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Choosing a Good Pool Water Testing Kit
A good pool chemist should include a water test kit with the right levels:
1. chlorine in the pool
2. combined chlorine (chloramines)
4. total alkalinity (TA)
5. Calcium mass
6. cyanuric acid (CYA)
In a swimming pool chlorine is a water purifier in the pool and should be kept between 1.5-3.5ppm. Your pH should be between 7.6-7.8, not 7.2. You will use too much pool acid to keep it at that level. The total alkalinity of the pool (TA) is between 80-100, calcium concentration between 150-250, and cyanuric acid between 20-40ppm.
The maximum allowable TDS is 1,500ppm. There is nothing that can be done to lower your TDS short of draining some or all of the pool water and starting over. The best thing to do is take your water to your nearest pool store for a proper TDS test.
There are two types of water test kits:
1. Dropper Water Test Kit
2. Test Lines
CYA is your chlorine substitute and is only for use in outdoor swimming pools. A suitable water test kit will have a CYA reading. Careful reading should be taken for CYA as a sudden decrease or increase will cause your chlorine to lose its effectiveness.
The first is a dropper kit that should include readings for chlorine, dissolved chlorine, (chloramines) pH, alkalinity, and gravity. The most commonly used type of dropper test kit is called FAS-DPD K-2006 Taylor Reagent. These pool water testing devices typically use a “test tube” type with an eye dropper application.
Adding reagents to water produces a change in the color of the test water. Then this color change is compared to the accompanying chart. Some kits can “count” the drops and do a little math to get an accurate reading. The two main types of disposal systems are called DPD and OTO pool water test kits.
DPD, or N,N, Diethyl-1,4 Phenylenediamine Sulfate, measures free chlorine and pH, combined chlorine, hardness, cyanuric acid, and alkalinity. It is also called the “pink test system” because chlorine, at first, will be pink in color. You should keep your DPD pool water test kit fresh and away from direct light as this can distort your readings. The best bang for your buck is the FAS-DPD K-2006 Reagent Test Kit.
DPD takes more time and is more complicated because of the proper “circulation”, but when done right you will find this testing process to be the most accurate.
OTO, or OrthoTOlidene is another type of pool water testing kit. This pool water test kit can test all readings, but it usually tests for chlorine and pH, and is often called the Duo Test Kit. If you are going for an inexpensive brand then this would be the pool water test kit for you. Designed for the pool or spa with a small wash load and do-it-your-selfer, it’s a complete system in the perfect package for great swimming pool care.
The 2nd type of test kit is called Test Strips. These pieces allow you to easily dip a strip in the pool water and compare the different squares on the line on the corresponding chart. Filters should include chlorine levels, pH, alkalinity, and hardness.
These strips are quick and easy and eliminate the need for sampling and counting drops. The basic 3 and 4 square strips can measure chlorine (sanitizer) pH, alkalinity, and gravity all at once. You can get this swimming pool chemistry lesson in a matter of seconds. Remember to follow the instructions carefully and don’t take any shortcuts while testing your chemicals.
Use your best judgment and find the best water test kit for your situation. Some people like the DPD or OTO water test kit. Some like Test Trips. The key is to test your water regularly, no less than once a week, maybe even twice, to get the best possible pool water.
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