Pool Testing Nuances

Tips and tricks for testing accuracy

Posted by Pool Logger June 14, 2017

Most of the tests in the Taylor K-2006 or the TF-100 Test kit are pretty straightforward. However, there are some nuances that can make it hard to read them accurately when you first start testing. Let's go through each test and see where the hangups can be:

As will all testing, you want to hold the dropper bottles completely vertically when squeezing the bottle as to get uniform drop sizes. Always get your samples of water from below the surface of the water and not near a return, especially if you have a salt water pool.

You will want to test your FC and pH at least every other day or so, depending on how you chlorinate your pool and how steady your pH is. The other tests can go quite a bit longer between tests since they do not fluctuate as much unless there is a large water replacement, like a huge rain where the pool overflows. You can set how often you want Pool Logger to remind you about each test.

Free Chlorine Test (FC)

Testing for FC is the most frequent test that you will do. The FAS/DPD test is much more accurate than the OTO test, which can only read up to 5ppm of chlorine. The FAS/DPD test also allows for much higher accuracy and it is very easy to read. You can do the test 2 ways, with a 10ml sample or with a 25ml sample. You will almost always be using the 10ml sample as the added accuracy of the 25ml sample isn't worth wasting the reagent.

Take 10ml of water in your graduated cylinder and add one heaping scoop of R-0870 DPD powder to your sample. This will turn the sample bright pink. If it doesn't, it means you have no chlorine in the pool. Next, take the dropper of R-0871 and while swirling the cylinder, add one drop at a time (counting each drop) until the sample turns back to clear. Multiply this number times 0.5 (or divide by 2) and that is your FC number. Easy! For the 25ml sample, multiply time 0.2.

Plug that number into Pool Logger!

Combined Chlorine (CC)

If you want to test the CC levels, you keep the sample from the FC test (after it goes back to clear) and add 5 drops of R-0003. If it stays clear you have 0 CC. Great! This is what you want. If it turns pink, then add drops of R-0871 again (counting drops) until it turns clear again. Multply times 0.5 (for a 10ml sample) and that is your CC number. You want to stay at 0.5 or below on this or you may have an algae problem.

pH (Acidity)

This one is pretty straightforward again. Fill the test cell with water up to the line. Then add 5 drops of R-0014 when using the smaller 6 ml square test cell or 5 drops of R-0004 when using the larger 44 ml round test cell. This is a simple color matching test. You want to be between 7.2 - 7.8 typically.

TIPS: It is easier to read this test if you have a white background that is sunlit. If you get a result lower than 6.8 it will still read as 6.8 and same goes with anything higher than 8.2. So if you hit those extreme numbers, plug them into Pool Logger and do what it says to get you back into range and then test again in 15 minutes to see if you are still out of range and repeat.

Also, if you are at FC levels higher than 10, the pH test can be innacurate and will read higher than it really is.

Total Alkalinity (TA)

The TA test is fairly simple, you have to use 3 different reagents this time with a 25ml sample. First you add 2 drops of R-0007, swirl to mix. Then add 5 drops of R-0008 and mix. The sample will turn green. Now you add R-0009, counting each drop, until the sample turns a bright red/pink (in most cases). Multiply the number of drops by 10 to get your TA.

TIPS: If you are in the middle of SLAM/Shocking your pool, the end point of this test will be yellow and not pink. The high chlorine levels cause this. Also, I have noticed when the reagent is new especially, the drops can come out really small. This is due to static buildup on the tip of the bottle. It is best to wipe the tip off with a damp towel before testing and potentially betwen drops. You will want to squeeze the bottle gently and allow the drop to build up slowly on the tip and then drop, so you get larger, uniform drops.

Calcium Hardness (CH)

The CH test is similar to the TA test in that it uses 3 reagents. You will use a 10ml sample for this test. First you will add 10 drops of R-0010 and swirl the cylinder to mix. Then add 3 drops of R-0011L and swirl. The sample will then be a pinkish/red color. If the sample is blue, then you are done testing and you have no calcium in the water at all. Next, you will add R-0012 dropwise, counting each drop, until the sample tuns blue. Then you multiply the result by 25 to get your CH number.

TIPS: This test has always been tricky and the Taylor Magnetic Speedstir can help dramatically with this test. The reason is that the color can start changing to purple and have a fading endpoint until it turns its final blue. To help with this, I usually add my drops much slower and swirl a lot more. Basically I add a drop, swirl for 10 seconds or so then do it again. This allows for the color to develop better. When I get close to my number the sample will be a purple color with some pink parciptate and with some extra swirling will finally turn blue.

Cyanuric Acid (CYA)

The CYA test is the most subjective to me. In the mixing bottle, fill with pool water up to the lower mark. Next fill the rest of the bottle, or to the upper mark with R-0013 reagent. Cap the bottle and shake the sample for 30 seconds or so. Next with your back towards the sun, hold the view tube at waist level. While looking down at the black dot in the view tube, slowly squirt the sample into the tube until the black dot disappears. Remember, you can do this as many times as you want to make sure you have a good reading. You can just pour the water in the view tube back into the mixing bottle and try again. If you fill the entire tube up and you can still see the black dot, your CYA is zero. If you cant see the black dot when you are at the 100 line, your level can be much higher than 100. You can dilute the sample by half with tap water to test for higher numbers and multiply the result by 2.

TIPS: It is best to always perform this test in similar lighting conditions each time for accurate results. If you are in the middle of 2 lines in the view tube, assume your CYA is the next line up. (i.e. - if you read at halfway between the 30 line and 40 line, then assume you are at 40) It can be easier to quickly glance for the dot if you are having a hard time telling if it is there or not. Quickly glance and look away, if you dont see it, that's a good place to stop.

If you like to test a lot, most kits do not give enough reagent to test this all the time. You can buy a big ole bottle of reagent here. This reagent had a longer shelf life than most so you can store this away for a little while.

I hope this helps with your testing! Pictures coming soon. Remember log everything in Pool Logger and your pool will be in shape in no time.