Total Alkalinity – The Buffer for PH

Total Alkalinity – The Buffer for PH

Total Alkalinity – The Buffer for PH

For this week’s FAQ series, we will be discussing the second reading in the Water Balancing Triad – Total Alkalinity. 

In many ways Total Alkalinity it similar to pH and how it runs from acidic to alkaline. Consider pH 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 can just adjust the thermostat. The thermostat itself is ‘Total Alkalinity’ in that it gives you the ability to control your pH reading. 

Total Alkalinity acts as a buffer, helping to stabilize your pH and keeping sudden changes at bay. For pools, spas and hot tubs, the optimal Total Alkalinity reading should be between 80 – 120 ppm (parts per million). There are products on the market, such as our Palintest 3-in-1 test strips, that you can use to check your sanitizer level, pH and Total Alkalinity in one go. If you use a sanitizer or pH only test strip daily, you will need to check your Total Alkalinity at least twice a week. 

If your pool water has returned either a high or low pH before checking your Total Alkalinity, ensure you add in any pH chemicals such as an increaser or reducer before taking the reading. This is due to the effect that these chemicals will have on your results. 

There are a number of noticeable signs of an unbalanced Total Alkalinity. These include:

  • High/low total alkalinity reading
  • Hard to change pH 
  • Scale formation 
  • Cloudy water 
  • Skin and eye irritation 
  • Poor biocide efficiency 

You may notice that the symptoms of Total Alkalinity have a similar effect as pH on your water. It is worth noting that low-level readings are potentially more damaging for your pool, spa or hot tub than high readings. However, they both will need to be corrected for the comfort, health, and safety of your bathers. This will also help to extend the lifespan of your equipment. 

If you have any further questions regarding Total Alkalinity and Water Balancing, contact us today. Our friendly and experienced team are happy to answer any questions that you may have. 

For our commercial and trade contacts, please contact us for a personalized quote.



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