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Thread: Put Borax in for the first time today

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    Put Borax in for the first time today

    After reading all of this -- yes, all 15 pages -- it sounds like I am game. I have switched to BBB having put Borax in for the first time today for the purpose of raising my pH and I stumbled across this thread in making sure that it was "safe" and that I wasn't going to screw anything else up.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am gathering that adding borates is primarily to serve as a pH stabilizer - specifically to slow the pH drop so that less acid is needed and therefore less money, and secondarily as all the other things that may or may not be noticed by individuals depending on the current status of their water, location, etc. Those other things vary from looking extra sparkly, feeling better on the skin, helping with rings around the pool water line, to helping lessen the need for chlorine (if I recall correctly).

    In my case, I just bought a house and in addition to being a first time homebuyer, I am a first time pool owner. I am not even sure how big my pool is although the best guess is around 20-24k. A buddy of mine keeps reminding me how the pool supply place just want to sell me something and keep me buying all kinds of stuff. In comes the internet to educate me and I have learned alot from chem geek's posts (other's as well, but his were the first ones I saw when considering the switch to bleach since I do not have an SWG). My switch to bleach has been great, and I have stopped using the tri-chlor tabs except when I go on vacation (which incidentally drove my pH down for the second time - the first time from ignorance, the second time from forgetting that I set my pump to run longer which counter-acted me closing the flow controls on the floaters). I bought a bucket of soda ash the first time and this time I used Borax which lead me here as previously stated.

    I have a 46 lb. boxer that I trained as a pup to love the water. Although she will lap up some water after swimming for a while, and obviously some gets in her mouth, I do not think I need to be concerned about her health.

    Based on Jason's posts, I can keep the borate level around 50ppm and if I screw up and drop the pH again, it will be fine to dump in some borax to raise it back up since a higher ppm of borates will not hurt the pool. I do not plan on doing that again, but who knows (it dropped below 7.0 this last time but I am not sure how far below since it was beyond the range of my $16 basic 5 agent tester).

    Getting to the point, the day I moved in an algae bloom started thanks to it being a foreclosure and them simply not caring once they had my offer. I did not know squat but spent a couple of hours researching and just shocked the crude out of it with powder and some 3" tri-chlor pucks, scrubbed it, opened the filter to see what was in there (my buddy walked me through the basics on the phone) and it had no DE in it. After hitting Lowe's for some basics, I loaded it up with DE, the pressure shot up 10 PSI overnight, but the pool looked much better. I backwashed it and loaded it back up and shocked again. Since then I only had the beginning signs of one bloom and that was because the chlorine was all gone (oops - still getting to know it).

    I used some PhosFree to get rid of the phosphates that were in it although I still did not know much and was a little scared that it had bloomed again after just 2 weeks. Other than that I have just been giving it about 1 jug of Walmart bleach (182oz) a week. As per the local pool supply testing of my water, at move in I was at...

    0 Free chlorine
    0 Total available chlorine
    120 CH
    15 CYA
    70 TA
    100 Phosphates

    To the following a month later after the second algae bloom but before I dumped the soad ash in...

    5 Free chlorine
    5 Total available chlorine
    180 CH
    0 CYA
    40 TA
    17 Base Demand ???
    300 Phosphates

    I am about to have the local pool supply test my water again to see where I am at on everything. Should I trust their test? And should I be safe presuming that there are no borates in the water currently since I have not added any or should I test that as well? I am going to research why my TA would have dropped (unless they are just horrible at testing it).

    I guess getting to the point, should I research everything a bit more and get a little more comfortable with the pool, or should I go ahead and take the plunge? I have decided to do it, it is just a question of when. Also, since I have never had to add acid (due to the tri-chlor), should I look into something that will stabilize a pH drop so that next time I go on vacation I haven't taken it so far out of whack? Or should I just trust the borates to be the backup insurance in the event that the bleach does all burn up in the hot Texas (Houston) sun while I am gone.

    Thanks in advance.... and sorry for such a long first post.

    Regards,
    Steven

    P.S. Thanks to all the people who have clearly invested a significant amount of time in sharing their knowledge and their hobby/passion. It has made life a lot easier for a noob like me, and almost gives me the cajones to tell the pool people that they have no idea what they are talking about. For now, I will just think it in my head though. Seriously though, thanks for the expertise and to Al Gore for inventing the internet.
    IG Plaster/Gunite appx 20-24k Gallons - DE Filter 60 sq ft? with 3/4 hp Pentair Challenger pump

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    Re: So you want to add borates to your pool--Why and How

    Hi Steven,

    I think it would be a good idea to get your pool under your control before you move to Borates. First, if you haven't, go to pool school, the link is in the upper right of this page, also check out the other links in my sig, particularly the one about test kits...you need one. In particular your CYA results are all over the place...you can't trust the PS to give an accurate level. Once you know your CYA then you can properly chlorinate your pool.

    Don't worry about Phosphates and Phosphate remover, most of us on here call that being pool stored.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Welcome to TFP!
    Quote Originally Posted by SaintRonin
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am gathering that adding borates is primarily to serve as a pH stabilizer - specifically to slow the pH drop so that less acid is needed and therefore less money
    Adding borates does not affect the total amount of acid required. You use just as much acid as you did before, you just add larger quantities less often, for the same total amount. Put another way, borates cause a fixed amount of acid or base to shift the PH less than it did before.

    As linen said, skip the Phos Free and get your own top quality test kit.
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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Adding borates does not affect the total amount of acid required. You use just as much acid as you did before, you just add larger quantities less often, for the same total amount. Put another way, borates cause a fixed amount of acid or base to shift the PH less than it did before.

    Sorry to thread jack but I was thinking about adding borates as well to keep my PH more stable and reduce chlorine demend and then I read this response to your post. So even if I add borates I am still gonna have to add muriatic acid just as much as I do now?

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    You will probably still need it, just less often. It helped me keep my pool from swinging wildly from day to day, which in turn stopped my calcium scaling issue.

    As far as using less chlorine, I don't think this is true - you will still use just as much chlorine. What does seem to be true is the pool is more forgiving if the FC level drops too low. I've had it happen a couple of times since I added borates, and neither time did I end up needing to shock. (and before I get beat up, I was on a trip both times and my housesitters didn't do what I asked... simply put a bottle of bleach in the Liquidator on Wednesday was all they had to do...)
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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    To the OP, like everyone said get a good kit like the TF-100 (see the TF Test Kits link in Jason's sig) Also, keep it simple work on one problem at time. Deal with algae issue first. Then move on to TA. Don't sweat add borates to 50ppm until you have things under control. As far as your boxer, adding borax to increase pH isn't going to have much of an effect. Use the calculator, a whole box of borax isn't going to raise the borates that much.

    Raaron, you should really start a new post with your question. As Jason said, borates buffer the pH, the net noticeable effect is that you adjust you're pH less often, but use more each time with the net usage over time being the same. ie, if you used 1 gal of acid a season, you'll still use 1 gal of acid a season, you just don't have to adjust it as often.

    If you're having problem with pH drift, that can be caused by a number of factors, high TA, aeration, etc... But you should really start a new post asking about rising pH issues.
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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Trichlor tablets will lower ph with a quickness even with borates in the pool at 50ppm. Aerating to raise ph takes longer with borates, a mixed blessing. Those with water features will appreciate being able to run them more, but it's more difficult to adjust pH manually (not difficult, just more difficult. i.e. time).

    Trichlor is evil... grrr! If you need CYA, just add it manually and be done with it. Messing with fluctuating pH waiting for trichlor to raise CYA and attempting to chlorinate properly as it rises is a major PITA in my opinion.

    Trichlor also makes a black ring of nastiness form on my skimmer. Forgot all about that till last week when I added a couple 3" pucks that had gotten wet. Haven't seen the black ring since before we switched from pucks to BBB. Now I know what made it form in the first place.

    Get your own test kit, the numbers you're posting are all wonky and make little sense. Typical of pool store results.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    I probably wasn't very clear, but my original topic dealt with adding borates, not so much adding borax as a pH upper. I sometimes am overly thorough and provided the entire known pool history. :-/ Sorry.

    Anyway, I will get a good test kit, but the pool being "out of control" (as two people have said) all was within the first 3 weeks. Since then the only thing I know of that has gotten out of line was when I put in too many tri-chlor pucks for when I was on vacation (which raised the chlorine and lowered the pH due to the acid in them - as expected).

    Back to borates - the first thought that came to my head with the 50ppm level was that if I managed to screw up a third time and jack up the pH due to a mistake and/or not knowing my pool very well, my options would be limited since I was incorrectly thinking that I may not have the ability to use borax to raise the pH back up. However, since one box will nicely adjust the pH, has little effect on the borates level, and the overall borates level is plenty flexible, I do not feel any need to worry about that.

    I did a brief cost analysis on me driving all over town (figuratively) vs just ordering the 6-gal tub of boric acid from DudaDiesel. Shipping from Alabama to Houston is not bad - I think it was right at a $100 which is a little more than I need to do my whole pool. Compared to driving around to several stores to get enough 20 Mule and then transporting the acid... I think (used the pool calc last night) that I was going to need around $70+ worth of borax and acid (plus my time and gas), and when compared to $100 delivered to my door and not having to spend the extra time putting in acid, then borax, then acid again, then borax again, etc... The < $30 difference is looking pretty good as compensation for time and gas gathering everything, and then time again when putting into the pool - and that does not account for the boric acid being pretty fool proof. There is no acid content % to check, there is no keeping track of how much was added of borax and acid, yadda yadda. Just dump and go... well that is oversimplified. Waterbear's how-to thread explains the important stuff.

    In response with Raaron, I am wondering the same thing. It would seem that if in a calendar year you were to put in the same amount of acid (per dose) but dose it less frequently, then ultimately you would be using LESS acid at the end of the year. So unless you have to use MORE acid per dose since it is harder to make the pH budge, I fail to understand how you would overall be putting in the same amount of acid.

    In conclusion, so long as my TA level is not high, I think I could do this tomorrow since it sounds like the only real concern is having a high TA and then adding borates as the addition of the borates makes it harder to raise the pH by aeration. If the TA is low, I could always dump soda in the pool to raise it without concern of whether the borates are already in there or not, correct?

    Regards,
    Steven

    P.S. Some of the questions I ask my sound as if I do not care about best practice (get A, B, and C in line before D). Really I am just trying to learn the why behind the way. In addition or multiplication the order really does not matter (unless you mix them with each other or division or subtraction), but someone who chooses to manually add a column of numbers without going from bottom to top or top to bottom is doing it the hard way. With pool stuff, I want to know how careful I have to be. If adding numbers, I can simply re-add no harm done. When mixing chemicals I could do anything from hurt myself, damage my pool, or best case scenario simply waste money if something goes wrong. That is why I ask some of the questions the way I do... I am not adding everything tomorrow, but technically I could.... It probably also helps me know how much more research I need to do on a topic if many people give feedback indicating I strongly should rethink something. Thanks again to all...
    IG Plaster/Gunite appx 20-24k Gallons - DE Filter 60 sq ft? with 3/4 hp Pentair Challenger pump

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Quote Originally Posted by frogabog
    Trichlor tablets will lower ph with a quickness even with borates in the pool at 50ppm. Aerating to raise ph takes longer with borates, a mixed blessing. Those with water features will appreciate being able to run them more, but it's more difficult to adjust pH manually (not difficult, just more difficult. i.e. time).

    Trichlor is evil... grrr! If you need CYA, just add it manually and be done with it. Messing with fluctuating pH waiting for trichlor to raise CYA and attempting to chlorinate properly as it rises is a major PITA in my opinion.

    Trichlor also makes a black ring of nastiness form on my skimmer. Forgot all about that till last week when I added a couple 3" pucks that had gotten wet. Haven't seen the black ring since before we switched from pucks to BBB. Now I know what made it form in the first place.

    Get your own test kit, the numbers you're posting are all wonky and make little sense. Typical of pool store results.
    Yeah, I wish I had gone to Pool School prior to buying them, but I was a noob. Once I get the kit, I will check the CYA myself. Those two readings were from a pool that was recently green as best I can tell (google satellite has pictures of my house with a half empty green pool - it was a foreclosure) and had not really stabled out or had anyone taking care of it regularly like I am now. I think my numbers should all be pretty stable - with the exception of when I put in way too much tri-chlor. LOL

    Thanks for the suggestion on just getting the CYA and not messing with the hassle. frogabog. Sometimes I want to use it just because I bought it - and the floaters :-/ due to ignorance and thinking that I must need them as that is what "everyone" uses. Obviously, those who know better do not.
    IG Plaster/Gunite appx 20-24k Gallons - DE Filter 60 sq ft? with 3/4 hp Pentair Challenger pump

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Most of us have trichlor tablets in storage and feel the urge to "use them up" too.

    I ran low on bleach last week when a surprise bloom occurred. All I had on hand was the trichlor so I put 2 three inch pucks in for the evening waiting for bleach. Then I decided to use them up cuz they were wet and we could use some CYA. First thing I noticed was uncontrollable FC levels. I got what I got. Then the pool started to smell weird. Memories of the years of pucks returned to me. Yuck! Then the black ring on the skimmer. The pool still smelled icky and towards the end of the last puck bare minimum chlorine levels. Still got what I got and I wasn't pleased with the way the pool looked. And as a final gift, pH was down to 7.2. Finally the puck was gone and I put 4ppm of bleach in and started aerating. Immediately I could see and smell the difference. 3 days later the black ring is gone and pH is slowly rising, 7.4 yesterday.

    Enter 50ppm borates and your current TA into the now colummn in the calculator. Then play with adjusting pH and TA to see what it says. The calculator will take borates into account and adjust the required amounts for it.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    FWIW, I can put 8 trichlor tablets in floaters in my pool and it will not shift pH, FC, or CYA very much at all. I'm not kidding. The effect of trichlor is one of those YMMV (your mileage may vary) things. In my pool, if anything, tablets hold my pH. For some reason I have one of those pools that likes to creep up, even though I have no water features, no returns breaking the surface, and honestly not a lot of splashing (no little kids).

    That said, I'm not promoting tablets. I use BLEACH, fed by a Liquidator.
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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Quote Originally Posted by SaintRonin
    Anyway, I will get a good test kit, but the pool being "out of control" (as two people have said) all was within the first 3 weeks. Since then the only thing I know of that has gotten out of line was when I put in too many tri-chlor pucks for when I was on vacation (which raised the chlorine and lowered the pH due to the acid in them - as expected).
    I meant no offense about the "out of control" but without knowing CYA levels and using trichlor pucks without a proper test kit, I would consider you flying blind and maybe into a mountain (ie you might have an algae problem still and just not be aware of it). Again, it would make sense to me, that you work on getting a test kit first, and understanding you pool/pool chemistry, before even thinking about Borates, etc. You might find that your TA is much higher than the pool store tests and you want to get that in the proper range before borates. My two cents
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    FWIW... $30 for the time and headache of dealing with acid and time is a good deal. I'd gladly spend $30 extra on boric acid. Time is $ yano...

    I do agree w/Linen though, when you do decide to add borates you'll be best served if all your other ducks are in the row and you have your own test kit. You may find that you do still have an algae issue even if you can't see it once you can do your own testing. Get some CYA into the pool, 30ppm would be a good place to start.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Quote Originally Posted by SaintRonin
    It would seem that if in a calendar year you were to put in the same amount of acid (per dose) but dose it less frequently, then ultimately you would be using LESS acid at the end of the year. So unless you have to use MORE acid per dose since it is harder to make the pH budge, I fail to understand how you would overall be putting in the same amount of acid.
    Because of the greater pH buffering from the borates, you indeed have to add more quantity of acid when you do need to add it. So as an example, you might need to add twice as much quantity of acid, but have twice as long between times when you need to add it. So the total amount over the long-run is the same amount of acid, but it's more convenient since it doesn't have to be added as frequently. OR you can add the original amount as frequently, but the pH will rise less in that time compared to not using borates.

    As an example, if without Borates but with 80 ppm TA you went from a pH of 7.5 to 7.9, say due to carbon dioxide outgassing, then with 50 ppm Borates the pH would rise only to 7.66 in that same period of time. Either way, the amount of acid needed to bring the pH back down to 7.5 is the same. In reality, the amount of acid in the borates case can be somewhat higher since one is keeping the pH lower and that increases the rate of carbon dioxide outassing. For smaller pH movements, this effect is not as noticeable.
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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    @chem geek
    That is stated clearly. Thanks! So when it comes to borates effect on acid, it is simply an issue of convenience as your cost techincally could go up. Not to hijack my own thread, but since this next question is loosely related with acid and pH and the potential effects pf borates, I came across another site prior to landing here that was talking about contantly running a high pH (7.7-7.9 generally) and that if you did not have copper/metal yada yada, it kept you from having to constantly fight the pH by adding acid. Is this "dangerous reasoning" or is this one of those things that technically is feasible, but is risky as you are much closer to the edge of the "safe zone"? My apologies on not researching this myself yet. I have read about all I can for a couple of days, but will probably ramp back up in order to start getting my ducks in a row this weekend

    @linen
    No offense taken. Thanks for the reminder that just because it looks ok, does not always mean that it is. On the weekend ducks from the previous paragraph, hopefully I can get the test kit and borate strips orderd, maybe even the boric acid if it can sit for a month or so without any ill effects. Maybe I'll grab some PolyQuat60 to make sure I am not flying into the proverbial mountain instead of using the PhosFree - another, I have it so I guess I should use it item. I would like to think that with all the shocking I did originally that algae is a thing of the past - especially since my filter did not even have any DE in it initially so it was just recirculating instead of filtering, but I would prefer to know rather than assume. Thanks again.

    @frogabog
    I am with you on the $30 for my time. It takes enough time reading up on all of this, I no longer have any to spare! LOL j/k

    @anyone
    Now that I think about it, I do have a fine powder/residue on the bottom and sides of the pool which potentially contradicts everything being fine. It stays on my feet when I get out of the pool, and it would seem to be the paint from whomever painted the pool blue most recently. It seems weird, but I can kind of push it around with the brush and make marks in it like a vacuum marks in the carpet. It is is whitish/grey color.
    IG Plaster/Gunite appx 20-24k Gallons - DE Filter 60 sq ft? with 3/4 hp Pentair Challenger pump

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    frogabog's Avatar
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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    What you need...

    Is your own test kit. You're flying blind here guessing what may or may not be. The dust you're seeing could be algae. It could be something else... hard to know. Shocking blind tends to leave a pool partly shocked unfortunately, even if it looks ok at some point. Maintaining shock levels throughout the entire shock process is the only way to assure yourself that all the algae is dead. And once the algae is really all dead, it has to be filtered out (this is probably what's on the floor). If it's only "mostly dead" it will re-bloom even when normal chlorine levels are maintained but especially if they drop below minimum. How you'll know if this happens without your own kit is impossible.

    Without CYA, your going to loose a lot of chlorine every day, all of it possibly. Dropping to 0 (or below 1 with no CYA) even once can cause a bloom, and you won't see it at first.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Put Borax in for the first time today

    Quote Originally Posted by SaintRonin
    Not to hijack my own thread, but since this next question is loosely related with acid and pH and the potential effects pf borates, I came across another site prior to landing here that was talking about contantly running a high pH (7.7-7.9 generally) and that if you did not have copper/metal yada yada, it kept you from having to constantly fight the pH by adding acid. Is this "dangerous reasoning" or is this one of those things that technically is feasible, but is risky as you are much closer to the edge of the "safe zone"?
    This is accurate. Lowering the TA level is the main way to slow down the rate of pH rise since TA is a SOURCE of rising pH due to carbon dioxide outgassing, but it is also the case that as the pH rises there is less aqueous carbon dioxide in the water (more of it shifts to bicarbonate ion) so there is less outgassing and a slower rate of pH rise. This chart shows you how much more carbon dioxide there is in the water than in equilibrium with the air at various TA and pH levels. Pools are intentionally over-carbonated to provide some pH buffering and to saturate the water with calcium carbonate to protect plaster surfaces. However, one can have a lower TA and compensate with a higher CH and/or pH. This makes the pH more stable when using hypochlorite sources of chlorine. The higher TA levels above 80 ppm are really more for using other sources of chlorine such as Trichlor that do better (at least at 100-120 ppm TA).
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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