Cloudy pool water makes your pool uninviting and dangerous for swimmers. When your pool has a murky, unsightly appearance, no one wants to swim in it. It also turns your pool into a health and drowning hazard. Pool water cloudiness has varying degrees ranging from dull to opaque and can be caused by various factors that can be hard to diagnose and treat.
You can maintain your pool regularly to make sure its waters are clear, balanced, and safe to swim in, but without warning, these waters can turn cloudy. It is a surprisingly common occurrence that should not upset you. You simply have to learn how to manage it by determining the cause and solution.
What Causes Cloudy Pool Water?
Cloudy pool water is just a symptom of a bigger problem within your pool. Before you start clearing it, you must first understand what caused it to be cloudy in the first place. Several reasons are causing your pool water to be murky. Take a look at some of the most common causes of cloudy pool water below.
1) Poor Filtration and Circulation
Cloudy pool water is 90% of the time as a result of poor filtration. If your pool’s filtration system is compromised, debris accumulates in your pool water and makes it dirty and cloudy. Poor filtration may result from a clogged filter, a malfunctioning pump, or insufficient filtration time. When there is a build-up of debris in your pool, the sanitizer is used up more quickly, leaving room for bacteria and other contaminants, which can endanger the health of swimmers.
Poor water circulation due to poor filtration or failure to run your pump long enough can cause cloudy pool water. Poor circulation causes stagnation of water, which turns it turbid.
2) Improper Sanitizer Levels
Adding sanitizers like Chlorine or Bromine to your pool water makes swimming safe by killing off harmful microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. The sanitizer levels have to be maintained as recommended since they fluctuate for various reasons.
The sun’s UV light oxidizes the free chlorine in the water while rainfall and heavy usage of the pool dilute the chlorine reducing its levels. Very high chlorine levels in the pool water will also give it a cloudy appearance.
3) Poor Water Chemistry
Your pool will turn cloudy if the water chemistry is out of whack. The most important chemical factors in pool maintenance are pH level, alkalinity, and Calcium hardness.
pH refers to how acidic or basic your pool water is. Cloudy pool water can be the result of pH that is lower or higher than the recommended level. Low pH causes corrosion to the walls and plumbing of your pool. Particles from the corrosion can build up in the pool water and turn it cloudy.
Low pH also increases the activity of chlorine resulting in its quick depletion. Reduced Chlorine levels lead to the formation of combined chlorine known as Chloramine, which can give your pool water a cloudy appearance.
High pH levels reduce the activity of chlorine, which encourages the growth and proliferation of microorganisms. A build-up of microorganisms in the pool water can turn it cloudy. When the pool water pH is high, Calcium does not dissolve properly, causing high Calcium hardness. High levels of Calcium in the water turn it cloudy and leave scaly deposits on the pool’s walls, plumbing, and filters.
Alkalinity regulates the changes in the pH of your pool water. High total alkalinity causes an imbalance in the pool water’s pH levels, which leads to cloudiness.
Algae blooms cause cloudy pool water as a result of suspended debris. The degree of cloudiness depends on the level of Algae infestation in your pool.
5) Environmental Debris
Environmental debris such as pollen, dust, bird droppings, leaves, twigs, and runoff can impact your pool water quality and appearance. This debris may also clog your filter and prevent proper water circulation, which may turn the pool water cloudy.
Although pure, rainwater can cause a chemical imbalance in your pool by changing pH and concentrations of other chemicals in the pool like chlorine resulting in cloudiness.
6) Particles from Swimmers
Swimmers leave behind bodily fluids, body oils, perspiration, makeup, sunscreens, and oils in the water. The more users a pool has, the more particles will be left behind. These suspended particles reflect sunlight and give the pool water a cloudy appearance.
7) Other Chemical Imbalances
Imbalance of other chemicals in a pool can cause cloudiness. Imbalanced stabilizers such as Cyanuric acid (CYA) may cause cloudiness. High levels of CYA significantly reduce free chlorine in the water, causing the growth of bacteria. These bacteria may then convert the excess CYA to Ammonia, which gives pool water a cloudy appearance.
High levels of accumulated phosphates and contaminants like Copper and Iron can cause cloudy pool water. Copper gives the pool water a greenish or black appearance while iron turns the water brown.
How to Clear Your Cloudy Pool Water
Swimming in cloudy pool water is not ideal, so you have to clear it before you dive back. The first step to clearing your cloudy pool is identifying the cause. As we’ve established, cloudiness can have several causes. The most effective way to determine the exact cause of your cloudy pool is to test the water.
1) Deep Clean
Before testing the water, you should first make sure that the cloudiness is not the result of a dirty pool. Use a heavy-duty skimmer to remove suspended debris from the water and brush the walls and floor of the pool with a stiff pull brush until they are sparkling clean.
If you have an in-ground pool, open the bottom drain to force the particles at the bottom to rise to the top where you can remove them with the skimmer. You can also use your pool’s vacuum cleaner to remove the suspended particles.
2) Clean or Replace your Filter
Inspect your filter to find out if it is the cause of your pool’s cloudiness. Use a commercial filter cleaner to clean it regularly to prevent the build-up of debris. A clogged filter may overwork the pump and damage it. If your pool’s filter is damaged or too clogged up, you should replace it with a new one.
When you’ve made sure that your pool’s filtration system is working correctly, run the pump for at least eight hours to circulate and filter the water. You should run the pump at least once every day. The size of your pool should determine the duration.
3) Use a Pool Clarifier or Pool Flocculant
Pool clarifier causes the tiny particles suspended in your pool’s water to clump together so that they can be easily filtered out. This should clear the cloudy pool water.
Pool flocculant has similar properties to the pool clarifier. It causes the tiny debris and algae particles making your pool cloudy to clump together for easier removal. However, instead of being filtered out, these clumps sink to the bottom where they are removed using a manual vacuum.
When using pool floc, spread it across the surface of your pool and switch off the filter pump for at least 48 hours. The cloudiness should clear as the particles clump together and sink to the bottom of the pool.
4) Test Your Pool Water
Your pool can still appear cloudy even after cleaning the water, surfaces, and filter. If you can’t be able to identify the cause of your cloudy pool water with a glance, you should test it. Instead of wasting your time and resources stabbing in the dark trying out different solutions, perform a comprehensive test of your pool water. There are two options when it comes to testing your pool water. You can either do it yourself at home or take a sample to a professional testing lab.
As a pool owner, you must invest in proper testing supplies and learn how to perform necessary pool water tests since pool water testing is a fundamental step of pool maintenance. Pool water testing at home is not a complicated endeavor. You can use one of two options:
- Liquid test kit
- Test strips
Testing will help you identify contaminants or chemical imbalances, causing the cloudiness of your pool.
5) Balance Your Water Chemistry
Your water test results should identify the cause of your cloudy pool water and help you develop the most effective solution. You should test the pH levels, alkalinity, Cyanuric acid, Calcium hardness, Copper, Iron, and sanitizer levels. Use the test results to fix any chemical imbalances you identify.
The ideal pH range should be 7.2-7.8. To raise your pool’s pH levels, add sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda. To lower the pH levels, add sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid.
The recommended levels of alkalinity are 100-150 ppm. Add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to raise the alkalinity and muriatic acid or pH reducer to lower it.
Recommend levels of chlorine are 2.0-4.0 ppm. Add chlorine to improve its levels. It is available in several forms, including tablets, granules, and liquids.
Ideal cyanuric acid levels should be around 50 ppm. To lower cyanuric acid levels, dilute the pool water with fresh water. Since it’s a corrosive acid that takes a lot of time to dissolve, pouring cyanuric acid directly into the pool water or at the filter can cause expensive damage to the pool’s surfaces and circulation system. You should dissolve it in a five-gallon bucket of water for at least an hour before pouring the solution into the pool.
Recommended levels for calcium hardness are 150-400 ppm. To raise calcium levels, add calcium chloride. To lower calcium hardness, add muriatic acid.
Cloudiness caused by high levels of iron and copper can be due to high levels of the metals in the tap or well water used to fill the pool or corrosion caused by low pH levels. You can fix high levels of iron and copper in your pool using a metal sequestrant, a metal trap filter, or a hose filter.
6) Shock Your Pool
Shock your pool to increase free chlorine levels. Shocking your pool should raise the free chlorine levels to 10 ppm, which is enough to break down the dangerous chloramines, causing cloudiness. When shocking your pool, you should increase the free chlorine levels by up to 40% of the cyanuric acid levels.
The high Chlorine levels also kill harmful bacteria and stop algae growth. You should run the pump filter after shocking to make sure the extra sanitizer is distributed evenly, and the contaminants bound by the chlorine are filtered out.
You can also use non-chlorinated pool shock products that oxidize and clarify your pool. These are not as effective as chlorinated shock treatments but are ideal if you want to resume swimming within 15 minutes.
7) Algae Control
Chlorine is an effective anti-algae treatment, but sometimes algaecides are necessary to kill the more resistant forms of algae. You will also have to do some heavy-duty scrubbing to remove it from the walls of the pool. Constant filtration, circulation, and flocculation will also prevent algae from spreading.
Importance of Managing Cloudy Pool Water
You should not swim in cloudy pool water for several reasons including:
- A cloudy pool is a good indicator of a dirty pool. Cloudy pool water may contain dirt, sunscreen, body oil, urine, sweat, spit, and other disgusting bodily fluids
- Cloudiness may indicate the presence of algae, fungi, and pathogenic bacteria that may pose serious health risks. coli is a common bacterium found in cloudy water and is responsible for the stomach, eye, and urinary tract infections.
- Cloudy pool water poses a serious drowning threat. Since it’s hard to see through, it makes it difficult to spot and help struggling swimmers.
- Cloudy pool water can be caused by chloramines, which have adverse health effects on swimmers. Chloramines in water cause skin, eye, and respiratory tract irritation.
Our Final Thoughts on Cloudy Pool Water Mitigation
While pool water’s cloudiness may occur without notice, it is often the result of poor pool maintenance. Creating a regular pool maintenance routine can keep the water of your pool clean and safe for swimmers. It is easier and more cost-effective to prevent than to fix cloudy pool water.