Easy Guide to Testing and Balancing Your Swimming Pool Water

Testing & Balancing Pool Water

Geting Started:

Testing and balancing swimming pool water can be a daunting task for any pool owner, so today we’re going to guide you through the process. With a couple of tools, knowledge and patience, anyone can do it. Learn how to balance pool water with these simple steps!

We’re almost ready to start testing, but first we’ll have to get an approximate volume of our pool. To do this, we use a simple formula: Length x Width x Average Depth x Multiplier = Volume in Gallons. The “multiplier” differs from pool to pool. For a rectangle, square or free-form pool, the multiplier is 7.5, while in a round or oval pool the multiplier is 5.9.

Once you have everything set up, it’s time to start testing. At minimum, you should get a test kit that can test for Free Available Chlorine, Cyanuric Acid, pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness. These are the main items we’ll be balancing.


Before adding chemicals, it’s important to turn your pump ON so the chemicals will be circulated through the pool. Also, when working with chemicals, you can only add a certain amount per 10,000 gallons of water at one time. If you need to add more than the maximum amount (per 10,000 gallons), then you will need to add it in increments. You should allow at least 6 hours between additions. Shocking a swimming pool is a device used to introduce large quantities of chlorine to the water at once, maintaining or restoring chlorine balance.

TF-100 Water Test Kit

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The first factor we want to address is the Total Alkalinity, or TA. Total Alkalinity refers to the quantity of alkaline material in the water. We do this first because alkalinity acts as a buffer for the pH. The ideal range for total alkalinity is 80-120 ppm. Depending on your readings, you will want to add either a Alkalinity Increaser to increase the Alkalinity or a Sodium Bisulfate to decrease Alkalinity.

Pool Water Alkalinity Increaser

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The pH refers to the relative acidity of the water. Using the pH scale, which ranges from 1.0 – 14.0, we will want to get our water in the ideal range of 7.4 – 7.6. Anything with a pH level below 7.0 represents an acidic condition (low pH), while a pH level above 7.0 represents an alkaline condition (high pH). Depending on your readings, you will want to add either a pH increaser (Sodium Carbonate) or a pH decreaser (Sodium Bisulfate). Keeping your pH properly balanced is important because an imbalance can cause structural and equipment damage.

Pool Water pH Increaser

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Water Hardness:

The next step in balancing our water deals with the water hardness. Calcium hardness refers to the amount of minerals, in this case calcium, which is present in the water. The ideal range for Calcium Hardness is 200 – 400 ppm. To raise the Calcium Hardness you will want to use Calcium Chloride. If you are experiencing high Calcium Hardness levels you will have to either drain the pool completely, or partially, and refill with fresh water.

Pool Water Hardness Increaser

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Cyanuric Acid:

Another factor we want to balance is Cyanuric Acid, aka CYA. Cyanuric Acid is sold as either a pool stabilizer or pool conditioner. Cyanuric Acid helps protect chlorine from being destroyed by the sun’s ultra violet rays, so it’s an essential ingredient. To achieve an ideal amount of Cyanuric Acid in your pool you will need to be within the 30 – 50 ppm range.

Pool Water Stabilizer Conditioner

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Finally, the last factor we need to balance is Chlorine. Chlorine is used as a sanitizer or disinfectant to kill any bacteria, living organisms, ammonia and other contaminants in the pool. There are a couple different options of Chlorine. It can come in a gas, liquid, granular, or tablet form. To have a balanced pool, the Free Available Chlorine must be within the 2.0 – 4.0 range.

3" Chlorine Tablets

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Now that all the pool chemicals have been added, it is ideal to let your pump run to circulate the chemicals in your pool. The whole process of balancing your pool water can be done on your own. So go ahead and give it a try. You’ll be achieving perfect water quality in no time!

Need to balance water after a pool party?

For some quick tips on balancing pool water before, during and after a pool party, make sure to check out this helpful article!

Pool Maintenance After a Pool Party