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Why is My Pool Cloudy? The Ultimate Guide

Don’t let the cloudy water cloud your judgement as well, there is an issue and it won’t go away!

What is the best thing when it comes to owning your own swimming pool? A crystal clear and fresh water at all times. Yet, sometimes you can see that the water is not as bright as it was. Water can become cloudy, almost milky in colour. Although the idea of bathing in milk seems cool, you will not be happy with the end result. It often means that algae are slowly taking over.

The most common culprits behind cloudy pools include high calcium levels, clogged filters, early stages of algae growth, high chlorine levels, improper pH, various debris and ammonia.

No matter which problem you have, there is a perfect remedy out there. We’ve gathered them all for you.

What Could Be Causing Your Cloudy Pool Water?

Cloudy pool

There are a number of reasons why your pool can be looking cloudy. One of the most common times your pool will look cloudy is after it has been heavily used. This often happens after a busy weekend in the pool. Below we list the main reasons your pool has turned cloudy:

  • Bacteria
  • Busy time in your pool
  • Environmental Debris.
  • Rainwater.
  • Sunscreens and oils.
  • Chemistry of your pool water.
  • Insufficient chlorinator run time
  • Preparing your pool for clearing
  • High chlorine levels

Chemical Imbalance and Water Impurity

There are a number of reasons why a pool might be cloudy but they can be divided into two broad categories, chemical imbalance and water impurity.

Chemical Imbalance Causes

Under the chemical imbalance category, a cloudy pool can be caused by:

Insufficient Free Chlorine

A low free chlorine reading can lead to improper water sanitation and oxidation which allows for organisms like green or mustard algae to develop in the water. A pool that goes randomly cloudy is often the 1st warning sign of an oncoming algae bloom and requires urgent attention.

Too High pH Levels

As your pH level increases, the effectiveness of your free chlorine decreases exponentially. Without having an appropriate pH level (7.2-7.6), your free chlorine will be unable to do its job of sanitising your water and breaking up the combined chlorine.

A high combined chlorine level can lead to water cloudiness, as well as the potent chlorine smell and skin & eye irritation. Additionally combined chlorine is nowhere near as effective at sanitising your water as free chlorine, and as discussed above can lead to algae growth.

NOTE: Chlorine becomes more effective at levels below the recommended low of 7.2, but results in other undesirable outcomes such as swimmer discomfort and irritation.

Improper Total Alkalinity (TA) Levels

Insufficient TA levels leave your pool’s pH level vulnerable to wild variations from outside influences or from the other chemicals in the water. Too high TA levels can increase the pH of the water by itself.

This leaves the pool vulnerable to becoming cloudy for the reasons listed above. Your pool’s TA should ideally be between 80-120ppm.

Improper Calcium Levels

When your pool’s Calcium Hardness level is either too low or too high it can cause cloudiness in the water as the suspended calcium starts to become visible.

In concrete pools, if the calcium is too low the water will try and leach the calcium from the concrete to try and achieve balance.

If the calcium levels are too high, well, it just simply means there is too much calcium and starts to become visible. Either occurrence will make the pool appear to be cloudy.

Calcium issues however usually present via a hard white scale appearing on the walls of the pool, which is also very unpleasant to look at.

Water Impurity Causes

Under the water impurity category, a cloudy pool can be caused by:

Suspended Gunk From Swimmers

When a person goes swimming they bring in with them all the microscopic gunk on their bodies, including body oils, dirt, skin, deodorants, soaps and a long list of other miscellaneous stuff. Dogs are even worse, 1 dog is nearly the equivalent of 100 people!

All of this ends up being washed into your pool water. It is usually the job of the pool filter to catch all this gunk and take it out of the water, however, if your filter is improperly sized or hasn’t been cleaned recently, it may struggle in this task.

Additionally, if your pool experiences unusually heavy usage, such as a pool party or having the family over for Christmas, you may find you need to run your pool filtration system a lot longer than normal to properly wash out all the gunk.

Environmental Debris

Much like discussed above, mother nature will end up depositing a large amount of miscellaneous gunk in your pool, including dirt, dust, leaves, sticks, twigs, rocks, bugs etc.

Once again, it is usually the job of the pool filter and skimmer basket to filter out this junk but they may struggle in that task for the same reasons listed above.

Chemical Contamination

Not all pool chemicals are made equal and depending on where you buy your pool chemicals from they may be cut with low-quality filler materials that will leave various by-products or residue in your pool’s water.

Many budget brand chemical options contain these low-quality filler materials and can turn your pool cloudy.

Cheap salt is particularly notorious for it as often cheap salt bags will not be properly refined and still contain a significant amount of dust or dirt in them.

The Weather

The weather also has a significant impact on the condition of your pool’s water. Rainwater carries all sorts of extra minerals and chemicals in it that can throw out the balance of your water chemistry as well as provide plenty of food for algae (nitrates and phosphates).

High temperatures and large amounts of sun exposure also will affect your water chemistry, as the heat and UV will burn away your pool's chlorine quicker.

You will have to either be adding more chlorine to your pool or run your chlorinator for longer to prevent cloudy water.

Best Way To Clear a Cloudy Pool

Well, there are many different ways to approach fixing a cloudy pool based on the root cause. My best advice to anyone with a cloudy pool is to take a water sample and some photos to a local pool professional ASAP so you can get informed guidance on the best way to fix your cloudy pool. However, not everybody has time for that so here are some general steps you can take to fix a cloudy pool

Super Chlorinate the Pool

This is probably the quickest and easiest thing you can do to treat a cloudy pool without any further information (such as a water test). If your pool’s cloudiness is caused by a chemical imbalance, super chlorinating the pool is a quick and easy fix for the majority of chemistry-induced water cloudiness issues.

A rate of ~1L per 10kL is advisable unless the pool has a tinge of green, in which case you’d want to use ~3L per 10kL. It's recommended to use liquid chlorine as most chlorine granules are calcium based, and if your cloudiness is caused by a calcium issue, you’ll only be making it worse.

If your pool has full-blown algae bloom (gone full swamp mode) you’ll need to speak to a pool professional as you’ll need some additional chemicals.

Test the Water Yourself

If you have some test strips or a home test kit you can use this to narrow down the source of your problem. If you have a low free chlorine reading, add some chlorine, if your pH is too high, add some acid etc. If all of your pool’s chemical levels are good and your pool is cloudy, that suggests that it might be caused by something else, such as suspended gunk in the water and you can move on the following steps

Clean Your Filter

Most people underestimate how often they should be cleaning their filter, especially people with a cartridge filter. If your water cloudiness issue isn’t caused by a chemical imbalance, cleaning your filter is the best 1st step you can take in addressing the issue. For a sand filter, this means giving it a proper backwash and rinse. For a cartridge filter, it means taking the cartridge out and giving it a good hose off.

Run The Pump For A Couple Of Days 24/7

Most of the time, your filter will clean out any gunk that’s trapped in the water if you give it time. To this end, after cleaning your filter, if you leave your pump running for a couple of days it should then clear up any residual cloudiness.

Add a Clarifier or Floc

Of course, sometimes the gunk in the water might be especially fine, like coal dust, or you need your pool back to crystal clear quicker than what step 2 can provide. This is where you might look at using a clarifier or flocculant to help accelerate the clarification process.

Pool Clarifiers

A Pool Clarifier is the perfect option for a mildly cloudy pool. The Clarifier works by combining many little particles increasing their size so that your filter can collect them and remove them from your pool. A clarifier will take a few days till you can see its full potential but will work with any filter.

Pool clarifiers tend to be easy to use, with your pump doing most of the work for you. Once your pool is back up and running, clarifiers are still a great product to use in your monthly upkeep. Continuing the use of a clarifier will work as a preventative to your pool becoming once again cloudy.

However, if the pool is very cloudy or milky (such as after a successful algae treatment) a flocculant is more likely to be appropriate, as it will make all the gunk in the water clump together and become very heavy.

Pool Floc

If you are after something more heavy-duty than a Pool Clarifier then a Pool Floc is for you. A Flocculent works similarly to a Clarifier in the sense that it combines smaller particles, where it is different though is that it combines them into a larger mass that falls to the pool floor which is unable to be collected by your filter and will need to be removed manually with a vacuum.

Even though there is more work involved in a flocculent, there are many benefits. Whereas a clarifier will take a few days to clear your pool a floc will work within hours. A Floc also tends to be more heavy-duty and perfect for any occasion that a clarifier may not be enough to clear up the murkiness.

The floc tends to be more effective when collecting all the small debris and particles making sure there is no chance of your pool staying cloudy.

What If My Pool Is Green & Cloudy?

If your pool is green and cloudy it means you probably have a very serious algae bloom in your pool, and as such it will require special treatment. Depending on the overall state of the pool you can check which treatment will get the best results.

In Conclusion

Cloudy pools are not very aesthetically pleasing and you need to react fast in order to prevent the bigger issue from happening. In just a few days you can get everything back to normal. Locate the cause of the cloudy water and slowly start applying our tips.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us.

FAQs

How Long Should It Take To Clear A Cloudy Pool?

If your pool is cloudy, it is important to take action to clear it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to clear. There are a few factors that will affect how long it takes to clear your cloudy pool. These include the severity of the cloudiness, the type of filter you have, and the weather. With that said, most pools can be cleared in 2 or 3 days.

Is It OK To Swim In a Cloudy Pool?

While it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing thing to do, swimming in a cloudy pool is perfectly safe.

Why Is My Pool Still Cloudy After Shocking It?

If you've recently shocked your pool and it's still cloudy, there are a few possible reasons why, related to balance and filtration. First, make sure you're using the correct type of chlorine for your pool - some pools require calcium hypochlorite, while others need sodium hypochlorite. Also, make sure you're shocking your pool with the correct amount of chlorine - too little won't be effective, and too much can actually make the cloudiness worse.

Finally, give your pool filter a good cleaning - a dirty filter can cause cloudiness, even after shocking the pool.

What If The Pool Is Cloudy But the Chemicals Are Fine?

If your pool is cloudy but the chemical levels are balanced, it could be caused by a number of things. If the chemicals are fine, you should try checking the skimmer baskets and pump strainer, plus you need to check the pressure gauge on the filter of your swimming pool.

Does High pH Make The Pool Cloudy?

High pH levels can cause the water to become cloudy, so it's important to keep an eye on your pH levels and adjust them accordingly. You can lower your pH levels by adding acid to the water or by using a pH reducer.

Can Too Much Chlorine Make Your Pool Cloudy?

If you've ever added too much chlorine to your pool and found that it became cloudy, you're not alone. It's a common problem that pool owners face, but fortunately, it's easy to fix.

The key to understanding why this happens is understanding how chlorine works. Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant that kills bacteria and other contaminants in your pool water. When there are high levels of chlorine in the water, it can cause the water to become cloudy.

This is because chlorine is actually causing a chemical reaction with the contaminants in the water, which can create tiny particles that make the water appear cloudy.

Simply remove the source of the chlorine (usually by turning off the chlorinator), and wait for the chlorine levels to return to normal. Once they do, your pool should be back to its clear self!

Home Remedies For Cloudy Pool Water

There are some home remedies that can help you get out of murky waters.

Baking Soda: If the pH balance of your pool is somewhere between 7.3 and 7.5 you can add more baking soda to the rescue. It is important to make a balance between good and bad bacteria before things turn ugly. Baking soda can be used as a substitute for chlorine.

Saltwater: the pool owners can convert freshwater pools to saltwater. The salt contains the necessary acids that can help you fight bacteria and algae.

Hydrogen peroxide: this is a natural alternative to chlorine, it is safe for both people and pets. it evaporates so it is also environmentally friendly.

How To Clean A Cloudy Pool In 24 Hours?

If you own a pool, you know that keeping the water clean and clear can be a challenge. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the water can become cloudy. This can be due to a number of factors, including dirt, debris, and even algae.

First, check the pH level of the water. If it is too high or too low, it can cause the water to become cloudy. You can use a pool test kit to check the pH level and adjust it as needed.

Next, give your pool a good cleaning. Be sure to vacuum the floor and walls to remove any dirt or debris that could be causing the cloudiness. You may also want to shock the pool with chlorine to kill any bacteria or algae that could be present.

Finally, run the filter for at least 12 hours to help remove any remaining particles from the water. If you have a sand filter, backwash it to remove any built-up dirt and debris.

How To Clean A Cloudy Saltwater Pool?

When it comes to cleaning cloudy saltwater pools, the main culprit could be clogged saltwater cells. In order to make the water pure again, it is important to clear the calcium in the salt cell. This can be done with salt cell cleaner or other remedies like muriatic acid or vinegar.

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