How to raise pH levels in your pool
There are several products you can use to raise the pH level of your pool.
Sodium tetraborate is a chemical name for Borax. This white, powdery chemical compound has been a major ingredient for many cleaning products in the past years.
Borax will raise pH without raising alkalinity. And since Borax doesn’t affect alkalinity, there’s less room to mess up.
Another advantage of using Borax is that you can raise your pool pH more steadily compared to soda ash, which tends to raise pH quickly.
You can find Borax in most grocery stores in a laundry detergent aisle. You want to make sure you get a pure one that doesn’t contain any other additives.
Soda Ash, also known as sodium carbonate, raises alkalinity slightly but it is more effective for raising pH. It has a higher pH than baking soda due to its higher concentration.
Before adding soda ash into your pool, you want to first get an accurate idea of how much soda ash your pool needs to reach a balanced pH.
As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to add more than a pound of soda ash per 10,000 gallons of pool water. Otherwise, your pool can turn cloudy
It’s simple to use soda ash for your pool. You just need to take a scoop and pour around the perimeter of your pool.
There aren’t many precautionary measures you need to take before using soda ash unlike some other dangerous chemicals.
I advise you run your pool equipment for a few hours after you put chemicals into your pool, so the chemicals spread well across your pool.
Measure your pool pH afterward, and if the pH level is still low, then go ahead and add an appropriate amount of soda ash to
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, can be used to raise pH, but it is more often used for controlling alkalinity since it does a better job of raising alkalinity in the pool.
How to naturally raise pH in your pool
You can naturally raise the pH level of your pool by the process called aeration.
With aeration, you are affecting the pH level by how much or how little air bubbles you create.
When you create more air bubbles, your pool pH will increase because your carbon dioxide will gas off.
One example of this is bubbles that are formed from your pool’s waterfall. Those bubbles cause carbon dioxide to gas off, which results in a higher pH level.
So if your pool has a lower pH, and your pool has a waterfall feature, you can turn it on to increase your pH.
You can also point jets in your pool toward the surface to induce the aeration process. This won’t raise your pool pH as quickly as if you were to just add chemicals, but it will make a difference.
What is pH in regards to pool water?
Your pool pH is a measurement of the acidity and basicity of your pool water. To put it another way, it’s a measure of how many free-floating hydrogen atoms are in your water.
The neutral pH is seven. The lower your pool pH value gets, the more acidic your pool water becomes. In contrast, the higher your pool pH value gets, the more basic your pool water becomes.
In other words, the more hydrogen atom there is in your pool water, the more acidic your pool pH will be, and vice versa.
Lemons and vinegar are examples of acidic items, and baking soda is an example of an item that is basic.
The pH scale is logarithmic, which means a pH of 6.0 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 7.0.
In general, you want your pool pH to be between 7.4 to 7.6. The State standard states that a pH level between 7.2 to 8.0 is normal.
It’s important you check the pH of your pool at least once a week.
Why your pool pH balance is important
It’s important to ensure your pool pH doesn’t dip too low because low pH will damage most things that are not plastic.
Low pH in your pool can lead to problems such as:
- Chlorine loss
- Harmful effect to your body, such as burning eyes, and dry and itchy skin
- Corrosion of metal parts that contact your pool water
- Damage to the pool plaster
The effectiveness of sanitizers
Your pool pH also affects the efficacy of sanitizers. If your pool pH hovers around the lower end of the normal pH (7.2 to 7.4), your pool sanitizer will work more effectively.
On the other hand, if your pool pH is high at 8.0 or higher, sanitizers will not be as effective. In other words, it will take a longer time for your pool sanitizers to kill bacteria.
How to measure the pH level in your pool
There are several different ways to test your pool pH level.
One way is to use the electronic pH meter, which gives a fairly accurate measurement.
Another common way to test the pH is with phenol red.
Some test kit gives you a measure for base demand, which refers to the amount of base that is needed to increase the pH of your pool to the normal range.
What causes low pH levels in your pool?
There are many factors that can contribute to low pH levels.
Pool surface types
Most fiberglass and vinyl pool are made of plastic, which has a pH of around 6. Your pool pH will be slightly lower than that of plaster pools as a result.
The cement of a plaster pool has a pH of 12 to 13, which means it’s very basic. With the plaster pool, you normally don’t have to worry about raising the pH level of your pool. In fact, you usually need to add acid every day to prevent your pool from getting too basic.
Type of sanitizer you use
The type of sanitizer you use for your pool also affects the pH level of your pool.
For instance, chlorine tablets have a pH of 2, so they will reduce the pH level in your pool if used in large quantities.
Alkalinity measures how alkaline your pool water is, and total alkalinity will decide how fast and easily your pool pH can change.
In simple terms, alkalinity is just a measurement of the water’s resistance to pH change in parts per million.
Alkalines react with acids to neutralize them, which is the reason why they are called buffers. In other words, your pool pH will be lower in the absence of buffers.
Other factors that can lower the pH level in your pool
- Acid rain
- Uric acid aka pee
- Body oils
It takes a little bit of effort to maintain a balanced pH level for your pool, but it’s an essential component to keeping your pool clean and healthy.
So I recommend you keep up with your weekly pH level testing and make any necessary adjustments.
It will save your more money in the long run.