Balancing Total Alkalinity to Maximize Chlorine Efficiency

Man testing pool total alkalinity

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Balancing Total Alkalinity to Maximize Chlorine Efficiency

Sometimes, it feels like maintaining a pool requires a Ph.D. in chemistry. There are so many tests to run and chemicals to balance. Adding one chemical upsets the balance of all the other ones, and it’s easy to forget which chemical does what. Plus, you have to be the one to remember when to administer pool chemicals. At this point, you’re wondering if those hot summer days spent in your pool are worth the hassle. 


Is there any hope for average pool owners to master the art of pool maintenance?


Yes! Family Pool Maintenance is here to simplify the pool chemistry process. 


Today, we’re going to talk about your pool’s total alkalinity. We will go over some of the basic scientific concepts and end with some practical advice you can use today. As always, Family Pool Maintenance is here to help you keep your pool clean and safe.


What is Alkalinity?

Alkalinity is a measurement of compounds dissolved in pool water. If you’re curious, alkalinity covers all the carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides, and cyan urates present in the water.


Another way to describe alkalinity is to contrast it with acidity. Most of us know about acidity. It’s what makes lemons taste sour and gives carbonated beverages their sparkling pop. So, if acidic compounds register on one end of the scale, alkaline compounds register on the opposite end.


What matters most to pool owners is achieving the right amount of total alkalinity. Ideally, your pool will have a total alkalinity rating of 800 – 120 parts per million. 


Note that alkalinity—although related to acidity and the pH scale—is not measured on the pH scale. Thankfully, most pool test strips will give you reading for both pH and alkalinity, so you don’t need to buy multiple testing products.


What Are the Benefits of Balancing Total Alkalinity in Your Pool?

Alkalines reduce pH shifts in pools. They act as buffers to large fluctuations in acidity, which is great because it makes your pool easier to maintain over the long run. 


High acidity (running rampant because of imbalanced alkalinity) can be highly corrosive to metal. If you fail to keep alkaline levels elevated, you’ll spend a fortune replacing expensive guardrails, pumps, and drainage pipes. Large amounts of acidity can be extremely uncomfortable for swimmers, too. 


Also, low alkalinity can lead to pool staining and scaling, while high alkalinity can lead to cloudy water. The Team at Family Pool Maintenance wants to help you find the perfect balance for your pool.


How Does Total Alkalinity Affect Chlorine?

Beyond the effects of low and high alkalinity already mentioned, an unbalanced pool can seriously impact the effectiveness of chlorine. If your chlorine doesn’t react as it should, you could be dealing with an unsanitary (and potentially unsafe) pool. 


Chlorine is very slow to react at high pH levels. When pH rises over 8.2, chlorine may become 50% inactive. But even a pH of 7.8 can have negative effects on your chlorine (and your pocketbook).


Ineffective chlorine is something pool owners want to avoid at all costs. The consequences include:

  • An unsanitary pool
  • An expensive chemical budget
  • Time wasted adding more chlorine than is otherwise necessary


If the benefits of balanced total alkalinity weren’t clear before, then they should be now. Always make sure your pool shows an alkalinity reading of 100 million parts per million.


How Can You Adjust Your Pool’s Alkalinity?

Rebalancing your pool’s alkalinity is not complicated. With a few basic chemicals and testing, you can get back to the proper chemistry in no time. 


Reducing High Total Alkalinity

If your total alkalinity is high, then it almost always means your acidity is low. So, you’ll want to add acid to bring your pH balance down to 7.0. This will counteract the excess alkalines dissolved in the water. 


Increasing Low Total Alkalinity

The solution to low alkalinity is baking soda (or another pool product with a similar chemistry makeup). The recommended dosage is 1.5 pounds of sodium bicarbonate per 10,000 gallons of water. Family Pool Maintenance can help you figure out the size of your pool and the appropriate amount of baking soda. 


Have More Questions? Reach Out to Family Pool Maintenance

We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of total alkalinity. By balancing your total alkalinity, you can create a comfortable swimming environment, prolong the life of your pool equipment, and get the most out of your chlorine.


If balancing your pool’s chemicals is not up your alley, or if you just can’t seem to get your chemicals to cooperate, give our team a call at 302-270-3700 or contact us online


With years of experience under our belts, we’re Delaware’s go-to pool maintenance company. We’re ready and willing to educate our customers on the art of swimming pool maintenance.

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