Pool PH

Adjusting Pools pH and Alkalinity

In Pool Maintenance How To by Platinum Pools

Every room in your home needs maintenance, and so does a swimming pool.  Pool water can be refreshing and tranquil.  But without proper care, it can destroy your oasis. Total Alkalinity and pool pH are essential for sanitary water conditions and pool surfaces.  It may be challenging to manage unless you understand what they are and their role in the overall pool water chemical balance.  We need to see what pH and Alkaline are and how they work together.  We will provide you with tips on how to keep them balanced, so no algae or hard calcium develops from unbalanced chemicals in your pool.


pH measures the acidity of a swimming pool.  If the total number is low, the water is more acidic.  The pool water becomes more basic on higher numbers.  A perfect pH balance for a swimming pool must be between 7.4 and 7.6 in measurement.  Most important, having it in balance means that the free chlorine in the pool will disinfect the water without harming swimmers.  If the numbers are low, borax or soda ash will increase to normal levels.  If the numbers are high, lower it with sodium bisulfate.

Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity is the measure of alkaline substances in a pool.  It helps to neutralize the pH offset of your pool chemistry, hence why pH should keep above 7.4.

Sodium bicarbonate is a significant element to raise the level of Total Alkalinity.  However, it can be challenging to use, especially if the water looks cloudy after adding sodium bicarbonate.  The Total Alkalinity must be between 80 and 120 ppm.

The Combination

Both chemicals are essential to have the pool water clean.  Otherwise, it can take more time and money to clean, repair, and additional chemicals.

Low pH Levels

Chlorine tablets or stabilizing form of chlorine is the most common cause of a consistently low pH level in pools.  Other factors for lowering pH are rainfalls, heavy leaf debris, and dirt. 

If the pH is low, it can cause damages such as:

  • Etching and erosion of grout and plaster
  • Damaged solar covers and pool floats
  • Corroded metal ladders, metal bordered lights, and exchangers
  • Brittle plastic returns and skimmer faceplates
  • Discomfort swimmer issues include burning eyes and dry skin
  • Fast dissipation of free chlorine

High pH Levels

Using chlorine as the primary sanitizer can consistently higher pH levels in pools.  Other factors causing the problem include:

  • Producing sodium hydroxide with a pH of around 13
  • New pool plaster or pebble finishes a year after installation. 
  • Water features like a waterfall or a fountain

If pH level is high:

  • Chlorine is less effective when pH levels surpass 8.2
  • Calcium deposit scales on pool surfaces and waterline
  • Algae appear
  • Cloudy and dull pool water 

Low Alkaline Levels

Low total alkalinity of less than 80 ppm can result in an unstable and fluctuating pH.  Remember, this will also slightly raise your pool’s pH, but not as much as the total alkalinity level.  Once TA is back in balance, you can adjust the pH.  Just as in the scenario above, you may need to make repeated alternating adjustments to achieve the proper levels.  Low alkalinity levels can cause damage such as:

  • Etching of pool plaster
  • Corroded metal ladders, metal bordered lights, and exchangers
  • Swimmer wellness problems, including burning eyes and dry skin
  • Stains on the pool surface
  • ” pH fluctuations

High Alkaline Levels

High total Alkalinity above 180 ppm may result in some resistance to pH changes.  Make repeated adjustments by lowering the Alkalinity and raising the pH until both values fall within an acceptable range.  Test the water each time before adding more chemicals.  If the Alkaline level is high:

  • Decreases chlorine effectiveness
  • Constant cloudy water
  • Forms stain and scale on pool surfaces
  • Difficulty adjusting pH level regardless of using a pH reducer

Tips on How to Make the Water Safe for Swimming

Pool water with low or high pH and Total Alkalinity can be uncomfortable to swim.  It is crucial to have ideal chemistry levels in PPM:

  • pH chemical – 7.4 – 7.6
  • Alkalinity – 80 – 120
  • Calcium Hardness – 200 – 400
  • Cyanuric Acid – 20 – 50 
  • Free Chlorine – 2.0 – 4.0 

Two Popular Treatments

  • Pool Shock Treatment – use 30 PPM chlorine shock for killing algae and bacteria and the 3.0 PPM super chlorination.  Use it for cloudy water, low chlorine levels, and heavy pool use daily or after a rainfall.
  • Pool Stabilizer – pool stabilizer is none other than a cyanuric acid.  It protects Chlorine from UV sun rays.   The stabilizer comes in granular or liquid formats.  The ideal level of stabilizer is between 30 and 70 ppm.

Our team of experts is ready to help you with any questions regarding pool water maintenance.  Contact Platinum Pools today at 281.870.1600 for a consultation.