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Thread: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

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    Matilda's Avatar
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    Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Please could someone be kind enough to help ?
    I'm getting a bit confused with the BBB method.

    I have the Taylor test kit as advised which has been great and I started with the dichlor bleach method but have since been struggling with high PH 8++
    I'm using PH down to get it back down but then TA drops below 50 (My baseline is 40ppm) so I add TA + and then PH is up again - especially with use and aeration.
    I feel like I'm battling between the two at the moment. Prior to bleach it seemed to like to sit at TA of 50 and PH of 7.4.
    I'm using sodium hypochlorite 14-15% - all I can get over here in the UK that's without perfume/soap or very low content.

    I have bought some 20 mule team borax and wondering how best to add this - does it need doing on a fresh fill ? My water is just over a week old- am I ok start with it now ?

    If I've read correct then I would add the borax along with PH down - after making sure TA and pH is balanced to start with.

    Does the Borax then 'lock in the PH if adjusted to the correct level, or am I misunderstanding this part ?

    I don't want to add the borax and end up with even higher PH

    Any help much appreciated, I'm so grateful for everything I've learnt here so far and the advice given has seen a good improvement in my water clarity so thank you so much for that as I've been struggling a lot but I feel like I'm almost there in being able to manage my water more safely
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Mod Squad mknauss's Avatar
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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Read Pool School - Recommended Pool Chemicals

    To raise your TA with minimal effect on pH use Baking Soda. To lower your pH use muriatic acid. The dry acid you are using adds sulfates to your water and that will destroy metal and plaster/concrete.

    Do not consider borates until you have your water chemistry stable.
    6000 Gallon IG Fiberglass with integrated Spa;Pentair CCP240 Cartridge Filter with Pentair Intelliflo VS Pump and HTR250 heater. IC40 SWG. EasyTouch 4. Dolphin Active20 Robot "Roadrunner", TF 100 Test Kit w/SpeedStir!
    CLICK HERE to Become a TroubleFreePool.com Supporter!! Pool Math App
    Marty

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    Matilda's Avatar
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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Thanks for replying, do you have any suggestions as to how long them being balanced is considered stable enough ? I do manage to get them balanced with additional chemicals but as soon as I add the bleach or use the tub the Ph is high again ? How do I manage this ? I was hoping that’s what the borax would help with ��
    Hotspring have a sticker on the tub that states if you use muriatic acid then it invalidates any guarantee
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Mod Squad mknauss's Avatar
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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    As you drain water often, I assume, the use of dry acid may not be that big a deal. Muriatic acid is better, and cheaper. It has no side effects vs sodium bisulfate. Other than people not knowing how or how much of it to use. You have PoolMath!

    I suggest you read How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?

    I am moving this thread to Spas and Hot Tubs.

    Take care.
    6000 Gallon IG Fiberglass with integrated Spa;Pentair CCP240 Cartridge Filter with Pentair Intelliflo VS Pump and HTR250 heater. IC40 SWG. EasyTouch 4. Dolphin Active20 Robot "Roadrunner", TF 100 Test Kit w/SpeedStir!
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    Marty

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    Matilda's Avatar
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    Re:  Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Thanks so to answer the question does adding borates when ph is in ideal range stabilise it at that level or is it likely to go higher still ?
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Mod Squad mknauss's Avatar
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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    It stabilizes it. But it is not a panacea.

    You can try it. With you small amount of water, worst case, you drain.
    6000 Gallon IG Fiberglass with integrated Spa;Pentair CCP240 Cartridge Filter with Pentair Intelliflo VS Pump and HTR250 heater. IC40 SWG. EasyTouch 4. Dolphin Active20 Robot "Roadrunner", TF 100 Test Kit w/SpeedStir!
    CLICK HERE to Become a TroubleFreePool.com Supporter!! Pool Math App
    Marty

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    If you use borax to add borates, it’s going to raise your pH quickly as it is very alkaline. It is better to use boric acid as that is a very weak acid but it may not be available to you in the U.K. If you look at the borate section of Pool Math it will tell you how much muriatic acid to add for a given amount of borax to achieve a particular borate level. Adding borates via borax usually has to be done in smaller batches (eg, divide the total amount into 4 batches) as adding a lot of borax all at once will cause scaling.

    Borates will not stabilize pH forever. They can help control and slow the upward drift of pH but it will not stop it. Your pH drift is a consequence of earthly water chemistry - all waters have carbonate alkalinity in them and the outgassing of CO2 (from your spa jets) causes pH to rise. Since you cannot get rid of that carbonate alkalinity, you can only minimize it to the extent your pH rise is reasonable and you don’t damage the metal components in your spa.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    If you use borax to add borates, itís going to raise your pH quickly as it is very alkaline. It is better to use boric acid as that is a very weak acid but it may not be available to you in the U.K. If you look at the borate section of Pool Math it will tell you how much muriatic acid to add for a given amount of borax to achieve a particular borate level. Adding borates via borax usually has to be done in smaller batches (eg, divide the total amount into 4 batches) as adding a lot of borax all at once will cause scaling.

    Borates will not stabilize pH forever. They can help control and slow the upward drift of pH but it will not stop it. Your pH drift is a consequence of earthly water chemistry - all waters have carbonate alkalinity in them and the outgassing of CO2 (from your spa jets) causes pH to rise. Since you cannot get rid of that carbonate alkalinity, you can only minimize it to the extent your pH rise is reasonable and you donít damage the metal components in your spa.
    Thank you so much for the info, I will give it a go and yes it's hard to get hold of over here - same as most things suggested.
    I have read the advice stickies on a number of subjects here till I'm blue in the face and followed the advice but I can't seem to pull it all together to get a long term stable balance. I had found a good balance between my TA and PH ( 50 & 7.4) before switching to the bleach and I guess I'll need to go through similar process of trial and error to find the best balance I can with now using this, otherwise it will just be back to dichlor and draining again - each time I add a new thing it seems to cause another issue I struggle to resolve and it's getting quite expensive ..........
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by Matilda View Post
    Thank you so much for the info, I will give it a go and yes it's hard to get hold of over here - same as most things suggested.
    I have read the advice stickies on a number of subjects here till I'm blue in the face and followed the advice but I can't seem to pull it all together to get a long term stable balance. I had found a good balance between my TA and PH ( 50 & 7.4) before switching to the bleach and I guess I'll need to go through similar process of trial and error to find the best balance I can with now using this, otherwise it will just be back to dichlor and draining again - each time I add a new thing it seems to cause another issue I struggle to resolve and it's getting quite expensive ..........
    What were you using before bleach?
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    I would skip the borax for now. It will just complicate things since your PH is already high. You can use small amounts of PH down to reduce the PH. Wait until the next day and if the AK is below 50 and your PH is in range use a small amount of alkalinity increase (baking soda) to increase by 2 or 3 ppm. This will increase your AK and increase the PH only a small amount. Use the pool calc as suggested to determine the correct amounts. Eventually things should stabilize. You may end up with a higher PH and lower AK than is ideal.

    It's better to get the PH and AK stable right after filling using the water balancing process part of: How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?
    The key is to do this process slowly especially when you get things close. It's easy to go to far.

    A very small amount of muratic acid goes a long way in a spa! I use 5 ml to make small adjustments in my 750 L spa.

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by Arobbert View Post
    I would skip the borax for now. It will just complicate things since your PH is already high. You can use small amounts of PH down to reduce the PH. Wait until the next day and if the AK is below 50 and your PH is in range use a small amount of alkalinity increase (baking soda) to increase by 2 or 3 ppm. This will increase your AK and increase the PH only a small amount. Use the pool calc as suggested to determine the correct amounts. Eventually things should stabilize. You may end up with a higher PH and lower AK than is ideal.

    It's better to get the PH and AK stable right after filling using the water balancing process part of: How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?
    The key is to do this process slowly especially when you get things close. It's easy to go to far.

    A very small amount of muratic acid goes a long way in a spa! I use 5 ml to make small adjustments in my 750 L spa.
    Thank you for your help, yes I can get the balance of PH and TA to around 7.4 and 50ppm after filling no problem and it stays fine initially when I'm first using the dichlor to get CYA up to 30-40 ppm it's the switch then to sodium hypochlorite that seems to bump the pH in combination with aeration during use ( I can only get 14-15% the rest of the offerings we have have soap and perfume in and a low 1.5 % content). Aeration during use seems to cause a large spike that takes a couple of doses of PH down, once I do that then TA drops to around 40 so I add TA plus to take it back up to 50.


    Joyful noise - I was just using dichlor prior to bleach but had lots of problems with high CYA, clouding and chlorine demand.
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    The dichlor is slightly acidic and so it is the reason why you are able to maintain reasonable pH stability during balancing and initial chlorination after full.

    15% liquid chlorine is commercial grade stuff usually found on farms or cleaning supply business. It is going to be very caustic (high pH) as it requires excess lye (sodium hydroxide) to stabilize the hypochlorite. It is what is driving your pH so high although temporarily. You need to locate a source of less concentrated bleach - is there no liquid bleach in the U.K. that’s somewhere between 3-6% ?? Using a lower concentration may help to keep the pH down a little better.

    Also, you can try lowering your TA to 40ppm. That still should be ok as you don’t have that much CYA in the tub.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    I've been searching for months for something less concentrated but they are all less than 5 % and every one I've found has soap and perfume in it - Even the well known domestic brand is now called 'extended' with these additions. I did find a 1.5 % Tesco supermarket brand that didn't appear to list anything else other than 'surfactants' I tried that but had a lot of foaming and my skin became itchy and sore when using it. I'm only adding 10ml of the sodium hypochlorite to raise for each 1.5 ppm - I was advised in here to get this higher percent and just add less Is this higher percent likely to damage or harm either us or the tub do you think ?

    Our baseline calcium in 90 ppm so we do have fairly soft water - we have adding increaser to take it to around 150 if that makes any difference

    It's very much getting me down at the moment and we've spent a lot of money and time trying to get this right
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by Matilda View Post
    Thank you for your help, yes I can get the balance of PH and TA to around 7.4 and 50ppm after filling no problem and it stays fine initially when I'm first using the dichlor to get CYA up to 30-40 ppm it's the switch then to sodium hypochlorite that seems to bump the pH in combination with aeration during use ( I can only get 14-15% the rest of the offerings we have have soap and perfume in and a low 1.5 % content). Aeration during use seems to cause a large spike that takes a couple of doses of PH down, once I do that then TA drops to around 40 so I add TA plus to take it back up to 50.
    The trick to stabilizing the PH is to lower the PH to 7.2 and then aerate to bring the PH back up. Repeat this process until aerating doesn't increase the PH any more. You want to slow down and reduce to 7.4 towards the end of the process so you don't end up with low PH. Below is a link that provides instructions. If your not using this process you may want to try it. It really helped me.

    https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/i...al-alkalinity/

    It sounds JoyfulNoise came up with a probable cause above.

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by Arobbert View Post
    The trick to stabilizing the PH is to lower the PH to 7.2 and then aerate to bring the PH back up. Repeat this process until aerating doesn't increase the PH any more. You want to slow down and reduce to 7.4 towards the end of the process so you don't end up with low PH. Below is a link that provides instructions. If your not using this process you may want to try it. It really helped me.

    https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/i...al-alkalinity/

    It sounds JoyfulNoise came up with a probable cause above.
    Thank Arobbert, I'm not sure I can afford to lower TA anymore using this method though ? Most advice given here is a minimum of 50 ppm - which it's already at ?
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    I honestly would not have expected so many places around the world devoid of a simple product like laundry bleach....guess that just shows my biased American outlook on the world

    Well, it looks like you’ll just have to manage with the hypochlorite you have on hand. It’s not going to hurt you or the tub as long as you use the correct dosage. I would try to get your TA lowered to 40ppm and see how the pH holds. Also, if you have control over it, try to keep the aeration of the tub to a minimum. I would assume that most tubs only introduce air when someone requests it and filtration and heating is done with water recirculation (no air). But keeping the aeration to a minimum will help to keep the pH in check.

    Low CH is a good thing as it means you can worry less about scaling when your pH is elevated. Where I’m from our water is extremely hard and it’s much easier to scale calcium all over a tub if one doesn’t keep a tight control over pH. You have much greater latitude.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by Matilda View Post
    I did find a 1.5 % Tesco supermarket brand that didn't appear to list anything else other than 'surfactants'
    That would be the issue right there. I saw your other thread but you didn't say it had surfactants, you just said it
    didn't have perfume or other rubbish. Well, that's "rubbish" when it comes to bleach.

    I'd stick with the 15% stuff you have. I did a quick search on Amazon.co.uk and it looks like 15% is standard for pool chlorine. Is that correct? Over here in the states 10-12% seems normal, that might be why Matt said 15% is for commercial cleaning.

    I'd also second Matt's suggestion to try a slightly lower TA. It's not like things will instantly go bad below 50, it's just that too little might make the pH unstable. Try it and monitor pH. Worst that happens is you have to add TA up, or baking soda as we like to call it.
    Hot tub: Indoor Intex 28409E "Six Person" inflatable. 290 gallons. Taylor K-2006 test kit with Taylor 9265 Speedstir and TFT CYA test. Using dichlor/bleach/borax/muriatic acid.

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by jseyfert3 View Post

    I'd stick with the 15% stuff you have. I did a quick search on Amazon.co.uk and it looks like 15% is standard for pool chlorine. Is that correct? Over here in the states 10-12% seems normal, that might be why Matt said 15% is for commercial cleaning.

    I'd also second Matt's suggestion to try a slightly lower TA. It's not like things will instantly go bad below 50, it's just that too little might make the pH unstable. Try it and monitor pH. Worst that happens is you have to add TA up, or baking soda as we like to call it.
    Yes, it seem the standard over here for pool chlorine. I find it quite bizarre too ! But then the UK has all kinds of strange regulations about things sometimes !
    Will try the lower TA and see how it goes.

    Joyful noise should I not have used the calcium hardness increaser to raise to 150 and just leave it at the baseline of 90 ?

    I keep trying to follow the start up guides as to what to add when - hence the addition of hardness increaser but think I'm getting confused and overwhelmed by it all to be honest, I've never had anything to do with water chemistry before and it seems there's all kinds of variables......

    Our baseline clean fill water from the tap is
    CH - 90
    TA - 40
    PH - 7.4

    What would you suggest I do with these adjustment wise to get a good start ?

    And thank you again all of you for all your help, I appreciate it so much !
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    What pH are you shooting for in your tub?
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Adding Borax? pH drifts high and TA low

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    What pH are you shooting for in your tub?
    I think around 7.4 - 7.6 we have grandkids that like to have a little go now and again
    I have a hotspring Vanguard spa - 5 jet seats and 1 cool seat. 1500 litres5 ceramic filters. Outdoor, sat on decking and under an open pergola. Currently using: dichlor granules. Drained every 6-8 weeks if lucky !

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