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How to Balance pH in the Hot Tub

You love relaxing in your hot tub, but perhaps you aren’t quite sure how to balance your pH levels and total alkalinity (TA) levels. We’re here to help! We’ve put together some guidance below for you. Or, you can always contact our service team, and we can help!

Here’s how to balance the pH in your hot tub.

While many hot tub owners never have trouble balancing the pH and TA levels in their spas, others owners struggle with this on a daily basis. This is usually due to the differences in water quality across the nation.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about the quality of the water coming into your home, but there is a lot you can do to bring your pH levels and TA levels into balance in your hot tub. All it takes is a little knowledge and a few moments of your time.

What Is pH?

Your pH level in your hot tub is the measure of how acidic or how basic your water is. The ideal range for your pH in your spa is between 7.2 and 7.8. Anything higher than 7.8 is considered too basic or alkaline and can cause your water sanitizer to function poorly as well as lead to scale formation and even cloudy water. If the pH level is too low, your water will be too acidic.

This leads to poor sanitizer efficiency and causes burning in your eyes. It is potentially damaging to your hot tub in the process.

Needless to say, balancing the pH is very important for every spa owner. However, before we can balance the pH, we need to understand Total Alkalinity and its effect on pH.

Understanding Total Alkalinity

There is often a lot of confusion surrounding total alkalinity and what its exact purpose is. Basically, TA is the buffer for pH – it’s what gives you the ability to control the pH levels in your hot tub. Without it you would never be able to control the pH levels in your hot tub. That is why you always balance the TA levels first before you even begin to work on your pH levels.

Ideally, your TA levels should be in the neighborhood of 80 to 120 parts per million (ppm). If you measure above or below these readings, you need to bring your TA levels into balance first, and then worry about your pH levels.

Common Balance Problems

The major challenge that many hot tub owners face is making these two different measurements balance. The reason for this is the same chemicals that lower your pH, also lower your TA levels. This can sometimes cause hot tub owners to enter a very annoying circle as they try to balance their water chemistry.

Let’s take a look at several different water balance scenarios and look at what you need to do to properly adjust your water chemistry.

1. Low pH, Normal TA

Add a pH increaser that will not impact the TA. This ensures that your pH levels rise while not impacting the overall TA levels.

2. Low pH, High TA

First, add a pH decreaser to lower the TA levels. Once that is in the correct range, use an increaser that won’t impact the TA levels to raise the pH to normal.

3. Low pH and TA

Add a pH increaser to raise both the TA and pH levels. Retest the water to make sure both have been brought into normal range.

4. High pH and TA

If both levels are too high, add a pH decreaser to the water to bring both the levels down. Retest the water to make sure both the TA and pH are in normal range.

5. Normal pH, High TA

Add a pH decreaser to lower the overall TA levels. Once these are in normal range, test your pH. If your pH levels have dropped below normal, use an increaser that won’t affect the TA levels.

6. Normal pH, Low TA

Add an alkalinity increaser to raise the overall TA levels. In most cases, the overall pH levels will not be affected.

7. High pH, Normal TA

Add a pH decreaser to lower the pH to a normal range. If the TA levels drop, add an alkalinity increaser to bring the overall TA levels back into normal range.

8. High pH, Low TA

First, add a pH decreaser to lower the pH levels, then add an alkalinity increaser to raise the TA levels. This won’t affect the overall pH level.

Water Source Issues

Some hot tub owners just have bad water, plain and simple. So what do you do if your water source is poor? There are filtration systems you can buy for your hose to help with this, and there are even filters you can put on your water lines in your home to help improve the situation.

In the end, however, it may just mean that you have to work a little harder to bring the water into balance. If you want to enjoy your hot tub, you have to spend a little extra time on your water quality.


Balancing your water is important to every hot tub owner. While it may sound difficult, it is actually easier than you think, and regular water checks can help you keep it balanced so your water stays clean and clear and your hot tub stays damage-free.

Remember to test your water regularly and always do your best to keep your pH and TA levels in their normal ranges. You’ll be glad you did.

Need help? Contact our service department today.

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