What is pH?
cidic and basic are two extremes that describe chemicals, just like hot and cold are two extremes that describe temperature. Mixing acids and bases can cancel out their extreme effects; much like mixing hot and cold water can even out the water temperature. A substance that is neither acidic nor basic is neutral.
The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is basic. Each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the next higher value. For example, a pH of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 5 and 100 times (10 times 10) more acidic than a pH of 6. The same holds true for pH values above 7, each of which is ten times more alkaline—another way to say basic—than the next lower whole value. For example, a pH of 10 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 9.
Pure water is neutral, with a pH of 7.0. When chemicals are mixed with water, the mixture can become either acidic or basic. Vinegar and lemon juice are acidic substances, while laundry detergents and ammonia are basic.
Chemicals that are very basic or very acidic are called “reactive.” These chemicals can cause severe burns. Automobile battery acid is an acidic chemical that is reactive. Automobile batteries contain a stronger form of some of the same acid that is in acid rain. Household drain cleaners often contain lye, a very alkaline chemical that is reactive.
What is Alkalinity?
Total Alkalinity is a measure of the amount of buffering capacity in the water. It acts as a shock absorber for the pH. If Total Alkalinity is too low, the water is acidic and can corrode equipment and hot tub surfaces. It also causes pH bounce. The pH will drift down and any adjustments made to it will bounce and be difficult to control. If Total Alkalinity is too high, the water is alkaline and scale buildup and cloudy water can result. The pH will tend to drift up and will be very difficult to adjust.
Total Alkalinity, like pH, is affected by environmental factors. Rain, acidic sanitizers, addition of fill water and other product applications can all change the alkalinity over time. Total Alkalinity should be tested once every three to four weeks.
Proper Total Alkalinity levels vary with the water temperature and the sanitizer used. Ideal range for Total Alkalinity is from 125 – 150 ppm. For chlorine or bromine spas, levels of Total Alkalinity up to 200 ppm are acceptable, and the high cutoff is 170 for Biguanide spas. The cutoff is slightly lower for Biguanide spas due to the foaming tendency of the product and the tendency for pH to drift upward.
Chlorine or Acid Washes
Acid washing or chlorine bathing a pool is used to temporarily improve the appearance of your pool surface. The process actually removes a thin layer of the plaster along with the surface stains.
Please note that these services are not a substitute for resurfacing your pool. It is inevitable that you will need to resurface; chlorine or acid washing the surface is less costly and a “quick” fix.
There are several factors to consider when considering this type of service:
1. No guarantee that all stains will be removed
2. No guarantee that the stains will not resurface
3. No guarantee as to how long the treatment will last. Various factors that make it unreasonable to guarantee results, included, but are not limited to, degree of existing damage to pool surface, regular service maintenance (cleaning) and maintaining properly balanced water.
Questions you should ask when selecting a service provider:
1. Does the company have a current business license?
2. Will the company provide you proof of general liability insurance coverage?
3. Will the company provide proof of worker’s compensation coverage?
4. Is the company licensed with the State of Florida, Department of Business & Professional Regulation (Pool/Spa Contractor)? Florida law requires you use a licensed pool/spa contractor to do any and all repairs, including, but not limited to, replacement parts, plumbing, or installation of equipment.
5. Is the company a member of the Better Business Bureau, if so, what is the rating for said company?