Many people think that if the water looks clear and blue, then it is free from bacteria and algae. But to fully ensure that pool water is free from bacteria and other contaminants, it needs to be tested at least once a week during the peak swimming season.

Proper water testing will help detect any problems that might be developing, which—when detected early—can be resolved easily so you can avoid headaches down the road. If you want to test your water yourself, here are some tips to help achieve accurate results:

If using a conventional test kit, always start with a clean testing vial and fresh reagents. Test chambers should be rinsed with clean water after each use.
Liquid reagents and test tablets should be replaced at the beginning of each swimming season. If using test strips, they have an expiration date on the bottom of the bottle.
Check the free chlorine level. Generally, levels should be between 2.0 and 4.0ppm (parts per million).
Check and adjust the total alkalinity (TA). TA is a measurement of the “buffer” capacity of your pool water, which prevents big changes in pH and helps avoid corrosion and staining. Total alkalinity at between 80-120 provides optimum performance.
Test and adjust the pH. The correct range is 7.2 to 7.6. This is probably the most important test for your pool.
Be sure you know the pool capacity in gallons for your pool. Chemically treating the improper gallonage can cause problems with your pool water.
Every 2-3 months, bring a sample of your pool water (approximately 250ml) to Mirage Pools for a free water analysis. We have pool owners that bring their water in on a weekly basis. Our water lab can test more and is more accurate than a conventional test kit. It can truly take the look of your pool water to another level.

You will generally only perform from two to three water tests on pool water, but there are actually about six tests, which you should at least be aware of.

Chlorine—ideal range 2-4
pH—ideal range 7.2-7.6
Total Alkalinity—ideal range 80-120
Cyanuric Acid—ideal range 30-50
Calcium Hardness—ideal range 200-400
Total Dissolved Solids—less than 1000 on non-salt pools
Salt level in a salt pool—2700-3500
Metals—ideal range reading – 0

These ideal ranges are dependent and integrated on each other to achieve properly balanced water.

It is recommended that at least chlorine, pH, and total alkalinity tests be done by the pool owner once or more per week. The other tests (cyanuric acid, calcium hardness, total dissolved solids, salt level, and metals) can be left up to our experts at Mirage Pools using our free water lab chemistry service.