Alkalinity test has never changed color- what is going on?

sheilarhea

Member
May 14, 2019
5
Clarksville, TN
Hi all- am at my wit's end and hoping someone can help me out here! I feel like I should be able to figure this out but am getting nowhere. We had a pool put in last December, and opened mid-April. I started testing the pool chemistry about 4 weeks ago, and have been able to keep the Chlorine in range without much issue. The pH has always been on the high side (7.8-8.2). But where I'm completely lost is the alkalinity. I have never- not one time in testing 4-5/x a week- ever been able to get the color to change to indicate there is ANY alkalinity in the water. We even purchased a new test kit, thinking maybe there was something wrong with the first one- but no difference. I have added so much baking soda I'm surprised I can see the bottom of the pool. It never does anything but increase the pH. From all I've read, I should get the alkalinity right before tweaking anything else- but the Taylor test never ever changes from green to red, despite the number of drops I've added at a time (most I've added is 15 just to see if anything would happen- nothing). I just tested our tap water, as a point of comparison- and the same thing- vial stays green. The drop is only red for a second but when I start swirling it disappears to green. At any rate, I have combed these forums and online and have not found anyone with a similar issue. We use the net to skim daily, run our Polaris 1-2x/day, and the water is always clear and clean in appearance. Can someone advise on what may be going on and what I need to do? The last thing I want is to ruin our pool after having spent so much- we've waited decades for this and I don't want to screw it up! Thanks in advance for your help.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
554
Alamo, CA
the Taylor test never ever changes from green to red, despite the number of drops I've added at a time (most I've added is 15 just to see if anything would happen- nothing). I just tested our tap water, as a point of comparison- and the same thing- vial stays green. The drop is only red for a second but when I start swirling it disappears to green.
I think you simply stopped adding drops too soon. Your TA could easily be higher than 150. The brief appearance of red is the clue; that means you're getting close. You need to keep adding drops until the solution stays red.
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
483
Columbus, Ohio
I don't have my test instructions in front of me right now so take this with a grain of salt. For high values of TA you can use a smaller water sample. The accuracy suffers but you will use fewer drops. My kit has this listed as an alternative.
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,464
Laughlin, NV
I don't have my test instructions in front of me right now so take this with a grain of salt. For high values of TA you can use a smaller water sample. The accuracy suffers but you will use fewer drops. My kit has this listed as an alternative.
Right. Use a 10 ml sample. Each drop counted when you get to Barbie pink is 25 ppm TA.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
554
Alamo, CA
The pH has always been on the high side (7.8-8.2). But where I'm completely lost is the alkalinity. I have never- not one time in testing 4-5/x a week- ever been able to get the color to change to indicate there is ANY alkalinity in the water. ... I have added so much baking soda I'm surprised I can see the bottom of the pool. It never does anything but increase the pH. ... the Taylor test never ever changes from green to red,
Your original post percolated in my brain, @sheilarhea . I think you've misunderstood the TA test. The more drops of R-0009 you have to add, the higher your TA is. So by now, with all the baking soda, your TA is probably sky high.

Perform the test again, use the 10 ml water sample as Marty said (to save on R-0009), and don't stop adding drops until the sample is bright red or pink. Add drops until the bright red stops changing color and subtract the last 1 drop which didn't change the red/pink any further. Multiply drops by 25 and that's your TA.

I have a feeling you're going to be switching from baking soda to muriatic acid tomorrow, to lower both TA and pH.
 
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sheilarhea

Member
May 14, 2019
5
Clarksville, TN
Thanks everyone- and yes, Rocket- I CLEARLY misunderstood the test because I didn't realize the pool water could get so out of range that it would take that many drops to change color. Major rookie snafu, I'm owning it. I just redid the test and my TA is 320 so I've ordered a 53' trailer's worth of muriatic acid (kidding but only kind of). Hopefully it's not too late for me to fix this without having caused damage. Really appreciate you all taking the time to read and reply!
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,952
NW Ohio
High TA does not cause damage, but attempting to fix it by dumping in gallon after gallon of acid can. Especially if you are still chlorinating with trichlor, which is extremely acidic. Just continue to adjust the pH and the TA will naturally fall until your water finds an equilibrium.
 
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sacredcow

Well-known member
May 8, 2018
58
Houston, TX
High TA does not cause damage, but attempting to fix it by dumping in gallon after gallon of acid can. Especially if you are still chlorinating with trichlor, which is extremely acidic. Just continue to adjust the pH and the TA will naturally fall until your water finds an equilibrium.
I dumped a bucket of bicarbonate in my pool early last spring (at the advice of Leslie's, before I found this site) and my TA ended up at like 320. I got it down over the winter while the water was cold by adjusting the pH to the lower side of normal (but never below 7.2) and running a small pump to aerate.
 

sheilarhea

Member
May 14, 2019
5
Clarksville, TN
Update- I followed the advice given here and alkalinity is now down around 130; pH continues to want to be on the higher side but am able to keep it in range. Thanks again for setting me on the right path!
 
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