Why Does the pH level Matter?
Water is awesome, and hose water is safe for kiddo pools and even some larger above ground pools, so you may be asking “why do I need to add chlorine and check the pH of my pool? Water is water, right?” Today we’ll talk about why it’s important to make sure your chemical and Pool pH Level of your pool are important to monitor.
What is pH?
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral (like filtered water). A pH level between 0 and 7 is the acid side, anything above 7 is basic/alkaline. Adding acids or alkalies to the water can raise or lower the level to the recommended 7.2-7.8 range for your pool, the exact range can vary depending on pool, area, equipment, and personal opinion. Sodium carbonate (soda ash, also used to neutralize the acid from acid washing) or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) raises the pH level and muriatic acid (used in acid washing) or sodium bi-sulfate will lower it.
Checking the Pool pH Level regularly is important. Things can fall into the pool (rain water, plants, etc) and oils in human (or animal) skin, sun screen, or other things on swimmers bodies can alter the pH level pretty quick. Even adding your chlorine can change the levels, so if the pH was where it needed to be but then you found out your chlorine levels were low the pH may be knocked into the dangerous zone (especially if it was on the far end of the appropriate range).
For the Pool:
Chemical reactions which can be harmful to your pool can occur if the water is too acidic or alkaline. Too much acidity can lead to corrosion of any metal equipment and etching on the pool surfaces. Increased alkaline levels can cause scaling to surfaces and the plumbing and cloud the water. If your water is starting to look a little cloudy it could be a number of problems but checking the alkaline levels should be done to eliminate the chances of it being a bigger problem. Changes on either end of the pH scale can cause issues with the chlorine, decreasing the effectiveness which can allow for algae or other growth and bacteria to form. High alkaline levels will keep the chlorine from working effectively, leading to growth. High acid levels means the chlorine will dissipate quickly, decreasing effectiveness.
Calcium is also needed in your pool to keep plaster from eroding. Too much can affect water clarity, increase scaling, and create stains. 200-400 ppm is the acceptable range, but right in the middle of that range is perfect for most pools.
Stabilizers and Chlorine:
Stabilizers can keep chlorine working longer by protecting the chlorine from heat, sun, and other elements. Using a stabilizer can keep you from using as much chlorine (and possibly decrease the strong chlorine scent found in a lot of pools) but too much stabilizer can mean you need to add water to your pool to dilute the stabilizer (and therefore check the pH and other levels since diluting one thing means diluting the rest).
For the Swimmers:
Heightened acidity can cause skin irritation which is uncomfortable and can cause bigger problems depending on the person. Young people or those with already sensitive skin should be extra caution when entering pools which may be a little more acidic than normal (slight increase in acidity may not cause problems or need immediate resolution but it wouldn’t hurt to adjust if it’s slightly higher than recommended). Irritation can be a good indicator that you need to check and adjust the Pool pH Level.
If your pool water is off, even just a little (and on either side) it can start affecting your eyes as well! Your skin doesn’t like high acidity or alkalinity and water left to sit without added chemicals, chlorine or salt (in salt water pools) can experience pH changes just based on weather, air, and things that fall in or are introduced via swimmers or falling matter.
For more pool pH level maintenance information check out this site to understand your pool better.
Proper Pool pH Level
How to Lower pH in a Pool
How to Raise pH in a Pool
Adjusting Pool pH Level
Pool pH Too High
Pool pH Too Low
Pool Alkalinity Too High