Water testing is essential to maintaining safe water in your pool or spa, but what is better, test strips or liquid drop kit?
How to use test strips….
Test strips are used by dipping one strip in the pool or spa water and then immediately matching the pad colors to the color chart on the back of the bottle. There are different strips for different water programs. If you are using chlorine or bromine you use one type of test strip. Biguanite programs like Baquacil use a different test strip. The main testing to monitor is the sanitizer level for whichever program you are using, and the pH level.
What you will be testing for….
The sanitizer level needs to be in the proper range, according to the test strip to ensure the water is safe to use. This cannot be done simply by looking at or feeling the water, much to the dismay of people too lazy to test their water! The pH level, regardless of the program you are using, should be adjusted to 7.2-7.6 range. If pH is too high you will need to use more sanitizer to get the same results as if you had the proper pH level. If the pH is too low, the water turns more acidic and can cause irritation to your skin and can harm equipment like pumps and heaters.
Difference of a liquid test kit….
A liquid test kit functions in the same manner as test strips but is done with a sample of pool or spa water to which reagents are added to check the levels of various properties of the water. The test vial is then held up to natural light to match up the colors and determine the levels. This can be a simple sanitizer and pH test or more in-depth testing of alkalinity, calcium hardness and cyanuric acid levels. Some people find it easier to judge the color change on the liquid kit verses the test strips. Both have a shelf life so be sure to keep either kit replaced each season to keep accurate testing.
For most home tests the sanitizer and pH levels are the only ones necessary to check. If you have water issues with your pool or spa you can have a water sample tested at your professional pool and spa store where they have computerized water testing stations that can do more in-depth testing for such things as phosphate, iron, copper, salt and a wide range of other tests.
Whether using test strips or a liquid kit, the main importance is that you are testing your water daily or weekly at least. Pick the testing option you are most comfortable with so you are more likely to continue being diligent about having safe water for you and your family to enjoy in your pool and hot tub!