It’s no secret that chlorine is key to maintaining a clean swimming pool.
But while chlorine plays a pivotal role in eliminating harmful bacteria that would otherwise threaten the health of your patrons, it’s not the only aspect of pool chemistry that you need to monitor for a safe and balanced pool – as proper water balance is of equal importance.While pH and alkalinity are both crucial to water balance, they’re commonly (and incorrectly) believed to be the same thing. The pH of water determines which form of alkalinity is most prevalent. Maintaining pH balance can determine the safety of your pool, and is the measurement of how acidic or basic the water is on a scale of 0 to 14.
The measurement of water’s ability to stabilize itself is commonly known as total alkalinity. As a pool operator, it’s important to ensure that the alkalinity in your pool is balanced, as extremes on either end of the alkalinity spectrum can result in severe pH fluctuations.
Low pH results in the corrosion of fixtures and the staining of pool walls. In conjunction with excess chlorine, low pH can also severely irritate swimmers’ eyes and give off a foul odor. High total alkalinity will cause pH to rise, leading to the formation of scale deposits.
Due to total alkalinity’s role in affecting pH, it’s important to test it before attempting to achieve balance. True control of your pool’s alkalinity requires that you regularly check for contaminants and irritants.
The following are a few testing methods you can use to determine water quality:
Test Strip Method
Test strips are both inexpensive and effective. Simply dip the test strip into the pool and wait 15 seconds before reading the results. Keep test strips in a secure container to ensure accurate readings during each use.
Colorimetric Test Method
Colorimetric tests, while more expensive, are an excellent resource due to their pinpoint accuracy. In particular, these tests are excellent for pools that are exposed to variable lighting conditions that can cause fluctuations in water chemistry.
Titration is the act of slowly adding one solution to another to reach neutralization. There are titration method kits for water hardness and various other quality parameters. With this method, poolside drop-count titrations and laboratory titrations with burettes can be used to determine alkalinity.
Looking for an alternative method to properly balance your pH? Check out the Acid-Rite® pH Adjustment System, a new alternative to bulky liquid acid systems and cumbersome granular sodium bisulfate bags.