If you have a swimming pool at your home, you surely already know the importance of having an effective system for testing your pool’s water quality. If you don’t test your water regularly (more about testing frequency below), you risk contamination with undesirable substances, general uncleanliness, and unsafe swimming conditions. While many pool owners use test strips, liquid test kits, or professional testing, we want to show you that there’s another way: the electronic pool tester. After you learn how to vacuum an above ground pool, and get one of the quality vacuums for an inground or above ground pool that we reviewed, you need to learn how to test and keep the water clean.
An electronic pool tester (sometimes referred to as a digital pool tester) is a device for testing your water with a much higher level of accuracy and simplicity than other testers can offer. Also, electronic testers often feature the ability to test for factors and contaminants that many manual pool water testing solutions do not, like salinity and total dissolved solids (TDS).
Read on for our comprehensive guide on the benefits, usage, and other aspects of these clever devices!
Guide to Electronic Pool Tester Use
In this guide, we will present you with vital information on electronic testers—how to use them properly, their overall benefits, and more.
First, though, we need to cover some water testing basics.
Why should you test? It provides you with the necessary information to keep your pool clean, safe, and in good condition.
What do you test for? There are many things to test for, but these are the ones you cannot neglect:
- pH levels
- Chlorine content
How often should you test? Test your water at least weekly; for better results, shoot for two or three times per week.
Are You Ready to Take Your Pool Water Testing Up a Notch?
Maybe you are already using one of the other testing options, like test strips or liquid test kits. But what if there was an easier way to test your pool water with even greater accuracy and detail? If you’re tired of the onerous task of testing your pool water with the traditional manual methods and want more precise readings, there is good news: electronic testers are the way to go.
If you’re ready to up your pool maintenance game with less effort your part, then you must read on to find out everything you need to know to keep your pool surfaces pristine and your water sparkling with digital testers. We will show you just how easy and convenient these testers are, as well as their wide range of benefits over more traditional analog methods.
Digital Pool Water Testing Basics
Now that you’ve decided to make the switch to digital pool water testing, you can read on to find the most pertinent and crucial information on the subject.
We’ll discuss the proper use of electronic testers, their many benefits and uses, and even some more specific tips on what to do if your new tester gives you high readings on certain chemicals.
Lastly, we’ll go on to dispel some common myths about phosphates and what they mean for your pool water.
How to Properly Use an Electronic Pool Tester
Perhaps the best aspect of using these innovative gadgets is that, if you know how to use a test strip or liquid tester, then you already know how to test pool water with an electronic tester.
Your first step is exactly the same for any pool testing kit: retrieve a water sample from your pool.
Turn your provided sample container so the opening is facing down, submerge the container until the water reaches your elbow, then turn the container upright to collect the sample.
Note: In order to achieve the most accurate results, it is crucial that you take your water sample from the very center of your pool and in an area that is away from the opening of the skimmer and any jets.
Once you’ve collected your sample, follow the instructions for your specific unit to get your readings. This may involve some amateur chemistry with the solutions provided in your kit, but the accuracy of the results are with this tiny bit of effort and learning.
Benefits of Using a Digital Pool Tester
As mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of using a digital pool test kit is the simplicity of use. But there are several other significant upsides to “going digital” with your water testing.
First, they are extremely accurate. Unlike test strips, which only give you general ranges for your pH and chlorine levels, digital testers provide detailed—well, digital—readings, allowing you to dial in the most precise levels for your pool.
Another benefit is that digital testers can test for other factors, including alkalinity, calcium hardness, TDS and Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP). ORP, in particular, is an important measurement to consider, as it gauges how safe the water is for swimming.
Some electronic pool testers also measure your water’s salinity, which means a digital tester is perfect as a salt water pool test kit. This is a critical consideration for those who have salt water pools, as the traditional testing methods cannot test for salinity.
How to Fix High Copper Levels
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of digital testers and the proper methods for how to test pool chemicals, let’s take a look at some specific chemicals and how to adjust your pool water for them.
The first chemical we’ll consider is copper. Some indicators for high copper levels in your pool water include:
- There might be some unsightly green or black markings on the walls of your pool.
- Your pool water may appear cloudy or murky.
If your test results show high levels of coper in your water, you can take one or more of the following steps to remedy the situation:
- Use a hose filter to filter out the copper before it enters your pool in the first place.
- Add a metal sequestrant to the water to prevent the green and black markings (though this does not actually eliminate any copper from your water).
- Add a metal trap filter (in addition to your regular filter).
How to Fix High Iron Levels
The second chemical we’ll look at is iron, and the ways to prevent high levels of it in your pool water. High iron levels are typically only an issue for those pool owners who fill their pools with well water, as well water is far more likely to contain high levels of it.
Just like copper, iron is a metallic element, which means that the ways mitigating the amount of it in your water are the same as those for high levels of copper.
So, if your pool water is starting to take on a rusty, brownish hue, you will want to introduce either a hose filter, a metal trap filter, a metal sequestrant—or some combination of the three.
How to Fix High Calcium Levels
Next, we’ll consider high calcium levels. High levels of calcium in your water is an issue for those pool owners who live in “hard water” areas. These are regions where the water from the tap has a calcium hardness level of more than 400 ppm.
If your water has high levels of calcium, you might begin to notice “scale” deposits on the surfaces of your pool and in the water itself. Scale can appear both as murky or cloudy water, as well as deposits of crystals on surfaces, and it can even clog and damage your filters.
If your swimming pool tester kit gives you a high calcium reading, your best option is to introduce a flocculent to the water. A flocculent will coagulate with the calcium into clods that you can remove with a skimmer.
How to Test Your Pool Water for Phosphates
There seems to be some kind of hysteria floating around about phosphates. This is especially the case when it comes to discussion around pool water maintenance.
But there is good news: this concern over phosphates is entirely unfounded.
Here are the facts you need to know:
- Phosphates do not create algae. While they are a food source for algae, removing phosphates will not remove or prevent algae growth from your pool.
- They are completely harmless and non-toxic. There is nothing to worry about there.
- Phosphates are everywhere, and trying to remove them from your pool water is a fool’s errand. You’re far better off maintaining your pool’s quality through the traditional methods discussed here.
If algae growth is your main concern, you should disregard any concerns about phosphates, and instead focus on promoting proper chlorine levels.