Quick Dip: Pool Water Balance – Total Alkalinity, pH & Calcium Hardness
WHY POOL WATER BALANCE IS IMPORTANT & HOW TO FIX IT – Water Balance 101
Finding balance – it is essential in life and very important in the proper maintenance of your swimming pool or hot tub! Utilizing a quality test kit from companies like LaMotte or Taylor, you are able to quickly ascertain the balance levels of your pool. In this ‘Quick Dip’ article we explore the top three pool water balance factors, Total Alkalinity, pH, and Calcium Hardness. Dive in and read on!
Total Alkalinity Level
Optimum water Total Alkalinity level: 80 – 120 Parts Per Million (PPM)
Chemicals to lower TA level: Muriatic Acid, Sodium Bisulfate
Chemicals to raise TA level: Sodium Bicarbonate
Acting as a pH buffer, the Total Alkalinity (TA) helps keep your pH level in its correct range with reduced swings from lows to highs. It is important to check and correct your Total Alkalinity level prior to working on your pool’s pH level. Often, correcting your TA level will correct your pH level as well. Below is how to adjust your total alkalinity level.
- To lower your TA level, the most common chemical used is liquid Hydrochloric (Muriatic) Acid. Muriatic Acid is available in both standard and low-vapor options (AcidBlue by Champion). Sodium bisulfate (acid salt) is a commonly used granular product that achieves the same effect.
- To raise your TA level, sodium bicarbonate is the preferred material of choice. (Typical sodium bicarbonate label instructions list a rate of 1.4 lb per 10,000 gallons of water for a 10 PPM increase.)
- When lowering or raising your TA level, ensure there are no swimmers in the pool and you are utilizing the chemicals in accordance with best practices and to the label instructions.
Optimum swimming pool water pH level: 7.2 – 7.4
Chemicals to lower pH level: Muriatic Acid, Sodium Bisulfate
Chemicals to raise pH level: Sodium Carbonate aka Soda Ash
Controlling the pH level of your pool water is important not just for swimmer comfort, but also aids in the efficiency of chemicals and the life expectancy of pool mechanical and structural components. There are many factors that can influence the pH level. This includes debris, chemicals and skin oils/waste brought into the pool by swimmers. (One of the many reasons you should shower before jumping into a pool!) Before checking or correcting the pH levels, check and correct the Total Alkalinity level. As the pH level of the human eye is 7.5, pool patrons often experience stinging eyes and discomfort when the pH levels are too far out of spec. Although the optimum pH level is 7.2 – 7.4, 7.2 – 7.8 is the acceptable range. Below is how to adjust your pH level.
- To lower your pH level, the most common chemical used is liquid Hydrochloric (Muriatic) Acid. Muriatic Acid is available in both standard and low-vapor options (AcidBlue by Champion). Sodium bisulfate (acid salt) is a commonly used granular product that achieves the same effect.
- To raise your pH level, sodium carbonate aka soda ash is the preferred chemical of choice.
- When lowering or raising your pH level, ensure there are no swimmers in the pool and you are utilizing the chemicals in accordance with best practices and to the label instructions.
Calcium Hardness Level
Optimum water Calcium Hardness level: 200 – 275 Parts Per Million (PPM)
Chemicals to lower calcium hardness level: REPLACE WATER
Chemicals to raise calcium hardness level: Calcium Chloride aka Calcium Hardness Increaser
Low calcium hardness in your water can result in corrosion and etching of your pool/hot tub surface. If the calcium hardness level swings too high, this can result in calcium buildup, clouded water, and clogged mechanicals. The optimum Calcium Hardness level is between 200 to 275 PPM. To remove calcium from the pool, the old water must be drained and new water with less calcium added to dilute. Below is how to adjust your calcium hardness level.
- Calcium chloride is used to raise the calcium hardness level in pool water.
- To lower the calcium hardness level, partially drain your pool and replace the ‘hard’ water with ‘soft’ water to dilute.
- When lowering or raising your calcium hardness level with calcium hardness increaser, ensure there are no swimmers in the pool and you are utilizing the chemicals in accordance with best practices and to the label instruction
*Statistics referenced from the Pool & Spa Operator Handbook by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. This is utilized as the textbook for the Certified Pool Operator Course & Certification. [Want to learn more about pool maintenance? Click here to read about using the right sand in your pool’s sand filter.]
Have a Pool or Spa Question?
Leisure Pool & Spa Supply, Inc. was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Syracuse, Indiana. We focus on serving the service and supply needs of both residential and commercial clients. We have grown to include a branch office in Indianapolis allowing us to work with clients across the State of Indiana. Our service technicians are highly experienced and have combined decades of experience in the aquatics industry.
If you have any questions regarding your pool or aquatic center needs, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always available via phone or email and look forward to assisting you. If you are looking to purchase products directly online, visit our online pool and spa supply store.