A Simple Guide to Swimming Pool pH Levels


The role of the pool owner is to maintain a healthy and safe swimming environment.

There are many factors that can affect the water quality in your pool, from atmospheric conditions to contaminants that come into contact with it.

Properly maintaining the pH level of your pool is critical for sanitary use as well as preventing corrosion on metal parts such as ladders and steps.

In this article, we will discuss what pH levels should be considered safe for swimming, how you can measure pH levels using various methods, and how to best manage them so they remain at a healthy level.

What is pH?

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of water; it’s reported on a scale where 0-7 is acidic, 7.1-14 is neutral (pure water), and above 7.2 to 14.0+ is considered alkaline (or basic).

The lower the number, the more acidic; for example vinegar has a pH of 3 while milk has a pH of 6.9–vinegar would be considered “more acidic” than milk in terms of their respective numbers on this scale.

The goal in your swimming pool should be to have a ph level between 7 and 7.8, with some variation up or down depending on whether you’re using chlorine or bromine as your main sanitizer.

pH levels outside of this range can cause problems, such as corrosion and the growth of algae or other bacteria.

When your pool pH is higher than 7:

1. The water will be more alkaline and less acidic, making it a hospitable environment for bacteria and algae to grow.

2. The chlorine or bromine in the water will not be as effective at sanitizing, meaning there is an increased risk of swimmer illness.

3. The water may become cloudy and have a bad odor, due to the growth of bacteria and algae.

4. Metal parts in the pool, such as ladders and steps, may corrode from the higher pH level.

5. Increases corrosion on metal parts which is usually a sign that there is too much acid in the pool, this type is called “scale”.

When your pool pH is lower than 7:

1. The water will be more acidic and less alkaline, making it a hospitable environment for bacteria and algae to grow.

2. Chlorine or bromine will not be as effective at sanitizing, meaning there is an increased risk of swimmer illness.

3. Metal corrosion can occur due to low pH levels; this should be treated immediately to prevent further damage since it could eventually lead to pump malfunction which would cause other problems in the pool.

How can you measure pH?

pool ph


There are a few different ways to measure pH levels in your pool: with pH strips, a digital meter, or an electronic probe.

PH strips are probably the most common way to test pH levels; they are thin, disposable paper strips that have a color chart on them to indicate whether the water is acidic, neutral, or alkaline.

To use them, you first need to get a sample of water from your pool and dip the strip into it for about 10 seconds; then match the strip’s color against the chart on the packaging.

Digital meters are a little more high-tech; they look like small handheld devices with a screen that displays the pH level as well as other information about the water. You simply put the meter into the water and it will give you a reading.

An electronic probe is another option for measuring pH levels; this device attaches to a computer or smartphone and gives you a reading of the pH level as well as how acidic or alkaline the water is.

How do you adjust pH?


If your pool’s pH level falls outside of the safe range, there are a few ways to adjust it: by adding more acid (if it’s too alkaline) or alkalinity (if it’s too acidic). Just make sure to keep a close eye on the pH level after you’ve adjusted it to make sure your pool doesn’t become too basic or acidic!

Adding acid: To lower pH, you need to add an acid.

There are many options for this; some common chemicals used include muriatic acid and hydrochloric acid.

For safety reasons, be very careful when using these–always wear protective gloves and goggles, and don’t use them near children or pets! You can also safely lower the pH by adding sodium bisulfate (dry acid).

Another option is trichloroacetic acid, which has a higher concentration of chlorine than most other acids so it kills more bacteria as well as the PH. To correctly adjust the pH with acid, you must first get an accurate measurement of the water’s current pH level.

Then slowly pour in your acid; white powder can be poured directly into pool skimmers or under the water off to the side (away from any metal parts) and liquid acids can be added with a dropper.

Be very careful not to splash around when adding these chemicals, as it could result in burns. Just like after adding alkalinity, make sure to test for pH levels periodically before swimming!

Adding alkalinity: To boost alkaline levels, you need to add alkalinity

…in other words more calcium chloride! You can safely raise the alkalinity by pouring 3 lbs per 10 gallons of calcium chloride into your pool skimmers.

This will increase the pH level of your pool, so if it’s not within the 7-8 ideal range yet you should continue adding alkalinity until it is. Just like after adding acid, make sure to test for pH levels periodically before swimming!

What are some things that can affect pH?

PH levels are affected by a number of different factors, including whether your pool uses chlorine or bromine as its main sanitizer, what kind of filtration system you have, and the amount of rainwater your pool accumulates.

If you use chlorine or bromine to kill bacteria or algae in your pool, this increases the acidity; if you use algaecides instead (or if you don’t use any chemicals at all), this increases the alkalinity.

The more rainwater your pool accumulates, the greater the chance that it will become too acidic.

What is a balanced pH level? What about an ideal range?

adjust pool ph

The safe and ideal swimming pool pH levels are 7-8; ideally, they should be exactly in the middle of this range (7.4).

If your water is outside of this healthy range, there’s a good chance it can cause damage to your pool and affect its appearance or durability–or even make swimmers sick!

For example: if your water is below 7, it is considered too acidic – this could corrode metal parts and fade liners; if your water is above 8, it is considered too alkaline – this could cause scaling (a build-up of minerals on surfaces) and cloudy water.

Maintaining a balanced pH level is an important part of keeping your swimming pool safe and looking its best! By using one of the methods mentioned above to test your pH levels, and then adjusting as necessary, you can make sure your pool stays in the healthy range. Have fun swimming in your perfectly balanced pool!


If you want to keep your pool water in the healthy pH range, there are a number of methods available for testing and adjusting. If you’re looking for more information on how to test or maintain your swimming pool PH levels?  Let us know if you have any questions about the PH of your pool or any other swimming pool-related questions — we at SSD Pools are happy to help!

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