It’s pretty common knowledge that every pool owner needs to regularly and frequently monitor and test the pH balance of their pool water, but even if you know you need to, you may not be aware of just why proper pH balance is so incredibly important.
The term pH balance is used to describe the level of acidity or alkalinity present in your pool’s water. This level is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, where a value of less than 7 indicates acidity, a value of 7 is neutral, and more than 7 would indicate alkalinity. A ideal pH balance for your pool water should fall in the range of 7.2 to 7.8.
When your pool’s water test reflects a value of less than 7.2, the water is considered to be corrosive. At this stage, the surface of your pool, grout (if you have a tiles pool), liner, and equipment can become damaged. Plastic surfaces will become rough, and they will provide an excellent place for algae to flourish. Metal parts can become corroded and form sulfates which may cause brown or black stains. In addition, at a pH balance below 7.2, chlorine that has been added to the pool is unable to work efficiently as a sanitizer. The chlorine also becomes harsher, and can more easily cause irritation to the nose and eyes of swimmers, or cause them to experience dry, itchy skin, and even fade swimwear they may be wearing.
When your water test indicates a pH balance above 7.8, calcium that is naturally present in the water begins to create scale deposits, much like you find inside a tea kettle, for instance. Scale will build up inside your pipes and clog filters and fittings. This buildup reduces water circulation through your pump system, forcing the pool equipment to work much harder and therefore shortening the life of your pump motor heater, filters, and other pool equipment. The pool water can become cloudy and unappealing. Calcium concentrations increase and can cause your sand filter to fail and become unable to filter out debris. Chlorine’s effectiveness becomes weakened, and you will need to add much more to the water, which results in a costly waste of time and money. The added chlorine will have a similar effect on swimmer’s health and comfort as compared to a low pH level.
Test and balance your pool’s water regularly to maintain an appropriate pH level. At least once a week is recommended for most circumstances, though a more frequent testing schedule may be required if your pool experiences high traffic. You can not always tell by looking at the water whether you may have a pH level that is too high or too low. Obtain a pool water test kit or strips, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and interpreting the results. Never use expired chemicals in your pool – they can provide inaccurate results, causing you to waste chemicals attempting to adjust the pool while still not achieving the proper pH balance. Consult a professional if you have any questions.