Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Problems relating to pH and total alkalinity.
Increase ph, increase TA. Reduce pH, reduce TA.
pH chemistry advice and techniques for the pool.
MisterBuddy

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby MisterBuddy » Wed 08 Jul, 2009 16:19

Just found this thread, very interesting... I've never heard about aeration before but it makes a gut sort of sense. My particular situation is TA of 170, ph 7.2, Hardness 230 in an OLD gunnite pool having more in common with a lake or sound than with what we ordinarily visualize in terms of swimming pools. But enough about me. My situation is far from dire, but I wanted to share an idea I had for aeration: use a small electric air compressor and a soaker hose for dispersing the air in the water. Obviously you don't want to over-pressurize the hose, and it is going to be a trick to actually sink the hose and keep it down, but I can see skads and skads of tiny bubbles as the result.

Great thread, great forum, I'll be back. (I am also a member of the Pool Forum.com) Peace.


Guest

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby Guest » Tue 14 Jul, 2009 08:20

What should I buy to reduce the ph in my above ground pool 16x48. It was fine until it rained the other day, then it turned really green so I started adding lots of chlorine then It was really cloudy light green, its just messed up and I don't know what to do to get it back clear. please help.
iris

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby iris » Thu 16 Jul, 2009 13:20

20 Mule Team Borax is a laundry additive that's been around for ages. You can usually find it in with the laundry cleaners at most larger grocery stores and possibly WalMart stores.
chem geek
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Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby chem geek » Thu 16 Jul, 2009 19:27

Borax will raise the pH, not lower it. Muriatic Acid or dry acid (sodium bisulfate) will lower the pH.
Green Pool

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby Green Pool » Sun 09 Aug, 2009 13:56

Alkalinity shows off the charts (high) while, PH is extremely low. Nothing seems to work.
barbados

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby barbados » Fri 21 Aug, 2009 11:52

Hi, All! I found help here, my day is improving!

Please help a dumb engineer understand this pool chemistry stuff:

*15,500 gallon in-ground gunite pool 30 years old.
*pH is always 6.8 or below so we've been adding lots of buffered soda ash but it doesn't seem to increase pH
*White staining on dark pool sides
*Green algae patches here-and-there even with correct chlorine, brushing and aglecide weekly

OK, I just checked TA for the first time in years and it's 130. pH is below 6.8

Do i understand correctly that I must add acid to lower the TA?

Haven't had much free time to read this total thread, but the blurb in my test-kit booklet states "Do not add acid if the pH level is below 7.6 to correct TA" Huh? :crazy:

HELP! :roll:

-dave-
chem geek
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Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby chem geek » Fri 21 Aug, 2009 12:05

Dave,

In your case since the pH is already low you just aerate the water to raise the pH first and then add acid to lower both pH and TA. HOWEVER, if your pH is very low then why are you wanting to lower your TA in the first place? I suspect you are using Trichlor tabs/pucks which is causing your pH to be low and suspect you are adding baking soda (what do you mean by "buffered soda ash"? Soda ash is sodium carbonate) which is having your TA be high but not your pH. When your pH is low, you can add pH Up (soda ash) which will raise both pH and TA or you can add 20 Mule Team Borax which will raise the pH and only raise the TA half as much. Since your TA is already up, then the 20 Mule Team Borax would be better or significant aeration. Another alternative is pure lye (caustic soda), but I don't know where you could get that and you'd need to pre-dilute it in a bucket of water.

You should realize that continued use of Trichlor (or Dichlor, for that matter) will increase the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level over time making chlorine less effective and that you can get algae if you don't use a supplemental algicide or phosphate remover (at extra cost). Read the Pool School for more info on maintaining your pool.

If you stop using Trichlor pucks/tabs and switch to chlorinating liquid or bleach, then with aeration your pH should rise. I am concerned, however, about how low it really is since 6.8 is the lowest measurable on most pool test kits.

Richard
barbados

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby barbados » Fri 21 Aug, 2009 12:55

Thanks so much for the quick reply, Richard!

Yes, I have been using 3" trichor pucks for years but, now that you mention it, my problems started with the use of a 50# sack of buffered soda ash from our industrial chemical supplier. Probably incorrect, yes?

I have access to all industrial chemicals and sodium hydroxide comes to mind (12-14pH, yes?) Would this work in place of lye or Borax?

Should I discontinue the use of the trichor and move to ??

At this point, what would be your move?

You help is sincerely appricated! :D

-dave-
chem geek
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Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby chem geek » Fri 21 Aug, 2009 20:09

Sodium hydroxide is lye. It's rarely used in pools since normally the TA gets low along with the pH when using Trichlor. I really don't know what "buffered" soda ash is -- regular soda ash is just sodium carbonate. Anyway, if you are fairly sure of your test results because you yourself have tested it with your own good test kit, then you could use the sodium hydroxide but note that it doesn't take as much by weight to move the pH. Roughly speaking, 1 pound of sodium hydroxide is equivalent to 2.6 pounds of soda ash.

I strongly suggest you get your own good test kit, either the Taylor K-2006 you can get at a good online price here or the TF100 you can get at tftestkits.net here with the latter kit having 36% more volume of reagents so is less expensive per test.

If you have only been using Trichlor, then your CYA level may be high and if it is then you are lucky you don't have algae growth. What you do is up to you, but it's less expensive to maintain the pool using chlorinating liquid or bleach, but it's less convenient since you need to add chlorine every day or two unless you have a pool cover (then twice a week addition) or an automatic dosing system (The Liquidator, or a saltwater chlorine generator, SWG, system). If you want to continue to use Trichlor, then you should consider diluting the water to keep the CYA in check and/or use a supplemental algicide (PolyQuat 60) or phosphate remover to try and keep algae at bay, though as you have seen even with weekly algicide you can still get algae if your FC/CYA ratio is too low (due to CYA probably being very high in your case). Again, read the Pool School for more info.
barbados

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby barbados » Fri 21 Aug, 2009 21:23

Thanks, Richard,

I'm going to read the pool tutorial and buy one of the GOOD test kits, make some ACCURATE measurements and get back to you.

Thanks for being here for us.

-dave-
PTSNevada

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby PTSNevada » Sun 23 Aug, 2009 12:26

I use a Taylor K-2005 test kit and it includes a 'Watergram' wheel that helps establish water balance. This is a slide rule type device which calculates LSI (Langelier Saturation Index; Google it). In a nutshell - Calcium, Total Alkalinity, pH, and Temperature are like four legs of a chair and this chair wobbles and can almost never be made to sit perfectly level on the ground, particularly in a volume of water that is open to the elements. One factor that is rarely in this calculation is Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) which based on your story, I assume it is probably way high. If it is over 2000ppm then you are due for a complete or partial drain and refill. If you are using well water and its balance is off, it may be adding to the problem. I suggest you take samples of your pool water and tap water and send it off for a full water quality test. TDS is a pain to measure accurately but cheap electronic meters are available for $20 or so that will get you a ballpark measurement. The other ballbark measurement is the taste of the water - if its salty or minerally sweet then its worth checking.

The other thing is that Cyanuric Acid makes the TA measurement inaccurate. The simple rule is Actual TA = TA - (CyA/3). This varies by pH as well but the last page of my Taylor kit manual says if your pH is 7.2 then the formula is Actual TA = TA - (CyA*0.26) and if the pH is at 7.5 (your target) then the 1/3 is correct. If CyA is over 150ppm then you need a drain and refill. (Some local health departments limit it to 100ppm, and there are some claims that CyA may be a carcinogen)

CyA (Cyanuric Acid) is part of the Trichlor molecule and has the effect of preventing sunlight from destroying Chlorine but if CyA is over 40ppm, it is not any more effective at doing so. Therefore to me, it makes sense to use Trichlor until you get to 40ppm and then switch to some other method, like bleach or higher concentrated Sodium Hypochlorite from the pool store. Even better, and since you have algae growth, is to pay someone to come in with Chlorine gas tanks and superchlorinate it to 30ppm. It will make the pool unusable for a day or more and you'll probably want to make a day trip somewhere with all the kids and pets and warn all the neighbors while the pros do their thing. This will also blow away all the Chloramines (Combined Chlorine) which may be another part of your problem.

You don't mention your Calcium reading but you do say you have white stuff on the edge meaning its scaling. If your water is too high in Calcium then the only way to get rid of it is to drain and refill, either partially or completely. This can be exasperated if your system includes an autofiller and you have a lot of evaporation and also if your tap/well water is high in calcium to begin with (hard water).

Most instructions pool owners receive to simply keep all of these measurements within a certain range and typically this will result in the near balanced water. If you have excel or other spreadsheet, you can do alot better. Here is a formula that calculates LSI which tells you your water balance (scale formation/dissolution potential):
=9.3+(0.1*(LOG10(B1)-1))+(-13.12*LOG10((B2+459.67)*5/9 )+34.55)-((LOG10(B3)-0.4)+LOG10(B4))
B1 = TDS (Assume 200ppm if its unknown)
B2 = Water Temperature in Farenheit ((B2+459.67)*5/9 converts F to Kelvin)
B3 = Calcium Hardness
B4 = TA corrected for CyA

The resulting number is the pH of Saturation and if you subtract the measure pH from this number then the result is the LSI. The LSI needs to be within +/- 0.5 of Zero. Large Positive Values mean that white stuff on the edge of the pool, Large Negative values mean the water will dissolve the white stuff and possibly concrete and metalwork along with it. http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/Cooling-Water-Towers/Index-Langelier.htm

The nice thing about having it in a spreadsheet is you can play with the factors you can easily control - TA, Calcium Hardness, and pH and get it to a near Zero LSI. Once that is in control, sanitation concerns are much more easily dealt with.
chem geek
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Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby chem geek » Sun 23 Aug, 2009 16:49

The Pool Calculator will calculate the saturation index and will adjust the TA for CYA automatically and also account for TDS. This calculator essentially matches the Taylor Watergram at low TDS (non saltwater pools) and is more accurate than traditional formulas which are out-of-date.
barbados1

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby barbados1 » Wed 02 Sep, 2009 20:41

I'm back!

Bought the TF100 test kit (it is GREAT!)
Bought a magnetic mixer
Bought a electronic pH meter
Read much of the pool school but I'm getting confused with so much information

Here's what I have now:

pH=6.9 (electronic pH meter)
TA=90
CYA=120
Calcium Hardness=340
Chlorine=2

Am unable to raise the pH even with large doses of pH UP
Still have white staining on the black gunite.
two 3" tablets of chlorine are gone in 24 hours. :shock:

What's the best way to lower the CYA? And is that looking like the only problem that you see?

Thanks for your help

-dave-
Medford, Oregon

------------------------------------
15,500 gal in ground gunite pool apx 27 years old
new sand filter with 1HP pump
I run the pump daily for six hours and backwash/brush add aglecyde once a week.
chem geek
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Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby chem geek » Wed 02 Sep, 2009 22:32

Double check the pH with the TF100 kit, just to make sure.

As for the CYA, it can only be reduced through dilution of the water and then avoiding use of stabilized chlorine (i.e. Trichlor and Dichlor). The dilution should also reduce your high CH unless your fill water is high in CH.

Don't use any more pH Up since your TA is already reasonable and with the high CH you don't want to get scaling. If you switch to using hypochlorite sources of chlorine, then try aerating the water to see if that raises the pH or try using 20 Mule Team Borax. It doesn't make any sense at all that pH Up wouldn't raise the pH at all -- you can try some experiments in a bucket of pool water to see if you get pH movement (using very small amounts of product).
Guest

Reduce Total Alkalinity Levels

Postby Guest » Wed 02 Sep, 2009 23:20

Thank you Mr. Geek!

I'll do some tests in a bucket with the pH UP to see, but 2# don't move the Ph up on the cube (much).

It looks like the dilution is the key, then aeration and a switch to bleach. I'll give the borax a shot, too.

I'll let you know how it's going and thanks so much for the help!

-dave-
Medford, Oregon

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