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When your family wants to have fun in the sun all summer long, testing the water in your pool and spa is imperative to the maintenance and longevity of your system. But there are several types of pool water testing. How do you know what they even mean? Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas has the answers.

The Basics of Pool Water Testing: Chlorine and pH

It happens–you first open up your pool for the season and you can’t help but notice that the water is looking a little funky and smells just as bad. Of course, you think it’s nothing a little chlorine can’t fix. Unfortunately, when you don’t dial back your chemicals in the pool after you open and clean it, you run the risk of offsetting the chlorine and pH balance.

What is a Chlorine Level?

Chlorine in a pool is used to kill off viruses, bacteria, and organic matter, removing harmful substances that can make swimmers ill. If you need to know what kind of chlorine you should use for your pool maintenance, see what we recommend.

One element of chlorine levels you’ll want to check is the free chlorine. This is basically the chlorine that has yet to work its way through your pool or spa to kill contaminants. Too much or too little chlorine can be bad for the pool and swimmers. Lack of chlorine can cause algae to grow, the water to become cloudy, and illness to spread in your water. But too much chlorine can be just as bad, because it can become an irritant to swimmers and harmful to the lungs. If you think you’d rather use alternatives to chlorine, see what we recommend for those too.

So what should your chlorine levels be? It’s all about balance, so pool test kit reading between 1.5 to 2.5 ppm (parts per million) is usually right on target.

What is a pH Level?

A pool’s pH level represents the total acidity of the water. The pH level is measured on a scale of 1 to 14, with 1 through 6 measuring acidity and 8 through 14 measuring alkalinity. That middle zone, 7.3 to 7.7 ppm, is the sweet spot.

Too low of a pH can cause irritation to the skin and eyes as well as corrode parts of the ladders, railing, etc. If your pH is too high, it will actually affect the free chlorine in the water, resulting in unclean conditions.

The bottom line is this, at the simplest level, you need to be vigilant in testing for free chlorine and pH balance. Proper pool water testing will ensure you are starting off with a safe pool!

Testing Total Alkalinity

You should consider your pool or spa as an ever-evolving system. When one factor falls below recommended levels or becomes too strong, you can offset the entire system. One factor to measure that can cause problems if ignored is the total alkalinity.

Total alkalinity is the total amount of alkaline substances found in your water sample. The total alkalinity of your pool should be somewhere between 90 and 120 ppm. This is critical because the total alkalinity actually works to keep your pH balance neutral. But, if your total alkalinity is too high, it can also impact the effectiveness of free chlorine.

Not only will it cause internal conflict in your water, but it can also cause the water to attack the metal components of the pool. This will damage them and make them the perfect host for algae growth.

Measuring Calcium Hardness

Calcium hardness is what causes the water to be soft, hard, or neutral. Consider when you go somewhere new and the water in the shower just has a different feeling to it. When you start to air dry your hair, you may notice the texture feels different. It can even begin to curl or straighten in a way you are not used to. Water hardness or softness is what causes this to occur.

If your calcium hardness is low, it means your water is soft and needs additional calcium. This calcium can be found in the plaster of the pool, which can be rather problematic. The finish of your pool may begin to show signs of pitting.

Calcium hardness that is too high is also bad as it can create calcium depositions on the surface of the pool and cause discoloration. If this isn’t bad enough, if your pool testing kit shows that the pH and alkalinity are elevated, you may experience damage to your pool pump, heater, and filter.

So what should your calcium levels be? Anywhere between 200 and 400 ppm should be perfect! Now that you know what to test for, how do you utilize pool testing kits?

Pool Water Testing: Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas

You want your pool or spa to last a long time, so it’s imperative to take the necessary precautions in testing your pool water.

It is important to follow the directions of any pool testing kit you utilize, as each test may follow a certain time limit. In addition, it is crucial that you look at the big picture. If your chlorine levels are off, chances are, your other levels will be too. Being mindful of how components interact with one another will help you while running tests.

There are a few ways you can run them, too.

  • Liquid Test Kits: Used to give you the biggest scope of information, liquid test kits utilize reagents. However, though it may be the most accurate, it can be costly and more difficult to complete, leading to user error.
  • Test Strips: Test strips are one of the most common forms of water testing and are fairly inexpensive. Though it doesn’t provide as much insight as a liquid test kit, it does allow you to test your pool or spa water daily.
  • In-Store Testing: If you don’t feel comfortable testing your own water or are unsure what the results mean, bring in a water sample to Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas. We’ll walk you through the process and get you the supplies you need to get back into a sparkly private oasis.

This is a lot of information to process, especially if you are a first-time pool owner. But don’t worry–the pool professionals at Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas have you covered.


Your pool is the focal point of your backyard. Keep it clean and clear with water testing by Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas. Have a question? We can help! Contact the pool professionals today.

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