Because of my anal nature, I use both the AquaChek test strips and my chemical kit. The test strips are good for a quick down and dirty indication of my pool water chemical balance, but I usually follow it up with my Swimline Pool Test Kit. The drops in the Swimline kit are usually more accurate, but unfortunately, the Swimline kit I have doesn’t tell me about my CYA or hardness levels.
Test Strip Disappointment
When I ran out of my AquaChek test strips I ran to Namco and bought a refill. Here are a couple of problems that came to light once I used the new test strip batch:
Incorrect Chlorine Indicators
Whoever put the test strips together used the same indicator for Total Chorine and Free Chlorine. The Total Chlorine test usually displays shades of yellow to green. The Free Chlorine takes on a yellow to purple color. They both look the same when the levels are extremely low, but at higher levels there is supposed to be a distinct difference in color.
Imagine my surprise when both my Total Chlorine and Free Chlorine indicators were exactly the same color. Someone screwed up. Because I have a good feel for my chemical levels I’m going to suffer through this batch of test strips, but I’m going to rely more heavily on my Swimline pool test kit.
Incorrect CYA Indicator
My second disappointment with the AquaChek test strip is that my CYA levels on the new batch indicate a totally different level than my old batch of test strips even though I’ve not added any additional CYA.
I won’t tell the long and drawn out story but I started adding cyuranic acid to the pool because my chlorine levels were dissipating too quickly. Cyuranic acid helps to protect chlorine from the sun and other factors that cause it to break down quickly.
Because adding too much CYA is a little cumbersome to fix, I’m very careful to raise the levels very slowly. To lower CYA levels you’ve got to drain some of the existing water and add new.
Okay, here’s the beef. According to my first batch of test strips, my CYA levels were nonexistent. This, despite adding about 2 ½ pounds of the stuff to my 24’ round pool. According to my calculations, that should bring the levels into the ‘ok’ range.
If it weren’t for the fact that CYA is such a pain in the rear to add to the pool, I might have continued to add more until it registered. It’s a good thing I didn’t. My second batch of test strips told me that my CYA levels were right where they were supposed to be.
Time to Get a Professional Opinion
I’m very much a do it yourselfer, but I think its time to take a sample of water to the professionals and ask them to measure my CYA levels.
I’m no longer a fan of the quick down and dirty AquaChek test strips. I found a website that sells TF Test kits and I think its time to order one. In addition to testing pH, water hardness, chlorine levels and more, it also tests CYA levels. The TF Test Kit will allow me to get as anal retentive as I want in testing my pool water.