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Thread: Really LOW alk & PH

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    Really LOW alk & PH

    Ok, my neighbor got pool-stored really, really bad. He's reading Pool School and is a little overwhelmed by it all, but he'll get it. Meantime, I was working with him to get his chlorine steady and CYA up. Then he tells me his alk & ph aren't even showing up. I know he needs a test kit... working on that too. Meantime, I know there's now way with our high-alk well water that his readings could be so low. That was until he told me, per pool store, that he's been adding "shock" and about a gallon of muratic acid every week! Apparently he did this most of last summer and started it again this spring. His water is clear and appears clean-no algae. He does need to add cya. He didn't even know about that one. He has a SWG. Large intex 24 x 52 (12,400 gal.). I'm surprised there's a pool left. His ph doesn't register at all on the regular phenol drop test. Alk, if there is any, is maybe around 10. I ran the numbers he had through the pool calculator. It calls for 200+ oz. of baking soda and 2000+ oz. of borax. I suggested he at least dump around 150 oz. of baking soda, then aerate like crazy and we'll re-test and go from there. I know the baking soda and aeration should also raise his ph some. I haven't been able to test with my test kit to see if there is any ph or alk reading. His readings with the kit he has appear to be correct compared with pool store unreliable readings and test strips too. This situation is totally new to me. Any suggestions on getting the acid lowered fast? I did think about draining about half and refilling from the well. Very high alk & ph water here in Texas, but we're in a severe drought and really aren't allowed to even be adding water to pools right now, or watering yards, or anything else (we're lucky to still be able to take showers!).

    Thanks in advance!
    09 Intex 18x52 Ultra Frame SWG

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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    Just so you know, when you start reading the numbers, 10 would be really high pH. 7 is neutral. 7.4 is about what your tears are.
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    If TA is really really low, and you trust that test result, the first thing to do is to raise the TA to around 50. Give that an hour to mix in and then test the PH again, and adjust the PH from there.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    Thanks. Yes, I trust the basic numbers. When he adds the red phenol to the pool water for the ph, it is clear. Alk, on that little 6-way test immediately turns red on the first drop of the re-agent if you know what I'm talking about. Pool store tells him he has "no" ph or alk. So, am I right about adding at least 150 oz. of baking soda and maybe a box of borax at this point and aerating like crazy so he can at least get it up to a readable number? If he's been adding a gallon of muratic acid week after week all this time, I'm guessing he's really messed it all up. I just didn't know whether to concentrate on alk first or ph, but from reading this forum over the years, I'm thinking baking soda and work on the alk while the ph rises, all to measurable levels, then go from there. I'm about 1/4 mile away. Real high alk water, but we had a lot of rain last year. My levels were the best ever last year with the water from the year before and no adjusting... I'm always working on lowering alk and ph. but the rainwater got me right where I wanted to be. So, figure that he was adding a gallon of muratic acid a week last summer, when I was stable... he really messed things up.
    09 Intex 18x52 Ultra Frame SWG

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    Definitely raise TA first. If the water has gotten really dramatically acidic, it might take more baking soda than calculated to raise the TA the first time. That initial increase in TA will also raise the PH at least into the 6s, and at that point it will be much easier to get things balanced.

    What you really need to do is trade some water between the two pools
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    Thanks Jason! I needed confirmation that I needed to start with the TA first. That's a lot less volume, between baking soda and borax, so as not to intimidate him too much. I've been a BBB devotee for many years and, as we know, trying to convert someone who relies on the pool store for advice isn't easy. But now that he realizes the pool store messed him up big time, he's listening. He's never really even tested his own water with anything but pool store and strips... so getting him to the 6-way drop test was a big step. It's going to take more than 150 oz. of baking soda, I think... but that's a start and I want him to see results of doing it the right way. Then he'll be on board. Yeah, I could use a little of his pool water and he could use a lot of mine!
    09 Intex 18x52 Ultra Frame SWG

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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    So, is he using the pool? Seems dangerous if it is so acidic.
    15k gunite pool. Intelliflo VF. Autopilot SWG.
    2k separate spa with waterfall (ie: pain in the rear maintaining a separate body of water). 2HP Hayward Tristar pump.

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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    Apparently they've been using it. I don't think they are now after we talked. He says it felt fine, except for his eyes burning. It's a wonder he can still see! Pretty, clear water can be deceiving if you don't have a clue what you're doing.
    09 Intex 18x52 Ultra Frame SWG

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    Re: Really LOW alk & PH

    Ok, neighbor finally bought some baking soda and borax and added that, but added it all at once. I tested his water tonight and alk is finally up to 40 (from unmeasurably low) and ph is low, around 6.2, but at least it finally has a reading. His water was clear, but he added everything at once, and now it is green and he has blobs of goo (snot looking stuff) floating. I've read about that here on the forum, but can't find the post... where someone added all the baking soda at one time. Anyone have a clue? I advised that he keep running the pump 24-7 and slowly add more baking soda over the next few days.
    09 Intex 18x52 Ultra Frame SWG

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