Balancing pH and Total Alkalinity

Owning a residential and commercial swimming pool can be a lot of fun especially for relaxation purposes. The biggest key in this though is making sure your water chemistry is properly balanced. Most swimming pool owners know about chlorine, Calcium Hardness, Cyanuric Acid (CYA), Total Dissolved Solids, and phosphates, but in this blog post, we want to focus on pH and Total Alkalinity (TA). These two values are vital to your water chemistry and making sure your water remains blue and clear. These two key components are often left out (especially TA) and misunderstood in regard to their importance and we want to make sure you understand why they are key factors in keeping your pool clean and ready to swim in.

The Importance of Managing pH

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the pool water is. pH is measured on a scale from 0 – 14, with 7.0 being neutral. Below 7.0 is defined as being acidic, while anything above 7.0 is said to be basic or what is defined as “alkaline”. To have pH in balance we must adjust the water with additions of acid (pH decreaser) or bases (pH increasers) to help you obtain an optimal range of 7.2 – 7.8 which is the standard optimal level in the swimming pool industry. If your testing shows a pH value below 7.0; the water is in a corrosive (acidic) condition and you will need to add a base to bring the pH up. However, this isn’t common. Please note, a low pH will weaken vinyl, strip heat exchangers, and erode the interior finish of your swimming pool. Whereas, if the pH is above 7.8, the water is considered basic and you must add acid to bring down the pH to prevent the formation of scale or calcium deposits on your water tile line, the filtration equipment, and the possibility of having cloudy water. Another issue with a high pH is chlorine becomes less effective. This is the most common of the two and if you’re looking for how much acid to add to your pool the best tool you can use in The Pool Calculator.

Balancing Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity is a pH buffer, which means it helps to keep the pH from drastically moving up and down the pH scale by absorbing major changes to the waters before affecting the pH. Total Alkalinity (TA) is a close relative to pH and is a measure of how much of the alkaline substances that are in the water. In the swimming pool water, we are concerned with bicarbonate alkalinity, which should be between 80 parts per million (ppm) and 120 ppm. When the TA is within this range, it prevents rapid pH changes and ultimately stabilizes the pH level. TA is extremely important and often forgot about when it comes to water chemistry. Whenever you test your water which should be on a weekly basis you will want to make sure your TA levels are within normal limits as well.

When you want to achieve a swimming pool with balanced water chemistry, adjusting your pH levels is critical because it will help swing Total Alkalinity as well. Please note if you own a salt chlorinator it will cause your pH to increase more rapidly and you will need to keep acid around.

Weber Pools is a weekly pool service and maintenance company in Dallas, Texas. If you’re looking to hire a reputable company to keep your pool looking great, please contact us today!