Pools are fun to have at home but to enjoy swimming, you must maintain the water for healthy use. Keeping it clean/filtered is one of the ways to do this but you should also keep the pH balanced.
In this regard, the pH can be acidic (low), neutral, or alkaline (high). Here we will consider a situation where the pH is acidic and advise you on how to raise it so that the water becomes less itchy and safer to swim in. Let’s get right into it.
What is pH?
pH is a measurement factor for checking water quality. It is measured on a scale of 0-14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. The middle (7) is the neutral figure and this indicates the pH is perfectly balanced (neither acidic nor basic).
According to USGS, each number on this 0-14 scale indicates a 10X change in the acidity or alkalinity level. For instance, pH level 9 in water is 10 times more alkaline than a level 8.
Why is pH important for Pools?
1. To Avoid Skin and Eye Irritation
Water with low pH is acidic and this tends to cause skin irritation. This is because acid strips away the oils that the body produces, leaving the skin exposed to the corrosive nature of acids.
As for the eyes, their average pH is around 7.2. Therefore if the water’s pH is lower than that, you will experience eye irritation.
2. To Prevent Corrosion of Your Pool’s Equipment
Pool pumps, liners, plumbing, and other accessories that support the pool can easily be corroded by acidic water. The plaster finish can also be easily damaged and this means you will have to spend more money doing maintenance due to avoidable circumstances.
3. To Maintain the Performance of Chlorine and Other Pool Chemicals
Many chemicals are required to maintain the health of your pool and these can only perform optimally if the pH is balanced.
Using chlorine as an example, the chemical will dissipate very quickly if the pH is too low and won’t be very effective at killing pathogens if it is too high (alkaline).
4. To Prevent Cloudiness
This occurs when the pH is too high. Alkaline water is not very clear. It has some cloudiness that makes the water unpleasant to swim in because of the murkiness.
Read More: Why is my Pool Cloudy?
What Causes Low pH Levels?
Balancing your pool’s pH level is a continuous process because many factors may lower it to an acidic level.
For instance, water supply from the municipal supply may have some acidity, which is common due to chlorine treatment. Borehole water can also be acidic if your area has few minerals underground.
If your pool is outdoors, UV light from the sun can decompose the free chlorine in the water to form hydrochloric acid.
Other factors that may lower the pH are acid rain and over-treatment of the water using acid (such as muriatic acid) if you intended to lower the alkalinity.
How to Raise pH in Pools
To raise the pH, first, you need to measure its level and this is done using a test kit. You can get testing kits online or from your local pool store. You also need soda ash (sodium carbonate). With these:
1. Test the Water pH
There are two main types of pH testing kits. The most common ones are testing strips and then there is the reagent type. Using either of them, test the pH to see how low it is. The ideal level for a swimming pool should be 7.4 but within the 7.2-7.8 range is also good enough.
If the results show a pH lower than 7.2, proceed to step 2.
2. Calculate the Pool’s Volume
To calculate the quantity of soda ash required to raise the pH, first you need to know the volume of your pool. For above-ground pools, this is quite simple because the capacity is given by the manufacturer.
However, for in-ground pools, if it is rectangular, measure its length, width, and depths on the deep and shallow ends. The formula for getting its volume is:
Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5
If the pool is circular, you need to measure its diameter and depth then use the following formula:
Diameter x Diameter x Average Depth x 5.9
For oval or any other abnormally-shaped pools, you can use these two formulas by adjusting them to fit the different sections.
3. Calculate the Required Soda Ash
After you have determined the water volume, it requires 170 grams or about 6 oz. of soda ash to raise the pH by 0.2 in 10,000 gallons of water.
Therefore, if you have a 15,000-gallon pool with a pH of 6.2, to get it to 7.2, that is a whole pH point. This means 5 times the soda ash required for 0.2 points in a pool that is 1.5 times the 10,000-gallon capacity.
6 oz. x 5 x 1.5 = 45 oz.
You need 45 oz. of soda ash.
4. Add the Soda Ash
With the quantity of soda ash determined, do not pour it directly into the pool. Instead, use a bucket to mix it first with about 5 gallons of water. Pour water into the bucket first followed by the measured soda ash then mix thoroughly.
After that, pour the soda ash mix into the pool along the perimeter. Don’t pour it all into one spot. Walk around to distribute it to all sides.
Note: While adding the soda ash, ensure the pump/filtration system is running so that the chemical is circulated in the pool.
5. Re-Test the Water
Give the chemical about an hour to work its magic then test the pH again to see if it has risen to the safe range (7.2-7.8). If not, repeat the process from step 2 then re-test after another hour until you get to this range.
In conclusion, you need to test the pH regularly for proper pool maintenance because it can lower or even rise above the 7.2-7.8 range due to several factors. Maintaining it at this level gives you non-corrosive water that is safe for you and your pool’s equipment.