Everyone wants to swim in a safe pool, and making it swimmable is your job as a pool owner. One of the crucial things you need to do to make it safe for everyone is making sure the pool chemistry is balanced.
Among the many things you have to balance is pool alkalinity. When it’s low, the pool water becomes acidic.
Acidic pool water is corrosive and unsafe to both the swimmers and the swimming pool itself. And the problem with it is, it’s not something you get to tell by looking at the pool water.
Yes, some signs tell you your pool alkalinity is low, but other things like low chlorine might cause them.
That’s why pool experts recommend testing your pool alkalinity daily. Assuming you’ve tested your pool alkalinity and found it’s low, what next? I guess that is why you’re here.
First, let’s go with a few things you need to know before you can start raising pool alkalinity.
What is the ideal alkalinity in pool?
The ideal alkalinity range of a balanced pool should be between 100 and 140 parts per million (ppm). It’s perfect for keeping it between this range as it ensures appropriate buffer and positive chlorine effects.
Sodium and Calcium Hypo-Chlorite pool shocking products perform well in the lower end of this alkalinity range, while chlorine gas, dichlor and trichlor perform better in the higher end.
Anything below 80 ppm or above 150 ppm for most swimming pool require immediate balancing. These alkalinity levels potentially affect the pool’s LSI reading significantly and put your pool surfaces and equipment at risk of degradation.
A standard alkalinity test gives you the pool’s total alkalinity, and that is everything you need. But apart from knowing the TA, you might want to tell the carbonate alkalinity level.
You get this by subtracting CA from TA to get them corrected or true TA, the alkalinity level you need to adjust.
Why Is It Paramount to Raise Your Pool’s Alkalinity Level?
Acids have a terrible reputation when it comes to their destructive side. And since that’s why your pool gets when the alkalinity level is low, you can start to imagine the things that will happen next.
Low alkalinity risks your swimming pool to immeasurable harm. By allowing it to run in that state, you’re risking its walls from becoming etched, cracked or delaminated.
What’s more, the metal surfaces start to give way as they erode. That results in stained pool walls, and the contaminants might overwork your pool filtration system.
Apart from this, low alkalinity could cause the pool pH to fluctuate. When the pH is unbalanced, your pool sanitizer might deplete at a higher rate leaving your swimming pool exposed.
Your pool water starts to get cloudy, algae start to grow everywhere, and stains cover all your pool surfaces.
By this time, adding a standard amount of chlorine to your swimming pool will be useless. The best way is to shock it and also double sanitize it.
That means you’ll be buying more chlorine and wasting more of your time trying to get your swimming pool back to its normal, safe state.
And is it safe to swim in a pool with low alkalinity? No! Aside from all the above effects, if you were to attempt to swim in such water, you risk getting skin, nasal and eye irritations.
What Causes Low Pool Alkalinity?
Low pool alkalinity doesn’t just happen. There must be something that happened and caused the reduction. Here are the few culprits of low pool alkalinity in your swimming pool:
Evaporation and Agitation
During the hot weather, evaporation is normal. If it was to happen in your pool, it might result in a reduced total alkalinity level.
When the pool water evaporates, it releases pure water and CO2 gas. The removal of this gas directly affects the pool’s total alkalinity leading to a drop.
The agitation caused by hot water and strongly water mixing by the likes of jet steams, bad weather, and high heat levels can increase the evaporation causing a decrease in alkalinity.
Dry Acid or Muriatic Acid Use
Muriatic Acid and dry Acid are both beneficial when treating pool water. However, these acids are notorious for reducing water pH in pool. When the pH is reduced drastically, it goes down with the pool’s total alkalinity.
Drain or Backwash
You might need to drain your pool or backwash your pool filter for one reason or the other. That would mean adding freshwater afterwards. If that water contained low alkalinity, your pool’s total alkalinity level would reduce to balance out. That might be the reason total alkalinity in pool is down.
Strong Rain and Storm
Rain can be freshwater might what the water drops absorb from the sky might not be fresh. The raindrop might have small acidity levels, which would impact your pool alkalinity, causing it to drop.
Besides this, if it rained hard and your area experienced storms that carried few contaminants and debris and deposited them in your pool water, they might also impact the pool water alkalinity level. However, it might drop or rise depending on the contaminants.
How to Raise Alkalinity in Your Pool
Now comes the central part of your search, how to raise alkalinity in the pool. There are two ways you can do this:
- You can use a pool alkalinity increaser, or
- You can use baking soda.
Things You Will Need for this Method:
- Chemical-Resistant Gloves
- Chemical Resistant Goggles
- Sufficient Baking Soda or TA Increaser
- A 5-Gallon Bucket
- A Stirrer (A Wooden Stick)
- Digital Test Kit
Using Total Alkalinity Increaser
When your pool’s total alkalinity goes below the ideal level, an Alkalinity Increaser can help you get it back to the correct range. You can purchase the products online or from a local pool supply store near you.
It possesses the ability to increase the TA and buffer pH. But these pool alkalinity increasers contain sodium bicarbonate, in other words, baking soda.
Using Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is the active ingredient found in alkalinity increasers. It’s an inexpensive way to raise your pool alkalinity with a slight change in pH.
It’s primarily used in the kitchen as a baking ingredient or cleaning agent. But because of its natural alkalinity, it’s an excellent total alkalinity increaser.
Using baking soda to balance your pool alkalinity, you enjoy the benefits of a packaged alkalinity increaser at a lower price and availability convenience.
How to Raise Pool Alkalinity Using Baking Soda or Alkalinity Increaser (6 Easy Steps)
Here are the steps to follow if you decide to use a pool alkalinity increaser:
Step 1: Test Your Pool Alkalinity
Pick your digital pool test kit and test the total pool alkalinity level of your pool water to determine if it needs raising or reducing. If the reading is below 80 ppm, move to the next step.
Step 2: Wear Your Protective Gear
Safety comes first, ALWAYS. Take your chemical resistant gloves and goggles and put them on. Baking soda might be safe in general, but if it was to find a way into your eyes, the pain could be excruciating.
Step 3: Dilute the Baking Soda or TA Increaser
Take the 5-gallon bucket and fill it to three-quarters with water. Take a quarter of the total baking soda or alkalinity increaser you need to add to your pool and pour it inside. Use the stirrer to mix everything to form a dilute white mixture.
How Much Baking Soda Do You Need?
Pool experts recommend adding around 1.5 pounds of baking soda to a swimming pool with 10,000 gallons capacity to raise the pool alkalinity level by 10-ppm.
If you want to increase the total alkalinity by 20 ppm, you have double the figure. What if you want to raise 10-ppm for a 20,000-gallon pool?
Double the initial amount. You’ll need 3.0 pounds. If you need to increase the alkalinity by 20 ppm for the same pool capacity, you can double the figure to get 6.0 pounds.
Step 4: Pour the Solution in Your Pool
Take the solution in the bucket and pour it into your pool. Don’t dispense it in one place. Walk around the pool edges, pouring slowly by slowly. Repeat the diluting until all the needed amount is dissolved.
Step 5: Wait for it to work
Wait for the baking soda to work. You might want to wait for at least 6-hours depending on the pool capacity and amount of baking soda you added. However, do not exceed 24 hours.
Step 6: Retest
After the waiting period is over, retest the pool alkalinity. If the total alkalinity is still low, you can repeat these steps until it balances.
How to Raise Alkalinity and Lower pH
The big question here is, is it possible? Of course, it’s possible. Even though it’s a rare situation, you can have low alkalinity and higher pH.
For such a case, you will need to increase the total alkalinity and reduce the pH. Considering a TA increaser or Sodium Bicarbonate will have a slight effect on pool pH, you will need to act simultaneously.
The best way is to add the baking soda while injecting CO2. The effect of alkalinity will be slight, thus balancing out with a slight increase in pH.
Using Muriatic Acid or Dry Acid in that matter would cause a further decrease in total alkalinity. So, avoid it.
Balanced pool alkalinity keeps everyone happy, the pool owner and the swimmer, not forgetting it saves you money. Raising your pool alkaline levels might be the worst nightmare for you, pool users and the pool itself. Test your swimming pool bi-weekly and every time you go for a swim. Make sure the alkalinity levels are between 100 and 140 ppm. During the closed winter season, try to test it as often as you can.