Swimming is one of the most beneficial physical activities a person can do.
It improves cardiovascular health, torches calories, and builds muscle strength. In short, it’s a full-body workout that offers enormous benefits to the human body. Not so easily, though.
While a tank bristling with water provides an oasis for the ever-moving, bone-tired human body, it can defile the skin and lead to other bodily ailments, if not maintained right.
Water is inarguably the essence of a swimming pool; hence it can render the pool unserviceable and understandably so.
If the water in a pool is not chemically balanced, the tank becomes nothing but a vessel containing a liquid, but one that cannot and mustn’t be used for dipping.
Though the largest organ, the skin covering a body can be pretty delicate and damaged, especially if exposed to chemicals harsh or otherwise.
And a swimming pool does that by subjecting every inch of a swimmer’s is subject to a variety of chemicals; therefore, a balance must be maintained to keep the tissues safe and healthy.
Simply put, having neutral waters with a pH value ranging between 7-7.8 in a pool is crucial for swimmers.
In most cases, a swimming pool experiences a drop in its pH value, turning the water acidic and harmful for the swimmers and pool features.
Prolonged exposure to such water can mar the pool walls, tremendously affect its longevity and impair the effectivity of sanitizers.
Hence, pool owners must keep the water’s alkalinity level in check to avoid endangering swimmers and affecting the pool’s structural integrity. With that said, let’s take a look at how a pool caretaker can do that without much hassle.
How Do I Raise The Alkalinity In My Pool?
As mentioned above, generally, pools experience a drop in their PH values, which means the alkalinity levels fall, turning the water acidic. Low pH or acidic water can be highly caustic, eroding the walls and features of a pool.
Moreover, if a swimmer dips in an acidic pool, they will instantly suffer from a number of skin reactions, such as irritation in the nasal passage, stinging in the eyes, and red rashes over the expanse of the body.
In a nutshell, lower alkalinity reading of your pool will harm your health and strain your wallet significantly in repairs of the damaged structure. To save yourself from all that pain and inconvenience, learn to raise the alkalinity in your pool. Here’s how you can do it.
The total alkalinity of a pool is the measure of how buffered its water is to any changes in the pH. In other words, it’s the capacity of pool water to resist change in its chemical levels.
The first step to fixing low alkalinity levels in a pool is testing the current value using a test kit or strip. As a general rule of thumb, test your pool’s attributes at least twice a week, if not daily. The ideal alkalinity range for a swimming pool is 80-120 ppm (parts per million).
Before you head to balancing your pool’s alkalinity level, be sure you are aware of its dimension/capacity (in gallons).
Without knowing the correct size of your pool, you cannot fix its water attributes. Now that you know how large your pool is and the alkalinity value that you wish to reach, you can get to work.
There are essentially two ways or rather products that can shoot up the alkalinity level of your pool; you can use either bicarbonate of soda (colloquially known as baking soda) or any other pH increaser that you can get from any pool shop.
If you decide to go with the latter option, be sure that the product you buy is sodium bicarbonate based, meaning its main ingredient should be the said compound.
Once you have the alkalinity increasing substance, add it to your pool and let it mix in for at least six hours and then retest the level. Don’t check it before six hours have passed because you will not get an accurate reading.
What Happens If Total Alkalinity (TA) Is Too Low In The Pool?
Although we have touched upon the perils of low alkalinity levels in a pool, it’s a topic that warrants a much more in-depth discussion.
When the alkalinity value in a pool drops dangerously low, the water turns acidic, posing a threat to the pool’s structure and the health of swimmers.
Effects on the pool
- Etching, corrosion, and delaminating of the walls and surfaces.
- Rusting of the tank’s metal elements such as pipes, screws, and filters, which can lead to a stained pool.
- Pool sanitizers, such as chlorine or bromine, lose their efficacy significantly, which means more quantity will be needed to attain any particular level of sanitization.
- The pool’s pH. will frequently fluctuate, a phenomenon known as pH bouncing.
Effects on Swimmers
- Stinging in the eyes
- Rashes on the skin
- Itchiness over the body
- A burning sensation in the nasal passage
Now that we have been over the case of low alkalinity in a pool let’s look at the other side of the coin; high alkalinity pool water.
Can You Swim In A Pool With High Alkalinity?
A pool with alkalinity value higher than 200 ppm falls in the category of a high alkalinity pool, which means the water’s capacity to absorb minerals has been exceeded, and now it contains an excess of minerals.
In the wake of high alkalinity, the water tries to fix its chemical levels by depositing the surplus of mineral compounds over the pool walls and plumbing fixtures. But that’s not all. High alkalinity also leads to cloudy water and a disrupted pH that can take a while to restore.
While an inordinately alkaline pool can cause quite the inconvenience, it doesn’t harm the pool or swimmers like acidic water.
Nonetheless, you should always ensure that your pool’s alkalinity level is in check and doesn’t rise too much. The best way to do so would be testing your pool’s water attributes regularly, especially during bathing seasons.
What Is The Difference Between PH And Alkalinity?
We have been using both terms, pH, and alkalinity simultaneously, but it doesn’t mean that the two readings are the same. Though they are scaled the same way, a high pH value indicates a high alkalinity level and vice versa.
PH is the measure of how acidic or basic, also known as alkaline a liquid is.
The 14-mark scale that determines the pH of a solution indicates high acidity when the reading is below seven and near-zero, while if the value is more than seven and towards fourteen, the liquid in question is considered alkaline.
Since a basic substance can be referred to as an alkaline substance, people confuse it with total alkalinity. While the terms used to denote the two attributes are similar, they are different fundamentally.
Another reason that causes people to mistake between basicity and total alkalinity is a similar scaling standard. That is, when a liquid is alkaline (aka has a pH value of more than 7), its total alkalinity is also high.
To understand the difference between pH and total alkalinity, let’s compare their definitions.
The pH value of any fluid, let’s say water, represents the power of hydrogen in it. Since higher hydrogen concentration makes a liquid acidic, when the number of hydrogen ions increases in water, it becomes acidic, and its pH falls below 7.
On the other hand, the total alkalinity of water signifies its ability to absorb alkaline substances, such as bicarbonates, carbonates, hydroxides.
Simply put, the pH tells how acidic or not-acidic water is, and that is determined by the concentration of hydrogen and alkaline substances in water.
Basically, total alkalinity tips the pH scale towards high basicity, whereas the presence of hydrogen moves it towards acidity.
Just like the concentration of hydrogen (aka acidity), the value of the total alkalinity of pool water needs to be in check because it also has side effects.
Do I Adjust PH Or Alkalinity First?
As it has been established that pH and alkalinity are closely related, it’s essential to know which value must be adjusted first to balance the other. So what do you do?
Adjust your pool’s alkalinity first as that will bring the pH down automatically. Since TA is one half of the equation that affects the pH value (other being the hydrogen molecules), adjusting the responsible determinants is naturally the right way of fixing the pH.
If your pool’s total alkalinity is low, add bicarbonates to fix it. But if it’s high, you can’t just balance it by adding acid because that will inevitably lower the pH as well. You need to restore the pool chemistry by bringing down TA without affecting the pH much. So, how do you do that?
First, add a diluted acid solution (mix the acid in a bucket of water) in your pool, be sure to pour it throughout the tank and not just in one spot. After the alkalinity has been corrected, aerate the pool to fix the pH.
Install an air compressor with a long hose ending in a weighted air diffuser at the bottom of the pool’s deep end. You can also try dilution as that will reduce the number of hydrogen ions in the water, shooting the pH value up.
The pH and TA levels of your pool are crucial for its health and longevity. You must keep these values well-maintained and within the ideal range to avoid dealing with the inconveniencing side effects.
Moreover, a pool with off-balance chemistry is not suitable for the human body; therefore, you must ensure a healthy swimming environment by maintaining your pool’s pH and alkalinity values.