Are You Swimming Safely? The Dangers of Low pH and High Alkalinity in the Pool

dangers of low ph and high alkalinity in swimming pool

If you own a swimming pool, you know how important it is to keep it clean and well-maintained. That said, have you ever thought about the pH and alkalinity levels in your pool? If not, you could be putting yourself and others at risk and should know how to decrease alkalinity in the pool.

What Are pH and Alkalinity?

pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of water. It ranges from zero to fourteen (seven is considered neutral). Below seven is acidic, and above seven is basic or alkaline. 

On the other hand, alkalinity reflects the water's ability to neutralize acids and prevent pH fluctuations. Alkalinity acts as a buffer for pH, making it more stable and resistant to changes. 

In simpler terms, pH tells you how acidic or basic the pool water is, while alkalinity measures the water's ability to resist changes in pH. 

What Causes High Alkalinity in a Pool?

Ideally, your pool’s alkalinity levels should be between eighty and 120 parts per million (ppm) and can be measured with a test strip. If it’s higher than the given range, there can be a couple of factors at play. These include:

  • Use of too many chemicals in the pool

  • Acid rain

  • Sweat, sunscreen, and skin lotion residues

  • A sudden rise in the water temperature

  • High alkalinity of the water source

  • Curing of a plastered pool

How to Treat High Alkalinity in a Pool

If your pool has high alkalinity, you need to treat it right away or it can be dangerous for you and your pool. There are two ways to lower high alkalinity—muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate. Make sure to first read our post on how much muriatic acid is needed to lower alkalinity in the pool before using this chemical in your pool because it can be dangerous if not handled properly.

Keep in mind that both these acids also lower pH levels. So, be sure to test both the pH and alkalinity once you treat your pool with either of these acids.

Also, remember to stay safe and follow the instructions on the pack when handling acids. You should use protective gear when dealing with acids or contact a pool professional like Pool Care Guy to do the job for you. If you have a hot tub instead of a pool, you still need to know how to lower the alkalinity in a hot tub.

Can You Swim in a Pool With High Alkalinity?

No–you should avoid swimming in a pool with high alkalinity because it can irritate your skin and eyes. High alkalinity also causes cloudy water, clogs your pool filters, and creates a rise in dirt buildup.

What Causes Low pH in a Pool?

There isn’t a single reason that you might have low pH in your pool. Often, there are a couple of factors at play, such as:

  • Rainwater from storms

  • Leaves and dirt

  • Chlorine tablets

  • Low alkalinity

  • Acidic waste from swimmers (lotion, sweat, etc.)

How Does Low pH Affect Swimmers?

Swimming in a pool with low pH levels can be dangerous. Not only does it sting your eyes but it can also make your skin itch. The desired pH levels of a pool should be between 7.2 and 7.8. Anything lower than that will cause skin problems. Low pH can also corrode metals and destroy your pool surfaces. 

How to Deal With Low pH in a Pool?

You can invest in a pool testing kit to monitor pool pH levels. If your pool has a low pH level, you can easily increase it by adding an increaser, which is sold as soda ash in stores. When treating, check your pool’s volume to know how much soda ash to add. You can calculate it through an online pool volume calculator. 

Once you’ve added soda ash to the pool, run your pool pump and filter for several hours to distribute it throughout the pool water. Retest the pH level to ensure it's within the correct range. If the pH level is still too low, you may need to repeat the process until you reach the desired level.

How Often Should You Test Your Pool’s pH and Alkalinity Levels?

It is recommended to check your pool’s pH and alkalinity levels daily if you use it every day. If not, you can check the pH level two to three times a week to ensure it remains within the appropriate range. As far as the alkalinity is concerned, it should be tested weekly to ensure that the levels are stable.

Final Thoughts

We hope you now understand pH and alkalinity and how they impact your pool water. Maintaining the right pH and alkalinity levels is very important for creating a safe swimming environment. Regular testing can prevent skin irritation, equipment damage, and other hazards. Just make sure to follow the recommended guidelines to keep your pool clean, clear, and inviting for all to enjoy!

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