How to Fix pH Imbalances in Your Swim Spa

Discover the causes of a pH imbalance and how to fix it

Key takeaways:

  • A proper pH level is achieved by balanced levels of acidity and alkalinity
  • An imbalanced pH level has several probable causes
  • An imbalanced pH can damage your swim spa and has health consequences
  • Getting a proper pH balance starts with understanding some basic chemistry
  • Adding chemicals is the most popular solution to fixing a pH imbalance

When you bought your swim spa, you were probably looking forward to plenty of relaxation – after all, lounging in one is a wonderful way to celebrate a staycation. You were most likely a responsible buyer, too. You did your due diligence and bought your spa first aid kit to keep your unit running well.

But, now you might be struggling to keep the pH balanced. Without a proper balance, you are facing equipment damage and health concerns. Not exactly relaxing. 

The good news? Once you understand what pH is and what causes imbalances, it’s a simple problem to fix. This guide will shed light on the chemistry of pH and the causes of an imbalanced pH. We’ll also give you solutions to fix it. 

Understanding your swim spa’s water chemistry

Your spa’s pH (short for power of hydrogen) level refers to a numeric scale. It’s based on a 0 to 14 scale and indicates how acidic or alkaline your water is. The closer your water’s pH is to zero, the higher your acidity. The closer it is to 14, the more alkaline it is.

For several reasons, a balanced pH level is in the 7 range, a balance of acidity and alkalinity. The ideal range is 7.2 to 7.8. But, what is acidity? What is alkalinity?

Acidity refers to water’s (or a solution’s) ability to negate the effects of alkali. Alkalinity is the ability of water to negate the effects of acids and keep the pH levels balanced. Think of these two chemicals as opposite ends of a scale. Neutrality is best for clean, healthy water. Leaning too far toward one end of the scale can damage your unit and your health. 

Side effects of high acidity in your swim spa’s water

If your swim spa’s water is not balanced, high acidity can cause problems. Acidic water gives off a bitter taste. It causes pipes and other exposed equipment to corrode and eventually fail. Left unchecked, the walls of your spa could eventually crack, causing massive damage.

Another side effect? Your imbalanced water can make it difficult for your sanitizer to work properly. You may be exposed to contaminants that could cause discomfort, itchiness, and skin irritation.

Side effects of high alkalinity in your swim spa’s water

If your water’s pH climbs higher than 7.8, it’s alkaline. Your water may turn cloudy and your spa’s equipment could experience scaling. A high pH also results in a reduction of your spa’s chlorine effectiveness.

If your chlorine isn't as effective, you may come in contact with bacteria. Your family could become ill and experience:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • And other unpleasant side effects

You likely won’t experience severe long-term effects... but it will ruin your spa experience! So, what are the causes of pH imbalance? Let’s find out. 

Causes of high acidity in your water

Several factors may be causing your pH to be low. Some of these include:

  • Your water supply has a naturally low pH. This is likely the problem if you find yourself constantly adding a pH reducer to your water.
  • Is your pH high? To lower it, you may have added too much pH reducer.
  • How much are you using your spa? Excessive use might be introducing contaminants that cause the acidity to increase. External additives like lotions, oils, and even excess body sweat can cause the pH in your spa’s water to lower.
  • Is debris getting into your swim spa? Depending on where your unit is located, grass, insects, and other “gifts” from nature can lower your spa’s pH.
  • Did you put the cover on too soon after adding chemicals? Your kit’s chemicals release gases. Putting the spa cover on too quickly stifles the process. This reduces your additives’ effects.

High acidity has several possible culprits that are easy to track down. The other end of the scale, alkalinity, has its own set of causes. We look at them. 

Causes of high alkalinity in your water

Your water may be too alkaline, even if the pH is balanced. Higher alkaline levels have similar causes to low pH levels. Review the following:

  • Check your local water source. Your water may have a naturally high pH level.
  • How much pH increaser are you adding? If your pH test strip told you your pH was low, you might have added too much increaser to fix the problem.

Having a pH imbalance in your swim spa is not that hard to fix but it must be taken care of quickly. Knowing what’s causing the problem means you can try different solutions. Once you've done your detective work, finding solutions is easier.

Fixing your swim spa’s pH imbalance

Use a test strip to test your water’s alkalinity and pH. The alkalinity will always be adjusted first. If it’s too high, add pH Down (a cap full) every four-six hours until the strip reads in the “Okay” range. If it’s too low, add a cap full of Alkalinity Up every four-six hours until the strip reads “Okay.” 

If the alkalinity has been in the “Okay” range for 48 hours, read the pH on the strip. If it’s too high, add pH Down at a rate of one teaspoon every four-six hours until it’s in the “Okay” range. If the pH is too low, add one teaspoon of pH Up every four-six hours until it’s in the “Okay” range. Re-test the pH and alkalinity once a week. 

Need more guidance on your spa’s pH?

Keeping your swim spa operating at peak efficiency doesn’t have to be a struggle. With just a touch of understanding how pH works, you’ll be able to pinpoint any issues with your spa’s water. If you need more help, be sure to contact one of our specialists today.

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