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Thread: Extremely Low Alkilinity/PH

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    Extremely Low Alkilinity/PH

    I tested a friends pool with my taylor test kit, and he came up with extremely low alkalinity/PH. They were off the scale and I didn't want to waste my chemicals figuring out how much he needed. He said he hasn't added PH or Alkalinity adder in 3 years. He hasn't put anything in his pool but powered stabilized chlorine. BTW, his CYA level is around 200! Though I'm guessing this may be off because of the low Alkalinity/PH.

    I told him he needs to add a lot of Baking Soda and Borax to get his levels up, but he said he doesn't want to because his water is clear and clean and he doesn't have any problems. My question is, what kind of problems can extremely low Alkalinity/PH cause? I want to convince him, but he's very skeptical.

    Thanks
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    The low acidity of his water is highly corrosive to metal (i.e. pool pump). Is he able to open his eyes under water without stinging? If the pool is vinyl, then the low acidity will weaken it. If the pool is gunite/plaster, then the low acidity and low TA will dissolve it.

    Did the TA test turn red immediately (instead of green and then adding drops to turn it red)? If so, then the pH is below 4.5 and is very acidic. Powdered stabilized chlorine is Dichlor and is acidic after the chlorine gets used up (though it's not as acidic as Trichlor).

    Though the CYA is high, the very low acidity is possibly preventing algae, but at a serious cost of corrosion. Is he also using an algaecide such as PolyQuat 60 or is he using copper (both will prevent algae)?

    By the way, to increase the pH and add TA at the same time, he can add pH Up / Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda / Sodium Carbonate though just adding Alkalinity Up / Arm & Hammer Baking Soda / Sodium Bicarbonate will work well as you suggested and should be done first before Borax -- then add Borax if the pH isn't high enough after the TA is at a good level.

    Of course, if you get his pH and TA in good shape, then the high CYA will likely promote algae unless the FC level is kept really high (at 200 ppm CYA the FC level needs to be kept around 20 ppm). So your friend will then blame you for creating algae. So it is probably better to do a drain/refill of the pool to get the CYA level way down first, then pretty much start over.

    Richard
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Pool60,

    Refer him/her to the website and drop the subject. Having been down that road, it is a waste of your valuable time to "prove" to skeptics the value of what you will learn here.

    Similarly, trying to fix a neigbors', friends', or relatives' pool by posting up his/her issues here is seldom productive. Far better that they choose to come to the site and learn for themselves.

    Meanwhile, be politely smug knowing that your pool will be sparkling and Trouble Free compared to what they are going thru or about to go thru.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Yikes! The TA test DID turn red immediately. Actually he is using Triclor. Any idea how much Super washing soda he should put in? He has a 16x32 foot in ground vinyl pool.

    Thanks
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    there are a couple calculators in my signature that can help you with the amounts.

    8200 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, manually chlorinated with 10% liquid, salt added to ~2000, 12" sand filter, 1600gph pump, TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, Chlorine/CYA Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

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    Thanks for the help. We ended up buying alkalinity increaser and ph adder at lowes. We put the alkalinity increaser in tonight. I'll test his water again tomorrow morning, then put the ph adder in. Thanks for your help.
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    Any recommendations on stores where you can buy borax or super washing soda? We looked in a couple of grocery stores and didn't see any.
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    MikeInTN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pool60
    Any recommendations on stores where you can buy borax or super washing soda? We looked in a couple of grocery stores and didn't see any.
    The local Wallyworld here has borax and baking soda, don't know about washing soda.
    24' x 52" AGP - approx 13,500 gallons
    Pentair Optiflo 1 hp/2sp pump w/ Swimpro Voyager 150 sq ft cartridge filter
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    I found 20 mule team borax at a Drug Emporium store.
    Fort Wayne IG Vinyl 18 x 36 (22,000 G)
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    Well I added 24 pounds of baking soda, but the alkalinity test still turned red. Based on the booklet that came with my Taylor test kit, that should've raised the level to at least 60-70 ppm. What's going on? I'm going to add 12 more pounds and see what happens.
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    Backglass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pool60
    Well I added 24 pounds of baking soda, but the alkalinity test still turned red. Based on the booklet that came with my Taylor test kit, that should've raised the level to at least 60-70 ppm. What's going on? I'm going to add 12 more pounds and see what happens.
    Be careful being your buddy's pool boy.

    We have a saying in the computer industry. "Whoever touched it last...it's their problem!"

    It's that whole "Give a man a fish / Teach a man to fish" thing.

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    No, he's definitely into this now. He's been reading a lot of posts in this forum this morning. I'm leaving today. I live about 90 miles away. So I wanted to at least get his alkalinity and PH right before I left. I have the same problem with the high CYA. I've been using stabilized tablets for the last three years. I'm a convert now though. Only BBB from now on.
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    Well, after 36 pounds of baking soda, I finally got a reading of 10 ppm. Just added 12 more pounds, and he will add 12 more tomorrow. That should put it right at around 100ppm. Then he'll move on to adding the PH adder. Hopefully he won't need too much of that. We looked in a few more stores today and still haven't found borax anywhere. Buying online looks to be too expensive because of the shipping.
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    Oh yeah. His water has gotten very cloudy. What's going on with that? How long does it last?
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    Are you looking for borax in the laundry aisle?

    8200 gallon 20' x 48" round vinyl frame pool, manually chlorinated with 10% liquid, salt added to ~2000, 12" sand filter, 1600gph pump, TF100 test kit
    Handy Links: PoolMath, TF-100 Test Kit, Pool School, Chlorine/CYA Chart
    "Shock" is a process, not a product!

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    The Baking Soda may have made the pH go up above 8.0 in addition to adding to the TA. So the cloudiness is probably due to the combination of the TA at 100 plus high pH and probably some high CH. If that's the case, then some acid will lower the pH (or additional use of Trichlor pucks, but that will keep adding CYA). Also, don't forget that with his CYA level of 200 you would need to maintain about 20 ppm FC to keep away algae. So if the chlorine level is low, then the cloudiness could also be algae in its early stages (before there is enough to look green). And if you add chlorine as a hypochlorite source, then this will raise the pH (and it won't go down because you will keep the 20 ppm FC level).

    Having such a high CYA level makes everything difficult because you need a lot of FC to keep away algae, but the high FC will interfere with the pH test. It's best to do start a process of drain/refill (or continuous drain/refill) to dilute everything in the pool water and unfortunately that will dilute the TA you just added along with CH -- you can't selectively dilute the CYA alone (unfortunately).
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Personally I try to stay away from helping others unless they ask me. But if he's reading these posts that's certainly a good indication that he is interested in helping himself. Has he registered yet?

    With the TA, ph and CYA so far out of wack I wonder if doing a partial drain/fill on his pool isn't the best choice. This may fix all the problems...and he'll need to do it to get a handle on the CYA anyway.

    just a thought.

    dan
    33' Aqua-Leader AGP
    Hayward cartridge filter and IntelliFlo VS pump.
    Solar Heat coming ; used to own Aqua-Cal HeatWave 100k (HeatPump)
    Aqua-Rite t-15 SWG

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    I just talked to my friend. He took a sample to the pool place and they said his CYA was 152, TA 126, and PH 6.4. He already had 8 pounds of PH adder, so he's going to go home and add that to see what happens. The cloudiness has subsided a little, but white powder has precipitated out and is on the bottom of his pool. I think we probably added too much baking soda.

    We're in the middle of a bad drought, so I think refilling his pool isn't a good option. I read in another post that over the winter the CYA level drops naturally. Is that true?
    2007 - 24' AG Doughboy Desert Spring dished 1.5', with DB Power Pak II-1hp pump, DB Sequel I Plus DE, Hayward H-Series Heater 100k + 8gal LQ.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    CYA will often drop, or disappear completely, over the winter; most commonly when the pool gets completely full of algae and stays that way for months.

    Did the pool store give you a calcium hardness number, often labeled CH or TH?
    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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    The pH increaser will not only increase the pH, it will increase the TA more than baking soda will!
    Look for 20 mule team borax in the laundry aisle of the grocery or in the laundry aisle of walmart. It's usually right near the powdered bleach and the washing soda (which is the same thing as pH increaser

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