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What Can Cause a pH Imbalance in Pools?

BY: Sara Hansen
POSTED October 24, 2022 IN
Pool Water Quality

It doesn’t take long after you have your first pool to realize you need to know some chemistry! As much as you would like to avoid it, you do have to regularly test your pool water and then correct any pH imbalance that may be present. But first, it helps to know what pH is.

 

What is pH Anyway?

In even its simplest terms, the definition of pH can sound daunting:

“pH is a quantitative measure of the acidity or basicity of aqueous or other liquid solutions. The term, widely used in chemistry, biology, and agronomy, translates the values of the concentration of the hydrogen ion—which ordinarily ranges between about 1 and 10−14 gram-equivalents per litre—into numbers between 0 and 14.”

To drill down even more, specifically for a swimming pool, pH means:

“Swimming pools typically have pH values in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. If the pH is too high, the effectiveness of the chlorine disinfectant becomes too low, making the pool susceptible to algal growth and preventing it from effectively killing viruses and bacteria. If the pH is too low, the water becomes irritating to the eyes and nose, and it may corrode plaster or metal surfaces.”

There are the dreaded words every pool owner understands but none wants to deal with: algae. viruses. bacteria. And no one wants parts of their pool to corrode!

No one wants algae, viruses, and bacteria to take up residence in their pool. And since chemicals are used in a pool to prevent that, it’s necessary to continuously check the pH of the water.

The pH reading must be between 7.2 and 7.8 to achieve that goal. Otherwise, you will soon hear complaints about stinging in the eyes, dry skin, or stickiness or cloudiness of the water.

 

testing ph in swimming pool | what can cause ph imbalance in pool

 

When you test your pool water, you may determine you need to raise the pH level because your pH is too low. The pool water is too acidic. 

At the opposite end, you may determine the pH level is too high. This means the pool water has too many alkali elements in it. 

Sounds even more like chemistry class, right? 

There is help available! But first, let’s find out exactly what can cause a pH balance like this.

 

Causes of pH Imbalance in Swimming Pools

Here are the two main causes of an imbalance in the pH of your pool water:

Carbon Dioxide Loss

If carbon dioxide dissolves in water, carbonic acid forms. That lowers the pH of the water. The splashing in a pool (which generally means happy swimmers!) carbon dioxide is lost, which lowers the level of carbonic acid. Then the pH rises.

 

The Wrong Mixture of Pool Chemicals

Chlorine is one of the chemicals used to sanitize pools. Its use affects the pH of the water. Granulated or liquid chlorine is alkaline and will often raise the pH level. Chlorine gas lowers pH due to its acidic nature.

Sanitizers in pools clean your pool water, killing bacteria, algae, and other contaminants. But these sanitizers are simply another chemical added to the pool water. They do make the water sparkling clear, but they affect the pH, too.

If one chemical upsets the pH level in your pool, how about another chemical to adjust it? One is hydrochloric acid, which lowers pH. Then there is soda ash, which raises pH. 

It’s a constant balancing act. If the balance isn’t correct, the pH will reach undesirable levels, either too high or too low.

Whoever makes sure your swimming pool is ready for people had better add this constant oversight of the pH balance to their calendar.

 

Balancing the pH in Your Pool

 

ph balance test strip for pool water | what can cause ph imbalance in pool

 

There are kits. There are strips. There are other compounds to consider. 

Then make sure to keep the instructions handy as you test the water multiple times a week and try to determine what those directions mean by “use your best judgment to estimate the actual level”! 

What’s a pool owner to do?

 

Expert Advice on How to Keep the pH Balanced In Your Pool

As a pool owner, you knew there would be some work involved in maintaining it. But you didn’t imagine it required this knowledge of chemistry. What about the cost to test the pH all the time? Then there is the cost of the chemicals needed to correct any pH imbalance. Is owning your own pool really worth it? 

Here at Pool School Videos, we have a specific video that will show you exactly how to properly and easily maintain your pool’s chemical balance, while saving money doing it. Thus, making the answer to the above question an enthusiastic YES! This video is just one of 20 self-paced online pool maintenance videos you’ll own as part of your purchase. 

All of the videos from Pool School Videos provide professional advice like you’ve never seen before. They provide clear, expert guidance you can watch as many times as needed.

You can also get customized guidance through our private Facebook group when you buy the videos. You can post specific questions in the group and we will respond within 24 hours!

Pool School Videos was created by Mike Steele, a pool professional with over 30 years of professional experience in swimming pool maintenance. These videos provide solutions like you won’t find anywhere else. The information is clear, accurate, and easy to follow, so you can solve any current pool maintenance problems that you may have while also preventing future problems. You will save both time and money, allowing you more opportunity to actually enjoy your pool instead of spending hours maintaining it.

Click here to preview our top 5 videos and meet the Pool Doctor, Mike Steele! Get started on Pool School Videos today!

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