If you own a pool, you know how important it is to keep the water chemistry balanced. The pH and alkalinity levels of your pool affect the water quality, the effectiveness of chlorine, and the health of swimmers. In this article, we will explain what pH and alkalinity are, why they are important, and how to raise them if they are too low.
What are pH and Alkalinity?
pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 7 is basic. The ideal pH for a swimming pool is between 7.4 and 7.8, which is slightly basic and matches the natural pH of human eyes and skin.
Alkalinity is a measure of how well the water can resist changes in pH. It is also known as the buffering capacity of the water. Alkalinity is mainly composed of bicarbonates, carbonates, and hydroxides in the water. The ideal alkalinity for a swimming pool is between 80 and 120 parts per million (PPM).
pH and alkalinity are closely related, as alkaline substances act as a buffer against fluctuations in pH. If the alkalinity is too low, the pH can easily change due to external factors such as rain, sweat, or chemicals. If the alkalinity is too high, the pH can become too high and difficult to lower.
Why are pH and Alkalinity Important?
Keeping the pH and alkalinity within the ideal range is essential for maintaining a clean and safe pool. Here are some of the benefits of having balanced pH and alkalinity:
- It prevents corrosion of metal parts and damage to plaster or vinyl surfaces.
- It enhances the effectiveness of chlorine and other sanitizers.
- It prevents scaling from calcium deposits on the pool walls, pipes, and equipment.
- It prevents algae growth and cloudy water.
- It protects the eyes, skin, hair, and swimsuits of swimmers from irritation.
How to Raise pH and Alkalinity in Your Pool?
If your pool water tests show that the pH and alkalinity are too low, you need to add chemicals to raise them. There are two main chemicals that can raise both pH and alkalinity: sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium carbonate (soda ash).
Sodium bicarbonate has a mild effect on pH, but a strong effect on alkalinity. It is ideal for situations where the alkalinity is low, but the pH is within or close to the ideal range. To use sodium bicarbonate, follow these steps:
- Calculate how much sodium bicarbonate you need to add based on your pool size and current alkalinity level. You can use an online calculator or follow this formula: Pounds of sodium bicarbonate = (Desired alkalinity – Current alkalinity) x Pool volume in gallons / 10000 x 1.5
- Turn off the pool pump and heater.
- Sprinkle the sodium bicarbonate evenly over the surface of the pool.
- Wait for at least six hours before turning on the pump and heater again.
- Test the water again after 24 hours and adjust if needed.
Sodium carbonate has a strong effect on pH, but a mild effect on alkalinity. It is ideal for situations where both the pH and alkalinity are low. To use sodium carbonate, follow these steps:
- Calculate how much sodium carbonate you need to add based on your pool size and current pH level. You can use an online calculator or follow this formula: Pounds of sodium carbonate = (Desired pH – Current pH) x Pool volume in gallons / 10000 x 0.2
- Turn off the pool pump and heater.
- Dissolve the sodium carbonate in a bucket of water before adding it to the pool.
- Pour the solution slowly into the return line or skimmer while the pump is running.
- Test the water again after four hours and adjust if needed.
Tips for Raising pH and Alkalinity in Your Pool
Here are some tips to help you raise the pH and alkalinity in your pool effectively:
- Always test your water before adding any chemicals. Use a reliable test kit or strips that measure both pH and alkalinity.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how much chemical to add per gallon of water. Do not overdose or underdose your pool.
- Always add chemicals separately and wait for at least four hours before adding another one. Do not mix different chemicals together or add them at the same time.
- Always wear protective gloves, goggles, and clothing when handling chemicals. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, or mouth. Wash your hands thoroughly after use.
- Always store chemicals in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place away from children and pets. Do not expose them to sunlight, heat, or moisture.
Raising the pH and alkalinity in your pool is not a difficult task if you follow the right steps and use the right chemicals. By keeping the pH and alkalinity within the ideal range, you can enjoy a clean, clear, and comfortable pool all season long.
Meta description: Learn what pH and alkalinity are, why they are important for your pool, and how to raise them if they are too low. Follow these easy steps and tips to balance your pool water.