PH is Low in Your Hot Tub? Here’s How to Balance Alkalinity Levels!

Today, we’re going to discuss a common issue that hot tub owners face: low pH levels in their spa water. Low pH levels can lead to various issues, such as cloudy water, skin irritation, and damage to your hot tub parts. So, let’s dive into the details and learn how to balance alkalinity levels, maintain the ideal pH range, and keep your hot tub in tip-top shape!

Identifying the Problem: How to Know if Your Hot Tub’s PH Level is Low

The first step in solving any problem is identifying it. For hot tub owners, this means regularly checking the pH levels of the water. You can do this using test strips, a liquid test kit, or a digital pH test kit, all of which are available at your local pool store. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. The ideal pH range for your hot tub is between 7.2 and 7.8, which ensures optimal water quality and minimal health risks.

If the pH reading is below 7.2, this indicates that your hot tub has acidic water, which can cause a variety of issues. For instance, low pH levels can lead to itchy skin, eye irritation, and damage to your hot tub equipment.

kids in outdoor hot tub

The Culprits: What Causes Low PH Levels in Hot Tubs?

Several factors can contribute to low pH levels in your hot tub. Some of these factors include:

  • Natural contaminants like body oils, sweat, and cosmetics.
  • Fresh water from your water source, especially if you use well water.
  • The use of certain primary sanitizers like calcium hypochlorite or salt systems.
  • Incorrect chemical levels, such as low alkalinity or high acidity.

So… now that we know what can cause it, let’s sort out your hot tub ph!

The Solution: Balancing the Alkalinity Levels

To increase the pH of your hot tub, you’ll need to balance the alkalinity levels. Total Alkalinity (TA) is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in the water and acts as a buffer for pH. The right TA level helps maintain a stable pH level, preventing drastic fluctuations. The ideal range for TA in hot tubs is 80-120 parts per million (ppm).

Here are some steps to balance the alkalinity of your hot tub water:

A. Test the Total Alkalinity Level

Using test strips or a liquid test kit, measure the TA levels in your hot tub. If the TA level is below the normal range (80-120 ppm), you’ll need to raise it.

B. Use an Alkalinity Increaser

To raise the TA levels, you can use an alkalinity increaser like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or a commercial product specifically designed for this purpose. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best way to use these products.

C. Adjust the PH Level of the Water

Once the TA level is within the proper range, you can now adjust the pH level of the water. To raise the pH, you can use a pH increaser such as soda ash (sodium carbonate) or a commercial product designed for this purpose. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the right dosage and application method.

Remember to add the chemicals in small doses and allow sufficient time for the water to circulate before retesting the pH and TA levels. Adjust as necessary until your hot tub’s pH levels are within the correct range (7.2-7.8).

ph test strips for hot tub and pool

Regular Maintenance: Keep an Eye on Your Hot Tub’s PH Levels

To ensure optimal water conditions and protect your hot tub equipment, it’s essential to monitor the pH and TA levels on  a regular basis. As a general rule, you should test the water chemistry at least once a week or more frequently if your hot tub sees heavy use. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you maintain the right pH and TA levels in your hot tub:

A. Keep Your Hot Tub Clean

One of the most important things you can do to maintain the ideal pH range is to keep your hot tub clean. Regularly remove debris, clean the hot tub cover, and wipe down the spa surfaces. Also, make sure to change the water every three to four months, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

B. Test Your Hot Tub’s PH and TA Levels

Using test strips or a liquid test kit, test the pH and TA levels of your hot tub water regularly. If the levels are outside the acceptable range, take the necessary steps to correct them.

C. Maintain the Right Water Balance

In addition to pH and TA levels, it’s crucial to maintain the right water balance in your hot tub. This includes monitoring calcium hardness, which affects the water’s ability to prevent scale formation and protect metal components. Aim for a calcium hardness level between 150 and 250 ppm.

D. Use the Right Chemicals

Choose the appropriate chemicals to adjust your hot tub’s pH and TA levels. Common chemicals include pH increaser (soda ash), pH decreaser (dry sodium bisulfate or liquid muriatic acid), and alkalinity increaser (sodium bicarbonate). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage and application.

E. Add Chemicals Correctly

When adding chemicals to your hot tub, it’s important to follow the proper procedure. Start by pre-dissolving chemicals in a plastic bucket filled with a small amount of water. Then, slowly pour the solution into the hot tub, preferably near the jets for better circulation. This helps prevent damage to the hot tub surfaces and equipment.

F. Monitor Your Hot Tub’s Water Source

The water you add to your hot tub can affect its pH and TA levels. If you use well water or another source with naturally low pH or high alkalinity, you may need to treat the water before adding it to your hot tub.

G. Consult Professionals When Needed

If you’re unsure about your hot tub’s water chemistry or need help troubleshooting issues, don’t hesitate to consult professionals at your local pool store. They can provide expert advice and help you find the right solutions to maintain clear water and a healthy hot tub environment.

As a hot tub owner, maintaining the correct pH and TA levels is crucial for ensuring optimal water quality, protecting your hot tub’s components, and avoiding skin and eye irritation. By following these guidelines and performing regular maintenance, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your hot tub without any worries. So, grab your test kit, roll up your sleeves, and let’s keep that hot tub water in perfect balance!

backyard hot tub

More on Hot Tubs

Wondering whether all this maintenance is worth the payoff, read our blog post on pros and cons of an inflatable hot tub and make your own decision.

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