water analyzed.
First of all, you need to determine your average depth. The simplest method is to tie a string that's been marked off in feet to a weighted object and measure the deep end, then the shallow end. Add these two numbers together and divide by two to get your average depth. Use your average depth number in the following calculations to determine your pool's capacity:
Length x width x average depth x 7.5 = Total gallons.
Example: A pool that's 30 feet in length, 15 feet wide and has an average depth of 5 feet holds 16,875 gallons.
Diameter x diameter x average depth x 5.9 = Total gallons.
Example: A 18-foot round pool with an average depth of 5 feet holds 9,558 gallons.
Long diameter x short diameter x average depth x 5.9 = Total gallons.
Example: If the long diameter is 30 feet, the short diameter is 15 feet and the average depth is 6 feet, the pool holds 15,930 gallons.
It's best to consult the pool builder or ask your Pinch A Penny expert for assistance.