Can't get ph up...


New member
Jun 18, 2012
Just bought a house with a pool. About 20,000 gallons. I've been browsing the forum and am going to be using the BBB in my maintenance. The pool was a green swamp when I started cleaning it up last week. It was really bad - a number of small animals found their final resting place at the bottom of my pool.

I cleaned as much debris off the floor as I could, then de-winterized the pool, got the pump running, and have been skimming, dredging, skimming, dredging.

I ordered one of the recommended test kits online, but it isn't due to arrive until later this week. In the meantime I bought test strips. Test strips showed no chlorine, no ph, no ta, no cya. I put in about 2 lbs of CYA, 4 boxes (16 lbs) of borax, and got the chlorine up to shock levels. The ph, TA, and CYA level didn't budge. I've read that test strips are notoriously unreliable when it comes to CYA, so I'm not too worried about that, as long as I can keep the chlorine level up, and I know there is at least SOME CYA in the water.

But the ph hasn't budged. I was all out of borax so I put in 4 lbs of baking soda since TA was zero anyway. Took another reading a while later. 0 TA and ph still below any level that the test strip can read. I put in 3 more boxes of borax, 2 more lbs of baking soda. STILL, not registering on the test strips.

I have used two separate brands of test strips, just to be sure. Both register no CYA, no TA, no ph, even after adding all these chemicals. The water though - I've kept the chlorine levels up - is now crystal clear. What am I doing wrong? Is there any other source that is more efficient at getting ph up? I know there is a limit to how much borax I should put in, so I don't want to keep using that.

Thanks in advance for your help!


TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
Silver Spring, MD
Welcome to TFP!

It sounds like your test strips are defective or the chlorine level is interfering with them. It is fairly easy for the PH to be out of range, and thus read the same even when you change it. But TA should have come up when you added baking soda. TA tests on test strips can be bleached out by high FC levels however. Try testing your fill water and see if the test strips give a plausible reading there.

You can continue using borax, but without reliable test results it is better to wait.