Easy Guide to Testing and Balancing Your Swimming Pool Water

Getting 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!

What you’ll need:

  • Water Test Kit
  • Alkalinity Balancer
  • pH Balancer
  • Water Hardness Balancer
  • Stabilizer or Conditioner
  • Chlorine Tablets

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 a 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.


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 an Alkalinity Increaser to increase the Alkalinity or a Sodium Bisulfate to decrease the Alkalinity.


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.

Water Hardness:

The next step in balancing our water deals with the water’s hardness. Calcium hardness refers to the number of minerals, in this case, calcium, which are 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 it with fresh water.

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 ultraviolet 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.


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 of different options for 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.


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!