Can You Swim In A Pool With High pH?

Swimming in your pool can be really exciting and one great way of relieving stress. So, it is of utmost importance that you keep your pool water balanced at all times. One of the ways you can keep the water chemistry balanced is by making sure that the pool pH level is not too high. There are many harmful effects associated with high pH level of pool water.

Therefore, you can’t swim in a pool with a high pH level. A pool with a pH that is higher than 7.8 is too alkaline for you to swim. Once the water becomes alkaline, it makes the effectiveness of chlorine (which is the chemical that kills pool micro-organism) decline. This may lead to health issues like skin rashes and irritation, as well as scaling on the pool equipment.

If you have been wondering about swimming in your pool even when your pool pH is high, you need to read this piece. This piece will enlighten you on the causes of high pH, problems associated with a high pH of pool water, and how to remedy the situation. You will get these and more by reading further.

pH Level In A Pool

What is water pH?

You can simply say that pH stands for the power of hydrogen or hydroxyl ion in water. So, water pH is a measure of water’s balance between alkalinity and acidity. On the pH scale, 0 indicates extreme acidity while 14 indicates extreme alkalinity. 7 on the scale indicates a neutral state. For pool pH balance, professionals recommend that a pool pH should always be between 7.2 and 7.8.

The right pH level for your pool

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ideal level for pool pH is 7.2 – 7.8. This is said to be the right range that is safe for swimming, and it matches the body pH levels too. This pH range won’t cause any problem to the body when you swim in it.

What happens if pH is too high in the pool?

What happens is that the water will become too alkaline when the pH is higher than 7.8. Such a level of alkalinity may lead to cloudy pool water, skin rashes, and scaling on pool equipment.

Is high pH water safe to swim in?

No, it is not safe to swim in a pool when the pH is up to 8. Any pH higher than 8 will result in skin rashes. However, don’t let your pool water pH go beyond 7. pH level lower than 7 usually irritates the swimmers’ eyes.

Causes of high pH in the pool

When the pH level in the pool exceeds 7.8, to even as high as 8, you need to know that your pool water pH is high. You can find out this by testing your water at least twice a week. The issue here is that your water has become soft and swimming in it will come with side effects. Below are the reasons why your water pH could be high.

  • Increase in temperature

When there’s an increase in the temperature of the water, the pH of the water will likely increase as well. If your pool is always exposed to direct sunlight or an unexpected heatwave, you need to balance the pH level before swimming in it. The temperature of your pool shouldn’t be too high, or else, it will raise the pH level of your pool.

  • Rainwater

Another factor that may cause high pH in your pool is the rainwater. Rainwater can cause the pH of your pool water to rise through dilution. This means that it dilutes pool chemistry levels. It even goes further to reduce the total alkalinity. So allowing rainwater falling fall directly into your pool may not be the best practice as it affects the pH of the pool.

  • Presence of algae in the pool

Algae that grow in the pool consume carbon dioxide. This leads to the depletion of carbon dioxide, which can make the pH of the pool rise. If not handled properly, it may even go above 8.2 and this is unhealthy for swimmers.

  • Chemicals used

The fact remains that the chemical used to sanitize the pool can affect the pH of the water. Liquid chlorine is alkaline and can raise the pH level; chlorine gas is acidic and may lower pH, bromine which is neutral will have a minimal effect on the pH; hydrochloric acid may lower it while soda ash will increase it. These chemicals add up to cause an imbalance in the pH of the pool. So, if the balance of these chemicals is not correct, the result will be undesirable for the pool water.

Effects of high pH in your pool

  • Reduced efficiency of chlorine

This is the most outstanding effect of high pH in your pool. The chemical responsible for bacteria will become ineffective. So your pool water will no longer be actively disinfected. Apparently, harmful bacteria in your pool will start to multiply. To overcome this challenge and disinfect properly, you will need to add more chlorine to the pool. However, you need to balance the pH immediately.

  • Health issues for swimmers

Swimmers in a pool with high pH are at risk of having health issues. This may cause irritation of the eyes, dry skin, and skin rashes. With the decline in the efficiency of the chlorine disinfectant, swimmers can also have skin infections.

  • Cloudy pool water

With a high pH level of the pool water, the pool water can easily be cloudy. This is mostly caused by contaminants in the water. Remember that the chemical responsible for destroying contaminants in the pool have been weakened by high pH levels. Therefore, bacteria can easily invade the pool and multiply. This makes the water cloudy and unfit for swimming.

  • Premature wear and tear of goggles and bathing suits

This is another issue you might face with the high pH of pool water. The water will cause quick damage to the bath suits and even your Goggles. This means replacing them more often than expected.

  • Scaling of equipment

Increased alkalinity of your pool water will make the water hard. Water hardness will cause scale formation which usually results from calcium deposits. The scale buildup may clog the pipes and filters. The bottom line is that this may put a strain on your pool equipment, leading to leaks and motor failure.

How to lower the high pH of your pool

As earlier stated, the water pH ranges from 0-14. The lower numbers are acidic while the higher numbers are alkaline. When the pH of your pool isn’t the ideal number then you are going to have issues to resolve. So, it is important to always get the right pH level for your pool as recommended. This will enable you to have the cleanest water and optimum performance at all times. If your pool pH is high, you can use the following measures to get the ideal 7.2 to 7.8 pH levels so you can have a healthy swim.

Test the water to measure the pH

You need to regularly test your pool water to make sure it is at a safe level. You will need to use a pool test kit to accurately ascertain this. Once you ascertain that the pH level is too high, you need to work on it to restore a balance. Always target the range between 7.2 and 7.8. To test your pool water, you should go to an area away from the skimmer. Hold your test strip 18 inches underwater for about 10 seconds. Then remove the strip from the water without shaking off the excess water. Check what it reads. If the pool water pH is high, use the reducers to lower it.

Make use of reducers

An effective way to lower your pool water pH is to use the chemical additive for pools called pH minus (pH reducers). You can get them from your nearest pool supply stores. These additive ingredients are sodium bisulfate and muriatic acid. With these chemicals, you can bring down the pH of your pool to the ideal level.

The amount of the reducer to use depends on both the current level of pH and the volume of water. So you need to look at the guide your reducer came with, and work with the recommended guidelines. The reducers mostly come in powder form. You can first dissolve it in water before spreading it over the water. Doing it this way will prevent the acid from causing unnecessary damage to your pool’s lining.

The use of hydrochloric acid

You can always add hydrochloric acid to your pool to help lower the pH of the water. This is most needed when the pH is too high for the reducers to handle. This simply means there is excessive alkalinity in your pool. Sometimes you might need a professional to help out when you need to use this acid.

The importance of having your pool water in the target range

  • Swimming without eye or skin irritation

This is one benefit you would enjoy when your pool is in the target range that will be safe for swimming. High pH doesn’t only stings the nasal passages but the eyes as well. It goes further to strip the body of its natural oils leaving it dry and itchy. You would never experience this if you always make sure that the pH in your pool is normal.

  • Active disinfectant (chlorine)

Chlorine is the best chemical for all pools. It helps to destroyed bacteria and other micro-organisms in the pool. But it becomes ineffective when your pool pH is high. As a result, you will spend more money purchasing more chlorine to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, if the pH is still not balanced, your effort might be a waste of resources. S,o it is better to have an ideal pH level to avoid these problems.

  • Less maintenance issue

It can be annoying when you have to frequently change or buy a new component for your pool. A high pH level in your pool can damage your pumps and other mechanical systems. Your slide, diving board supports, and even ladders might not be left out in the damage. You need to prevent this by getting it right with your pool pH. If you want to enjoy fewer repairs or replacement of your pool’s components which sometimes come at a high cost, maintaining a proper pH level is necessary.

  • Clean and clear pool water

You always need to swim in only very clean water. Cloudy pool water indicates that there are contaminants in your pool. Many minerals come out of the solution as the pH increases. This only leads to mineral deposits and murky water. Maintaining a good pH level will help you to avoid these issues.


Taking a swim in your pool should be a delightful exercise for you. But the truth is that you need to take your pool maintenance seriously so you can enjoy all that it has to offer. Having proper pool care means you need to have a balance of all your chemicals to enjoy it better. The pH of your pool needs not to be too high if you want to have an enjoyable swim devoid of eye irritations, skin itch, corrosion on your pool equipment, etc.

You need to always have a pH level between 7.2 and 7.8 to set your pool on a normal range. So, keep testing and giving your pool the proper care it desired. This way you will enjoy your pool a lot better.

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