Proper Water Balance

Anyone who’s had a liner wrinkle has met with the down side of deceptively clear, acidic water. And, on the other end of the test strip, constantly cloudy water can be frustrating, and could be a sign of pH that is too high. There is an easy solution to both of these problems: have your water tested regularly, and be sure to keep your swimming pool water balanced!

Every pool owner should have a test kit, and should also bring their water in for professional testing about every two weeks, once the pool has been balanced.

Total Alkalinity

Total alkalinity is a measure of the water to resist change in pH. The greatest contributor to total alkalinity in the pH range of swimming pools is bicarbonates. The higher the total alkalinity reading, the more difficult it is to change the pH level in swimming pool water. Everything added that could change pH is neutralized or buffered, and pH does not change.

Conversely, lower total alkalinity makes it more likely for pH reading to change, often being greatly affected by chemicals, swimmers, and weather. Low total alkalinity makes it difficult to maintain an ideal pH level. The pH reading will “bounce” or change rapidly in response to outside influences.


pH, an important parameter of water balance, is a measurement that indicates whether the pool is acidic or basic, and is expressed as a number on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7.0 being neutral. The ideal pH for a swimming pool is 7.4 to 7.6. This is the ideal for swimmer comfort and protection of equipment and surfaces.

Everything introduced to the water has an impact on pH, including swimmers, chemicals, and rain.

Acidic Water = Low pH
Acidic water is clean and clear but corrosive, causing damage to equipment and pool surfaces and causing swimmer discomfort such as burning eyes and skin.

Acidic water can corrode metal surfaces such as pumps, filters, pipes, heaters, and valves, as well as etching plaster pool surfaces. Corrosion, which dissolves metal into pool water, can also lead to stains on walls and the pool floor. Low pH (acidic water) also causes the pool liner to lose elasticity, which in turn causes wrinkles.

Basic Water = High pH
Basic water (high pH) is often cloudy and can cause eye irritation and itchy skin. Chlorine activity is also slowed and becomes inefficient. Keep in mind chlorine is what sanitizes your water.

Basic water is also scale forming, and can cause scale build up on pool surfaces and equipment, making them less effective and efficient.

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