Pool pH 101

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What’s the big deal about maintaining the proper pH balance in your swimming pool? The right pH level in the water not only keeps your swimming pool sparkling clean, but it has other benefits, too. The correct pH level in your pool water helps protect pool equipment like the heater, pump, and other system components from damage. It also helps prevent your pool’s finish from aging prematurely.

What is pH?

The term pH is used to denote the degree of activity of an acid or base (alkali) in the water. It is the most important factor involved in maintaining your swimming pool’s chemical balance. The pH level of your swimming pool water is a measure of its acidity. The proper pool pH level is between these two points: 7.2 to 7.8. On a scale of 0 to 14, a pH of 7 is neutral. Below 7.0 indicates that the water is acidic, while a pH of 8.0 means the water is basic or alkaline. This is not to be considered total alkalinity. pH and total alkalinity can be influenced by each other, but are not the same.

Checking your pool pH

Your pool’s water is considered to be corrosive when pH of your pool water is below 7.2. Corrosive water can damage your pool, resulting in etching of plaster and the metals in pool equipment. While more effective as a sanitizer at the low pH, the chlorine in the water will also be less stable.  This will result in much more use of chlorine than would be used at normal pH levels and it will be more difficult to keep chlorine in your pool.

When the swimming pool’s water has a pH level higher than 7.8, scale or and/or cloudy water is often seen. Calcium is the primary component in scale and is a relatively unstable mineral. When the pH is high, the calcium is less soluble. The calcium in the water will combine with carbonates, forming scales at the edge of the pool. These scales hold dust and dirt, eventually turning black. Calcium carbonate will also clog the sand in the filter: the sand will harden, destroying the effectiveness of the filter. Also, as mentioned with low pH, a high pH level will also reduce chlorine effectiveness and you will need to maintain higher chlorine levels to sanitize your water adequately. So, in a nutshell, pH levels that are too low or too high will impact your chlorine requirements.

How does pH affect my pool?

  1. High pH decreases the effectiveness of chlorine

The more alkaline your water is, the less effect your chlorine will have. As a result, you will spend more money on chlorine and still have water that isn’t clean.

  1. Low pH can result in corrosion

Low pH water will result in corrosion on pool mechanical equipment, ladders, slides, and diving board supports. Acidic water in a gunite swimming pool can corrode the plaster.

  1. Unbalanced pH can damage vinyl liners

With low pH, a vinyl liner can expand, resulting in wrinkling. With high pH, a vinyl liner will age faster and may have to be replaced sooner than it should be.

  1. Improperly balanced water causes eye and skin irritation

Both acidic water and high pH water can cause irritation of the eyes and nasal passages. The human body is naturally near the neutral point on the scale, so both high and low pH water can strip the skin’s natural oil barrier, causing it to be it dry and itchy. It also leaves hair dry and brittle.

  1. High pH causes cloudy water

Many minerals come out of solution as pH rises, leading to cloudy water and mineral deposits.

How to Maintain Proper pH

1 Stop Pool offers free water testing! Come see us at whichever of our three locations are most convenient for you. If you would like to test your swimming pool’s water yourself, select an area away from the skimmer and the returns. Hold a test strip 18 inches underwater for around 10 seconds. When removing the strip from the water, be careful not to shake excess water off. When the colors on the strip fill in, you will compare it to the color range on the product container.

You can adjust your water by following the instructions on the product packaging, or you can call 1 Stop and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have. Adjusting the pH of the pool basically involves using pH increasers (bases) or pH decreasers (acids). The amount of pool product you need will depend on how far out of balance your water is and the volume of water in your swimming pool.

chemical balance in your pool