The world’s largest swimming pool is 196 feet deep and holds 3.7 million gallons of water.
Your backyard pool may not be record-breaking, but it’s still an important part of your summer. Here in Cypress, TX, summer lasts a long time!
If your pool chemistry gets unbalanced, though, it can ruin your time in the water.
One important part of maintaining your pool is the pool pH. Learn how to keep your pH at the optimal level so you can get the most from your pool this season.
Why Is Pool pH Important?
Maintaining a good pH balance is an important part of pool maintenance. The pH level of your pool water measures how acidic the water is. Most standards set the ideal pH level at 7.4 to 7.8.
A pH below 7.0 is acidic, and a pH above 8.0 is basic or alkaline. The human body is naturally near pH neutral. Keeping your pool water in the ideal range can reduce eye, nose, and skin irritation.
In pools without cyanuric acid, the pH level of the water affects how well the pool chlorine works. High pH reduces the strength of chlorine, which can create unhealthy water conditions. Most state health departments set a maximum pH level for this reason.
Unbalanced pH can damage your vinyl pool liner. High pH can cause cloudy water and mineral deposits.
On the other hand, low pH can corrode pumps and other mechanical systems. You can get etching on a concrete pool with low pH.
Testing Your pH
You should test the water regularly. You may only need to test once a week. If you use the pool frequently, testing two to three times a week is better.
You have three testing options:
- Test strips
- Electronic pH testers
- Test kits
If you prefer a professional opinion, you can take a sample of your water to your local pool store.
Test strips are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. The testing process is quick.
Test strips lose their effectiveness over time, though. Buying enough for a year or one pool season will help ensure you’re getting the most accurate results.
Test the water in an area away from the skimmer and the returns. Hold the test strip in the water about to the depth of your elbow. Keep the strip in the water for as long as the package instructions say.
Remove the strip from the water and wait for the colors to fill in. Then you can compare it to the color chart that came with the testing strips.
Digital pH Testers
A pH meter is easy to use. You’ll probably need to recalibrate it occasionally to be sure you’re getting accurate results. You’ll need to replace the battery from time to time also.
Digital pH testers are very accurate and fast. When you submerge the meter under the water, electrodes measure the chemical levels. It gives you an easy-to-read numerical result.
Test kits for pH are very accurate. The testing process takes some time, though. The reagent will eventually expire, so be sure to follow the product guidelines.
To use the test kit, you’ll collect a water sample in the container from the kit. Add the recommended number of drops of phenol red to the side for pH testing.
Hold the container against a white background. You can compare the color of the water to the pH color scale.
Once you know your pH level, you can take steps to raise or lower it as needed.
Alkalinity and pH
The level of pH in your pool water changes constantly. Alkalinity helps stabilize the pH level. It slows down the rate at which pH drops.
Alkalinity buffers pH by either releasing or absorbing hydrogen ions.
The ideal level of alkalinity is 80-220 ppm. Keeping your alkalinity level within these limits will help you keep the pH balance in your pool water.
How to Adjust Your pH Level
If your pool pH is too low or too high, you’ll need to correct it. A basic or alkaline material will raise the pH, and an acid will lower it.
The amount of base or acid you should add depends on the current pH of the water and the size of your pool. You can use a chemical adjustment chart or online pool calculator to determine the right amount. If you test your water with a test kit, the base demand or acid demand reagent will tell you how much base or acid you should add.
Raising the pH
If your pool pH is too low, the first thing to check is your alkalinity. You can raise the alkalinity with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). If your alkalinity is within the recommended range and your pH is still too low, you can use a product to increase the pH.
Sodium carbonate or soda ash will raise the pH level in your pool water. It’s strongly alkaline and dissolves well.
Be careful not to add too much sodium carbonate. You can go quickly from having pH that’s too low to pH that’s too high. Around 6 oz of soda ash per 10,000 gallons of water will raise the pH by 0.2 points.
Lowering the pH
The two main products for lowering your pH level are sodium bisulphate (dry acid) and muriatic acid. Muriatic acid can severely burn or blind you if it splashes, so we generally advise against using it. You’ll find dry acid or muriatic acid in pH Reducer or pH Minus products as well.
Sodium bisulphate comes as a powder, so avoid using it on a windy day. Apply it over the water return jet site to help spread it throughout the pool.
Muriatic acid comes as a liquid. One way to apply it is to turn off the pump and pour the acid into the deep end of the pool. Let it settle to the bottom and then turn the pump back on to spread it.
You can also pour it carefully over the return jets and let the pump circulate it.
Maintaining Your pH Balance
Keeping your pool pH in the optimal range is a critical part of pool chemistry. Regularly testing your water and adjusting the pH when necessary help you get the most from your pool.
If you want to take the hassle out of your pool maintenance, Sahara Construction and Custom Pools has the solution. We provide reliable, high-quality maintenance and repair services in Cypress, TX and beyond. You can rely on our Certified Pool Operator service specialists.
Contact us today and we’ll design the most efficient maintenance program for your pool. You can enjoy the rest of the season worry-free.