One of the most important steps of swimming pool maintenance is learning to maintain your pool water’s chemical balance. Getting it right can help ensure that your pool water stays fresh and clean, and you can avoid common pool maintenance pitfalls.

Not a chemistry buff? No worries. You don’t have to be a science whiz to learn the ins and outs of testing your water and adjusting the pH of your swimming pool. All you need is some basic knowledge and a good test kit.

What is pH?

First things first: pH is a measure of the acidity of your pool water – and it can affect everything from algae growth and corrosion to comfort and cleanliness. Your water’s pH can also affect the effectiveness of other chemicals in your swimming pool.

Ideally, you want your pH to be between 7.2 and 7.8. Levels below 7.2 indicate acidic water. To reverse this, use a pH increaser to balance the water. If your water’s pH is above 7.8, that means it’s high in alkalinity. In that case, you can you can add a pH decreaser.

Your pool chemistry can be affected by several factors, including:

  • Pool usage
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Temperature
  • Whether you have “hard” or “soft” water
  • High bather load


Salt chlorine pools have a different chemical makeup than traditional chlorine pools, and they are more prone to having a higher pH. If you have a salt water pool, keep an eye on the numbers and have a pH decreaser on hand.

Why is pH Balance Important?

Why does pH balance matter? Here are just a few reasons to maintain a balanced swimming pool:

  • It helps chlorine work effectively. Chlorine is essential for keeping your pool clean and free of potentially harmful germs and bacteria. The catch? For chlorine to work effectively, your swimming pool water has to be balanced properly. If your pH is too high or too low, chlorine won’t be working at full strength.
  • It makes your pool water easy on the eyes (literally and figuratively). Keeping your pool water balanced will help prevent unsightly mineral buildup and algae growth – and it also ensures that your pool is gentle on your eyes (pH at improper levels can cause irritation).
  • It prevents corrosion and irritation. If your pool’s pH is too low, the water will corrode your pool’s metal components (thinks ladders, hand rails, and pool pump elements). Maintaining a proper pH will also ensure that your pool water is gentle to the skin.