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Thread: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

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    Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    This is our first season with a pool (20,000 gal vinyl liner, sand filter) so we are in the learning process. A friend told me to purchase the TF100 test kit which I did and she's been helping me with the BBB process. However, still struggling with continued low ph and continued high TA. Been adding Borax and muratic acid but maybe not adding enough or correctly.
    On 7/17 ph 7.2 TA 210 CYA 35. After adding both each day, here's the latest:
    7/20 evening (ph lower than 6.8, TA 160) added 5 boxes of borax
    7/21 a.m. ph 7.5 TA 190, added 1 gal mur acid, 2 hours later splashed in pool for several hours to aerate, tested water after swimming ph 7.2 TA 175, then added 4 1/2 boxes of borax after a couple hours tested at ph 7.8 TA 190, waited an hour, added 1 gal mur acid, waited 1/2 hour added 1 more gal mur acid.
    Tested 7/22 a.m. ph 7.2 TA 160. So TA is down from the 17th but how many more weeks do I have to go through this process or am I not adding enough at one time? I read in a post to add the borax and immediately add the acid and brush the pool. Is that what I need to do too? Please help! Thank you.

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    I'd stop adding stuff and just aerate the heck out of things. Anything you have - waterfall, slide, spa - get it going full blast. Aim the return jets up so that the water bubbles. Or build some sort of homemade aerator.
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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    My pool's about the same size and I had to drop TA roughly same amount.
    I turned my eyeball jets upward to break the surface and got a Grecian floating fountain to further aerate the pool. That increased the pace of raising ph considerably, allowing for more frequent addition of acid.
    According to my pool log, it took about 3 weeks to get it down to 70, but I had added borates in the middle of that period, which had raised it back up a little, so without other tinkering I suspect you could have it under control in more like 10-14 days.

    Once it's under control you'll enjoy the comparative ease -- eg maybe a bit of acid every ten days or so and that's it.

    The fountain was about 35 bucks and can double as a coolant system if things get too hot temp wise. It,s pretty easy to put in and take out.
    Other people have reported turning shop vacs into agitators, etc.

    Congrats on your conversion and welcome aboard
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    Welcome to TFP! Isn't adding the borax raising your TA/PH while adding the MA is lowering your TA/PH? Seems to me you need to first aerate your water to get your PH up to the middle to upper 7s and then add MA to lower you TA. This will of course cause your PH to drop again and you will need to continue to aerate to bring that back up. Go to the bottom of the pool calculator and see how adding borax affects your pool. Maybe this is this a borate thing and I just don't get it?
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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    Btw, are you adding borax to get to 50 ppm for water quality, or are you adding borax to raise your ph? Regular borax, eg 20 team mule, will continue to add to you TA.

    You can still swim with ph around 7 - 7.2. So raise your ph, aeration ONLY, to 7.8 and drop with acid, over and over again til you've got the TA down (eg. Every few days if possible).

    If you want to operate pool with 50 ppm borates, use boric acid, which won't add to TA (much...mine did a little.) here is a link if you wanted to do that http://www.dudadiesel.com/search.php?query=Boric+acid

    Sorta cross-posted
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    What is your purpose in doing all of this? Why are you trying to lower your TA? It's normally not a big deal to have it high, so why are you doing all of this.

    If there is a real reason why you must lower your TA, you are doing it incorrectly. Each time you add borax, you are raising your TA, so you are in a never ending cycle.

    To lower TA, you lower your pH to 7.0 -7.2 with acid, then aerate until it gets back up to 7.6-7.8. Then repeat the process.

    Also, please make sure you are using the pool calculator to determine how much acid to use. Low pH can be very hazardous to your pool and equipment. Don't let your pH fall below 7.0.
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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    I should try to make this more clear.

    Some people add borates to help stabilize their pools, make skin feel softer, etc. In a pool store, they call it "optimizer." bbb'ers who choose to do this often do so by either adding copious amounts of mule team 20 borax and using six or more jugs of acid to offset the increase in TA that this type of borax causes. Other bbb'ers have figured out that boric acid purchased from chem producers does NOT require acid and use it instead to accomplish same goals. Still others might use pool store optimizer (I used proteam supreme plus, supposed to be ph/TA neutral) because they didn't want to handle so much acid or because (in my case) they didn't know where to find cheaper boric acid at the time.

    If you have high TA, which you do, I wouldn't fool around with borates for water quality until I had my TA in range at 70 (hindsight is 20/20 That's because one of the reasons people choose to have borates at 50 ppm is in order to buffer ph swings. You don't really want to be buffeting that when you're trying to CAUSE wild ph drift.

    Once you have your TA in range, then it's a good time to optimize, IMHO (having NOT done so myself!) then you can deliberately calculate your additions whether using the cheaper mule team and acid or the more convenient boric acid to have a neutral, or mostly neutral, impact on your TA.

    Hope that makes sense and sorry I didn't clarify sooner.
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    +1 what aa62597 said. I don't see any real need to change anything.

    Ourpool, leave things alone if your water is clean....the TA will slowly come down on it's own.

    If you are trying to accomplish something else, post back.
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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    @AA - poster is trying to achieve recommended TA of 70, which is recommended when using bleach in order to control ph drift. Bbb'ers here have traditionally found pools to be much more trouble-free in so doing.
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman
    @AA - poster is trying to achieve recommended TA of 70, which is recommended when using bleach in order to control ph drift. Bbb'ers here have traditionally found pools to be much more trouble-free in so doing.
    TA seems to be what many newbies jump on as something to change and it isn't that important. I am aware of the recommended levels for TA. I'm speaking from experience (my own plus reading hundreds of threads on here) that the pH drift at that TA level is easy to manage, especially if there are no water features or a SWG. Right now the OP is spending lots of money and time to not accomplish much. They need to stop this. They have the two options I listed, either lower TA correctly, which will still take money and time, or ignore TA and focus on pH, which would spread the cost of the acid throughout the entire season.
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    +1 what aa62579 said, again.

    For reasons that I simply can't explain, most newbies will jump on TA as the first item they want to get in line when, in fact, it is probably the least crucial so it appears that "ourpool" is doing just that.

    While every post giving advice in this thread is perfectly correct in every way, I think ourpool needs to un-focus on TA and get the other parameters in line, get comfortable dealing with them for a week or so, and then address TA....or perhaps just let it fall slowly over the summer.- unless the pH additions get too annoying.
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320
    TA is what you mess with once everything else is stable and you're bored.
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    Thank you everyone for your quick replies. Since this is new to me I hope you understand I'm a bit confused! I have been told by friends with pools that my TA is way too high and to get it down but the most important thing is my ph has been way to low to get it up. By getting ph up, yes the TA has been increasing as well with the Borax but I have gotten TA down in the slow process (was 7.2 and 210, now 5 days later 7.2 and 160). We don't have anything to aerate with but did just go out and turn the jets upwards to bubble the water up per your suggestions. After 3 hours of splashing yesterday, the ph did not increase at all. Had hoped that would aerate a bit and increase ph on its own but it didn't. So is the consensus I should stop adding Borax, stop adding muratic acid and leave the jets pointed upward? Then if the ph level gets up to 7.8 or so, use the calculator and add a little acid to lower TA. Will I need to leave the jets pointed upwards for a long time and if so, what does that do to the pool since they were normally pointed down? To get an idea, might it be necessary to leave them pointed up for a week or two? I realize it will depend on my numbers but just to get an idea. With the jets up, would that just mean we'll need to sweep more often? Thank you again!

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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    I'd make sure my pH was at least 7.2 and then leave everything alone. Keep the jets pointed the way they are now. Your pH will raise eventually, so keep an eye on it.

    My TA is currently between 225 and 250 and I add acid about every 5 days. My pH comes up .1-.2 each day depending on how much splashing around has occurred. I actually try my best to prevent any unneeded aeration.

    My fill water TA is around 325-350. Drought conditions here in Texas mean we have to top off the pool pretty often. You can see the additions of MA have lowered my TA some, but not anywhere near the "ideal" 70-90 level. I have never had algae or a cloudy pool and this is all with the filter many on here say is inadequate and have trouble with.
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    aa62579's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    Forgot to respond to part of your actual question. Yes, I'd recommend leaving things alone until your pH comes up to 7.8. Then use the calculator, making sure your current TA level is plugged in, and add the amount of acid to get to 7.2. 7.8 is a good goal, but depending on my schedule, I have dropped the pH at 7.6 if I was going to be busy the next few days, and sometimes the pH had gotten up to 8.0 before I have gotten a chance to lower it. High pH is safer than low pH.

    Lowering your TA is a noble goal, but what you were doing seems like it would be quite an inconvenience and expensive in regards to chemicals, reagents, and time. Relax, and just enjoy your pool, and I think you will fall into a comfortable way to manage your pH and your TA will lower as a side effect.
    ~~ Allison ~~
    Intex 18' x 48" Easy Set Pool, approximately 5455 gallons
    Krystal Clear 1500 GPH Filter Pump Model 56635EG - 635 with Auto Timer
    BBB FOR BEGINNERS ~ THIS IS A MUST READ FOR ANYONE OVERWHELMED!!

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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    It is entirely our pool's decision ehether or not he or she WANTS to have TA within recommended guidelines. However, IF he or she does want to, adding borax is not the way to get there.

    So take what parts you want from the thread, but understand that in order to actively lower your TA you will find it easier to do so by increasing ph without additive agents and then lowering with enough acid to get to your lowest comfortable level, eg 7.2 by the book, 7.0 if your using a fountain to aerate.

    While in a vinyl pool there is no harm of a higher TA such as yours now, some can find that levels above 120 can cause cloudiness, and more ph drift upward.

    So, if on one hand you're sick of fooling around, you can indeed relax and enjoy your pool.

    But if like me, you WANTED to control TA so that your baseline as a new pool owner is ideal, and in my case so I could comfortably add borates without exacerbating TA levels, then you would
    need to spend a bit of time over the next few weeks to nail it, and a few bucks in muriatic acid.

    What's most important is that you're comfortable predicting what particular additions will net you
    in terms of balance, and it IS more important to have FC and ph and cya stabilized before tackling
    TA, which is more of a long range thing, or adding borates, which is even longer range. So in that
    sense hopefully this thread has been helpful to you, despite different perspectives about whether
    or not your intended goal of lowering TA is necessary

    Ps not having ph below 7.2 is the higher priority, btw, because sustained periods of low ph can corrode equipment, and if tooo low, can cause water to burn the eyes, just so you know. Not taking hours or necessarily even days in terms of the corrosive part, but swim ability becomes immediately affected by ph lower than 7.2ish
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  17. Back To Top    #17

    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    This has all been extremely helpful. I do want to eventually lower TA in order to at some point have an all around balanced pool but what I've learned here should make my life easier with the aerating rather than massive amounts of borax then lots of mur acid. Our pool was cloudy a few weeks ago but that's cleared up and it's been nice and clear even with my out of whack numbers so I will concentrate on keeping ph up, continue the aerating, and adding mur acid when necessary. Over time I hope to become a pro at this like the rest of you! But until then, I'll probably have other question!! Thanks again everyone.

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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    so I will concentrate on keeping ph up, continue the aerating, and adding mur acid when necessary
    Actually, the best thing you can do to maintain your pool is to concentrate on keeping adequate chlorine. Understand that it is consumable and will need to be replenished daily.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Continued low ph and high alkalinity

    On the chlorine, yes, I'm monitoring that daily and replenishing. Thanks.

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