Pool ph test kit and a woman by the swimming pool

The best pool pH test kits and how to use them

Chemicals are a crucial part of swimming pool maintenanceBut playing with pool water chemistry is a balancing act. 

Safe pH levels hit the sweet spot of keeping your pool clean, taking care of pool equipment, and not irritating your skin and eyes after a dip. So how do you keep those levels safe?

Surprise! Pool ph test kits, of course.

This is your complete guide to what a pool ph test kit is, the different types, and how to use them. It will cover:

Why do you need a pool ph test kit?

You need a pool ph test kit to check that your water is chemically balanced at all times. If your pH level is low (below 7), your water is too acidic. If it’s high (above 8), it’s too alkaline. 

Acidic water is considered corrosive and can cause gradual but lasting damage to pool equipment. It destabilises your chlorine, so you’ll need more of it to do its job. 

Both acidic and alkaline water can also lead to itchy eyes and skin.  Pool testers give you the information you need to avoid those outcomes, keeping both your water and your pool equipment clean and safe. 

It’s best to test your pool water once a week yourself, with a few intermittent checks by a professional.

Choosing the best pool ph test kit

You have a few options when it comes to testing your pool ph levels. You can:

  • Use test strips.
  • Use a ph test kit that uses reagents such as tablets and liquid reagents. 
  • Take a sample of pool water to a store that can test it

It doesn’t matter which ph pool tester you use, as long as you use it correctly.

How to test spa and swimming pool pH level with your test kit

Regardless of the method you choose, you need to get a good water sample. Then the methods might vary a little bit. 

Getting a reliable water sample to test

Tips for getting your water sample:

  1. Take it from the middle of your pool or spa and away from the skimmer or any jets. 
  2. Use a clean cup or container.
  3. Dip it into the pool upside down and elbow deep.
  4. Then turn it the right way up to collect the sample.

Using pool test strips

Test strips are quick and easy to use. They’re often less expensive than liquid tests, but you go through them quicker. So cost-wise, things probably balance out. 

To use your pH test strip:

  1. Collect your sample as instructed above. 
  2. Dip the test trip into and straight out of the sample. 
  3. Hold it still for about 15 seconds.
  4. Compare the colours on the strip to those on the packaging. These will tell you your chemical levels and whether anything needs to be adjusted.
The ph scale
Source: Spy

When buying your pool pH test strips, make sure they test for at least pH, alkalinity, and chlorine. 

Other specialised strips also exist for testing metals in your water. As you are probably thinking, pool ph tests can actually be multipurpose. 

Using swimming pool test kits

Basic test kits are fine for casual maintenance. Just make sure that they include phenol red and DPD tablets. This way, they can test both pH and chlorine levels

Here’s how to use them:

  1. Collect a water sample using the provided container. 
  2. On the pH level side, add drops of phenol red to the water as instructed on the packaging. 
  3. And on the chlorine side, add the DPD tablet (or tablets if your kit also tests for combined chlorines) as instructed. 
  4. Hold the kit up against a white background and compare the colours to the chart.
A pool water test kit that tests ph and chlorine

Want more pool maintenance advice?

Using pool ph test kits to keep your water safe is just one small part of a good pool maintenance routine. Your pool professional usually offers more detailed water testing and it’s a good idea to get your water tested at a pool shop once a month while the pool’s being used to keep your pool in tip-top shape.

There’s a lot to it. And at Dolphin Pacific, we want to make things as easy as possible. 

Our blog is packed full of free resources on pool chemistry, cleaning, and maintenance so that you can feel confident with your pool. 

About the author
Adrian Hill
Adrian Hill

Hey! I'm Adrian, founder and pool expert here at Dolphin Pacific. I love spending time with family, fishing, and have been known to brew my own beer.

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