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Thread: Total alkalinity and pH

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    Total alkalinity and pH

    Hello,

    My pool was opened about 10 day ago and I am a first time owner, 28,000 gallons, 60 CYA from previous owners using trichlor, using bleach currently to maintain clear water, FC of at least 5 and no CC's.

    From the beginning of my testing the pH hasn't really been on the chart using the daily test as part of the "TFTestkit FAS-DPD Test Kit." Specifically, while the pH colors go from orange to red for higher pH, mine has always been more yellow, almost like the colors for the daily chlorine part of the test. I have assumed this means the pH is very low.

    Also, there seems to be no total alkalinity. When I perform the test for TA and add drops to turn the fluid from green/blue to red (and the number of drops to turn to red determines the TA level), well the fluid is pink/red before I even put in any drops to turn it that color. I have assumed this means the TA is basically not present.

    I used PoolMath to calculate adding Borax to raise pH, but I think I also need to add baking soda for TA? The initial Borax I added might have changed the pH color some, but it still really isn't on the scale (i.e. it's still more yellow than orange to red.) I think I made an error with pool math because when I now input my current values for both TA and pH it tells me to add less Borax but more Baking Soda. Previously, I accidentally had the TA level as normal in pool math, and based on that it told me to add a lot of Borax to raise the pH. When I put in both the pH and the TA at their current levels, though, then it tells me to add less Borax but a lot of Baking Soda.

    Thanks for any advice.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    HI Kbrendan,
    pH and TA go hand in hand. If you use pool math to figure pH, then the TA needs to be correct also. Thats probably what happened, as you suspect. Ok. So.

    About the TA, its basically impossible for TA to be 0. Did you add any drops at all to see if there was color change?
    A pink/red is not the right color of red for TA. It will turn very very dark red. *at least mine does*.

    Recommend to test TA again. Even if its pink/red, add the drops 1 at a time, and continue to add until the color stops changing (red geting darker). When you add the drop and there is no change, then dont count that last drop and then figure your TA. Use that number in pool math to figure out what you need to add.

    Report back what you find.
    Divin Dave,
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Ok, thanks so much.

    Also, do you think I am correct with my thought that the, "yellow color that's not even on the chart" for the pH means the pH is very low? I have been thinking about why the pH is so low in the first place. Do you think it's because the previous owners used so much trichlor?

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    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Quote Originally Posted by kbrendan View Post
    Ok, thanks. I have been thinking about why the pH is so low in the first place. Do you think it's because the previous owners used so much trichlor?
    Probably. I had a friend who never used anything other than trichlor an dichlor. I took me about 20 boxes of 20 Mule Team Borax to get his pH so it would register.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Wow! There's a story!
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Wow, that's crazy, but I honestly think that is the situation I might be in with my pH. Is there any reason I shouldn't just keep testing and keep going with Borax? I see that "washing soda" and "soda ash" is also listed, but Borax has been cheap and available for me so far.

    Thank you very much for the replies.

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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    If your TA Test turned red before you put drops of R0009 then you have 0 TA, and your are correct. Use Pool math to start bringing that up before making any more adjustments to pH. See what pool math tells you and bring it up in increments if you like, but this needs to come up.
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    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    As Dave said, retest TA and see if you can get a valid reading. If as I suspect the TA is low you will want to use Baking Soda to bring the TA up some, then Soda Ash to raise both pH & TA.

    Form Pool School:
    If your TA level is low soda ash will raise both the PH and TA levels.
    Soda ash is available as ARM & HAMMERŪ Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster. Do not confuse this with ARM & HAMMERŪ laundry detergent! It is sold in the laundry detergent section of most larger grocery stores and some big box stores. It is also sold by pool stores under various names, including PH Increaser, PH Up, Balance Pak 200, etc. Soda ash is best added by pre-dissolving it in a bucket of water and then pouring that slowly in front of a return.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Defgufman's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    It sounds like a lot of baking soda is in your future to me
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    I don't remember from your other posts what type of pool you have, but if it's a gunnite/plaster type, it is critical that this is addressed. Not to sound alarmist, but tonight if possible. It's an aside, but when you add baking soda, low pH will move more to the higher side with low TA, but until it is at a reasonable level, your pH will swing so watch the pH, but get the TA UP to 60 minimum, and work toward 80.
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Thank you all for this advice. The pool has a vinyl liner and a sand filter.

    I don't know exactly how to make sense of the current state of the pool chemistry other than that the previous owners used tricolor, a small amount of liquid chlorine, and some kind of algecide.

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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Just for clarity, I would suggest raising pH first with Borax or Soda Ash. When you do that, the TA will automatically come up with the ph.

    When your pH is in the mid 7's, I believe your TA test will register perhaps enough that you don't need ANY baking soda. If you do need a bit more TA, baking soda will then raise it without affecting your pH.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Ok thanks. I have been confused about whether I should add the baking soda or Borax first at this point. PoolMath makes it look like I should increase the TA first with baking soda, because when I put in my currentl low TA and current low pH it tells me to put in a large amount of baking soda and just a small amount of Borax. If instead I put in my current low pH with a normal TA then the amount of Borax is much larger.

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    Trust your TA test, and follow Duraleighs advice for the simplest way. If you have reasonable pH, then you will have some TA showing up. It's impossible not too. I should have suggested the simple route first, my apologies for not doing so. With low pH in a vinyl pool, your primary concern would be the metallurgy in the system. Such as a heater. In a gunnite/plaster pool, the plaster or other interior finish is also a concern.
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    I added washing soda according the the pool math calculations and the pH is in a more appropriate range now, but the water is noticeably more cloudy. Any thoughts about the change in water clarity? I tested the calcium hardness and it does not seem to be particularly high.

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    Suddenly cloudy water after adding washing soda

    Hello,

    To increase the pH I added the amount of washing soda recommended by PoolMath. Less than an hour after adding this washing soda the water became noticeably cloudier than before. I tested the CH and it is not especially high, around 350. The pH appears to be in appropriate range based on repeat testing. Any thoughts? Should I have stayed with the lower pH? (Vinyl pool with sand filter)

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    Re: Suddenly cloudy water after adding washing soda

    Welcome. You will learn a lot here. How did you obtain your readings? Pool store, strips, or a drop test? I love my TF 100 test kit. We really need a full set of numbers and how you got them to better answer your questions.

    I have never added washing soda so I do not really know the answer to that part of your question. I would assume it could add some cloudiness, but fade away. If it did not then I would say there is something growing.
    Lisa
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Suddenly cloudy water after adding washing soda

    That sounds like calcium clouding, though it is impossible to say without more information.

    Please post a complete set of water test results. That will help us answer your questions.
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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Total alkalinity and pH

    And no, you shouldn't have stayed at the low pH. It was way too low. It would likely have been very irritating on the eyes at least.

    Update us on the numbers and cloudiness please.
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