Most pool owners understand that maintaining the proper chemical balance in a pool is the key factor to keeping it clean and preventing algae from growing. However, many people simply focus on the chlorine levels and pay little attention to pH levels. It’s true that pH levels don’t change as often as the chlorine level, but that doesn’t make them any less important. As a matter of fact, the pH levels directly affects how well chlorine will perform in keeping a pool clean.
Simply put, pH is a measurement of the total acid-alkalinity balance in a pool. Chemical reactions can cause damage such as corroding metal equipment, create etching on surface materials, and even cause skin irritation if the pools is too acidic. On the other hand, high alkalinity is a source of scaling and can make your pool look cloudy. In both cases of high acidity or alkalinity, chlorine will not perform as well and its ability to kill pathogens and bacteria is greatly reduced.
The pH scale ranges from zero to 14 with zero indicating high acid levels and 14 meaning high alkalinity. The recommended level according to most pool experts is somewhere between 7.0 and 7.6. When the level drops below the ideal range, soda ash or even baking soda is added to raise the level. Muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate are used if the pH level is too high and needs to be lowered.
There are a number of factors that can affect the pH levels in the pool including heavy rains, oils from swimmers body, and leaves and dust in the pool. There are many home testing kits that you can use to check pH levels, but you may want to take a water sample to a professional if you are having a particularly hard time keeping a pool clean.
The main takeaway here is don’t take your pH levels for granted. Keeping them in balance will save you money in the long run as your chlorine will be much more effective with proper pH balance.