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Water Test Strip Kits- How to Read pH, Hardness & Chlorine | Spa and Hot Tub Owners Blog.com

Instructions how to read hot tub test strips (4-Outdoor & Azure Pools)

by Steve

Testing your hot tub water is an essential part of regular maintenance and is the key to solving water quality problems. This article gives instructions of how to read hot tub test strips and the videos from 4-Outdoor and Azure Pools will also demonstrate how to test hot tub water.

instructions-how-to-read-hot-tub-spa water-test-strips

Hot tub test strip instructions- simply compare the colors.

Why Test A Hot Tub’s Water Chemistry?

The water chemistry balance in your hot tub is very important to help avoid water quality problems.  To start with you’ll need to know the chemistry of your fresh water fills, including water hardness and mineral content.

‘Hard’ water has a high pH alkalinity content and concentrations of Calcium and Magnesium can cause problems in hot tubs as well as ‘Soft’ water which can be too acidic. By testing you’ll discover the content of your water and be able to balance the background Total Alkalinity (TA) which has an effect on any other chemicals that you add to the hot tub water.

How To Test Hot Tub Water

Follow the hot tub test strips instructions. Test strips are a good low cost way of taking readings and monitoring water content for levels of chemicals, minerals and pH.  They are very easy to use and testing only takes a few minutes.

Spa water testing strip kits such as AquaCheck Chlorine and Bromine Spa Test are very quick and easy to use.

You should get specific instructions on how to read hot tub your test strips with each kit that you purchased, but here are my tips:

1 Be sure you’re using the correct test strip kit for you particular water sanitization system ie. Chlorine or Bromine.

2 Don’t allow any moisture into the test strip container as this will make the new strips useless

3 Replace the lid on the container immediately after removing a test strip to avoid contamination of the new strips

4 Don’t touch the colored areas of the test strip with your finger (before or during testing) as the chemicals from your skin will have an effect on the results.

5 When adding chemicals it’s best to add them separately. Scoop out some water from the hot tub and mix one chemical with the water, then pour out gently into the tub.

6 Scoop some water from your hot tub into a container or small bucket and use this sample this for testing.

7 Dip a strip in the water for 5 seconds whilst moving in a gentle backward and forward motion.

8 Remove the strip from the water and shake it briskly to remove excess water (for some hot tub test strips this is not required).

How To Read Hot Tub Test Strips

Once you’ve dipped a strip in the water the pads will change color. Then you simply match them with the chart on the side of the container or bottle.  This will quickly show the make up of your water chemistry.  This step must usually be completed within 30 seconds for an accurate result.

If it’s the first time you’ve tested then you should begin by concentrating on the basics of your water chemistry, starting with Total Alkalinity.

Total Alkalinity

The test strips will measure your total alkalinity reading (TA) in ppm (parts per million). TA represents the “buffering capacity” of water, or its ability to resist a change in pH. The aim is to start by adjusting the TA to within the 80-150 ppm range so to make it easier to control the pH within the required range.

A balanced pH will prevent staining, calcium formation, corrosion and also reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine needed to keep keep your hot tub spa water clean and healthy. You can use TA Up and TA Down to lower alkalinity in spa water to lower alkalinity in spa water.

pH Level

The ideal pH range for your hot tub is 7.2 – 7.8 .

If the pH of your hot tub water is less than 7.2 then it is too acidic and can corrode parts of your hot tub and cause irritation to skin and eyes.

If the pH is above 7.8 it is too alkaline.  High alkalinity can cause scaling from minerals like calcium and metals in the water which form deposits on the surfaces of your hot tub and in the plumbing lines.

pH can be adjusted by using products like pH Up and pH Down.

About Free Chlorine and Bromine Levels

Once you’ve adjusted the TA and pH you’re good to test for the sanitizer levels. In Chlorine systems you will be testing for “Free Chlorine”.  For bromine you’ll be looking at “Total Active Bromine” so make sure you have the correct test strips.

You’ll need to know when the sanitizer levels are low as these chemicals destroy the contaminants and micro-organisms in your hot tub to keep the water safe to use.  The ideal level of free chlorine in hot tubs should be between 1-3ppm and  bromine should be 3-5 ppm.

Video Instructions 

In this video Laura of 4-Outdoor demonstrates how to use and read test strips.

Here the guy from Azure Pools gives his take on how to correctly use a water test strip.


Depending on your Spa’s sanitization system products you should then add chemicals as indicated by the test strip to balance the water content for safe bathing.


Please take care to always follow the product manufacture’s instructions when using chemicals and equipment for your Hot Tub or Spa.  Test the condition and balance of your water regularly.

Be safe and enjoy your Spa time!

Ask An Expert

If you’re in any doubt about water testing or how to maintain spa water you can always take a sample to your local spa dealer. You’ll get some useful advice and helpful tips from the experts.

Visit our Best Sellers Review to find spa water care treatments.

Spa & Hot Tub Owners Blog .com

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