To use borates or not to use borates, that is the question.

ajup2it

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
125
Indiana
So I've read: Borates - Why and How

I read the pros and cons and it seems to me that some here are very PRO borates and some seem very anti borates. So now I'm wanting to discuss that here with you guys/gals to see if I should bother with this or not. My TA and pH are a constant battle to keep on point. I can add three cups of Muratic Acid to my pool to drop my pH of 7.5, TA of 120 and the next day my pH is 7.4 and TA is 110. I do it again and the next day my pH is 7.4, TA 100. And repeat a day or so later and pH is 7.4, TA is 90. If I skip a few days, TA will have climbed back to 120 again and pH will be around 7.6. If, however, I stay on it and work TA down to 80, enough water has evaporated out of my pool from the sudden rise in temperatures, where I need to add water. All my effort will be shot and I'll have to start over. Would having borates in my pool help keep my pH and TA from jumping?

What do I like about the thought of using borates? That maybe my pH and TA will be more stable for one. Softer water would be nice. We have very hard water here! CA is always high. So I'd love some feedback here from those that use it and even from those that opt not to for whatever reason.

As of today:
FC 7.5 (yes I need to get this lower based on my CYA - SWG issue, where 40% is too low and 60% is too high - FYI I have an electrician that will quote a timer install for me so maybe I can pick 60% for x hours to resolve this, versus toggling between 40 and 60 all the time. Also open to suggestions here on how to deal with this)
CC 0.5
pH 7.4
TA 90
CYA 80
Salt 3300
Temp 89
CSI -0.24
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
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May 23, 2015
17,279
Tucson, AZ
I don't see CH numbers for your pool. Your pH target is too low, you should allow your pH to rise to 7.9 or higher then only drop it down to 7.6. Also, your TA is too high. I would suggest you lower it to 60ppm and see how the pH rise reacts.

Steps - get your TA lowered using acid/aeration method then adjust your frequency of acid addition such that you only add acid when the pH is above 7.8 and you only add enough to lower it to 7.6.

After doing all that, then we'll discuss borates....
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
17,279
Tucson, AZ
Ok, I'll get that to you here in a bit! :)
RE: TA...getting that number lower is brutal. I guess that's normal though?

I need to know what your fill water TA is. But yes, adjusting TA can take time. Never drop TA more than 10ppm at a time and, when you do adjust it down, aerate the water as much as you can to get the pH to rise back up. You should only add acid when your pH is higher than 7.6 during the acid/aeration process.
 
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duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
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I am completely neutral on borates. I have also never used them but only read many threads about them here.

My takeaway is that many benefits are attributed to them that are VERY inconclusive or non-existent. That said, another takeaway is that in 13 years I can't remember anyone reporting a problem with using them.
 

Richard320

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Jan 6, 2010
23,930
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Are there some anti-borate people here? I have not really seen them. I plan to borate next year after I have a successful first summer with no water balance issues.
I would probably be categorized as one of them "anti-borate people."

The reason being is that the huge majority of people who want to add borates want to do so out of the misguided idea that it is the magic fixall. It isn't. If they can't keep their pool clear and sparkling juggling five parameters, why would adding a sixth make it easier? It doesn't. They end up with pH issues from miscalculating things and seesaw high then low for a couple days. Or complain that after adding borates the water is still cloudy. Which is why I try to discourage people from adding them when they are new here. After a successful season or two, they don't need to ask questions. They just read the directions and do it, because they understand pool chemistry by then.
 

ajup2it

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
125
Indiana
First of all - thank you for all the comments. @Richard320, that makes sense.

All - Since using the TFTestkit, I've successfully managed crystal clear water which pleases me greatly. The pool companies...just...wow. Who knew they were so off? Anyway, my struggle now is keeping pH and TA in some semblance of the ranges I've read about here. Its a struggle for me but until now I never knew my fill water was so much higher, which begs the question of how should I go about handling this? Would borates help with this or should I just buy stock in muriatic acid since I go through it like an infant does milk? I guess the upside is that I'm no longer buying tons of algecide and other chemicals that pool companies love for their customers to buy.

I need to know what your fill water TA is. But yes, adjusting TA can take time. Never drop TA more than 10ppm at a time and, when you do adjust it down, aerate the water as much as you can to get the pH to rise back up. You should only add acid when your pH is higher than 7.6 during the acid/aeration process.
Got your numbers for fill water:
TA = 240 (I guess this is why I struggle to get it to drop?)
CA = 300 (lower than last year? I think it was around 350 or higher...odd)
pH = 8.0
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,279
Tucson, AZ
First of all - thank you for all the comments. @Richard320, that makes sense.

All - Since using the TFTestkit, I've successfully managed crystal clear water which pleases me greatly. The pool companies...just...wow. Who knew they were so off? Anyway, my struggle now is keeping pH and TA in some semblance of the ranges I've read about here. Its a struggle for me but until now I never knew my fill water was so much higher, which begs the question of how should I go about handling this? Would borates help with this or should I just buy stock in muriatic acid since I go through it like an infant does milk? I guess the upside is that I'm no longer buying tons of algecide and other chemicals that pool companies love for their customers to buy.


Got your numbers for fill water:
TA = 240 (I guess this is why I struggle to get it to drop?)
CA = 300 (lower than last year? I think it was around 350 or higher...odd)
pH = 8.0
Borates won’t help you. Not adding that fill water to the pool will.

You need to keep your pool covered to reduce evaporation and lower your refill rate. A water softener can be used to reduce the calcium burden but that won’t solve the carbonate alkalinity issue.
 

ajup2it

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
125
Indiana
Borates won’t help you. Not adding that fill water to the pool will.

You need to keep your pool covered to reduce evaporation and lower your refill rate. A water softener can be used to reduce the calcium burden but that won’t solve the carbonate alkalinity issue.
Thanks for the info. So skip borates then and invest in muriatic acid stock. ?

All - Would rain water help? Any other suggestions on how to deal with pH and TA? I don't have access to any other water source. ?
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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Tucson, AZ
Well its supposed to rain tomorrow and possibly later today. I'll give it a shot.
To maximize the benefit, it's best to lower your pool water level before it rains that way you get the maximum benefit. If you let rain fill up the pool and then drain, it will have partially mixed and you won't get the same benefit.

Setting up a large volume rain barrel (500-1000 gallons) near a gutter that has the highest flow volume helps to capture water. They can often be setup with overflow connections so you can fill the barrel and then have a connection to a large diameter backwash hose that can redirect overflow into the pool. Rain water that runs off a roof tends to pickup dust and debris but the big stuff can be filtered out with a nylon sock and the fine stuff can be handled by the pool filter.
 

ajup2it

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
125
Indiana
To maximize the benefit, it's best to lower your pool water level before it rains that way you get the maximum benefit. If you let rain fill up the pool and then drain, it will have partially mixed and you won't get the same benefit.

Setting up a large volume rain barrel (500-1000 gallons) near a gutter that has the highest flow volume helps to capture water. They can often be setup with overflow connections so you can fill the barrel and then have a connection to a large diameter backwash hose that can redirect overflow into the pool. Rain water that runs off a roof tends to pickup dust and debris but the big stuff can be filtered out with a nylon sock and the fine stuff can be handled by the pool filter.
Alright. I'll vacuum the pool to waste and then it will be quite low for the refill during the rain. I don't have a rain barrel so this is the best I can do. Thanks!
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,279
Tucson, AZ
Based on your pool area, every inch of rain water added to the pool is equivalent to 54 cu ft or 404 gallons. With a 26,000 gallon pool volume, every inch of rainwater is roughly 1.5% of the pool volume. All of that is to say that you shouldn't expect to see huge changes in any of your chemical levels with one rain storm. It will take a season of rain water exchange to see anything appreciable happen. When it rains, you might want to leave the vacuum in the pool so that if the storm persists for a while, you vacuum to waste while it rains. Rain water will not mix with pool water very rapidly and so if you can vacuum from the deep end while the rain fills up the pool (with no other sources of mixing), then you can help the process along.
 
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ajup2it

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2019
125
Indiana
Based on your pool area, every inch of rain water added to the pool is equivalent to 54 cu ft or 404 gallons. With a 26,000 gallon pool volume, every inch of rainwater is roughly 1.5% of the pool volume. All of that is to say that you shouldn't expect to see huge changes in any of your chemical levels with one rain storm. It will take a season of rain water exchange to see anything appreciable happen. When it rains, you might want to leave the vacuum in the pool so that if the storm persists for a while, you vacuum to waste while it rains. Rain water will not mix with pool water very rapidly and so if you can vacuum from the deep end while the rain fills up the pool (with no other sources of mixing), then you can help the process along.
Thank you. That's helpful to know. :)
 

setsailsoon

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Oct 25, 2015
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Stuart/FL
I guess I'm in the minority here. I added borates a year ago and they definitely resulted in easier pH control. That's why I added them and I haven't noticed any other changes like bluer and more sparkly. Water looked great before and after.

Chris
 
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ping

TFP Expert
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Jun 24, 2011
3,131
Long Beach, CA
A couple of replies here:

I've always had bees and wasps near my pool water, with and without borates.

If your fill water is high in TA then adding borates is going to be nothing but a waste. The pH will always climb fast due to the high TA, you will never be able to keep the TA low enough if you're fill water is high in TA. My fill water is fairly hard and a little high in TA, 120ish, and I can't keep it below 90 during the summer months unless I keep a cover on which is more of a pain than dealing with acid since we use the pool every day.