Controlling pH in Your Swimming Pool
One of the more important aspects of swimming pool care is properly managing the balance of chemicals in the water. Water chemistry is important because it keeps the pool clean, while making it safe for swimmers. Chlorine, for instance, controls algae and bacteria. Muriatic Acid is specifically used to keep pH levels well balanced. It’s also essential to keep the volume of swimming pool water consistent – low water levels make chemicals too strong, while high water levels can dilute chemicals. It’s basic but important.
Without getting overly technical, pH is a measurement of water acidity. Actual measurements are based on the pH scale, which ranges from 0 to 14, with a level of pH 7 being neutral. The optimum level of pH in a swimming pool is 7.4 – this is because it matches the pH level found in human eyes and mucous membranes. In conditions when pH levels get too low, there is potential for damage to the mechanical components of the swimming pool, and additional potential for physical irritation to swimmers inside the pool.
If levels of pH are higher than should be, the potential for chlorine to disinfect is diminished. There is also a chance for skin, eyes and nose to be irritated. Quite simply, poor pH balance is not good for any swimming pool. Calcium may build up, pool water may get cloudy, and filtering mechanics could get clogged. To lower pH levels, acid is used, most commonly Muriatic Acid or Sodium Bisulfate. Both have their own pros and cons, and swimming pool owners typically experiment to determine which option is best for them.
In conditions where pH is much lower than should be, the solution is to add an alkaline base to raise the pH level of the swimming pool water. Usually, the activating ingredient is Sodium Carbonate, but regardless of product or brand, manufacturer’s instructions should be carefully followed. Clearly, pool size and depth will have a bearing on the application. As well, there may be specifications for the swimming pool pump or filtration equipment, so that chemicals are distributed gradually and proportionately for the best results.
Inasmuch as chemical balancing is critical to proper swimming pool maintenance, it doesn’t have to be an overly complicated procedure. Everything affects pool water, and anything that comes in direct contact will affect the chemical balance of the swimming pool. Although the filtration system removes both dirt and contaminants, pool water still needs to be “balanced” – in other words, there has to be appropriate levels of pH, alkalinity, and calcium. And proper pool maintenance will ensure long-term performance for years.
In general, every swimming pool owner should be aware that daily water testing is essential (checking for pH, chlorine, alkalinity, and calcium). And with a reliable swimming pool retailer, test kits and equipment are readily available, as well as informed retail staff offering valuable advice. With the proper products, pool maintenance can become quite routine and regular – and with benefits for the short term and long.