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Thread: HIGH Total alkalinity

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    HIGH Total alkalinity

    Hi, Tom. I'm new here as of today and a new pool owner as of this week. My pH is good, but alkalinity is through the roof! ~450ppm! We have very hard well water. Is this aeration method still the best way to lower alkalinity? What is the best method for aeration? Do I need to buy an aerator or some other kind of pump?

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    Welcome to TFP!

    I have very similar alkalinity to yours. Mine was in excess of 480ppm. Step one is to not get in a huge hurry to get it straightened out. Concentrate on maintaining your chlorine level so the pool water stays safe and clear. Alkalinity is a second tier problem.

    What you will find is that your pH will probably climb rapidly. You'll be adding muriatic acid almost daily, so it pays to shop around for the best price. I get it for less than $4 a gallon at Rural King.

    You'll want to take a multi-front approach to your TA:

    First, you want to minimize the well water you add to your pool, because it has more carbonates in it. That means taking advantage of rain water during the season and over the winter. I backwash whenever there is extra water in the pool from rain. I also have a mesh winter cover so I catch as much rain as I can over the winter. This process reduces the amount of high TA water I add to the pool, and lets me dilute the high TA water in the pool with zero TA rainwater.

    Second, you need to stay on top of your pH. Lower it into the 7.0-7.2 range every time you have an opportunity. When you lower the pH to around 7, some of the carbonate in the water is converted to carbon dioxide. Aerating while the pH is low allows that carbon dioxide to escape from the water which removes some of the carbonate and lowers the TA. With such high TA, the acid then aerate process will be tedious and long lasting. Do it when you have time, but concentrate your efforts on maintaining your pH. It will lower TA, because aeration happens from normal water contact with the air, the flow from your returns and splashing that happens when people swim.

    Now that my TA is reasonable, I keep my solar cover on as much as possible to reduce evaporation. Evaporation hurts you twice, because the water that leaves doesn't take the carbonates with it, so the TA goes up, and it requires you to add more well water that puts more carbonate into the pool. Unfortunately, the aeration process encourages evaporation, so you'll need to live with it at first.

    For aeration, rotating your return(s) to break the surface is usually good enough.

    It took me about 3 years to really get my water under control. I don't even test TA routinely anymore. Once you get your pH to be stable, it doesn't matter so much what your TA is. Mine was 140ppm the last time I tested it.

    Give us some details about your pool so we can refine our advice to your specific needs.
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    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    Thanks for the detailed response!

    I was given an Intex Easy Set 16' round pool for "free." I know that the filter that comes with it is pretty lackluster. I tested my pH before I did anything, and it was pretty close to 7.2. maybe a hair under. I used a test kit I got at Home Depot: HDX 5-Way Pool Test Kit-62364 - The Home Depot.

    I then added 1lb bag of shock treatment (which i also got from Home Depot). I know that was a bit much for my pool. I estimate it to be about 7500 gallons (16' x 4.5' deep). But I figured it was okay for the first time.

    After that, I did the alkalinity test, and I thought I was doing it wrong because the sample never changed color! I was adding ten drops at a time, for the sake of time. at 40 drops, it was still violet. When I got to 50, it became clear, so I figure the TA to be between 400 and 500ppm.

    The water is pretty cloudy and slightly green/brown.

    Any other things I should be doing or advice would be much appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Bill

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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    I'm thinking the TA test starts green and changes to red? (On my HTH kit) Did you have the drops mixed up?
    26' X 52" Intex Ultra Frame. Intex Sand Filter
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    You can lead a horse to (clear) water, but you can't force him to swim in it!

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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    With such a small pool, you can pretty well ignore TA and even pH. That's especially true if you can keep your pH below 7.8.
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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    Don't forget to measure your pool gallons on water depth, not pool depth....on an easy set you lose almost 6-8" with the inflatable ring. I made this mistake with mine at first... I have the 42" but my water level is barely 36"
    16' round above ground intex simple set; 1000gph intex cartidge pump; Timmins, Ontario (8 hrs North of Toronto)

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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
    With such a small pool, you can pretty well ignore TA and even pH. That's especially true if you can keep your pH below 7.8.
    Interesting. I have a 10,000 (+-) gal pool. I work to keep my PH around 7.4-7.6. At that level my TA is around 170. It sounds like you're saying that is OK, yes?
    10,000 gal, Kidney, IGP, vinyl liner, 3 to 6 ft depth. One inlet/skimmer, one main drain. Polaris Fountain, Hayward Sand Filter, 1.5 hp pump, Robotic Pool Cleaner & Me (manual vacuum).

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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    Quote Originally Posted by eparker68 View Post
    Interesting. I have a 10,000 (+-) gal pool. I work to keep my PH around 7.4-7.6. At that level my TA is around 170. It sounds like you're saying that is OK, yes?
    High TA will make your pH resistant to change, and can contribute to scaling. These are somewhat inconsequential in a seasonal pool because the potential cost of damage is very low. But if you have reasonable CH and no problem keeping your pH at a good level, then TA is not something to be very concerned with.
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    Re: HIGH Total alkalinity

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
    High TA will make your pH resistant to change, and can contribute to scaling. These are somewhat inconsequential in a seasonal pool because the potential cost of damage is very low. But if you have reasonable CH and no problem keeping your pH at a good level, then TA is not something to be very concerned with.
    I cringe every year when my SIL opens her pool. The second thing her pool store has her do is add alkalinity up to her pool. $Cha ching$!
    26' X 52" Intex Ultra Frame. Intex Sand Filter
    26' X 52 Intex Ultra Frame Install
    You can lead a horse to (clear) water, but you can't force him to swim in it!

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