The alkalinity of your pool water is not evident by how the water appears, pool water that has to low of a level of alkalinity looks just as clear and sparkling as water that has the perfect alkaline level. It is important that you test the alkaline levels in your pool water to determine whether you need to adjust the levels or not.
If your pool water has too high of an alkaline level the water will likely appear to be cloudy or murky. If the alkalinity level is too low then the water can actually become corrosive and cause damage to your pool walls, lining, and the internal mechanisms of your pool pump.
The pH levels of your water can also be affected by the alkalinity level of the water. When the chemistry of the water is changed because the alkalinity is too low the pH level can go up and down. Pool professionals refer to this pH change as a “pH bounce”
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What Causes the Alkalinity to be too Low?
There are several factors that can influence the alkalinity in your pool water. Some of the reasons why your alkalinity levels may be lower than normal are:
- You may have used a muriatic acid or dry acid that is deigned to lower the alkalinity in the water
- You may have added water to the pool and the additional water may have had a low alkalinity
- You could have backwashed the pool or otherwise drained away some of the pool water
- Rain may have fallen into the pool in an amount that changed the alkalinity level. Snow can melt off the roof of your house and drain into your pool and change the alkalinity level of the water
- Exposure to extreme amounts of sunlight can alter the chemical composition in water
- Increased swimming activity and some products that we apply to human skin can change the chemical make-up of pool water
- Some pool treatments contain alkalinity lowering chemicals so read the label of any pool chemicals you are using to determine if your pool chemicals are fighting against one another
What is the Perfect Pool Alkalinity?
You want your alkalinity range to be between 80 parts per million and 120 parts per million.
What do I use to increase Alkalinity?
There are commercially produced items that are designed to raise the alkalinity of pool water. Most of these items will have names like “alka-plus”, or “alka-add”, or some version of this name where “alka” is a portion of the name. You can also add something that is one hundred percent natural, very inexpensive, and safe even if your pets, or children come into contact with it.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate is the main ingredient in most of the commercially produced products that are designed to increase the alkalinity in pool water.
You can buy bulk containers of baking soda from pool supply stores, and from many farm and ranch supply stores. The packaging is the only difference in the baking soda you get to have at home for cooking, cleaning, and other purposes, and the baking soda you use to increase your alkalinity levels, or the baking soda you give to your goats to prevent bloat and urinary complications.
The package from the pool supply store will most likely have instructions that help you determine how much baking soda to add to your pool to raise the alkalinity to the proper level.
Adding Baking Soda to Adjust Alkalinity Levels – Step by Step
1. First test the pool water to determine the alkalinity. You do not need to increase the alkalinity unless the level is below eighty parts per million. (there are some pool manufacturer’s that recommend the alkalinity of the water in their pools be maintained at 100 parts per million. In this case always do what the manufacturer suggests)
2. Read the package and determine how much baking soda to add to your pool. You may want to add only about one half of what the instructions indicate because you can always add more but to reduce the alkalinity you are going to have to add another chemical to your water.
If you do not have instructions that tell you how much to add then start with about two cups and after you check the alkalinity level if you need more keep adding in measured amounts until you get the perfect amount.
3. Mix the baking soda with some of the pool water and then pour the liquid into the pool. It is best if you walk around the pool pouring a small amount of liquid in at a time instead of dumping the entire container into the pool in one place.
4. If you decide you want to add the baking soda powder directly to the pool water make certain that you broadcast the powder over the entire surface area of the pool and do not simply pour the powder in one place.
5. Wait for a period of about six hours before you retest the water to determine if you have gotten the alkalinity level raised so that it is in the range of 80 parts per million to 120 parts per million. 100 parts per million is considered to be the perfect alkalinity levels for all makes of pools.
Tips to Increase Pool Alkalinity
- When you retest your alkalinity levels do not wait more than 24 hours between testing or you may lose the alkalinity that you gained from your previous treatment
- Always test your alkalinity level when you have had a large number of people swimming in the pool
- Always test your alkalinity levels after periods of rain, storms, heavy snows, or floods
- Always test your alkalinity level when you test your ph levels
- Too much baking soda will result in white spots on the sides and bottom of the pool
- If you do not mix the baking soda and pool water prior to applying it to the entire pool you can get white markings on the pool liner