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Thread: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

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    Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    My new pool came with a free (but small) supply of test strips, and I've just used them up.

    I've kind of skimmed through some articles on this forum, and I'm getting the impression that test strips are not advised. Am I inferring this correctly? I ask, because I find the strips easy and quick to use, whereas beakers and drops take longer and are more tedious.

    So my question is, are there simply no convenient test strips out there, that this forum recommends? If you say the answer is no, and that the extra work of doing dripping and mixing is worth it, then I'll go ahead and get that type of test kit, but I wanted to double check first to see if anybody recommends any type of test strips in lieu of that.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    golfinglenn's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Zindar,

    This method of pool maintenance requires a good test kit. Strips might be easier, but they are very unreliable. I have the TF-100 kit and love it. Just looking at it will create some anxiety lol, but the instructions are so clear and easy to follow that once you run the tests it will become second nature and take no time at all. Chlorine and PH are the two that get tested most frequently and it literally takes like 60 seconds to complete those tests.

    I have not read a single thread on here from anyone that wasn't very happy they got the full test kits. The other bonus is that if you do have a problem with your water, you can run the tests, post your results here and get excellent advice on what to do. If you have strips then the only advice we can give is to get a kit lol.

    Glenn
    6500 gal above ground Doughboy with 200lb sand filter and solar panel heater. Converted from Baqua to BBB and never looking back!!

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    y_not's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    I have never seen them spoken of highly here on the forum. Save for the Aqua-Check brand for salinity testing.

    The test kit REALLY is worth it, and honestly, I prefer the Taylor K-2006C as being a much better kit where you get more reagents for your buck. I actually have both, started with the TF-100 and have since purchased a K-2006C and much prefer the pH block in it, as it is more in range with the pH I encounter, it's seldom in between. You get 2x the DPD powder and all the vials are 2oz, with double the cya reagent, and the cya test uses half the reagent, so it goes farther and it's easier to read with minimal reflection on the surface of the sample view tube. Also the carrying case is SUPER AWESOME! Big blue tackle box with a handle. Plenty of room for a speed stir, sample sizer and some smaller 3/4oz vials.

    The TF-100 does cost a little less, and has the advantage of a rest for the DPD powder dipper and the ability to hold the speed stir horizontally, so you don't have to actually remove it from the case. You do also get an OTO/pH kit for a chlorine "sanity check", which comes in a nice, durable, Taylor opaque blue hard case.
    You can get the exact same test block under the HTH brand, still manufactured by Taylor, although not in the nice case, at Walmart for like $8. This block, in addition to the K-2000 block gets you nearly any possible pH number you might encounter, with minimal guessing, as they each contain different color bars within the range.

    I will admit the K-2000 block does need 7 drops to match more precisely the color chart, unlike the K-1000 block which matches SPOT ON with 5 drops. Which is ok though really, as you have a smaller bottle 0.75oz with the latter block, and 2oz with the former block in the K-2006 series kit.

    I got my K-2006C for $89 shipped off eBay from a Taylor authorized reseller. Amazon periodically has them close to that from Amatto as well, but only worth it if you buy other things to combine shipping.

    Thanks for reading... - Tony
    Da' Pool: Intex 15'x42" 3284gal AGP EasySet (Inflatable Ring) - (Summer 2014: 27' round EW /w 6.5' deep end @ 22,500gal)
    Pump & Cart Mod: 1000gph Cart. 5ft² - 2 nylons, 24/7 OP. Traps bugs/bits, lasts longer/cleans easier = Happier Pool Owner!!
    The Bible for a "Trouble Free Pool" life = PoolSchool, the BBB method a TF100 test kit(Recommend Kits Compared). - Cleaning a Sand Filter
    Water looks like GLASS, if yours doesn't...SLAM IT! Feels nice and never been happier!!! :D

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    Mod Squad woodyp's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    16x32x52" Steel Cornelius Miramar AGP Vinyl liner 13,100 gal. Buried 2 ft.
    2 Speed Hayward Power-Flo Matrix 85 g.p.m. 22" 250lb. sand filter hard plumbed
    Pool Rover Jr., Pool Blaster Max, Diver Dave TF100 Test Kit/Speed Stir
    Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker, Liqour Chiller, & Drink Mixer & Party Tub----Collect 'um all!

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    The big problem with test strips is even if they worked great (which they don't) the ranges for some of their important test leave so much room for error as to be nearly useless. For example, how can you possibly maintain the correct FC to CYA ratio with test strips given that the so called "ideal" range on the strips show a reading of 30-50 ppm as a single color. That alone gives you a target range of FC of 3.5 on the low end and 6 ppm on the high end. Then comes the free chlorine test, where the closely matching shades of purple go from 3, to 5 then to 10 ppm FC.

    So what do you do, do you assume (even given ideal reading conditions, and lack to test margin of error), and assume CYA is at the low range of a PERFECT match at 30 ppm and aim for the closest over target level of 3.5 ppm FC which is 5 ppm FC on the test? Or do you Assume your CYA is at the high end match of 50 ppm with a target FC of 6, and then aim for the 10 ppm (maximum range of the FC test) since it is the next step up over the 5 ppm shade of purple?


    Now let me ask this, you have used those tests strips for a while, how confident are you in reading a perfect color match, as would be required to get this close above? Adding any doubt here just opens up the range of error, all before we even get to test strip accuracy, problems with moisture contamination, etc.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Forgive me father as I am still using the Test strips momma bought when we decided to open the pool this year.lol

    Great information on why a test kit is needed and one IS in my near future.

    My selling point to my wife is, Add up the extra cost incurred by buying un-needed chemicals due to a mis read on water test results and in convenience of not having a pool to enjoy compared to the price of a good test kit is a savings in the end. IMO
    20K gal, Fiberglass, 1.5 hp Century Pump, Sta-Rit System 3 Model PLM-100, 100 SQ Foot. Inline Frogger Chlorinater Mineral pack removed, adjusted the Chlorine pac to put in my own when on vacation. Liquid Pool Sanitizer,, BBB style.

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    Shirker's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    The TF100 was intimidating when I opened it for the first time a few weeks ago. Going through each item to make sure everything was accounted for was almost overwhelming. Just a bunch of bottles with numbers for names.... But after doing the first full panel of tests, I "got it". After a couple of weeks, the instructions are more of a quick reference as the steps are pretty easy to remember. I now enjoy my Sunday morning batch of tests.

    I still use the strips that came with my pool for an occasional ad hoc testing during the week but I don't plan to buy anymore when they run out. My only complaint about the TF100 is the daily chlorine test. I can't distinguish the different shades of yellow and have to get my wife to look at it. If she is not around, I just use the drop chlorine test. Much more accurate and much easier to read.
    TF-100 | 13.6k gal (24' Round) AG | Chlorine | Sand Filter | Two Speed Motor | Installed June 2014 | Last Opened April 24 2016

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    The OTO chlorine test is a good reference for whether you have no chlorine or some chlorine in the pool, very hard to know a number. Thus the reason we recommend the FAS-DPD chlorine test.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    I find the AquaChek 4-in-1 strips are OK for very rough FC tests (mostly making sure my FC didn't go away for some reason) but only up to ~5ppm which makes them useless for anything but very low levels of CYA (my tub is covered so CYA level of 20-30 is fine). If you ever have to SLAM or want to run CYA above 30 ppm then strips are a complete non-starter.
    Cedar hot tub, 680 US gallons - Snorkel wood-burning heater, canoe paddle, "offline" Intex 1000 GPH pump/filter with skimmer

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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Here's another question. When my pool was built (which was very recent), a pool store sold me something called Proteam Supreme, and I've put some of that into the water. If I remember correctly, I think it contains borates.

    I'm at the point where I'd like to do a test of my water to see if I need to put more of the Proteam Supreme in there, or if I've already got enough in there. Will these test kits test for that?

    I do find the notion appealing of being able to do my own testing for any stat I need, relevant to my pool care, meaning I don't have to have the pool store do this testing, because once they do the testing, they're going to try to sell me expensive chemicals, and from what I read here, they're not always right, and even when they are are right, their chemicals may not be the most cost efficient way to take care of my pool.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    Smykowski's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    The two test strips that actually are accurate enougth are the salt test strips and borate test strips. Since they don't apply to everyone, you'll have to buy them separately.

    Just so you're aware, having borates in the water is completely optional.
    33' round, 23,000 gal AG vinyl , 1HP 2spd PowerFlo Matrix downsized with 3/4HP impeller (X2), Hayward S180T 150# sand filter (X2), Hayward H250 NG heater Pool Store year 1 - $850 for 2 months; Pool Store year 2 - $440 for 2 months, TFPC year 1 - $170 for 4 months; TFPC year 2 - $95 for 4.5 months
    The most important article on this site - The ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smykowski View Post
    The two test strips that actually are accurate enougth are the salt test strips and borate test strips. Since they don't apply to everyone, you'll have to buy them separately.

    Just so you're aware, having borates in the water is completely optional.
    I see in the helpful link somebody posted above (TFTestkits.net), that if I buy the TF-100 test kit, there is an optional borates test strips I can buy for $9.95 extra. I figure since I already have a bucket of the proteam supreme, and I haven't used it all up, I may as well take advantage, and use it, so maybe I should opt in for the $9.95 test strips for borates.

    I don't completely understand it, but the salesman told me that this reduces the need for other chemicals.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    That is the quick and easy way to add borates with that product. No pool NEEDS borates but some people like them for their mild sanitation properties, but the most cited reason for adding them is more "silky" feeling water and more "sparkly" water. I wouldn't go above 50 ppm for borates. You can get a test kit for that if you want to keep and eye on it. You can also add borates using 20 Mule Team Borax and Muriatic Acid for cheaper, but involves more hassle calculations, etc.

    Whatever kit you decide to get between the TF-100 and the K-2006C, get the Speed Stir. Makes testing faster and fun!
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Oh yes, Speed Stir is A MUST! And a Sample Sizer... seems totally lame, such a simple tool, but such a MASSIVE! time saver so you don't have to futz with the right water level in the sample cylinder.

    Plus, you'll be an official pool nerd if you use these.

    Thanks for reading... - Tony
    Da' Pool: Intex 15'x42" 3284gal AGP EasySet (Inflatable Ring) - (Summer 2014: 27' round EW /w 6.5' deep end @ 22,500gal)
    Pump & Cart Mod: 1000gph Cart. 5ft² - 2 nylons, 24/7 OP. Traps bugs/bits, lasts longer/cleans easier = Happier Pool Owner!!
    The Bible for a "Trouble Free Pool" life = PoolSchool, the BBB method a TF100 test kit(Recommend Kits Compared). - Cleaning a Sand Filter
    Water looks like GLASS, if yours doesn't...SLAM IT! Feels nice and never been happier!!! :D

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Borates act as a mild algaecide and will help stabilize TA and pH. In that respect they might reduce the need to adjust pH and TA and thus reduce the need for those chemicals. They will not reduce chlorine demand. They improve the "feel" of the water for some folks, personally I couldn't tell any difference. Adding borates is optional. As long as you already have it, use it and enjoy it.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    Quote Originally Posted by y_not View Post
    Oh yes, Speed Stir is A MUST! And a Sample Sizer... seems totally lame, such a simple tool, but such a MASSIVE! time saver so you don't have to futz with the right water level in the sample cylinder.

    Plus, you'll be an official pool nerd if you use these.

    Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2
    Wow, I never heard of a sample sizer. I'm about to order my kit, and I think I'm going with the TF-100, but I'm strongly tempted to get the speed stir, and this sample sizer you speak of. I guess I should splurge and get it all. I always like automating mundane tasks, and if the sample sizer means time saved in painstakingly getting the exact amount of water I need, and if the speed stir speeds the stirring and makes it easier to read the results, I have a feeling that it may be worth getting.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    y_not's Avatar
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    Re: Need a testing kit. Test strips are not recommended?

    I can tell you this, I'm such a putz, I had a heck of a time making the tests work right without spilling, splashing, etc... Once I got the Speed Stir magnetic stirrer, I was happy as a clam!!

    I fought with frustration, getting the sample as close to the line on the cylinder as I could by flicking, or pouring out water. TOO FRUSTRATING! I was getting the hang of it.... BUT REAAAALLY??
    A 44ml sample is soooooooo much easier, and so is the pH + OTO block, as you just "flick" it out, because it's right at the top of the test cylinder. But that 10ml sample is waaayyyy down there. Even the 25ml isn't much easier.

    I finally sprung for the Sample Sizer this year and COULDN'T BE HAPPIER!!! :thumbup:

    Little tip.
    Slowly slide in, then somewhat quickly draw out, being careful not to break the surface tension and spilling the measured amount, post displacement. I kinda rattle it a bit on my way up to get the excess water off.
    The 25ml side is a bit harder, as it likes to hold the water a bit in the tapered portion, so a sideways tip, and tap at the end is necessary.

    My only complaint is that the numbers, logo, and markings are silk screened on, rather than laser etched. So they'll eventually wear off. But strictly a cosmetic issue.
    I couldn't live without these two tools.

    Thanks for reading... - Tony
    Da' Pool: Intex 15'x42" 3284gal AGP EasySet (Inflatable Ring) - (Summer 2014: 27' round EW /w 6.5' deep end @ 22,500gal)
    Pump & Cart Mod: 1000gph Cart. 5ft² - 2 nylons, 24/7 OP. Traps bugs/bits, lasts longer/cleans easier = Happier Pool Owner!!
    The Bible for a "Trouble Free Pool" life = PoolSchool, the BBB method a TF100 test kit(Recommend Kits Compared). - Cleaning a Sand Filter
    Water looks like GLASS, if yours doesn't...SLAM IT! Feels nice and never been happier!!! :D

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