Why the Alkalinity and pH of a Pool must be maintained

One of the most crucial maintenance practices for a swimming pool is maintaining the chemical balance of your pool water. Doing it right ensures that your water stays clean, fresh and ultimately avoids most pool maintenance problems. You do not have to be a chemistry whiz to learn how to adjust PH and test the water of your swimming pool. A good test kit and basic knowledge will do the trick. 

Factors that affect your pool’s chemistry include temperature, heavy rainfall, high bather load, hard, or soft water, and pool usage. Ideally, the aim is to have balanced water in your swimming pool. There are three main tests to determine how stable your pool is. These are alkalinity, Calcium hardness, and ph. 

Total alkalinity is the pool’s ability to neutralize acids. It is closely related to ph. You only need to test the swimming pool alkalinity occasionally, say once per week. Here is another point. The alkalinity level does not change as drastically as the pH level. Therefore, you should test the total alkalinity first and then 24 hours after adjusting calcium hardness and ph. The point is that Pool alkalinity is among the factors that affect the water quality of your pool. 

Adjusting both the pH and total alkalinity can affect the level of calcium hardness in the water. Therefore, you should follow the following order when maintaining your pool’s alkalinity.

  • Total alkalinity
  • pH
  • Calcium hardness

If you do not follow this order to balance your swimming pool water, you risk adding unnecessary chemicals and waste your valuable time in the process. The recommended total alkalinity is 80-200 ppm, although the range may extend to 80-250ppm.  This range varies depending on several factors, such as climate, surrounding environment, and local water source.

The total alkalinity of swimming pool water determines its saturation index.  Technically, you can have a balanced saturation index, although the total alkalinity is a bit low or high. This is because calcium hardness and pH can affect the saturation index without altering the water alkalinity. 

Low total alkalinity

If the total alkalinity of your pool is too low, the pH will fluctuate widely when a little amount of acid is added. You will also experience random pH drops, which could lead to metal fixtures damage, pool walls etching, and staining. Swimmers also suffer from itchy skin and stinging eyes.

When the total alkalinity is too high, it becomes difficult to change the water ph.  When the pH is too high, the water becomes cloudy, scale build-up in walls, and renders chlorine ineffective as a sanitizing agent. You can decrease total alkalinity by adding acid.

PH is the measure of your pool’s acidity. The ideal pH range for pool water is from 7.2 to 7.8.  If the pH levels go below 7.2 the water is acidic. A balance increase will help to balance the water. On the other hand, Ph above 7.8 means it is highly alkaline. To reverse, you should use a pH decrease. The pH of swimming pool water affects the effectiveness of other chemicals in the pool.  It also affects cleanliness, comfort, corrosion and algae growth.

Importance of Balanced pool pH

Below are several reasons why you should maintain a balanced swimming pool.

  1. Make Chlorine Effective

It allows the chlorine to work effectively. Essentially, chlorine cleans your swimming pool and eliminates bacteria and germs. But here is the catch. The swimming pool should be well balanced for chlorine to work effectively. PH that is too low or too high renders chlorine ineffective.

  1. Makes your Pool Appealing to the eye

Balanced pool water prevents the growth of algae and mineral build-up, which makes the pool unsightly. It also prevents irritation on eyes by ensuring the water is gentle on the eyes. 

  1. Prevents Corrosion

If the pH of your pool is too low, it will corrode the metal components of your pools. These parts include pumps, handrails, and ladders. Balanced pool water ensures that the pool water is gentle on the skin and prevents irritation.

Effects of Low and high pH

Low pH 

  • Affects the comfort of the swimmer by causing issues such as dry skin and burning eyes
  • Corrosion on lights, heat exchangers and ladders
  • Cause brittleness and stiffness of the vinyl liners
  • Erodes the plaster or grout

 High pH 

  • Growth of algae- High pH is an excellent breeding ground for algae
  • Affects water quality adversely- High Ph makes the water cloudy and dull
  • Scaling- Another problem of high ph in pool water is calcium deposits on waterline and pool surface
  • Reduces the effectiveness of chlorine- High ph decrease chlorines ability to disinfect the pool

Bottom Line

Balancing your water alkalinity is crucial. It makes your pool clean and enjoyable to swim in. Adjusting alkalinity balance is somehow tricky than pH adjustment. If you want to reduce the alkalinity of your pool, add pH increaser. On the other hand, pH Reducer will come in handy if you need to raise total alkalinity. For more details regarding pool maintenance, visit The Pool Insider website.