Importance of Maintaining Total Alkalinity in Your Pool

February 23, 2012
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One of the most important aspects of maintaining proper chemical balance in your swimming pool is monitoring an maintaining total alkalinity levels. Total alkalinity buffers pool water by helping it to resist alterations in pH levels. It consists of the total measurement of all alkaline components found in a sample of pool water. Total alkalinity measures the carbonates and bicarbonates found in pool water, and it is essential to monitor it closely and be aware of the total alkalinity of your pool. The reason for this is that high or low alkaline water conditions can cause damage and discoloration to pool mechanisms and plumbing, as well as pool surfaces. Additionally, a total alkalinity imbalance causes discomfort for swimmers and damage to swimwear.

If your total alkalinity is askew, your pool water could suffer drastic swings in pH level (pH bounce) and this could cause sanitation problems resulting in illness for swimmers. The perfect total alkalinity for swimming pools is between 80 & 120 parts per million (PPM). By keeping your total alkalinity between these levels, you can prevent potentially dangerous pH bounce.

Low swimming pool total alkalinity causes one set of problems:

Corrosion of metal fixtures leading to high metal content in your water.
Unpredictable changes in your pH level.
Staining of pool floors and walls.
Pitted & Etched pool surfaces
Green water.

High swimming pool total alkalinity causes another set of problems:

Clogging of swimming pool filters
Reduced water flow/circulation
Escalation of pH levels
Cloudy water

Clearly, preventing problems with swimming pool total alkalinity is very important! This can be achieved by conducting regular total alkalinity tests. Once total alkalinity is determined, it can be adjusted with the addition of sodium bicarbonate to raise its level or muriatic acid & sodium bisulfate to lower its level. These are all fairly dangerous chemicals, and proper storage, handling and measuring of them is a complex matter. For this reason, it is often best to leave total alkalinity testing and treatment to a professional pool maintenance company via weekly pool service.

A reliable pool maintenance company can help you care for your whole pool easily and efficiently. Pool service professionals have the latest training and the best equipment to care for your pool well and keep it updated as new technology hits the market. Additionally, when you have weekly pool maintenance from a swimming pool service, you can be sure of getting the highest quality of chemicals at the lowest prices due to the company being able to buy in bulk. Additionally, you will not have to worry about safe storage of potentially dangerous chemicals.

If you wish to attempt monitoring and adjusting your swimming pool total alkalinity on your own, here are a few tips that should be helpful:

Consult with a reputable pool service company in regards to the type of test kit and test strips and chemicals you will need.
Insure that you have a safe, secure place to store your chemicals.
Purchase only high quality sodium bicarbonate, muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate.
Calculate the volume of your pool and determine the correct dosage of each type of chemical for a variety of levels of adjustment.
Be sure to add any type of chemical to your pool slowly and carefully, monitoring changes as you go.
When adding muriatic acid, first dilute it in a bucket of water before adding it to your pool at the deep end only. Be sure to add acid to water rather than water to acid to avoid dangerous splattering.

Adjusting the total alkalinity of your pool can take quite a bit of time and can be quite challenging. Additionally, storing and handling the necessary chemicals can present a safety hazard. For this reason, it is often much more advisable to engage a good swimming pool service to monitor and maintain your pool. By taking the preventative step of having your pools total alkalinity monitored and adjusted professionally, you avoid the need to call on a pool repair service in the future. Having your pool cared for professionally protects your investment in your pool and leaves you free to simply enjoy the benefits of owning a swimming pool.

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