Maintaining a clean, safe, and sparkling swimming pool can be a challenge. You need to cover the basics, like keeping algae to a minimum, filtering the water, and adding chlorine. Of course, pool safety also spans everything from security gates to proper chemical levels. To that end, you also need to know about alkalinity to ensure that your pool remains safe, clean, and ready for the next season of swimming.
Previously, we’ve covered how to lower your pool alkalinity. Today, you’ll learn how to raise pool alkalinity to a desirable level and keep it that way.
Why Does Pool Alkalinity Matter?
Some people reading this may be wondering, “why should I care about changing the total alkalinity levels in my swimming pool? It would just mean pouring another chemical into the water.”
This is true; your pool alkalinity will require specialized chemicals to change. As of yet, there’s no perfect combination of chemicals to suit every pool; you’ll have to test the water and address the unique balance of your pool water. And regulating the alkalinity in your pool is essential for several key reasons.
First of all, it is important to know what alkalinity is in the first place. Alkalinity is a chemical that is used to neutralize acidic properties in the water. Maintaining the alkalinity in a swimming pool is key to maintaining a healthy chemical balance.
The pH typically measures this in the swimming pool, which can be determined through the use of a pH meter placed into the water. The pH of swimming pool water tends to range between one and 14 pH. A lower pH means that the water is more acidic, while a higher pH means the water is more alkaline.
Issues can also arise if your pool has too low of a pH and is too acidic. High acidity in a swimming pool’s water can cause irritation to the eyes and skin, particularly the burning red eyes common in public pools in which more chlorine is used for sanitation reasons. Competitive swimmers will also be actually aware of the sensation of walking into a pool room and being hit with a wave of evaporated chlorine.
These are the result of too low pH, namely pH below seven. But a pH above 7.8 also comes with issues. When the water is too alkaline, the chlorine in the swimming pool can no longer do its job correctly. This can cause bacteria and algae to form in the water or in the filter. Eventually, this will cause the pipes leading in and out of the pool to clog, resulting in further plumbing issues.
All told, maintaining the proper balance of chlorine and alkaline, a perfect pH balance of precisely seven is vital to maintaining a functioning and enjoyable swimming pool. After all, the point of having a swimming pool is to enjoy it, is it not?
So it is necessary to understand how to regulate the pH level in your swimming pool. But how can you maintain the right pH when your pool isn’t at the right level of alkalinity to begin with? The good news is, you have options, and none are too labor-intensive.
What Causes Low Alkalinity?
- The primary acidic substance in a swimming pool tends to be chlorine. The purpose of chlorine in the pool is to kill bacteria and fungi that might begin growing in the water or around the sides of the pool itself.
- If the chemicals used to treat the pool are dry or overly absorbent. Chemicals such as muriatic acid or dry acid certainly are effective means of cleaning your pool. Still, they significantly impact the water’s pH levels, which need to be accounted for when treating the swimming pool.
- Heavy rain can alter the swimming pool’s pH level. This can be because the additional water dilutes the water’s chemicals or because the rain itself is slightly acidic.
How Can I Raise The Alkalinity Of My Pool?
The answer to this final question is a simple one. You can raise the alkalinity of a swimming pool’s water by adding alkaline salts, baking soda, or other chemicals like it. A wide variety of alkalinity-increasing products are available online and through retail vendors such as local hardware stores.
You are shooting for a total alkalinity range of 80-120 parts per million (ppm).
Most products intended for this purpose can be added directly to the pool filter, though some also exist that can dissolve directly into the water. Most of these products are fairly inexpensive to buy and do not require additional items to add to the water to work correctly. Furthermore, many of the salt-based products are sold in large bags that last for long periods of time.
While this is the primary way people increase their swimming pool’s alkalinity, you can also buy an alkalinity enhancer and avoid the chemicals altogether. These can sometimes be dangerous to handle, so all instructions listed on the container need to be followed at all times. These do restore swimming pool water to the correct pH levels described above, provided that you use them correctly.
How these alkalinity enhancers work is by absorbing acidic components present in the water as they dissolve. It requires very little input from you, the pool owner, once introduced into the water. However, they can have the added issue of making the water too alkaline. If this happens, a pH reducer can get the swimming pool’s pH levels back to normal. As stated above, it is all about maintaining balance.
DIY Alkalinity Booster: Baking Soda
For those who want an even less chemically-intensive option for raising a swimming pool’s alkalinity, there are ways to do that as well. This form of managing a swimming pool’s total pH levels is a bit more labor-intensive than the chemical options listed, but it achieves the same thing when done correctly.
- The first thing you will need to do is test the water in your pool. You can do this with a basic testing kit.
- Examine both the pH level recorded and the overall look of the swimming pool. Check to see if there is any algae or floating debris in the water. Also, look for any clouds under the surface.
- Directly add untreated sodium bicarbonate to the swimming pool, using our alkalinity calculator to determine how much baking soda you need to add. Unlike alkalinity increasers and other chemicals, this is a simple solution with no additives that you control directly.
A general rule is to add 1.5 points of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water in your pool. If you don’t know your pool’s volume, use our alkalinity calculator linked above or go straight to our pool volume calculator.
Doing this, you will know exactly what is going into your swimming pool and what it is doing to the water. You may need to repeat this testing process multiple times to reach the correct pH level. You may also need to add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in small amounts to achieve the desired levels.
Baking Soda vs. Soda Ash
While they sound similar, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and soda ash (sodium carbonate) serve slightly different functions for dialing in the right total alkalinity and pH levels in your pool water.
Baking soda is primarily used to raise alkalinity and only raises pH slightly. On the other hand, soda ash raises pH levels considerably and only slightly affects total alkalinity.
So, depending on what you want to affect in your water chemistry, you can add either add baking soda or soda ash.
Need Some Maintenance Help?
We partner with HomeAdvisor to help you find the best swimming pool maintenance and cleaning services in your area. Compare quotes for free from fully vetted pool professionals.
There are plenty of reasons why the alkalinity in a swimming pool could change. But part of owning a pool is maintaining the correct pH balance in the water, which entails learning how to raise the pool alkalinity.
Luckily, whether you want to go the natural or more chemically-intensive route, there are plenty of easy ways to alter the alkalinity of your swimming pool. In no time, you’ll be enjoying cleaner, safer pool water with the right chemical balance.
Also make sure to read my article on how to raise pool pH levels.
Have questions? Drop us a line!