Preserving the transparency of the basin water might seem like a walk in the park at first, but when you dive deep into the problem, you’ll find out how complex it really is. One main focus point of water balancing is the pH level. A high level, as well as a low level, can have serious implications for your health as well as the proper upkeep of the pool and its equipment. More often than not you don’t have to make an effort to raise the pH, as this is easily achieved. Lowering it is a difficult step.
PH is the scale with which you can keep track of how alkaline or acidic the water is. Both extremes have dire consequences, as a high acidic level can easily damage the plumbing system, along with pipes and skimmer, whereas total alkalinity will undoubtedly produce buildups and scaling. As a third side effect, one common for both ends, the sanitization level will also be hindered, as chlorine won’t be able to properly deal with pathogens and hidden microorganisms. Therefore, the water quality will worsen, leading to algae-formation.
Effects of High pH Levels
Once its level has reached 8, the water can be considered alkaline in nature, with total alkalinity possible when the indicator reaches 14. This implies several problems for swimmers and pool alike, as both parties can suffer from this water condition.
- Scaling is one of the major problems that occur, with buildups that will appear, sooner or later, around the pool’s waterline, spreading as far as pipes and even skimmer system. This impedes the filter from working as it should, in turn overworking the system and leading to early deterioration. The shell itself will also be affected, seeing as different lining textures react differently to calcium buildups.
- Cloudiness is also a side effect which causes safety risks. Once the water turns milky-colored, chlorine won’t be able to react properly. This gives free-way for bacteria to multiply, pathogens to regenerate and algae to appear. All of them are prime causes for serious health issues.
Effects of Low pH
As soon as the level drops below 7, up to 0, the water becomes acidic, which opens the possibility for more troubles to come. It affects both organic and inorganic matter, therefore both you and the basin are in danger.
- Water damage – chlorine will stop working efficiently, therefore bacteria will proliferate. This will promote a heaven for algae of all types, as well as dangerous pathogens. Additionally, it will also impact your budget, as you’ll have to spend more to bring the water back to a balanced state
- Shell damage – no matter what type of lining you have, acidic water will damage it one way or another. Corrosion, fissures, and luster-lack are just a few problems you’ll have to face. Depending on how colorful the lining its, it will discolor, and if your basin is made from plaster, it will start to thin and chip off.
- Equipment damage – pumps, pipes and plumbing will be next. Once corrosion begins, it is difficult to stop, and the affected parts will require replacing. Even more, it will also affect your swimwear, accessories as well as overall maintenance equipment, including brushes, nets and vacuums.
As stated above, once the level passes 7, either negatively or positively, it has a bad impact on the overall basin. Therefore, you’ll have to keep an eye on it and rebalance it as soon as you observe unnatural changes. Luckily, there’s an easy method of doing so: test the water every week. While low pH is easy to deal with, as you’ll require few chemicals to raise the level, once it gets too high, it is difficult to lower it back.
There are two main methods utilized in dealing with high amounts of pH. One of them is gentler and can be handled easier than the other, which requires protective gear worn at every given moment, due to its dangerous composition.
- Sodium bisulfate is the gentler method, as takes a powder-form, preventing accidental spills. Although it is not recommended to get it on your clothes, as it will affect the texture, it doesn’t cause immediate damage. It offers versatility in spreading it around, as you can manually go around the pool, spilling it close to the water edge, or let the inner jets do the work. Regardless of the chosen method, it is advised to test the water prior and after its utilization, and wait at least 24 hours if you wish to swim.
Also known under the name of ‘dry acid’, this element will reduce both pH and alkalinity, so you’ll have to test for both when rebalancing the water.
- Muriatic acid is more dangerous to utilize than its counterpart, due to its high corrosion ability. When handling it, it is important to wear protective gear, which includes goggles, gloves, as well as any clothing item that will prevent it from dripping onto your skin. Additionally, you should pay attention to the instructions it comes with, as the manufacturer might recommend you to dilute it first before pouring it into the water.
All in all, keeping the pH level stable is a work-in-progress, as this particular element is quite tricky to get the hang of. Even professional pool-owners find it difficult to adjust it, so if you’re just starting, don’t get discouraged. By error and trial, you’ll learn how to adjust it for your basin, and how to keep it from reaching one of the two extremes.