Can You Swim in a Pool With Low pH?

Did you know that the ideal pH level for a swimming pool is between 7.2 and 7.8? And it’s essential to maintain these levels to ensure a comfortable and safe swimming experience.

But what happens if a pool has low pH–can you still swim without any worries? No–you cannot swim in a pool with a low pH as it can lead to a plethora of issues, from skin irritation to damage to your pool equipment.

Som to ensure your health and pool equipment safety, let’s look at the potential risks of swimming in a pool with low pH. We’ll also discuss how to raise the pH in a pool for a safe and enjoyable swim.

What Happens if You Swim in a Pool With Low pH?

Between 2015 and 2017, there have been 13,508 emergency room visits in America due to pool chemical injuries, with about one-third of persons aged under eighteen. Swimming in a pool with low pH can have numerous negative effects on both swimmers and the pool itself. Here are some key issues you might face:

  • Eye and nasal irritation: Acidic water can cause stinging sensations in the eyes and nasal passages.
  • Skin and hair dryness: It can also cause drying out of your skin and hair, leading to itching and breakouts. 
  • Corrosion of metal surfaces: The most obvious sign is the corrosion of metal surfaces and damage to pool accessories like ladders, railings, filters, and components of pumps and heaters. 
  • Reduced chlorine effectiveness: Low pH levels decrease the amount of working chlorine in your pool, potentially resulting in bacterial and algal growth. 
  • Deterioration of pool surfaces: Low pH will etch and deteriorate plaster, grout, stone, concrete, and tiling, which may lead to costly repairs.
  • Staining and cloudy water: Dissolved minerals from corroded surfaces can cause staining and cloudy pool water.

What Are the Causes of Low pH in Swimming Pools?

Maintaining the proper pH balance in your swimming pool is crucial for a safe swimming experience. However, sometimes pH levels drop, despite your best efforts–which is why it’s important to understand the causes of low pH in a swimming pool, so you can troubleshoot the problem easily. These causes include: 

  • Heavy rainstorms: Rainwater has a 5.0-to-5.5 pH range, meaning a heavy downpour dilutes your pool water, and can lower the pH levels significantly. To mitigate the effects of rainstorms, monitor the weather and adjust your pool’s chemistry as needed. You should also invest in a quality pool cover.
  • Pool overuse: Your pool pH might also drop after having a large pool party, as bodily fluids (such as sweat, sunscreen, and body oils) dissolve in the pool water to lower its pH. So, it is recommended to check and adjust the pool’s pH level once your guests leave.
  • Improper use of chemicals: Lastly, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guide to prevent improper use of chemicals like muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate, which are often used to adjust pool pH levels. 

How Can Low Pool pH Be Corrected?

Now that you know the causes and consequences of low pool pH, it’s time to learn how to raise it for a pleasant swimming experience. There are two ways to do so: 

  1. Use Baking Soda

You can begin by testing your pool’s pH to determine the adjustments you need to make. After that, measure the appropriate amount of baking soda. A good rule of thumb is to add 1.5 lbs. of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water to increase alkalinity by ten PPM. 

  1. Use Soda Ash

Use the same initial steps of testing the pH level and then calculate the correct amount of soda ash you need to add. It is recommended to add six ounces of soda ash per 10,000 gallons of pool water. This will raise the pH by 0.2 and total alkalinity by five PPM.

Final Thoughts

Low pool pH can not only harm your health, but it can also damage the pool itself. So, while you technically can swim in a pool with low pH, we don’t recommend it. Make sure to test your pool’s pH regularly and use baking soda or soda ash to keep the pH balanced. For more information on this, be sure to check out our post on how to add ‘pH Up’ a pool!

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