Maintaining a pool that the pH level is well balanced comes with its benefits. Such practice must be encouraged. Having a pool that is low in pH would bring damages to your pool and the swimmers’ health. As such, it is recommended to raise the pH level of a pool to the ideal level which is always between 7.2-7.8 pH levels. So how can you raise the pH level in your pool?
The best way of raising the pH level of a pool is by using a pH increaser (soda ash). ‘PH Increaser’ is the general name for any substance that is used to raise the pH level of pool water.
As already stated, it can be dangerous to swim in a pool with low pH. You would need to raise the pH to the ideal range. So this piece is here to educate you on the pH of your pool, why you need to raise it, and how you can eventually raise it when it is low. Before we go further we need to understand what pH stands for.
What is a pH level?
PH is an abbreviation for the power of hydrogen. It is a measure of water’s balance between alkalinity and acidity. On the pH scale, 0 indicates extreme acidity while 14 indicates extreme alkalinity. Pool water can be high, low, or in the ideal range. High pH in a pool is when the pH level exceeds the normal 7.8 level. It shows that the water in your pool has turned alkaline and it’s not safe to swim in it.
Once a water pH level gets to 8.0 and above, the water pH is considered to be very high. On the other hand, a low pH is when the pool water is lower than 7.2. This simply means that your pool water is acidic and needs to be readjusted back to the ideal range. The ideal pool pH is when the pool water pH is within the healthy parameter which is between 7.2 and 7.8.
Can you swim in a pool with low pH? No, you shouldn’t swim in a pool with a low pH level. It is bad for swimmers, the water is acidic, it will sting your eyes, nasal passages, dry your skin and hair out and cause itching to your skin.
What happens if pH is too low in a pool?
The essence of raising the pH of a pool is because the pH level is low. Experts are of the view that using a pool with low pH is detrimental to the well-being of the pool. The following are what happens with low pH in the pool;
- Premature erosion of components
When your pH is low it turns the water acidic and may lead to repairs and maintenance issues. Your pool components like the diving boards and ladders begin to get damaged. This means that you have to spend extra money to fix the components or outrightly replace them.
- Brittle and cracks to liners
The liners of the pool will begin to crack. All three types of pool liners can be affected here; overlap, uni-bead, or beaded. The liners attached to the wall or floor of the pool will be affected as well.
- Discomfort for users
Since the water has become acidic, it will bring discomfort to the swimmers. The swimmers will begin to experience itchy skin and burning eyes. It can be traumatic, so it is advised to avoid using any pool water that the pH is low. It is unhealthy for the body.
Causes of low pool pH
It is vital to always check the pH of your pool water. From the above-listed consequences, the smart thing to do when the pH goes down will be to raise it to avoid encountering these bad effects. But first, you need to find out why your pool water is beyond the low pH range. One of the following might be the cause;
- Natural rainwater
It is almost impossible to have an outdoor pool and you wouldn’t experience rainwater creeping into your pool. When this happens, it may affect the water chemistry of the pool including the pH level. Rainwater has a low pH which is between 5 and 5’5. So it is naturally acidic, and once it gets into the pool it alters the pool water chemistry, making the pH to decrease.
- Invasion of more swimmers in the pool
The pH level of a pool will go low when there are a lot of people using it. The dirt, fluid, oil, and other cosmetics from their body will enter the water. Of course, it will alter the water chemistry and brings down its pH.
- Overuse of the pool
A pool that was in the ideal range at the beginning can go low if the pool is used too often. The worst part is when it is used without regular testing for the appropriate use of chemicals. The pH will reduce and the water becomes acidic and harmful to the pool.
- Inadequate use of chemicals
You need to be careful with the kind of chemicals you apply to your pool water. It is on record that chemicals used to sanitize the pool can affect the pH of the pool water. Some of these chemicals have low pH, so when you apply them to your pool they can lower their pool pH level. An example of this is chlorine tablets. They have low pH already, having them in excess will make the pH of your pool to be too low.
Should I raise pH or alkalinity first?
The two things you should look out for regularly when it comes to your pool chemistry are the total alkalinity and the pH level. It is always better to test the alkalinity first then raise it if it is low. The ideal range for pool alkalinity should be between 80-120 parts per million.
The total alkalinity is the sum of all basic materials in the water. The truth is that total alkalinity can also bring random fluctuations to pH levels. So if your pH is still low after adding the appropriate chemical like soda ash, then it will be time to check the alkalinity. If your alkalinity is low it will affect the pH level as well. So it will be better to bring it to the ideal level too.
To achieve this, you would need to use the right chemical which is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). This is used to raise the alkalinity of water in the pool. You might use the total alkalinity calculator to ascertain the right amount for your pool capacity. But for 10,000 gallons of water, you may need to use 1.4 pounds. But if the level is low, you need to raise it to the ideal range with sodium bisulfate.
Will raising alkalinity raise pH? Yes, raising alkalinity will also raise the pH of the pool water because the two pool properties work simultaneously.
How to raise pH level in your pool
Once you noticed that your pH is low, which you can find out through testing your pool via your test strips, you would need to bring it to the ideal range by using a pH increaser like the soda ash.
Soda ash is one powerful alkaline material that can easily be dissolved in water. When it is dissolved well it will leave little or no trace in your pool. So the bottom-line here is that when a strongly alkaline material like soda ash is added to a pool it will raise its pH, making it less acidic. So the following are the steps you can take to raise your pool pH using soda ash.
- Test your water to ascertain its range to know whether is high or low.
- If it is low, you would need to raise it. So you would need to calculate the quantity of soda to be added. It should be about 2 pounds per 10,000 gallons of water.
- Turn on your pump to aid the circulation of the pool water.
- Distribute the soda ash evenly across the entire surface area of the water.
- Allow the circulation to continue for about 1 hour before retesting to know if it has reached the ideal level.
Benefits of raising your pool pH to the ideal range
Raising the pH of your pool comes with immense benefits, and that is why it is good to test your pool always to ensure that the pH is within the ideal range which is between 7.2 and 7.8. The following are the benefits you would derive from maintaining an ideal pH level.
- Perfect pool water
The first thing you will enjoy is that your pool water will neither be acidic nor alkaline. You will have the perfect fresh and clean water that you will be comfortable swimming in all the time.
- No issue to the eye or skin
This is one benefit you will enjoy when your pool is in the target range that will be safe for swimming. Acidic water that comes from low pH doesn’t only irritate the skin but the eyes as well. It goes further to strips the body of its natural oils leaving it dry and itchy. This will become history as you raise the pH of your pool to the ideal range is recommended.
- Your pool components will be intact
A low pH in your pool will make your pool acidic and begin to damage your pumps and other mechanical systems. It can be annoying when you have to frequently change or buy a new component for your pool; the slide, diving board supports, and even ladders might not be left out in the damage. To avoid risking your pool components, you need to get it right with your pool pH. If you want to enjoy fewer repairs or replacements of your pool’s components, which is usually expensive, you need to avoid low or high pH levels.
- Your pool water won’t turn cloudy
You should know by now that you should swim in only crystal clear water. Cloudy pool water indicates that there are contaminants in your pool. These contaminants can reduce the pH of your water and makes your water murky. To avoid going through the side effects that emanate from having this cloudy water in your pool, you need to regularly check the pH level of your pool and raise it when it becomes low.
- The sanitizer used will be effective
One element that might become ineffective with low pH is the pool sanitizer. Chlorine is the best chemical for all pools sanitizing. It helps to destroyed bacteria and other micro-organisms in the pool. But this becomes ineffective when your pool pH is low. The truth is that once the sanitizing agent is wacky, the infiltration of contaminants will be high. So having a pool with an ideal pH range will aid the sanitizer in use to be more effective.
It is always a delight to have your daily dose of exercise through swimming, so it is pertinent to keep the pool in top shape. The pH level of a swimming pool is very important and to enjoy crystal clear swimming pool water, you need to be intentional about keeping your pool pH level balanced. The ideal range is 7.2 -7.8, so it is up to you to maintain this range almost all the time.