Total Alkalinity (TA) is a measure of the amount of alkaline substances in the water of a saltwater pool. It is an important parameter to maintain the pH level of the water in the pool. TA is measured in parts per million (ppm) and typically ranges from 80 to 120 ppm in a saltwater pool.
When TA is low, the water in the pool can become acidic, which can damage the pool’s surfaces and equipment, as well as cause skin and eye irritation for swimmers. On the other hand, if TA is too high, the water can become cloudy and it can be difficult to maintain a proper pH level.
What factors change the Total Alkalinity in a saltwater pool?
There are several factors that can affect the Total Alkalinity (TA) in a saltwater pool. Here are some of the most common factors:
- Chemical imbalances: Changes in the pH level, calcium hardness, and other chemical levels in the pool can affect the TA level.
- Weather conditions: Rainwater and other weather conditions can cause changes in the TA level.
- Bather load: The number of swimmers in the pool can affect the TA level, as sweat, urine, and other bodily fluids can contribute to changes in the chemical balance of the pool water.
- Chemical treatments: The use of chemicals such as chlorine or algaecides can affect the TA level.
- Water source: The TA level of the water source used to fill the pool can affect the TA level of the pool water.
- Evaporation: As water evaporates from the pool, the minerals and chemicals in the water become more concentrated, which can affect the TA level.
It’s important to regularly test the TA level in a saltwater pool and make adjustments as needed to maintain a balanced and healthy pool environment.
By understanding the factors that can affect TA levels, pool owners can take steps to prevent imbalances and maintain optimal pool chemistry.
How to test TA in a saltwater pool
Testing Total Alkalinity (TA) in a saltwater pool is an essential part of pool maintenance. Here’s how to test TA in a saltwater pool:
- Purchase a TA test kit from a pool supply store or online retailer. These kits typically include test strips or a liquid reagent and a color chart to help you interpret the results.
- Dip the test strip or add the liquid reagent to a water sample taken from the pool. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific test kit you are using.
- Wait for the recommended amount of time, typically a few seconds to a few minutes, for the test to develop.
- Compare the color of the test strip or the color of the water sample to the color chart provided with the test kit. The color will indicate the TA level in parts per million (ppm).
- Adjust the TA level as needed by adding chemicals such as sodium bicarbonate (to raise TA) or muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate (to lower TA). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions carefully when adding chemicals to the pool.
If all of this is too much to do on your own, ask your pool company if they’ll do a quick water test for you.
It’s important to test TA regularly, ideally once a week, to ensure that the pool water is properly balanced and safe for swimmers. By maintaining the proper TA level in a saltwater pool, you can help prevent problems such as corrosion, scaling, and skin and eye irritation.
How to raise TA in a saltwater pool
To raise TA in a saltwater pool, you can add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the water. The amount needed will depend on the current TA level and the size of the pool.
Typically, 1.5 pounds of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water will raise the TA level by 10 ppm.
So while pool ownership often means buying commercially produced and expensive chemicals to adjust water chemistry, Total Alkalinity can be raised using plain old baking soda, the same kind you normally store in your kitchen.
You can also use an alkalinity increaser product to accomplish this but you’ll pay more and need to ensure you source a product where the main ingredient is sodium bicarbonate.
Of course if you need 1.5 lbs of it, you’ll need a bigger box that you’re used to.
How to lower TA in a saltwater pool
To lower TA in a saltwater pool, you can add muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate. The amount needed will depend on the current TA level and the size of the pool. Typically, 1 quart of muriatic acid per 10,000 gallons of water will lower the TA level by 10 ppm.
It’s important to note that adjusting TA can also affect the pH level of the pool water, so it’s important to test the pH level regularly and make adjustments as needed.
Additionally, it’s recommended to consult with a pool professional for specific recommendations on adjusting TA and other pool maintenance tasks.
Muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, is a highly corrosive and acidic chemical that can be dangerous to use and store if not handled properly. It is commonly used for various purposes, including pool maintenance, metal cleaning, and concrete etching.
It’s sold in jugs in liquid form and is poured directly into the pool water.
Always follow the instructions due to the potential dangers of this product.
In general terms, if you can keep water chemistry inline, your saltwater pool’s Total Alkalinity level probably won’t be much of a problem. You may from time to time need to raise TA with baking soda or lower it with muriatic acid so it could be worth having some on hand just in case you need it.
Before adding anything to your saltwater pool, it might be an idea to get advice from a trusted pool company to ensure you don’t knock another chemical reading out of balance by adding too much of something.