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Directions for a 5-Way Test Kit for Pool Water

By Tamara Runzel ; Updated September 21, 2017
Use a 5-way test kit to keep your pool clean.
Asian Boy Playing in a Swimming Pool image by Wimbledon from Fotolia.com

A backyard swimming pool is nice to have at home, but this amenity does require some work to keep it maintained. Regularly test the chemicals in your pool to make sure it is clean and germ-free. A common testing kit is a 5-way test kit. Through the use of colored reagents, most 5-way test kits check the levels for free chlorine, bromine, pH, alkalinity and acid demand.


Dip the test container, with the opening facing down, about 18 inches into the water and fill the container to the recommended level.

Add the appropriate number of drops from the chlorine indicator reagent to the water and shake the container. Reagents are the colored liquids included in your kit.

Match the color to the included standards after the recommended time. This number represents the free chlorine, which is the type that must be present in your pool--1 to 2 parts per million (ppm) for proper disinfecting.

Wait two minutes and check the color again. This represents the total chlorine or total bromine, which is the total of all forms of chlorine in the water.

Subtract the free chlorine from the total chlorine if the total chlorine is higher. This number represents the chloramines. If it is greater than 2, you may need to shock your pool water.

The pH and Acid Demand

Fill the test container to the proper line to test pH.

Add the appropriate amount of chlorine neutralizer according to your chlorine test and shake.

Squeeze the recommended number of drops from the appropriate reagent and shake. Wait two minutes and check the color. If the pH is above 7.6, you will need to complete the acid demand test. If it is below 7.2, add soda ash according to the package directions.

Add a drop of the acid demand reagent to the same water you used for your pH test, if your pH level was above 7.6. Shake the sample.

Add another drop of the acid demand reagent and shake again. Repeat this until the sample color of your water matches the color for the recommended pH level. Use the included chart to determine the amount of acid you need to add to your pool according to the number of drops added.


Verify the pH level of the pool is within the appropriate 7.2 to 7.6 range.

Fill the test container to the recommended line for the alkalinity test.

Add a drop of chlorine neutralizer and mix.

Add the appropriate amount of the alkalinity indicator reagent and mix. Your water should be blue.

Add the recommended amount of the total alkalinity/acid demand reagent and mix. Continue to add drops and mix until the water is yellow or clear. Multiply the number of drops by 10, which represents your total alkalinity. If your alkalinity is low, add alkalinity booster according to the product directions. If it is high, you may have to replace your pool water.



  • Keep the test kit out of direct sunlight and replace the reagents annually.
  • Improperly balanced chemicals in the pool can lead to algae growth, staining, etching and excessive chemical consumption, according to Kem-Tek.

About the Author


Tamara Runzel has been writing parenting, family and relationship articles since 2008. Runzel started in television news, followed by education before deciding to be a stay at home mom. She is now a mom of three and home schools her two oldest children. Runzel holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from University of the Pacific.