So, Why the Huge Differences at Pool Stores?


Well-known member
May 17, 2012
Central Georgia
After reading lots of threads about chenistry and testing, the one common theme is that pool store water sampliing can't be trusted. My question, or questions, are:

What method are they using?
Is it a standard kit, or setup?
Are there any standards used, or acredditing agency to insure accuracy?
If not, why not?

I'd ssure hate to have these guys doing the lab work at my local doctor's office. It could kill a person.

Just pondering.....


LifeTime Supporter
Platinum Supporter
TFP Expert
May 7, 2007
Silver Spring, MD
Methods vary wildly. Some use test strips, some drop tests like the ones we recommend, some use fancy computer systems. There are three or four setups that are fairly common, but no real standardization. There are no certifications that apply to that job. There are certifications for taking care of the water chemistry of a public pool, but they don't apply to pool stores.


Well-known member
Mar 19, 2012
Amarillo, Texas
Leslie's and my other pool store (well it was, the owner died) both use Taylor reagents to drop. However, they don't do the FAS-DPD test so they are not able to accurately test when my FC is higher than 5. Another thing is that they all test indoors. I've had to literally ask them to do the CYA test (I think they know at that point that I'm a TFP subscriber) and they grudgingly do so. :)

Last week I had to go into our local Leslie's and replace my pressure gauge. I reminded the store manager that he recommended that I complete drain and scrub my pool this spring. He asked how I got my pool so clean and I told him this site. We ended up talking Mercedes since he couldn't sell me anything. :)


LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Aug 30, 2010
Dallas, TX
At my local pool store there's usually a teenaged girl, or maybe slightly over teenage years, who's never owned a pool. I don't figure anyone gave her any real details on how to accurately perform the tests. And at or near minimum wage, she probably doesn't care. I CARE about the balance of my pool, and that care shows when I'm doing my tests.


LifeTime Supporter
May 23, 2007
Montreal Canada
Q: Do you know how to lower the calcium hardness in swimming pool water?
A: Get your water tested by another clerk

Over here I've seen Bioguard and their ALEX system and Taylor.

The way the tests are performed, the accuracy of the measurements, the adherence to "good practices" (ie cleaning the equipment, recapping, holding the dropper bottles properly, perform the test slowly etc) all these have a major impact on the results.

And it's not just "using" a kit, you have to know your test kit, know its limitations, know the possible interferences, know how to handle "extreme" situations (high FC, high CH, low TA etc) and how they influence your testing protocol and testing results.

Then you get customers who bring in water samples in pickle jars and Pepsi bottles (even saw one bring water in the big blue scoop you use for chlorine), didn't wash their hands before taking a sample, didn't rinse the jar, took the sample by skimming the surface right near the return, that sort of thing.

Back in 2008 I investigated about 6 stores to see how they performed. I saw CH and CYA tests that were done way too fast, dirty and soiled equipment, poor lighting, stopping the titrations before the endpoint, incorrect sample volume, not using all the prescribed reagents, using the reagents in the incorrect sequence. The pool stores invest all this money in testing equipment, and labs and can't even use the thing properly.

The clerks don't know what's happening with the tests (ex: they don't realize that the TA test is an acid demand test, they don't know what R-0001 does etc) They're not fluent with the material. They should be forced to read Standard Methods.

They should know enough about the chemistry to visually and convincingly demonstrate the effects of adding borates (or bicarb) to a customer using the comparator and a few reagents.

So there's wrong testing, therefore wrong results therefore wrong treatments are suggested. And for that last one, the treatments, the pool store clerks usually drop the ball again by suggesting and saying things may be totally wrong (there's another thread on this somewhere).

Staff training is usually done by another staff person who got his from another staff person etc. Like playing telephone, errors and omissions creep in along the way.