Do you have pool water that looks more like milk than water? Do you know how to take care of your pool but struggle to resolve the cloudy water situation? It’s a problem shared by many pool owners, so don’t let it stress you out!
Usually, cloudy water is a sign that your circulation system is broken or malfunctioning, but it’s not an issue that is overly difficult to solve. In this article, we’ll talk about why cloudy pools shouldn’t be ignored, explore why it could have happened, and ultimately, give you tools to fix it – fast.
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Is Cloudy Water Really a Problem?
Unfortunately, yes. Cloudy water is a big deal. Like a bandage on a wound, it would be easy to simply add polymer-based pool treatments or shock and walk away from the task thinking everything was fine and dandy. But, like a bandage, all that will do is mask the symptoms instead of treating the root cause. The best way to eliminate cloudy pool water is to figure out why it’s cloudy in the first place.
Most often, cloudy pools are markers of a chemical imbalance in your pool. Usually, this is due to a clogged pool filter that can’t perform correctly and clean the gunk from the water. It could also be the sanitizer that isn’t eliminating the bacteria that could be harmful. These things can happen due to the incorrect amount of chlorine or salt in your pool depending on which system you use. It’s gross, sure. But it could be more harmful than that. Getting sick from your pool, the space you count on for enjoyment, isn’t exactly the idea of a good time.
What’s the Real Reason My Pool Water is Cloudy?
Correcting the immediate issue is easy, so it seems appealing. But if the root cause of the cloudiness isn’t exposed, the cloudiness will return over and over. Here are a few possible problems that could be causing the cloudy water – and remember, staying on top of these problems will help you in the long run.
Debris & Algae Attacking Your Pool
The bane of any pool owner’s existence is leaves! You’re constantly skimming them out and it’s always a hassle when you just want to dive in – not clean your pool! They’re not just pesky for swimmers; they cause your sanitizer to work overtime! If the sanitizer and filter are focused on somehow ridding your pool of whole leaves, bacteria are much more likely to sneak in the back door and stick around for a while.
Add to that the everyday pollutants left behind by pool visitors like hair and skin products, sweat and sunscreen, and your sanitizer is just overworked all hours of the day! Testing your pool’s pH levels and adding chlorine is imperative to keep your sanitizer and filter from working so hard. If you forget one week, you can bet the next week your pool will be cloudy and uninviting.
Even worse: if you have an algae bloom, that’s just adding to your problem! Swimming with algae is definitely not advisable even though by itself, algae isn’t poisonous. However, they can cause major problems. They tax your sanitizer unnecessarily, and worst-case scenario: cloudy water can result in drowning. This is why cleaning the algae from your pool is absolutely imperative! Sanitizing chemicals, pool shock products, routine cleaning and vacuuming are all so important to the health of your pool!
The Circulation System is on the Fritz!
Oh no! Take a good look at your equipment and make sure it’s all working properly. Does the system have any leaks? Is there trash causing a traffic jam inside or outside of your pump? That’s a good indicator for why your chemicals aren’t working.
Is the pump dying – or worse – already dead? Do yourself a favor and get a variable-speed pump. You’ll get a better piece of equipment, but you’ll also get a jump on federal legislation starting next year.
That’s not to mention the energy savings it’ll give you! I suggest the Energy Star Variable Speed Pump. It’s for in-ground pools and it’s 2HP. You can’t buy one more efficient for the cost. Plus, it has rebates and warranty that lasts for the life of the pump!
If the system that circulates your water isn’t dead or on it’s last leg at all – maybe you just bought it – it’s probably not running often enough. It needs to run every day for the proper length of time: eight hours a day. Always be sure your pool’s circumstances don’t require more or less time. This is just a baseline for most pools.
The problem could also be with your above-ground pump. Oftentimes, they won’t start, and that’s due to electrical issues. Let me recommend the Copper Force Above Ground Pool Pump. They built in a capacitor to get around this common problem.
Is it Your Pool Chemistry?
Because pool chemistry is the crux of the cloudy pool problem, it can feel overwhelming. You don’t need a science degree to find a solution. The main thing that needs to be done consistently is finding your pool’s pH level. More often than not, if your water is cloudy, the pH is too high.
This means there’s not enough acidic properties to your water. We’ve been taught that “hard water” – water that’s too acidic – is a bad thing, but “soft water” – more basic properties – can cause your sanitizer to work less efficiently. This can cause bacteria growth and produce cloudy water.
Alkalinity can cause the pH level to be off-kilter. That’s because it works as a stabilizer. High alkalinity and high pH together can wreak havoc on your pool’s structure, specifically metal and vinyl pools.
Also, you may want to check the calcium levels in your pool water. If it’s too high, it will solidify and cause flakes in your pool. These will clog your filtration system and cause your water to be cloudy.
While chlorine is a useful tool in pool maintenance, pouring copious amounts into your pool can create high amounts of a by-product caused by chlorine: chloramines. These are the dangerous by-products that produce the awful smell we associate with chlorine as they create gas.
Chloramines have been proven to make skin irritation, along with lung and throat issues. On top of that, chloramines can actually counteract the good that chlorine does in your pool. It’s a vicious cycle that can be remedied by shocking the pool, but that’s an entirely separate article!
Remedies for Cloudy Pool Water
We’ve talked about all the things that can cause cloudy water, but I know you want to know one thing: how do I fix it? If you’ve read this far, you know what can cause cloudy pool water and you know that sometimes these issues are caused by one another. You can use the knowledge you have to correct any future cloudy issues, but here’s the way to get rid of it so that it never comes back again. Score!
Is your pool water stagnant or moving slowly even without things blocking the circulation system? Maybe you need a pump with more horsepower. Make sure a larger pump motor won’t overwhelm your filtration system first, and then try a Variable-Speed Pump. Bill Britton is a satisfied customer. He says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”
Deep Cleaning is a Must!
Just like mucking stalls is the yuckiest job in a barn, scrubbing a pool is taxing! But if you give your pool a good clean, all the rest of the things you learn here will work that much better. A patented brush like the 360-Degree Bristles Pool Brush will help you get a good clean when you scrub the floors and walls of your pool. This brush was developed by maintenance experts to help you get into all the corners and crevices without breaking your back!
Once you’ve given your pool a good scrub-down, take all the leaves and large pieces of floating debris from the pool. Skimmers, vacuums, or the robotic pool cleaner (if you’re going for the long game) all do a great job for this task.
If you know you have algae in your pool, clean the robotic cleaner right away! If you’re using a vacuum, make sure you set it to waste. That way the gunk you’re trying so hard to eliminate won’t ever circulate back into your pool. Yuck!
Shock and Awe!
Stop waiting for the perfect time to shock your pool! The time is now! (Don’t do it if you’ve already added it this week. Once a week is a great schedule.) Shocking your pool will eliminate excess chloramines. You don’t need an abundance. Shock is sold in small 1-pound bags to help you give your water just the right amount. It’ll also help clear up the situation that bacteria, algae, and other pollutants.
Now, I know we said don’t add too much shock, but that’s for maintenance. If you already have algae, you’ll need to double up, maybe even triple up. Always wait for your water to respond to the shock before you get in the pool. That could take up to 24 hours. At least you’ll have time for all your other odd jobs around the house while you wait.
Filters Are Friendly
Pool owners would be lost without pool filters. It’s true! It’s one piece of your pool’s circulation system, but it’s an integral part! One thing that could really improve its performance is backwashing it on a routine basis. If you have a cartridge filter, give that a wash regularly, too. Maybe even think of replacing the filter before running it, especially if you’ve just shocked your pool. This will help the extra sanitizing power of the shock to get into your filter.
Another thing to help your filter do its best job is to monitor the flow rate. Is it not as strong as it should be? The Universal Booster Pump runs on two different voltages, and it can increase performance. Jerad Wilson bought one and he said, “Great pump, quick delivery, and great pricing. Would buy from here again.”
The Bottom Drains Can Help
Sometimes the vacuum can miss trash in the bottom of the pool, so using your bottom drains can help get rid of it. The only way around this is using a really efficient robotic pool cleaner like the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. If you have one, you probably won’t need to use the drains.
This only applies to in-ground pools, so if you have an above-ground style, use your manual vacuum like a drain. Flip it over on its back in the center of the bottom of the pool. It’ll remove all the debris that way. Kinda cool, huh?
Chemicals Need Testing, Too!
Are the bacteria that cause your cloudy water gone? Great! Do you want to make sure they don’t return? Test your chemical levels with test strips. If the levels are off, just tweak the chemicals until you get it right.
Debris is the only cause of cloudy water that isn’t tied directly to the chemical balance – or imbalance – of your pool water. Even if you had a pile-up in your circulation system, testing your water on a regular basis would alert you to a problem before the water had a chance to get cloudy. And as much as I love helping pool owners out, I’d love it if you never had use for this page again!
Clarification – Finally!
Well, since now you know why your pool water is cloudy, you’ve applied everything you’ve learned here, and you water levels are officially back to rights, I guess this is farewell. Enjoy your pool’s clear water every day!