Pool chemistry predicament

Hello,
I am confused about pH and TA (Total Alkalinity) and was wondering if someone out there can explain what's going on.
I had to add quite a bit of soda ash to our inground, vinyl-lined, bromine-sanitized pool this year to get the pH up to an acceptable reading (around 7.5). After I did that, the TA reading went through the roof (300, where the suggested reading should be between 80-120.)
I've talked to every pool and pool chemical dealer in my area. Their answers and suggestions have been like snowflakes: no two are the same.
I tried adding 1 gal of muriatic acid...this did lower my TA to 270 (still way too high) but also screwed up my pH (now back down to 6.8).
It is even possible to get these two readings back within acceptable ranges at the same time?
Thanks in advance for any help/advice/info!
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I've never had this problem, but this is what I've read. Since most items that increase pH also raise TA quite a bit, all you can do is try to concentrate where you put the acid. Suposedly, this lowers TA more than pH. If you spread the acid evenly around the pool, it lowers pH faster than TA.
When you added the soda ash, did you evenly distribute it or dump it in a single area. Again, if raising pH was the goal, it should have been evenly distributed around the pool.
How was the TA when the pH was originally low -- about the correct range? Do you use baking soda to increase TA?
Finally, do you have any idea what the pH is of the bromine that you use? For chlorines, each of the three common choices has a different pH (Trichlor 3, Dichlor 6, and Cal Hypo 11.5). If bromine is making things acidic, you may want to look for a variant that is more basic.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Now, that is strange. How could the means of dispersal have any effect on the overall result of adding a chemical? Any chance you would remember where you read/saw that? I'd love to read it myself.

I evenly distributed it.

The TA was essentially perfect (around 100 ppm) before I did anything to try to raise the pH, which was about 6.8. I have never used anything at all to raise the TA because I've never wanted to raise it...until now it has been fine.

I use bromine tabs in a chem feeder...no idea what their effect on total pH is, but I can find out.
THANKS!
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I looked in my two books, but didn't find it there. I've gathered info from lots of places and I keep a pool chemical sumary sheet for when I need to adjust things. I believe the TA gets eaten up when you have enough acid to do it. Just evenly distributing it won't overcome the TA.
Where you get your water tested, do they do a detailed test that tells you your hardness, TDS, cyanuric acid, metals, and other things? If not, I'd but some test strips that measure the first two. If either the hardness or TDS is too high, you may have to drain a lot of water and start again. This condition is made worse by adding excessive chemicals.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Use a test kit that requires the chlorine to be neutralized for the pH and TA test. Allow chemicals 3 to 4 days to circulate before making adjustments. I've written this before but it's so important I'll repeat it. Inadequate circulation leaves a huge amount of pool water void of the chemicals you put in. Timing is very important. Chemicals that don't disperse properly and evenly can be just as bad as using 2 lbs. of shock in two days instead of 4 pounds of shock in one day. Draw water from the bottom of your pool by leaving the vac head down there. Take a pH reading after three or four days. You will see the pH slowly rise to the point your high TA and pH makes sense. At this point bring a sample in to get it analyzed.
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I'm not sure what you mean by "neutralized"...would that be the same as "stabilized"? At any rate, this is a bromine-sanitized pool. I do wait a few days to take readings.

I always put any treatment in the pool early in the day, so the pump will run all day.

We have a drain at the bottom of the deep end, and a vacuum plate with a plug in the skimmer...combined with a little stop valve in the bottom of the skimmer, this allows the pump to draw all of its water from the bottom drain only.

Hmm, if I follow you, you're saying that after 3 or 4 days I will see the effect of my adding the muriatic acid (which lowered the pH) wear off?

Yeah, I would, but I would expect to get different advice depending on where I brought the sample. That's the crux of my dilemma, another way of stating which would be I can't find a dealer/tester in my area that I have any confidence in. Suggestions ranged from: "get your pH right and don't worry about the alkalinity..." to "drain the pool and start over."
Thank you for your advice.
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Neutalize. Bromine is part chlorine.

Great!
I see you don't trust pool dealers because they each give you different advice. Well, I give you advice and mine doesn't make sense to you either. You need to see good results first, and then go back and learn why it worked. You also asked someone to come up with where they saw it say how to disperse the chemicals, either concentrated in one small area or evenly dispersed. Forget it, just do it and we'll explain why later.

Those suggestions sound good to me. I have an in-law who prides herself for not having to shock her pool because she keeps her sanitizer level real high. The one feeding her this BS is the same dealer I go to occasionally. He's not a bad guy. He just finally gave up on her. Her liner went brittle and was replaced this year after a four week order it and wait. Last I heard she's back doing the same BS. My in-ground is three times larger than her pool but she uses three times more chemicals than I do. Mine is sparkling clear everyday. She has seen it. Does it sink in??? Hell no! So, if she had your problem I'd tell her to drain the pool. Screw it. Different dealers have different attitudes caused by the customer.
Your problem could be a small crack in one of the underground lines. When the pump is off the crack allows water to seep out. When the pump turns back on it draws the water back in along with small amounts of soil. This can cause the pH to read low. Maybe the crack doesn't always seep water out because the crack fills in sufficiently. How could a crack develop? Freezing is one possibility. Maybe you added too much calcium thru the skimmer to harden the' water and the calcium clogged and burned your pipe.
Your problem could be caused by the paint on your patio leaching into the pool. Or fertilizer or grass clippings, or even a clogged chemical feeder.
I have been where you are now. I use baking soda to raise the pH and I use (I forgot the chemical name, something hydrogen) to raise the TA without effecting the pH. If I needed to lower the TA I would use muratic acid (one pint) locally in one small area. I would use a dry ingredient like Low 'n Slow to lower the pH because that stuff can be scattered over the surface. Study up on what TA actually is and what it's make-up is all about and then you should be able to understand why a concentration of acid works on the TA and has little effect on the pH.
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One more piece of advice before I go. When you first noticed 6.8 pH and a TA of 100 I'm guessing your pH was actually in range, maybe 7.2 or 7.4. If indeed it was 6.8 that wasn't enough to start tweaking. You have to decide how to attack a problem by the direction things are headed. I've seen pool water take almost two weeks to finally show an accurate result from the chemicals added two weeks prior. Tips: My pool is closed now. I can fertilize my lawn now without having to worry about nitrogen or potassium entering the water. If I had a mesh cover instead of a solid cover I'd have some severe problems later. I use the reel that the solar cover was attached to roll up the pool cover. Little by little I'm able to wash both top and bottom of the cover. When it came time to cover the pool I simply rolled the cover over it. Dragging a cover over the lawn is not a good idea. The cleaner the cover the cleaner the water next spring.
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Mr. Land wrote:

I had the same problem. Got only part way to solving it before we sold the house. Basically I drained some of the water and added new water. That helped quite a bit.
It's very frustrating and drove me crazy. One of the reasons I refused to buy a new house with a pool. (It was too small to do more than a couple of strokes anyway).
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Thank you for that reply. Seems like it should be doable though.
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Mr. Land writes:

No. You need to change out the water.
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Mr. Land writes:

Yes, at some point you have too much stuff dissolved in there, and you need to start over again with relatively pure water. Otherwise you have this chemical tug-of-war going on that you can never keep stably balanced.
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