Total Alkalinity – The buffer for pH
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Total Alkalinity – The buffer for pH

Total Alkalinity – The buffer for pH

For this week’s FAQ series article we will be discussing the second reading in the Water Balancing triad, Total Alkalinity. You may be thinking, ‘Didn’t we already talk about how pH runs from acid to alkaline, isn’t Total Alkalinity the same thing?’

Well, you’re on the right track. Think of it this way; pH is like a thermometer on a furnace thermostat. The thermometer measures the current temperature of the room, if it’s too hot or too cold you simply adjust the thermostat. The thermostat itself is Total Alkalinity, it gives you the ability to control your pH reading. The Total Alkalinity acts as a ‘buffer’ and helps to stabilise your pH and keeps sudden changes at bay.

Down to the nitty gritty.

The Total Alkalinity reading you want for any pool, spa or hot tub is between 80-120ppm (parts per million). If you use our Palintest 3 in 1 test strips, you’ll be checking your sanitiser level, pH and Total Alkalinity every day! If you use a sanitiser or pH only test strip daily, you’ll want to be sure and check the Total Alkalinity at least twice a week.

Useful tip: If you’ve had either a high or low pH reading and you haven’t checked your Total Alkalinity, make sure to check it before adding in any pH altering chemicals such as an increaser or reducer. Anything you add to reduce or increase the pH will also affect your Total Alkalinity.

Symptoms of unbalanced Total Alkalinity are:

High Total Alkalinity reading

  • Hard to change pH
  • Scale Formation
  • Cloudy Water
  • Skin and Eye Irritation
  • Poor Biocide Efficiency

Low Total Alkalinity Reading

  • Rapid changes in pH
  • Corroded Metals/Equipment
  • Skin and Eye Irritation

You’ll notice that Total Alkalinity shares many of the same symptoms as unbalanced pH readings, which makes sense because of Total Alkalinity’s effect on pH. Just like with pH readings, low Total Alkalinity levels are potentially more damaging to your pool, spa or hot tub than high readings. Both do need to be corrected for the comfort, health and safety of your bathers and to extend the lifespan of your equipment.

If you have any questions about Total Alkalinity and Water Balancing feel free to contact us! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

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