The Importance of Regularly Testing Your Pool Water

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There are many vital reasons to regularly test the water in your pool or spa. In addition to fighting off algae growth, the correct chemical composition keeps swimmers safe and having fun all summer long. Learning what chemicals you need (and how much) can keep your pool in working order for your next pool party or relaxing dip.  

Disinfect and Test

Disinfection should be every pool owner’s top priority. Without a regular cleaning and testing routine, a pool can become a giant petri dish, fostering pathogens that are harmful to you and your family. To combat bacteria and the spread of diseases, you should invest in ample amounts of chlorine and maintain proper pH levels. To gauge acidity on the pH scale, there are many swimming pool test kits that are incredibly easy to use.

The Perfect Balance  

With the help of test kits or strips, you can adjust your pool water to its ideal balance of chemicals. According to the World Health Organization, you should heed the following guidelines when it comes to how much of what chemical creates the safest environment: 

  • Total Alkalinity (TA): 80 – 120 parts per million
  • Calcium Hardness: 200– 400 parts per million
  • Cyanuric Acid (CYA): 30 – 50 parts per million
  • Chlorine: 1-3 parts per million (might need to be higher in summer)
  • pH: 7.2 – 7.8 (7.4 is the pH of human tears, so aim for that balance.)

Why Test Regularly?

Part of having a pool is properly maintaining chlorine and ph levels. Even if nobody has entered the pool since last testing it, chlorine levels can change due to sunlight and debris in the pool. Chlorine levels should always be checked after swimmers have been in the pool since any number of human secretions can use up the available chlorine in the pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing for free chlorine concentration and pH levels at least twice-a-day or more when you are using your pool.

Best Practices

Make sure that your guests are clean when they enter the pool to minimize contamination of the pool water. Many people opt for outdoor showers for pre-rinsing before entering the pool, as well as rinsing off after exiting the pool. It seems obvious, but nobody with an intestinal disorder or stomach bug should enter a pool. No matter how diligent you are, it is still impossible to completely prevent contaminants from entering the pool. To stave off contamination, utilize a pool filtration and recirculation system.

Maintenance and Cleaning

A filtration system and a pump are necessary for keeping your pool free from larger bits of foreign debris that can’t be broken down or purged through chemicals and other cleaning solutions. There are three main types of pool filters you can choose from:

  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters, which can be broken down further into:
    • Vertical Grid Filters
    • Spin Filters
  • Sand Filters
  • Cartridge Filters

Along with valves, backwash hoses and pumps, your pool’s filtration plays a vital role in ensuring water clarity and cleanliness. However, these parts should also be tested regularly, to verify that they’re in good working order. For instance, if you’re noticing a reduced flow of water with high water pressure, dirt may be building up. If you have a sand or DE filter, it’s likely time for a routine backwashing.

The Uncomfortable Truth

Though none of us like to admit it, the average pool has quite a bit of urine in it. While your home’s swimming pool won’t have the same issues that a public pool faces, urine content may still pose some health risks if you aren’t regularly testing the water. CBS News also reported that compounds in urine can react poorly with chlorine in swimming pools and can form volatile compounds. This presents another important reason to regularly test your pool water’s pH levels, especially if you have children swimming in it regularly.

Use easy tools like test kits and strips to make sure you have the ideal water composition at all times. Keep your family safe, clean, and happy this summer with a well-balanced pool!

Alan Jones is a writer for many family and lifestyle publications. When he’s not working on his vintage Mustang, he’s spending time with his kids in the pool outside his Jacksonville, Florida home.

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