For those who are unfamiliar with alkalinity, it is a means of assessing how resistant the pool water is to neutralizing acid. Total pool alkalinity is a measurement of how many alkaline substances are present in pool water.
When the concentration of minerals in the water is really out of balance, the water attempts to restore balance by releasing extra minerals or consuming minerals from other supplies.
In layman’s terms, alkalinity acts as a buffer to keep pH levels stable. Maintaining these levels is critical since it is a necessary step to ensure the water in the pool is sanitary, among several other things.
Various home improvement stores sell a variety of kits that can be used to evaluate the alkalinity levels of the pool. They’re simple to use and reasonably priced.
When testing the water in your pool, the alkalinity levels ought to be between 80 and 120 parts per million (ppm). If the alkalinity levels get too high, the pH levels will suffer as well. For the record, the pH level in your pool must not exceed 7.8.
Whenever the pH level of your pool water crosses 7.8, the pool water is too soft, and the chlorine may stop disinfecting the pool water. Furthermore, a high pH level might cause a number of unneeded difficulties. So, what are the consequences of excessive alkalinity levels, what causes them, and what can be done about it?
The effects of high alkalinity in pool water
As previously stated, if the alkalinity of the water in your pool is off, the pH levels will be off as well, causing plenty of issues. One of the most typical problems is that the chlorine becomes ineffective. As a result, you’ll find yourself using it even more. It can get really expensive.
Chlorine, for those who don’t know, is an effective substance that sterilizes the water in the pool. This is an important part of keeping the pool clean for all who use it.
Furthermore, high alkalinity levels can lead to red and irritated eyes, an itchy scalp, and even ear problems.
Aside from physical issues, high alkalinity levels can cause cloudiness in the pool, circulation problems, excessive wear and tear on the filters, and calcium and algae buildup.
Now that you understand the consequences of excessive alkalinity levels, what exactly causes alkalinity levels to grow so dramatically?
Why do you have a high alkalinity level?
Total alkalinity, is intrinsically tied to the pH level of your pool water.
As the pH rises, it enters the alkaline region on the pH scale. This increase will progressively raise the total alkalinity level. This can happen for a variety of reasons.
Whenever users enter the pool, they carry their own contaminants with them, which influences the water chemistry. These can range from typical body oils to sunscreens and lotions applied to their bodies.
The water used to fill the pool might potentially be a source of contamination. If the water is already high in alkalinity, you may bet it will have an effect on the pool’s total alkalinity.
If you shock your pool, you might also induce high alkalinity. While this is done to swiftly remove impurities from the pool, chlorine-based shock is very alkaline and can boost the total alkalinity level of the water in the process.
Why is high alkalinity bad?
Nature values balance, and your pool is no exception, necessitating that you maintain it in a neutral state. When the alkalinity reaches an abnormally high level, the following issues can arise:
Swimmers will be irritated. Swimming in excessively alkaline water can irritate you due to its imbalanced nature. High alkalinity causes burning eyes and irritated skin, as well as premature deterioration of swimsuit fabrics and goggles.
It will limit chlorine’s effectiveness. The high alkalinity level changes the water chemistry, making chlorine less efficient as a sanitizing agent in the pool.
It will obscure the pool water. Cloudy pool water is another indicator of a high alkalinity pool. This is due to the high calcium that accumulates in the water.
The pH level will be incredibly high. If the pH of your pool is high, the total alkalinity will almost certainly be high as well. Reducing the pH level is not impossible, but it might be a time-consuming operation.
Scaling is possible. The influx of calcium in the water can cause scaling problems throughout the pool. This will be visible in the form of calcium deposits on the pool’s surface and can also damage the pool equipment as the water passes through the filter.
How to lower alkalinity in a pool
There are several methods for reducing the pool’s alkalinity.
It is critical to note that you must test the pool water before and after using these procedures, as you want to keep track of the chemical levels at all times.
Method 1: Using muriatic acid
Muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) is perhaps the most commonly used method for lowering the total alkalinity of a pool. With a pH of 1 to 2, it’s cheap and effective at killing mold, removing rust, and removing calcium deposits from pools.
Although muriatic acid is the preferred approach and is pre-diluted, it is also extremely volatile and should be handled appropriately. When using it, ensure you’re well-protected because exposure might cause serious distress.
Wear long-sleeved clothing, a chemical mask, goggles, and chemically-resistant gloves. Always put safety first!
Muriatic acid can be used in the following ways:
Turn off the pool pump and any other water features that are in use. Muriatic acid necessitates the use of still pool water in order to reduce total alkalinity by the greatest margin achievable.
To detect the current amount of total alkalinity in the water, use test strips or a digital test kit.
Consult the package recommendations to see how much muriatic acid to add to raise the total alkalinity anywhere between 80 and 120 ppm. It is worth noting that it generally takes 25.6 ounces of muriatic acid to reduce the pH of a 10,000 gallon pool by 10 ppm. Take accurate measurements!
The acid will be safer if it is further diluted. Add 1 part acid to 10 parts water to do just that (not the other way around). Combine the solution in with a rubber bucket and a wooden stir stick.
Pour the solution carefully into the deep end and leave it for about an hour.
Restart the pump and re-test the pool water for its alkalinity and pH.
If needed, repeat the steps.
Method 2: Make use of dry acid
Dry acid (sodium bisulfate) is just a granular acid that is less toxic than muriatic acid but more expensive. You should also keep it in a dry spot where moisture cannot enter the container.
Here’s how to use it in your pool:
To measure the actual level of the pool water’s total alkalinity, use test strips or a digital test kit .
Check the package instructions to decide how much dry acid to add to bring the total alkalinity somewhere between 80 and 120 ppm.
Fill a three-quarters-full plastic bucket with water and add the calculated amount of dry acid.
Using a wooden stick, mix the ingredients until the particles are fully dissolved. Undissolved acid particles might sink to the pool’s bottom and erode the surface.
Spread the diluted solution around the pool’s perimeter, beginning at the deep end.
Check the pool water for pH and alkalinity again.
If required, repeat the procedure.
How to restore the pH
If you’ve fixed your high alkalinity problem but now realize your water’s pH is too low, you can boost it with baking soda or soda ash, but it will also increase the total alkalinity, particularly if you use the latter option.
Fortunately, by utilizing aeration, you may raise your pH without impacting on the alkalinity of the water. Other than draining, it’s the only option to raise your pH on your own.
Aeration introduces oxygen into the water, eliminating carbonic acid and boosting the pH. When the pool is in use or when it rains, this happens naturally, but installing dedicated aeration equipment (aerator) will speed up the process.
Aerators are intended to spray water into the air and then have it fall into the pool. The water gathers up oxygen as it travels through the atmosphere and introduces it into the pool water as it drops.
Pool aerators are available, but you may also add oxygen to the water by using pool water features such as scuppers, deck jets, waterfalls, and bubblers.
Finally, you can aerate your pool by pointing the return jets upwards to create bubbles on the surface, or by installing a sprinkler-like apparatus to channel the returning water and sprinkle it across the pool’s surface.
Is it safe to swim in a pool with a high alkalinity?
High alkalinity isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to swimming.
It can, however, generate several water problems that could render it harmful, such as:
- Cloudy water
- Decreased chlorine effectiveness
- Unstable pH levels
However, exercise caution.
It is preferable to remain at the forefront of maintaining your pool’s levels balanced rather than risking unclean water.
Can baking soda be used to decrease alkalinity?
Sodium bicarbonate, sometimes known as baking soda, is a substance that can be used to increase the alkalinity of your pool. It does not lower the alkalinity in your pool.
Muriatic acid, on the other hand, is the best compound to use to reduce your pool’s alkalinity levels.