How to Raise pH and Alkalinity in a Pool
Being a pool owner comes with a lot of responsibility regarding its maintenance and keeping the pool’s chemistry properly balanced. Pool chemistry can be difficult to master, but with the right sources, wrapping your head around how to balance your pool’s chemicals can become so much easier.
If your pool water appears cloudy, the plumbing has begun to erode or swimmers feel itchy skin or burning eyes after being in the pool, these are some signs that you may have improper chemical levels, which greatly affect the measure of acidity, also known as the pH level, of your pool.
What is Alkalinity and How is it Related to pH?
The first step to understanding how to keep your pool’s pH levels under control is by understanding the factors that affect the pH. One important concept to understand in this regard is alkalinity. Alkalinity refers to the pool’s total alkalinity or TA, which is the total concentration of hydroxides, cyanurates, dissolved carbonates and bicarbonates in the pool’s water.
Considered alkaline substances, each of these is high on the pH scale, meaning they are extremely alkaline or basic, as opposed to substances low on the pH scale that are extremely acidic. The ideal pH for a swimming pool is between 7.4 and 7.8 to ensure the water is neutral, not too acidic or basic, and suitable for human use.
It is easy to confuse pH and alkalinity because of how closely they relate, but the two aspects of your pool are not the same. While pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of the water, alkaline is a measurement of all alkaline substances present in the water, as measured by parts per million (PPM). The alkaline substances in your pool water act as a buffer against fluctuations in the pH of your pool’s water.
Because of this, your pH levels usually will correlate with the alkaline substance measurements of your pool. If your pH is low, your alkalinity is likely low as well. If your pH is high, it is likely that your alkalinity is high as well.
What Happens If pH and Alkalinity Are Too High?
The pH levels of any pool are extremely sensitive, making it very easy for your water to become too acidic or alkaline.
Some common causes of high alkalinity include sunscreen lotions, sweat, changes in temperature, too much pool shock and high-alkaline water sources.
If your pool's pH levels are too high, you will likely see noticeable changes in the appearance and feel of your pool’s water. Some effects of high pH include:
1. Water appearing cloudy or dull
2. Algae blooms
3. Scaling from calcium deposits on the pool surface, waterline and pool lining
4. Chlorine that is less effective at killing pathogens
5. Skin rashes after spending time in the pool
Because of the relationship between pH and alkalinity, the signs of high alkalinity are often similar to those of high pH levels. Some signs that your pool is high in alkalinity are:
1. Decrease in chlorine effectiveness
2. Cloudy water
3. Clogged filters
4. Staining on pool liner
5. Scaling on the pool’s surface
6. Difficulty in adjusting pH levels
Acceptable Range of pH and Alkalinity
To keep your pool clean and your swimmers safe, it’s vital to keep your pH and alkalinity levels within an acceptable range. From being exposed to the everyday elements, it is natural for your pool water to collect bacteria that alter the pH of your pool, making the water unsafe. This is why it is important for you to monitor the pH levels of your pool, ensuring the water remains within the recommended range of a pH level between 7.4 and 7.8.
There are a number of reasons the alkalinity of your pool may change, including natural causes and chemical effects. When testing the alkalinity levels of your pool, the proper range of total alkalinity falls between 80 and 120 PPM. This will help protect the water against changes in pH and prevent the reduced effectiveness of chlorine.
Because pH and alkalinity adjustments affect one another, you should always correct the total alkalinity before pH. This is because proper total alkalinity will act as a buffer for pH, helping to prevent fluctuations in pH levels. Sometimes reaching the proper alkalinity will naturally bring your pool’s pH levels into the proper range without you needing to make any further pH adjustments.
How to Raise Alkalinity
If you test the alkalinity of your pool water and find that you experience low alkaline levels, there are a few safe and effective products that can help regulate and increase your pool’s alkalinity and return your water to safe swimming conditions. Here are the steps you should take to help regulate your pool’s alkalinity if you find it to be too low:
1. Choose a product made of sodium bicarbonate.
One of the most useful compounds in the pool industry is sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda. Any substance like alkaline, alkalinity increaser or soda ash are options you can use to raise alkalinity levels. One perk of purchasing these sodium carbonate and bicarbonate products instead of regular baking soda is that they come with instructions and measurements describing how to use them. On the other hand, baking soda from any retail store is one of the best substances to raise alkalinity, but it may not come with instructions on how to use it to raise alkalinity levels.
2. Know the quantity of sodium bicarbonate you need to add.
Although too low levels of alkalinity can cause problems for your pool, so can high alkalinity. To avoid creating further problems in your pool, you want to make sure your pool’s alkalinity falls between 80 and 120 PPM. Depending on how low your levels are, you may need to use more product. A general rule is that it takes between one and one and a half pounds of sodium bicarbonate to raise alkalinity by 10 PPM in a 10,000-gallon pool. If you are unsure of the amount to use, use a smaller amount, wait to recheck the alkalinity levels and adjust accordingly.
3. Add it to the pool.
When you pour the sodium bicarbonate into the pool, avoid dumping it all in one spot. Instead, sprinkle it over the entire surface of the pool or pour it into a skimmer using a circular motion. This allows the substance to dissolve more quickly, keeps water moving and prevents the pool from appearing cloudy.
4. Retest the pool’s alkalinity.
After treating your pool for low levels of alkalinity, you want to wait at least six hours before retesting the water. This gives the substance time to disperse and dissolve throughout the entire pool. Ideally between six and eight hours after adding sodium bicarbonate, you can retest your pool water and see where the alkalinity levels are. If they fall within the ideal range of between 80 and 120 PPM, then you are done.
5. Repeat if necessary.
If your alkalinity is still low, go back and repeat the previous steps. It is better to start by adding smaller amounts of the substance and having the levels remain low than it is to add too much sodium bicarbonate in your first attempt.
How to Maintain Acceptable Alkalinity and pH Levels with WaterGuru
One of the most effective and hassle-free ways to monitor and regulate the alkalinity and pH levels of your pool are with devices and supplies from WaterGuru. WaterGuru products can give you many noticeable positive results, including safer swimming, longer pool life, a better visual appeal and extended equipment life.
To get started maintaining acceptable alkalinity and pH levels in your pool, consider using Waterguru SENSE. SENSE is a pool monitor that sits inside of your pool’s skimmer and tracks the chlorine and pH levels, water flow and temperature of your pool. It measures the entire pool chemistry, instead of just the surface water like other chemical testing kits. SENSE also utilizes patented technology with an optical sensor that detects the slightest changes in measurements that are unnoticeable to the naked eye, giving it added accuracy.
This smart device pairs with your smartphone to provide you with convenient daily electronic testing results and gives you step-by-step instructions on the adjustments you need to make to properly care for your pool. With free in-app dosing advice, SENSE gives you a real-time reading of the chemical components of your pool with precise accuracy, which means that you can analyze any adjustments that may need to be made at any time of day with the click of a button.
In addition to the WaterGuru SENSE, another WaterGuru product that can help keep your pool in the best shape is WaterGuru TREAT, which measures and treats your pool water chemistry automatically. It simplifies your pool care through automated chemical monitoring and dispensing your pool’s chemical balance through water in the skimmer. TREAT then releases the minimal amount of chemicals needed when it detects a change in the pool’s chlorine or pH levels. This helps keep your pool’s chemical levels balanced, controlling bacteria and algae and keeping your pool safe to use.
Other WaterGuru Products
Aside from the smart devices designed to test the chemical balance of your pool automatically, WaterGuru also has additional supplies that can help keep your pool’s pH and alkaline levels within their proper ranges.
If you find the pH levels in your swimming pool to be too low, pH Increaser increases the pH level in your water. The amount of product you use depends on how low your pH levels are. If your pool has a pH below 6.6 PPM, add one pound of product per 10,000 gallons of water. If the pH ranges between 6.6 and seven PPM, add ¾ pound per 10,000 gallons of water. To prevent costly damage and corrosion to your pool and its equipment that comes with low pH levels, keep your pH levels balanced by adding the proper amount of HTH pH Up to get your pH levels back within the 7.2 to 7.8 range.
When you find the pH levels in your pool are too high, WaterGuru also has products to help lower your pool’s pH levels. A similar product to HTH pH Up, pH Decreaser works in the same way but produces the opposite effect. With this product, you simply add 4 ounces for every 10,0000 gallons of water, allow six to eight hours for distribution, then recheck the pH and repeat this process until your pool has achieved the ideal levels.
If pH is not a problem in your pool, but you notice the alkalinity levels of your pool are low, you may need Alkalinity Increaser. If your pool has low alkalinity levels, add one and a half pounds of product per 10,000 gallons of water to raise alkalinity by ten PPM, then wait at least eight hours before checking the alkalinity again. Maintaining proper alkalinity helps prevent pH levels from changing, preserving pool equipment and keeping water safe for swimmers.
Get Started with WaterGuru Today
At WaterGuru, we offer a variety of products that will make maintaining your pool much less of a hassle. Between our SENSE smart device that alerts you to changes in chlorine and pH levels and our TREAT smart device that monitors and dispenses chemicals automatically, you can get rid of your old ways of checking the chemical levels of your pool. Our devices paired with your smartphone and or app allow you to check pool levels from anywhere, giving you step-by-step advice on what treatment your pool needs to achieve proper chemistry.
If you experience common pool problems or if you want an easier solution to maintain to your pool, make pool care hassle-free with WaterGuru. Give us a call at 1-844-989-GURU (4878) or send us an email through our online support page to get started with us today!