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Many pool owners have only learned after purchasing their swimming pool that there is a bit more to pool maintenance than occasionally scooping leaves from the surface of the water. Pool chemistry control and management is important to keep pool water sanitized and clean.

Initially, many pool owners do not know the proper procedure for pool pH measurement. This is nothing to worry about, but your action is still required. Both, a too high pool pH and a too low pH can have serious consequences.

If the pH is too low, bathers will experience eye and skin irritation. It can also damage pool materials and pool equipment. A high pH in the basic range, on the other hand, inhibits the effectiveness of chlorine and promotes algae growth. Therefore, with a high pH, problems with algae in the pool are almost inevitable.

Pool pH testing is important

Fresh pool owners are often unaware of the tasks and responsibilities that come with owning a swimming pool. Often, the scenario looks something like this or something like that:

The idea of having your own backyard pool is a beautiful notion. The private bathing paradise and the possibility to refresh oneself during the hot summer months is certainly a great thing.

The first inflatable pool is quickly ordered and just a few days later people are splashing around in it. If you like, you can also have a pool built into the ground. Everything is great at first.

But after a few days you notice the first algae formation or wonder about irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes. The logical conclusion: something is wrong with the quality of the pool water!

Immediately, one informs oneself online about the different possibilities to bring the pool water back in order. After a short research, you stumble upon the pool pH value. On a scale of 1 to 14, the pH value indicates how acidic (pH value below 7) or alkaline (pH value above 7) the pool water is.

For swimming pools, a pH between 7.2 and 7.6 is considered optimal. If the pH deviates significantly from this optimal range, it usually does not take long for the first of the problems described above to occur. Often, the pool problems can only be solved by the massive use of pool chemicals or – in the worst case – by a costly complete replacement of the pool water.

In either case, pool problems will cost you more time and money than is necessary. You should therefore test the pool water regularly – preferably weekly. In this way, you can detect potential problems early and counteract them effectively.

In addition to the concentration of the disinfectant (usually chlorine tablets or chlorine alternatives), the pH value is of particular interest. Before readjusting, however, you must first measure the pool pH.

That is exactly is the topic of this article. This article is all about pool pH testing. We will present various methods of how such measurement can be done and give you step-by-step instructions to ensure that nothing goes wrong in the process.

Pool pH measurement: Different methods at a glance

There are four different ways you can measure pool pH. Three of the methods are analog and one is based on digital technology. When you have the pool pH measured electronically, the result is the most accurate.

Therefore, pool owners who really want to have quite accurate results are recommended to buy a digital pool water meter.

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However, this measuring method is also a lot more expensive. At this point, the analog measurement methods come into play. These are somewhat less accurate, but also much cheaper.

Test strips (analog measuring method)

Test strips are the most convenient method to test the pH value in the pool. Pool test strips are not 100% accurate. For the self-built swimming pool, which is only used for a few weeks or months, test strips are absolutely sufficient. The use of pool test strips is also very easy on the wallet.

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There are several suppliers of pool water test strips on the market. Each type is slightly different in its use. However, the basic procedure is quite similar. We have explained the exact procedure here.

Instructions for using the test strips:

  1. Take a strip out of the container (with dry hands).
  2. Close the container directly again, but still keep it in your hand.
  3. Immerse the test strip completely in water and wait for about 10 seconds.
  4. Remove your hand from the water, but do NOT shake it off.
  5. Compare the color of the strip with the color scale on the container.
  6. Check which color shown on the container is closest to the color of the test strip and read the pH.

Test kits with test liquid (analog measuring method)

The second analog way to measure pool pH is kits with test liquid. Testing with such a test kit is also inexpensive. Pool owners who only have an above ground pool can opt for this option.

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The procedure for testing kits from different manufacturers is pretty much the same. Here we have prepared a general guide for you. However, to be on the safe side, you should always refer to the instructions on the respective test kits.

Instructions for using the test kits with test liquid:

  1. Take the test tube out of the container and open the cap.
  2. Now scoop some water out of the pool with the tube so that it is almost completely filled.
  3. Then drop some test liquid into the tube.
  4. Immediately close the tube with the cap (not with your finger!).
  5. Shake the tube until the water is completely colored.
  6. You can then compare the color with the enclosed table and read off the pH value.

Test kits with tablets (analog measuring method)

The pool water test kits with tablets are our preferred analog measurement method. This is because the test kits with tablets are on the one hand quite accurate and on the other hand quite inexpensive. These test kits can often be used to detect other concentrations of chemicals in the pool water (such as algaecide concentration).

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To be sure that you are taking the measurement correctly, you should carefully read the description on the packaging of each kit or the enclosed instructions. However, the following instructions will give you some insight into the testing procedure.

Instructions for using the tablet test kits:

  1. Remove the test box from its packaging.
  2. If the test box has a cap, open it.
  3. Now immerse the box in the pool water until it is almost completely filled.
  4. Take the blister pack and press a tablet into the box without touching the tablet.
  5. Depending on whether the pool water test kit has a lid or not, close the test kit if necessary and shake it until a coloration of the water occurs.
  6. If the box does not have a lid, crush the tablet with the provided stick until the tablet is completely dissolved. (Do not close the box with your finger to shake it).
  7. Now you can compare the color to the chart on the box and read what the pH of the water is.

Digital pool water meter

With a digital pool meter, you can measure the pool pH electronically. Not only is the result very accurate, but the whole process of pool pH testing is very straightforward. As mentioned earlier, we think digital pool water meters are the perfect option for owners of large pools or in-ground pools.

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Find out how to use it in the manufacturer’s instructions that come with it. However, you can hardly go wrong with such a digital tester. You can see roughly how the process works from our brief instructions.

Instructions on how to use digital pool water meters:

  1. Pick up the meter and calibrate it. (There is usually a special button for this).
  2. After the calibration is complete, the measurement can be done in two different ways, depending on the model:
  3. In one variant, you just need to hold the device in the water, wait for a short time, and then you can directly read the value.
  4. In the other variant, you need to fill the device with water and then add one of the enclosed tablets. After a short time, you can read the pool pH.

Conclusion

In this small article, we have introduced you to the four different ways to measure pool pH. So testing pool pH is not as complicated as you may have thought.

If you are a fresh pool owner, you just need to consider which of the testing methods appeals to you the most. Either, you can measure the pool pH electronically and get very accurate results this way. Alternatively, you can go for the cheap option and test the pool pH in an analog way.

Which of the options you choose is entirely up to you. We have linked our recommendations for products that fall into each category in this article. We wish you good luck with your pool care!

Larry has been a true water rat since childhood. Pure pleasure turned into a passion. That's why he is the first point of contact for friends and acquaintances when it comes to pool-related problems. He is an integral part of the PoolHandbook editorial team.