Free pool water tests: How accurate are they?

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SCOTTSDALE - Elsje and Mike Sotebeer spend a lot of time in their backyard.

“In fact, at night we come out and swim a lot,” Elsje said.

So, to make sure their water is perfectly balanced, they take water samples to be tested at local pool stores.

However, when a recent water test came back with an unusual reading, they got a second and even a third opinion, and all returned different results.

"My guess is that theirr equipment is faulty, so you'd think they would want to check that out,” Elsje said.

3 On Your Side wanted to know just how accurate are those free water tests?

So, we took pool samples from three different swimming pools and then took those samples to Shasta, Paddock and Leslie’s for testing.

Would the results be similar or completely different?

While we were never pressured into buying any chemicals, we did find test results varied.

For example, the alkilinity levels from our samples ranged from high to low from store to store.

“Without accurate readings, you won't have a true sense of what is happening in your pool,” Greg Garrett said.

Greg knows pools after being in the industry for years.

He says it's not uncommon to get different results from pool companies, and that if a store's reading is different from another store, it might indicate their equipment simply needs to be recalibrated.

“If they're knocking the dust off the bottles, you may want to go to another retail facility,” Greg said.

To ensure the most accurate readings, Greg says consumers should bring in fresh water samples.

Beyond that, he says consumers have to rely on pool companies to make sure their equipment is up to snuff.

As for the Sotebeers, Greg tested their water for 3 On Your Side once and for all, and found out their alkalinity was much lower than what two stores initially told them, and us.

“I'm pleased with the outcome in that, you know it answered the question,” Mike said. “We were getting so many diverse responses that I had to get to the bottom of it and I think you guys did a great job of doing that.”