The importance and roles of pH and alkalinity are often not well understood even by veteran pool owners. Maintaining the proper chemical balance in your pool water not only keeps the water sparkling clean, it also helps protect your heater, pump, and other system components from damage, and can assist in keeping your pool finish looking like new. So, yes! One of the most important elements of that balance is pH level.
Is simply the measure of how acidic or basic the water is. Think back to high school science class, you may remember a numbered scale from 0 to 14 (see the chart shows below), with 7 being perfectly neutral, 0 being extremely acidic and 14 being extremely basic
The ideal swimming pool water pH range is 7.4-7.6. Sometimes you will hear the range is 7.2-7.8, which is wider and a more forgiving range. This wider range is still acceptable, although I recommend always keeping the tighter 7.4-7.6 range as a goal. Use the wider range as a warning zone to correct the pH as soon as possible.
What happens if your pool pH is less than 7.2 and your water is too acidic?
Low pH has many damaging effects. For one it is irritating to the human body with symptoms of itchy skin, red eyes, and hair becoming more brittle. It hits you in the pocketbook as well, since low pH greatly lowers effectiveness of chlorine – so money you are spending on chlorine is being wasted due to limiting its power.
Also all metal accessories and hardware in contact with the water are subject to corrosion from the acidic nature of the water. This is particularly an issue for heaters, where copper from the heat exchanger is often stripped completely out due to low pH in a very short amount of time. When this happens you’re in for a very large bill that did not have to happen so prematurely. Plaster in gunite pools can erode from low pH too – another very costly repair expense!
On the flip side, high pH has its problems. High scaling, or mineral deposits occur due to the fact that many minerals come out of solution as pH rises. Cloudy water that will not clear up is more likely to happen on the high side. Irritation to skin and eyes may occur as well on the plus side of the scale. Remember the human body is very close to neutral on the scale.
Keeping your swimming pool pH level balanced is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy and safe swimming pool. You will benefit over the long term by avoiding adding extra chemicals, less pool water draining, longer pool parts and equipment life, and happier swimmers with a properly-balanced pool.