Frustrated with cloudy pool water? Here are five reasons it’s happening and proven fixes so that you can get back to enjoying your pool.
In the course of owning and trying to enjoy your pool, it’s almost inevitable that you are going to run into the problem of cloudy pool water.
There are several primary reasons that the pool water has gotten cloudy.
Here are the principal offenders:
- Insufficient chlorine.
- Unbalanced pool chemistry.
- Low filtration.
- Debris and contaminants in the water.
- Inclement weather (heavy rain, etc)
For new pool owners, cloudy pool water can be a little intimidating. I get it. There’s lots of lingo and sciencey words involved.
Phosphates. Cyanuric acid. Calcium hardness. Science, science, and more science!
But fear not.
Once you get a clear (see what I did there?) idea of how your pool works and what it needs to function optimally, cloudy pool water will become a thing of the past.
Here’s what you need to know about fixing cloudy pool water.
1. Insufficient chlorine.
Everybody knows what chlorine is and what it does for swimming pools, and yet, it’s staggering how often cloudy water can be quickly fixed simply by optimizing the chlorine levels in the water.
When chlorine is low, all the stuff that causes cloudy pool water—algae, bacteria, bodily fluids like oil and sweat—have free reign on the pool.
Next time you have a group of people in your pool, notice how quickly the water quickly gets “foggy”—it’s not just leaves and dead insects that cause this issue.
Sunscreen, oily skin, and sweat “burn up” chlorine.
(So does excessive exposure to sunshine—UV rays degrade chlorine over time.)
The fix, in this case, is easy enough:
Shock the water. Shocking the water is a simple matter of adding enough chlorine to the pool to drop-kick all the bacteria and chloramines causing cloudy water. Pool shocks temporarily raise the chlorine levels to kill off contaminants.
Once this is done, let the pool pump circulate the water and sit back poolside for a few hours.
2. Test the water
While we have that pool test kit out, we may as well take a gander at the other key markers of pool water health.
pH. When the pH is off, it can affect how well your pool chemicals are functioning. Look for a pH in the range of 7.4 to 7.6.
Alkalinity. This measure tells you how well pH is being stabilized, so it is usually the first thing you want to look at when testing the water. Most above-ground pools, which are made of vinyl, should have a range of 100-140.
Calcium hardness. If calcium levels are too high, this can cause structural integrity problems with the plumbing and equipment in the pool. Generally, the only step you can take here is to dilute the water by partially draining the pool and topping it off with new water.
Testing the water regularly is something you should be doing and will help you catch potential problems like cloudy water in your pool.
3. Low or pool filtration.
The workhorse of your pool cleaning is the pump and filter.
They work up to 12 hours a day, collecting junk from your pool while you are sleeping, doing the grunt work of keeping the water clean.
But when issues arise in the filtration system, the water doesn’t get cleaned properly.
Fortunately, this problem is usually not that complicated to fix.
Here are the three simple steps to resolving this issue:
Clean the pool filter. If you have a sand filter, backwash it. If it’s a cartridge filter, rinse it off. Pool filters clean your pool water, but you have to remember to clean it, too.
Empty the skimmer basket. All the organic matter and debris that the filter collects gets dumped somewhere. When it’s full, the filter can’t do its job at full tilt, slowing down filtration, leading to water that is cloudy. Empty the skimmer or pump basket.
Run the pump and filter for longer. Often, pool owners will cut down the time their pump is running to save on energy costs. Make sure the pump and filter are running according to the volume of your pool.
If these fixes don’t resolve the cloudy pool water, it might be time for replacing the filter and pump or the filter media.
4. Contaminants in the water
Swimming pools are a heaping spoonful of fun, but in all that excitement to cannonball into the water swimmers tend to forget that they are tracking in a lot of dirt, grass, mud, and other organic debris into the water.
Add that to the insects, leaves, twigs, and other miscellaneous stuff that falls into the pool, and it doesn’t take long for your pool chemicals to become overwhelmed.
From there, it’s not a long trip to algae growing on the sides and wall of the pool and cloudy water.
How to fix:
Skim, scrub, and vacuum the pool. Fixing cloudy pool water requires giving the pool a skim and scrub. Deploy your pool brush to “shave” algae off the walls. Use the pool skimmer to collect stuff on the surface. And unleash your pool vacuum to suck everything else out.
Consider using an algaecide. For pools that are part milky and cloudy and part algae, take a look at an algaecide. There are excellent pool algaecides on the market you can use for both treatment and prevention.
5. Inclement weather
Finally, we have our last leading cause of cloudy pool water—yucky weather!
Rain can be great in a lot of respects: waters the lawn, gives us a respite from streaks of blindingly hot summer days, and in the right conditions, can be quite refreshing.
But when heavy rainfall hits our swimming pool, it starts to mess with the pool chemistry.
Added water dilutes our pool chemicals, weakening their ability to do its job properly, and rainfall is usually accompanied by falling debris, compounding reason #4 for cloudy pool water.
If you notice that the pool water has turned cloudy after a couple of days of hard rain and windy weather, bust out your trusted test kit and measure the chlorine and pH levels.
This will usually solve the present dilemma, but properly covering the pool when it is not in use will help prevent cloudy pool water from storming back your way again.
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