Water Testing 101
Maintaining the water in your pool or spa doesn’t require a degree in chemistry. Test strips can, and do, give accurate test results more quickly and easily than any other method. As with any test kit, there are several factors that can be controlled to ensure the validity of the test results.
Following are some guidelines for using test strips to obtain accurate water analysis results.
- Follow the directions that came with the kit. Sounds simple, doesn't it? However, there have been many cases where a user inadvertently used the directions that came with another manufacturer's strips or used directions from an older kit. Most inaccurate test results occur when individuals do not follow directions or follow the wrong directions! Test strips are continually improving and becoming more accurate, and you should never assume that the directions on one container are going to apply to another container's strips. In addition, not all manufacturers' test strips are the same, so it is essential to read and follow the directions on each container.
- Store test strips in a low humidity environment at room temperature. Test strips will be most effective over a long period of time if they are stored properly. Suitable storage will give you confidence in your results until the product has reached the date of expiration.
- Keep the cap on tight between uses. Doing this will prevent moisture from entering the bottle of unused strips. It is important that moisture not be introduced to the test strips until you use them in your pool or spa.
- Keep wet fingers out of the bottle. The test strips won't know the difference between the water on your fingers and the pool or spa water! So, make sure that the only water your test strips are reacting with is the pool or spa water you intend to measure.
- Do not use expired test strips. Most containers of test strips will display an expiration date somewhere on the container. Always be aware of this date when using or purchasing test strips. Regardless of how the container has been stored or handled, test strips have a definite shelf life and should not be used after the product has expired. Using test strips after this date will likely lead to inaccurate results. Therefore, replace any bottles that have expired.
Test strips are among the easiest and fastest methods for testing water. By following the above guidelines, you can also ensure that test strips provide an accurate method for measuring the properties of pool or spa water, leading to a clean and healthy pool or spa.
What should you do after testing?
If you detect imbalances, follow treatment recommendations that may accompany test kits or pool chemicals, or consult your pool and spa dealer. It’s also a good idea to maintain a log of your test results to understand how the chemical balance of your pool or spa changes and identify recurring problems. A written record also provides an excellent reference for your local pool and spa dealer when you need professional advice.