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What You Need to Know About Your Pool’s pH
If you’re a pool owner, there’s no doubt you’ve been told how keeping your pool’s pH balanced is one of the most important aspects of pool maintenance. But what is pH, and why is it so important?
We’ll break down how proper pH balance benefits your salt pool, and we’ll help you understand what you need to do to achieve an ideal pH level. Also, be sure to read our other helpful guides to learn more salt pool maintenance tips and tricks.
What Is a pH Level?
pH is the "potential of hydrogen" (or "power of hydrogen"). pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It provides a value on a scale from 0 to 14 where 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acidic, and greater than 7 is alkaline (or basic). The closer you move towards 0, the more a solution is acidic, and the closer you move to 14, the more a solution is alkaline. Besides the actual chlorine level of the pool, pH is probably the most important aspect of your pool’s water chemistry. Maintaining a balanced pH in your pool can be frustrating for those who haven’t done it before. Some people don’t regularly test their pool’s complete water chemistry; this can cause large swings in the balance of your pool chemistry, which makes it more difficult to keep the pH as balanced as it should be. However, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of sustaining a proper pH level in your pool, whether or not you use a salt-chlorine generator.
Remember, balancing the chemistry of your pool is the key to keeping the water safe and clean. Your pool’s pH is the foundation of that balance, as it is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is. It’s important enough on its own, but in fact, the pH of your pool helps other chemistry levels in your pool do their job more efficiently.
pH is the foundation of your pool’s chemistry and keeps it safe for swimming.
Imbalanced pH can cause:
- Mineral buildup
- Damage to equipment
- Swimmer discomfort
- And more
Acidic = 0-7
Basic= = 7-14
Ideal Level = 7.5
Why Is My Salt Pool’s pH Level Important?
When there is a pH imbalance, the real trouble begins. When the water is too acidic or too basic, a major consequence is that the free chlorine in your pool cannot correctly do its job to disinfect the water.
Not only that, but an unbalanced pH level affects your pool’s Saturation Index, which has wide-ranging consequences such as causing harsh effects on your skin. And it can even cause damage to your pool and equipment. If your pH stays out of balance, the following effects may occur in your pool:
- Mineral build-up
Additionally, high pH levels can make your water look murky and cloudy, which is less than ideal for an optimal swimming experience. So what level should you aim for?
Historically it has been said that you want to keep your pH level between 7.2-7.8, as this is a generally safe range. Ideally, you should aim for a target pH level of 7.5, which is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. You might not realize that the difference between a level of 7.5 to 7.8, for example, can still have significant negative effects! Maintaining this balance as near to 7.5 as possible maximizes swimmer comfort and helps your salt pool and equipment stay in excellent condition.
How Can I Check My Salt Pool’s pH Level?
If you really want to do it right, it’s crucial to test your saltwater pool’s pH level at least once or twice per week. When you make this a part of your standard pool maintenance routine, you can quickly act on any problems that may arise.
You can use any of these three options to test your salt pool’s pH:
- Test strips and chemical testing kits
- A digital water tester
- Take a water sample to your local pool supply store
Test strips and test strip kits are fairly straightforward. Simply dip the strips into your water for a number of seconds to get the pH level read of your salt pool. The difference between the strips and the kits is that the test strip is typically faster but less precise - more care may have to be taken using chemical testing kits, but they can be more reliable and accurate.
Digital testers do the same as the strips, and they can be quicker, more concise, and easier to read. Many also don’t require test strip refills or having to replace testing reagents. Meanwhile, pool supply stores often deliver accurate readings for free. However, it’s not as convenient to obtain a water sample and bring it to the experts several times per week.
How Can I Keep My Salt Pool’s pH Balanced?
The pH of your saltwater or chlorine pool changes daily. In the past, pool owners have relied on acid or soda ash to control the pH of their pool water. However, newer technology can provide a “hands-off” solution for consistently perfect pH.
At Discount Salt Pools, we provide equipment that helps reduce the amount of maintenance and chemical balancing you’ll have to perform. Below, we’ll detail two of our most effective systems ? CircuPool TOTALbalance and Autopilot Total Control.
The CircuPool TOTALbalance controls your pH levels with CO2, which it automatically infuses into the water using a patented process. This system is acid-free, and it is an effective, natural method to keep your pool’s pH levels properly balanced.
To maintain this system, you’ll typically just have to refill its CO2 tank, just like you might refill the propane tank on a barbeque. Most hardware stores, welding shops, and restaurant supply stores offer this service. Typically, the CO2 will last an entire swimming season when sized correctly for the pool. However, the lifespan of your refill depends on the size of your tank and pool.
The best part about this system is its affordable price and the machine’s simplicity, upkeep, and installation process. You can install it in as little as 20-30 minutes, even if you aren’t skilled at handy work or D.I.Y. projects! Then, you just need to make a few adjustments to meet your pool needs once you have it set up, and you’ll be good to go.
Autopilot Total Control
The Autopilot Total Control utilizes muriatic acid, a traditional method of maintaining pool water pH levels, but it automates the process for you. The acid tank uses a stenner pump that slowly drips the muriatic acid into the pool’s return and is controlled with a pH sensor. This sensor makes sure that the amount of acid added is safe and accurate.
This system is a complete sanitation solution, meaning it also includes a salt chlorinator that uses unique sensors and controls that allow it to automate its output. The acid tanks and the addition of the salt chlorinator add a level of complexity to the setup of this system. Still, it is great for those looking for a system that will keep your salt pool clean while you’re away from home. So, it’s an excellent option for those who own vacation homes or rentals.
This is the most high-end pool chemistry automation system available, and it’s well worth the investment.
Routine Maintenance Keeps Your Saltwater Pool Clean & Clear
Keeping your pool balanced is vital to having a safe, clean pool. As for how you keep your pH balanced, you’ll have to determine which method best fits your home, pool, budget, and lifestyle. Either way, you’ll need to make sure that your pool’s pH levels are always in check so that your pool is beautiful, clear, and balanced all season long.