Pool Alkalinity is an essential element in maintaining your pool’s water quality. Many homeowners and pool owners don’t realize that alkalinity is the number one enemy of a healthy collection.
Alkalinity (measured in degrees of bicarbonate) affects pH balance and the safety of your pool. It also affects how fast chlorine breaks down into free chlorine and how long your chemicals last.
Many people are used to adding Muriatic acid for this purpose. However, the main problem with this method is that it is often not compelling enough and results in high alkalinity, which can be dangerous for swimming pools.
What is Pool Alkalinity?
Alkalinity is the measure of how acidic or basic your pool water is. The pH scale measures acidity and alkalinity, with 7 being neutral and 14 being extremely alkaline.
pH is the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) present in a solution. It also determines how acidic or alkaline your pool water will be.
Pool Alkalinity can affect chlorine effectiveness. When you add chemicals to your swimming pool, it reacts with bicarbonate to form free chlorine.
Free chlorine is unstable and quickly breaks down into bicarbonate. Your pool water’s pH level will change back to neutral (7) if exposed to air for too long occurs.
Is pool alkalinity the invisible enemy?
Yes, Pool Alkalinity can be the invisible enemy of your pool. Too much alkalinity causes water to have a high pH level. This makes your pool less enjoyable for swimmers and expensive to maintain.
Low alkalinity is also dangerous because it makes the water difficult for chlorine (the primary swimming pool disinfectant) to react with, so when you add chemicals to your pool, it will not kill germs.
Alkalinity can make you more susceptible to illness and disease because chlorine does not work when the pH level is too high.
Alkalinity can also make your pool water less effective as a swimming pool. Because it makes the chlorine less likely to break down into bicarbonate, you won’t get as much free chlorine per gallon of chemical.
Why should you care about alkalinity?
It would be best to care about alkalinity because it can make your pool less effective than a swimming pool.
When the pH level of your pool water is too high, chlorine (the primary swimming pool disinfectant) doesn’t work as well because it can’t react with the bicarbonate.
The free chlorine in your pool water breaks down into bicarbonate over time. This is why you have to add more chemicals (such as liquid or tablets) every 3 months to keep the levels of Free Chlorine and total chlorine high enough for swimming.
If your alkalinity is too high, the bicarbonate will not form as quickly, and you may need to add more chemicals.
How Can You Measure Your Pool’s Alkalinity?
Alkalinity can be measured using a special test kit that measures electrical conductivity (EC) and Total Alkalinity (TA).
The EC test measures the total number of ions in your pool water, while TA measures alkalinity.
To get an accurate measurement, you will need to add more than one sample because two samples are usually required; one at the beginning of the test and the end.
EC is measured in milliequivalents per liter (mEq/l), and TA is measured as parts per million (ppm).
There are a few different types of tests, and you may have to combine these measurements with pH, total hardness (total dissolved solids), or calcium levels.
If your pool is more than 5 years old, then it will be hard to find someone who can test all the chemicals for you.
What Causes High Pool Alkalinity?
Several factors can cause high pool alkalinity, but the main reason is calcium.
If you use a pH test kit to measure your water and it says that your pH is high, there are too many dissolved salts (like sodium chloride) in your water, leaving behind too much calcium.
It also could be that you have high levels of total solids in your water. This will affect the amount of free chlorine available to keep your pool clean (calcium is needed for this).
If there are too many dissolved salts or too much calcium, all these ions will combine to form a solid or precipitate, calcium carbonate. This causes the high numbers you see in your water test kit and makes your pool look cloudy.
How To Lower pool alkalinity without Muriatic acid?
You can lower the pool alkalinity without using Muriatic acid by following these steps:
- Add dissolved oxygen to your water, which will help remove any calcium carbonate present in the pool. You can do this with a diatom filter (also known as an iron filter).
- Add Epsom Salt to your pool water, which will help reduce the calcium levels in the water (the amount needed for it to work is around 100 pounds per 1000 gallons of water).
- Increase the amount of free chlorine in your pool water by adding more chemicals to it (although this is not recommended). You can use powdered free chlorine or chlorinating tablet, which will dissolve slowly into your water. It will increase the level of available free chlorine inside the swimming pool (at the end of the day, all free chlorine will be used up; you need to add more).
- Remove any excess build-up in your pool water with a de-chlorinating shock treatment. It contains powdered sodium hypochlorite (1/2 pound per 1000 gallons of water).
- Avoid using Muriatic acid at all costs as it also lowers your pH. This will cause a severe decrease in the amount of calcium carbonate and hardness that you have (as described above). If this happens, you need to get your pool professionally checked and cleaned.
Lowering the pool alkalinity without using Muriatic acid is possible by adding dissolved oxygen Epsom salt and increasing the amount of free chlorine.
Always use caution when lowering pH levels, as this can also cause a decrease in calcium carbonate and hardness levels.
If you notice any adverse effects, you should get your pool professionally checked!