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Thread: Help with testing water

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    TimS's Avatar
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    Help with testing water

    I've seen quite a number of opinions on this board regarding test kits, which ones are good, which bad, etc. No, I don't currently have one of the recommended kits.

    I'm currently using an HTH 6 way kit (liquid) HTH 6 way test strips, Aqua Check 5 way test strips, and also have another 2 way liquid test kit. I know that this seems to be overkill, but there is a (semi) rational reason behind it. I wound up using multiple test kits trying to make sense of what the pool store test results were. One week they'd have me add one chemical, and the next week they would have me reverse whatever they'd had me do the week before with yet another chemical. They use a computerized color matching system (using test strips) that didn't seem to match any readings I would ever get. This fall, one I picked up both HTH test systems on sale, and decided I'd run the various tests with the various different kits and see what I came up with. The various tests results usually come out fairly close to one another. This raises the question "Why are the people here so adamantly against test strips, since my results are fairly consistent regardless of test kit?"

    On a slightly different topic, how does one read a liquid chlorine test? I can read the pH test alright, but I cannot distinguish between the various shades of yellow on the tester. Well, more accurately, I can distinguish the shades on the tester, but I can't tell which most closely matches the water sample. I can typically only eliminate the top and the bottom, but can't tell which of the middle readings is closest. Here, the strips are much more accurate for me, since I can easily tell the difference with them. Is there a trick to reading these? I've tried with various different backgrounds and lighting, but haven't found a combination that works well for me.

    Thanks.
    24' AG Round (vinyl replaced 0909) - 13500 gal - Sand Dollar Filter (150lb) - Dynamo DYNII-N1-1 1HP - Hayward HP380 Heat Pump - TF-100.
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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: Help with testing water

    my 2 cents...the recommended test kits are very powerful at telling you what you current levels are, consistently every time, with minimal need to tell apart shades of color.

    Test strip accuraccy degrades as they age. The yellow OTO Chlorine test that you referrence is good for only one thing...testing for the pressence of chlorine (Both FC and CC ..and CC's are bad).

    The FAS/DPP chlorine test in the TF100 or the Taylor k2006 are fool proof. you add water and then some powdered reagent R0870, if there is chlorine present it will turn pink. Then you count the number of drops of R0871 it take to turn the solution clear again. Depending on the kit, you multiply the number of drops x 0.5 or 0.2 and this gives you your FC reading. Then you add 5 drops of another reagent when the water is clear and if it stays clear, you have little or no CC. If it turn pink you add R0871 again counting the number of drops until it clears. This will yeild you your CC reading.

    Here are the readings we all use to maintain our pools and my view on the level of accuracy we are able to test within with a drop based kit

    FC - up to 50ppm, in increments of up to 0.2ppm based on color change from pink to clear
    CC - same accuracy, can not be tested seperately with a typical test strip
    PH - Test is the same as in your HTH drop based kit
    CYA - within 10ppm, up to 100ppm
    CH - within 10ppm, again color change from red to blue (can not test with strip...strips test for TH)
    TA - Within 10 ppm, again based on color change from green to red
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: Help with testing water

    Most importantly...welcome to TFP
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    TimS's Avatar
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    Re: Help with testing water

    Thanks for the reply, and the welcome.

    Roughly how long does one of these kits last? The TF100, for example: How many times would I need to refill it during a summer (beginning of May to end of September?) How often does the water really need to be tested? How often does CYA need to be tested? Since these appear to use a large amount of reagent, it would seem that you'd run out fairly quickly.

    Over this past summer, my testing frequency varied depending on how clear the water looked. As long as the water was clear and my chlorinator was full, I'd test the water about once a week. When the water started getting cloudy, I'd test more often until I got it clear again. This summer was my first experience with a pool, and I'm still trying to figure this stuff out. For example, I didn't know that you had to shock the pool every week. I assumed that if the water was clear, and the chlorine and pH levels were OK, all was well. (I also had a few other problems over the course of the summer that a more experienced person would have recognized and corrected easily, but...)
    24' AG Round (vinyl replaced 0909) - 13500 gal - Sand Dollar Filter (150lb) - Dynamo DYNII-N1-1 1HP - Hayward HP380 Heat Pump - TF-100.
    Central Missouri

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    Re: Help with testing water

    Hi billybob and welcome to the forum

    The TF100 kit is the best bang for the buck and has great customer service.

    You should not need to order any refills for about two years unless you are having a big problem.

    Proper storage of your kit will protect the shelf life.......indoors, in a cabinet.

    We can help you learn how to not let your pool turn cloudy and not have the need to shock!

    Pool School has an article on the frequency of water testing.
    TFP Moderator TF100 Test Kit TF100 TestKit YouTube Channel PoolMath
    You're done SLAMing when:
    1)You lose 1ppm or less FC overnight, & 2)You have .5ppm CC's or less, & 3)your water is clear.

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    Re: Help with testing water

    The HTH drop kit isn't so bad. A lot of people get by with that, especially with the small Intex pools. My experience with strips is you have to color-match everything, and I always had trouble with it. With the TF100 there's only one color-match test (pH), everything else is drop-counts. Well, except for the CYA test.

    Overall, a TF100 should last a sensible person at least one season, maybe two. Some of us like to play with our toys too much and keep running out of stuff. Also if you can't read the OTO test (not unusual) you'll end up using the FAS-DPD more and run out sooner. YMMV but the only things I've had to replace after ~8 months are the OTO/pH drops [available everywhere], FAS-DPD, and CYA. (Some of that is because I have both a pool and separate spa, so I go through FC/pH tests twice as fast as everybody else. Also I had CYA issues.)

    How often to test? That kind of depends on how fast the parameters change; something that changes very little over the season only has to be tested a couple times, period. Something that changes every day, you need to test every day. Other stuff falls in between. And when you add something that's going to change parameters, of course you should test that again to make sure you got the effect you wanted.

    My pattern is something like this: Chlorine daily, pH 2-3 times a week, TA every week or two, CH every month or two, CYA every 3-4 months. But if I add acid, I'll check pH and TA again sooner. If you have chlorine automation (SWG, Liquidator, chlorinator) the chlorine can be tested less often.

    A lot of people get into a routine of using OTO daily and FAS-DPD once or twice a week. As you get used to how the OTO test looks when things are good, that's a pretty reasonable routine.

    And if you manage your FC properly, there's no reason to shock regularly.
    --paulr
    BBB "Intermediate Swimmer"
    IG plaster pool 18.5K gal, Hayward Pro-Grid DE filter, 3/4 HP Hydramax II; Polaris 380, 3/4 HP booster
    AG spa 325 gal, probably Sundance of some kind
    Water testing instructions on one page

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: Help with testing water

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulR
    And if you manage your FC properly, there's no reason to shock regularly.
    --paulr

    Ditto to Paul's comments...I have not shocked my pool once this year. This site generally recommends FC levels which are dependent on your CYA levels, as described in Pool School (Button on top right of this page)

    In most cases we maintain out FC levels somewhat higher than the typical pool store would suggest, but I promise if you monitor your CC level and ensure it is 0.5ppm or less you will barely be able to tell it is a chlorine pool. Residential pools that smell like a bleach bottle are often fighting high CC levels and most pool owners are completly unaware of that, so the pool industry just keeps selling more powdered shock.

    Read through pool school a few times and I promise you can have a TFP too. I have never gone a full season with such clear sparkly water. One warning though, if you opt for the TF100, it's almost addictive to keep testing (SPARKLYPOOLITIS), even so most of us get at least one full season and most at least two. And you can order a full kit re-fill for around $35.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    TimS's Avatar
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    Re: Help with testing water

    Thank you for all the help. I'm glad to hear that the TF kit lasts awhile. Right at the moment, I'm testing quite frequently trying to get my TA down. I just replaced my liner and refilled with tap water. The TA has been off the scale (>300) and I've been fighting trying to get it down. In addition, I've been trying to get the CYA up, and finally got it up to about 30. (BTW, shouldn't cyuranic acid be abbreviated CYC (cover your chlorine) instead of CYA (cover your *ahem* a...lkalinity)? (Just ignore him, he thinks he's funny.) I finally got the TA to start coming down (at 180 now) and am running the fountain today to get pH back up.

    The drop kit is much easier to read for things like TA, CH, and CYA. Even the pH color matching isn't too bad. If the TF100 can eliminate the color matching for FC, I'll have to get one. FC is the hardest one for me to distinguish in the drop kits. Most of the summer I kept track with the AquaCheck strips, and they seemed to work for FC, and it the colors vary enough that I was able to match them pretty well. I have no idea how accurate it really was. Most of the other color match tests I could at least tell if I was in the "recommended" range (recommended based on the chart on the test,) even if I couldn't tell terribly accurately what the specific numbers were.
    24' AG Round (vinyl replaced 0909) - 13500 gal - Sand Dollar Filter (150lb) - Dynamo DYNII-N1-1 1HP - Hayward HP380 Heat Pump - TF-100.
    Central Missouri

    Before I speak, I have something important to say.

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    Re: Help with testing water

    Quote Originally Posted by billybob
    If the TF100 can eliminate the color matching for FC, I'll have to get one. FC is the hardest one for me to distinguish in the drop kits.
    The TF100 includes two chlorine tests. It has an OTO test which does the usual shades-of-yellow color-matching, and also the FAS-DPD test which is a drop-counting test.
    --paulr
    BBB "Intermediate Swimmer"
    IG plaster pool 18.5K gal, Hayward Pro-Grid DE filter, 3/4 HP Hydramax II; Polaris 380, 3/4 HP booster
    AG spa 325 gal, probably Sundance of some kind
    Water testing instructions on one page

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    Re: Help with testing water

    You can also order individual tests if you wanted to try it out first. Lots of options. The full kit is still the best bang for the buck though. I've gotten two seasons out of my kit (june-september) and could probably get through half of next but I'll probably order refills in the spring just to have them (fas-dpd and CYA).

    http://www.tftestkits.net/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=6 <-individual FAS-DPD and CYA kits
    Jacuzzi 12x24 Oval AG 48" about 7500G
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    Re: Help with testing water

    Most of the summer I kept track with the AquaCheck strips, and they seemed to work for FC, and it the colors vary enough that I was able to match them pretty well. I have no idea how accurate it really was. Most of the other color match tests I could at least tell if I was in the "recommended" range (recommended based on the chart on the test,) even if I couldn't tell terribly accurately what the specific numbers were.
    This procedure works well for me....

    After opening in the Spring, I use the FAS/DPD drops based test to accurately determine the FC that i chose to run in the pool. At the same time, I immediately do an OTO test and "memorize" that OTO shading of yellow.

    I then use the OTO test sometimes as much as 2-3 weeks before going back and confirming my accurate level with the FAS/DPD drops based test.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    TimS's Avatar
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    Re: Help with testing water

    Thank you all for your help. I appreciate it. I now have the TF100 on order and should be able to read it more effectively.
    24' AG Round (vinyl replaced 0909) - 13500 gal - Sand Dollar Filter (150lb) - Dynamo DYNII-N1-1 1HP - Hayward HP380 Heat Pump - TF-100.
    Central Missouri

    Before I speak, I have something important to say.

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