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The Importance of Alkalinity and pH

The Importance of Water Balance

Water balance is comprised of several parameters; but pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness are the ones most often tested and adjusted, while total dissolved solids and temperature are also contributors. These components work together to create ‘balanced water’, which is neither corrosive nor scale-forming.
Balanced water is important to many aspects of proper pool or spa care. Water that is out of balance can cause equipment to function inefficiently and can severely decrease its lifespan. Equipment operating in unbalanced water may need more maintenance to keep it running, leading to swimming down-time and increased maintenance cost. Pool or spa surfaces and plumbing can also be affected by water that is out of balance, reducing longevity. Properly balanced water will offer increased swimmer comfort and increased sanitizer and oxidizer efficiency.

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Why is pH Important?

pH plays a major role in pool and spa water balance. Everything that is introduced to the water including
swimmers, chemicals, rain, etc. can have an impact on pH, while pH influences the other water balance
parameters. In many commercial pool situations, besides chlorine, pH is the only other reading health
department officials test. pH and chlorine are the two aspects of water chemistry that have direct bearing on the well-being and safety of the swimmers in the water.

What is Total Alkalinity?

Total alkalinity is a measure of the resistance of water to changes in pH. In short, it is a buffer for pH. Measured in parts per million (ppm), the higher the total alkalinity reading, the more difficult it is to change the pH reading in the water. Everything added that could change pH is neutralized or buffered, and pH does not change. Conversely, a lower total alkalinity makes it more likely for the pH to change, often being greatly affected by chemicals, swimmers, and weather. Without an ample amount of acid and base components to neutralize what comes in the pool, the pH fluctuates in response to the nature of what is introduced to the water.


While there are many components of pool care to consider when considering proper maintenance, pool water pH and total alkalinity are definitely an important part of water balance. Proper balance of pH and total alkalinity helps ensure bather comfort, protects the pool surface and equipment, and promotes efficiency in the other chemicals used for maintenance. Without this balance, pool maintenance becomes more difficult, and the bathing experience is less enjoyable for the swimmer.

If you have any questions of concerns, please reach out to the Aqua-Tech Water Analysis Lab
watertesting@aqua-tech.ca or 204-233-8822

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