Why is it important to maintain the proper pH balance in your swimming pool? The right pH level in the water keeps your swimming pool sparkling clean, but it has other benefits. It also helps protect pool equipment such as your heater, pump, and other system components from damage. A proper pH level also helps maintain your pool finish and keep it from aging prematurely.
What Does pH Mean?
The term pH is used to denote the degree of activity of an acid or base (alkali) in the water. It is the most critical factor involved in maintaining your swimming pool’s chemical balance. The pH level of your swimming pool water is a measure of its acidity. On a scale of 0 to 14, a pH of 7 is neutral. Below 7.0 indicates that the water is acidic, while a pH of 8.0 means the water is basic or alkaline. This should not be confused with total alkalinity. pH and total alkalinity are not the same but can be influenced by each other. The proper pool pH level is between these two points: 7.2 to 7.8.
When the pH of your pool water is below 7.2, the water is considered to be corrosive. Corrosive water can result in the etching of plaster and metals in pool equipment. It will also be more difficult to keep chlorine in your pool. While more effective as a sanitizer at a low pH, the chlorine in the water will also be less stable. This will result in much more use of chlorine than would be used at normal pH levels.
When the swimming pool’s water has a pH level higher than 7.8, you will likely notice scale or cloudy water. Calcium is the primary component in scale. Calcium is a relatively unstable mineral; when the pH is high, calcium is less soluble. It will have a tendency to fall out of solution, resulting in water cloudiness and scale. The calcium in the water will combine with carbonates, forming scales at the edge of the pool that will trap dust and dirt, and eventually turn black. Calcium carbonate will also clog the sand in the filter. The sand will harden, destroying the effectiveness of the filter. Lastly, a high pH level will also reduce chlorine effectiveness and you will need to maintain higher chlorine levels to sanitize your water adequately.
Why is pH Important?
- High pH decreases the effectiveness of chlorine
The more basic or alkaline your water is, the less effect your chlorine will have. As a result, you will spend more money on chlorine and still have water that isn’t completely clean.
- Unbalanced pH can damage vinyl liners
With low pH, a vinyl liner can expand, resulting in wrinkling. With high pH, a vinyl liner will age faster and may have to be replaced prematurely.
- Low pH can result in corrosion
Low pH water will result in corrosion on pool mechanical equipment, ladders, slides, and diving board supports. Acidic water in a gunite swimming pool can also corrode the plaster.
- Improperly balanced water causes eye and skin irritation
Both acidic water and high pH water can cause stinging irritation of the eyes and nasal passages. The human body is naturally near the neutral point on the scale, so both high and low pH water can strip the skin’s natural oil barrier, leaving it dry and itchy, and leave the hair dry and brittle.
- High pH causes cloudy water
Many minerals come out of solution as pH rises, leading to cloudy or murky water and mineral deposits.
How to Maintain Proper pH
To test your swimming pool’s water, select an area away from the skimmer and the returns. Hold a test strip 18 inches underwater for around 10 seconds. When you remove the strip from the water, be careful not to shake excess water off. When the colors on the strip fill in, compare it to the color range on the product container.
You can adjust your water by following the instructions on the product packaging, or you can call Executive Blue Pools for service and we’ll be happy to come out. Adjusting the pH of the pool basically involves using pH increasers (bases) or pH decreasers (acids) and the amounts needed will depend on how far out of balance your water is and the volume of water in your swimming pool.