Why It's Important to Keep pH and Alkalinity in Pool Balanced
Pools are a lot of fun, providing friends and families with splashing memories. It may not seem like properly maintaining a pool will be a very complex task. However, there are several issues that come from having unbalanced levels of pH and alkalinity within pool waters. From eroding pool equipment to causing eye, skin, and nose irritation of swimmers to scaling and clouding within the pool, unbalanced levels can pose a lot of issues that should not be ignored. Learn more about the importance of balancing pH and alkalinity levels in pools as well as how to keep them at the right levels for safe and proper pool maintenance.
What pH and Alkalinity Are and How They Relate to Each Other
To understand the importance of balanced pH and alkaline in a pool, you need to first understand what they are, what they do, and how they interact with one another.
About pH Levels
The abbreviation pH stands for power of Hydrogen. In terms of pH levels, it is the measurement of Hydrogen ion concentration in a solution. This means that the lower the pH, the higher the Hydrogen. The higher the pH, the lower the Hydrogen. Relative to water, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. When a solution is perfectly neutral, it will have a pH balance of 7, which is the measurement that pure water possesses. When Hydrogen levels increase, the number on the scale decreases.
It is important to track pH balance when it comes to maintaining healthy and balanced levels of water. If balancing pH in pools goes awry, other factors that help to keep a pool maintained become affected. The performance of chlorine, for instance, is determined by how high or low the pH balance is within the water. If the balance is too high, the chlorine will be weak, while a low pH balance will cause the chlorine to have a strong reaction.
Several consequences that can come from having a pool with unbalanced pH levels. Those that are entirely too low can cause a considerable amount of damage to the surfaces and equipment of the pool as a result of corrosion. Even more concerning is the effects it can have on swimmers, including skin, eye, and nose irritation. A pool that has pH levels that are too high will have very cloudy water due to the lack of chlorine effectiveness. To avoid these issues, it is advised that pools maintain a pH balance between 7.4 and 7.6.
About Total Alkalinity Levels
Total alkalinity is the measurement of the concentration of alkaline substances within a solution. These substances can attract as well as release Hydrogen ions, which helps to lessen changes within the pH levels. When acid is introduced into the water, total alkalinity enables the balanced water to neutralize the excess acid, which would otherwise change the pH levels. Total alkalinity means the alkaline levels are ideal while too much alkalinity can cause an increase in pH levels.
Ranges vary based on the kind of chlorine each person uses for their pools. However, the ideal range of total alkalinity is between 80 and 120 parts per million. It is not measured against the pH scale because they each determine different things. Total alkalinity measures the concentration of alkaline within the water while the pH measures how alkaline the water actually is.
What Causes pH and Alkalinity to be Too Low and its Effects
Balancing alkalinity in pools along with the pH levels is the best way to keep your pool clean and your equipment in proper working order. Having high or low levels of pH and alkalinity does come with consequences. Find out more about the effects of unbalanced pH and alkaline levels to better identify potential issues.
Low pH Levels
As mentioned before, pH levels measure the acidity of the pool water. There are five critical reasons to keep the pH levels of your pool from dropping below the normal range of 7.4 to 7.8. The negative impacts of low pH levels commonly include:
Skin, Nose, and Eye Irritation
Acidic water acts as an irritant to the human body because the body's natural pH balance is closest to the neutral point on the scale. This can result in stinging of the eyes and sinuses, as well as stripping the skin and hair of their natural oils. This can result in side effects including dry or itchy skin as well as brittle hair.
Water with too much acid turns into a corrosive substance. Not only can this damage the pool itself, but it can also cause extreme damage to equipment. Pumps, ladders, slides, diving boards, and mechanical systems are likely to become corroded if exposed to low pH levels for too long.
High pH Levels
High levels of pH also come with their own sets of issues such as:
The higher the pH levels are in your pool water, the less effective the chlorine you add will perform. A lot of pool owners struggle with the issue of regularly adding chlorine to their water to yield little to no results. When this happens, it is a sure sign that the pH levels of the water are higher than their normal range.
Even if you have fought with cloudy water in your pool, you still may not completely understand why water becomes cloudy in the first place. The cloudy water is the result of minerals coming out in the pool water, causing it to be murky instead of clean and clear. When the pH levels of your pool become too high, this is a common effect.
Low Alkalinity Levels
The recommended range for perfect alkaline levels is between 80 and 120 parts per million. When these levels are out of balance, it can greatly impact the pH balance as well, throwing off the overall quality of your pool water. Common problems found with low alkalinity include:
- Chlorine Inefficiency
- Metal Corrosion
- Pool Staining
- Scale Buildup
High Alkalinity Levels
Cloudy swimming pool water is generally one of the first indicators of having too much alkaline in the water. Other common problems that arise may be:
- Reduced Pool Circulation
- Clogged Filters
- Rough Surfaces
How to Monitor pH and Alkalinity
The chemistry of maintaining perfect pool water can be tricky. It is important to routinely test your water to catch any unbalances before they become too damaging.
Test strips are the most common way to perform quick and easy tests, though they need to be done daily. While instructions for testing strips may vary, the idea is generally the same. You simply submerge a testing strip into the water of your pool for several seconds and then allow it to rest so it has time to react to the water.
Once the results are complete, you compare the color of the alkalinity of your pool water with the total alkalinity scale on the test strips container. This will provide indicators if your ranges are too high, too low, or right where they need to be. Conveniently enough, there are testing strips available with the same concept that will allow you to monitor the pH levels on a daily basis, as well.
Although daily testing with strips is a good way to keep track of your pH and alkaline levels, it is almost like a whole other chore. This can be difficult to maintain, especially with hectic schedules. You might not always be home to test the pool water for necessary corrections, or you may just simply forget here and there.
Technological advances have taken out the inconvenience of daily test strip use while providing an effective and worry-free alternative. There are now smart pool monitors, such as the WaterGuru SENSE, that do all of the testings for you.
The WaterGuru SENSE is a monitor system that fits inside the skimmer of your pool and performs routine analysis on chlorine, pH, and alkaline levels of the water. The system pairs with any smartphone or tablet that runs with iOS or Android software, allowing you to know exactly how the levels of your pool are doing, as well as the water temperature, flow rates, and more on the mobile app 24/7. Essentially, smart pool monitors such as WaterGuru SENSE, take all of the guesswork out of maintaining a safe, clean, and clear swimming pool.
How to Raise and Lower pH and Alkalinity Levels
As previously discussed, total alkalinity is the ideal state for your pool water to be in, just like a score of 7 is ideal for pH balance. However, it is not difficult or uncommon for these levels to become unbalanced. There are a lot of factors that can impact the levels, including rainwater, drain or backwash within the pool, or adding fresh water. What is there to do when your levels are too high or too low? Find out ways to properly raise and lower the alkaline and pH levels of your pool water to keep your pool in perfect swimming condition.
How to Lower pH Levels
Muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, is an efficient way of lowering pH levels, especially in larger swimming pools. Be sure that when your purchase it, you get something specifically made for swimming pools. Follow the directions closely as they tend to vary. How much hydrochloric acid you will need will depend on the size of your pool as well as the current pH levels. Another product that is easier to handle than muriatic acid is sodium bisulfate, also known as dry acid. As with any other product, be sure to follow the instructions closely.
How to Raise pH Levels
Adding soda ash to a pool with pH levels that are too low can help to easily raise them. It is recommended that you do not add any more than 2 lbs of soda ash per every 10,000 gallons of water per treatment. Sprinkle the soda ash over the water's surface, beginning at the deep end of the pool. Double-check that the pump is properly circulating the water. Allow the soda ash to cycle through the pool for at least an hour before you test it again. You can continue to do this little by little until the pool water clears up. Keep in mind that the soda may make the water cloudy. This should remedy itself after a few days of the treatment.
How to Lower Alkalinity
When measuring the alkalinity of your pool water, always make sure that the pump is on and that you take a current pH measurement. If the alkalinity is proving to be too high, adding either one quart of hydrochloric acid or two pounds of dry acid around the perimeter of the pool can help correct it. Allow the product to cycle through the water for at least an hour before retesting. Once you have gotten your alkalinity levels back to the ideal range, you will need to monitor your pH balance to ensure that it climbs back up to its normal levels.
How to Raise Alkalinity
An easy and quick way to boost alkalinity levels is with sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda. Simply add some to the water if you need to raise alkaline levels. While there are other substances available to safely raise alkaline levels, baking soda is the most effective and cost-efficient option. Every container of baking sodium specifically marketed for pools and spas contains instructions for use. Be sure to follow them, especially when it comes to the method of adding it to the water. Generally, half or three-quarters of the recommended amount should help with raising the levels without a problem. However, if your levels are still not up to where they need to be, you can continue to gradually treat the water with baking soda until the ideal range is reached.
WaterGuru SENSE Is Pool Care Made Easy
Pool owners can now experience pool maintenance like never before. Skip all of the test strips and guess about the chemistry of your swimming pool. SENSE is the first smart pool monitor designed to replace the skimmer and provide continuous and automatic analysis of the pool water quality. It provides accurate readings that are sent to a smartphone application, allowing you to track the condition of your pool with ease at any time and anywhere. Not only that, but the app also provides free in-app dosing advice to help you find out what your pool needs.
WaterGuru SENSE has many other accessories available to meet the need of every pool owner. In addition to the monitor, you can also find other SENSE products including:
Allow WaterGuru to help take the stress out of owning a pool. Our smart pool monitor will keep you updated and even alert you when it is time to perform maintenance on your pool. In addition to monitoring pH and alkaline levels, it can also help you keep an eye on water flow, chlorine levels, and more.
For pool cleaning with ease, contact us and order your WaterGuru SENSE today!