One of the most common frustrations for pool owners is cloudy water.
It needs to be said that if your water is cloudy, assume that it’s not safe for swimming because the cause could be insufficient sanitizer, or unbalanced pool water. Extremely cloudy pool water can also make visibility so obscured that diving and going underwater is unsafe. With normal clear blue water, you should be able to clearly see a quarter in the deepest portion of your pool.
Clear, swim safe and balanced water requires 4 things:
- Proper Water Chemistry
- Proper Pool Cleaning
- Proper Water Circulation
- Proper Filtration.
1. Proper Water Chemistry
When it comes to water chemistry make sure you have fresh reagents in your test kit and test for pH and alkalinity, in addition to total and free chlorine.
Certain dissolved solids will come out of solution when pH is too high. If you are a bleach or calcium hypochlorite user (which both raise pH) and don’t drive down the pH with pool acid, cloudy water will occur. This is a common issue. Keep your pH between 7.4 and 7.8 with 7.6 being ideal.
Second, the lack of sanitizer in the water can lead to cloudy water as well. You should have a Free Chlorine reading of at least 3 PPM and it should be the same or very close to the total chlorine reading. A total chlorine reading greater than 1 PMM more than your free chlorine reading indicates a combined chlorine issue. This is unsafe water to swim in and you should shock your pool with bleach and acid right away.
2. Proper Pool Cleaning
Too much deteriorating organic material in the water can overwhelm the chlorine in the water and lead to cloudy water. Make sure to clean all the leaves and debris from the pool and retest and rebalance your chemistry if you have cloudy water. Also check your baskets to make sure they are cleaned, and your filter is cleaned or backwashed.
3. Proper Water Circulation
Circulation is a key issue that is often overlooked by homeowners. Stagnant or still water will not get the proper distribution of chemistry and will become cloudy and create condition where algae likes to grow. Improper circulation is one of the easiest things to resolve if your pool was designed properly, or one of the hardest issues to overcome if your pool is deficient in design.
The first suggestion we can make is to turn those return fittings down to a level or slightly downward aiming position. Actually, make sure you have fittings in your pool returns (sometimes called eyeball fittings), then turn them down. Most pools we come to have the returns facing up and moving the water at the surface, and not where it is needed most (below the surface).
Then synchronize your returns so they move the water in a circular rotation around your pool. This will ensure an even distribution of chemicals in your water and get the all the water in the pool moving through your filtration system.
Check to make sure your pools skimmers and main drain(s) are open and drawing water and your pools water level is at the proper level. All these checks will help your pool’s circulation system work at its best. Also make sure your pool is running long enough to move all your water through your filter at least 2 times per day if you are trying to clear up cloudy water. Run times need to be increased during warm weather months.
4. Proper Filtration
Poor Filtration is a major contributor to cloudy water. As a first step, make sure your filter is cleaned or backwashed. If your cartridge filter is old with broken retainer bands and crumpled at the ends, it needs to be replaced. A new cartridge with a filter tank that has all the right parts including the air bleed tube is necessary to make sure your pool water will be clear and well filtered.
Proper backwashing procedures and making sure your DE grids are clean and not impacted or torn is essential to make sure our DE filter is working. If you have torn grids and add DE to the skimmer You have torn grids if after you add DE (Diatomaceous Earth) powder to the skimmer, and if after backwashing the DE powder comes back into the pool via the pool returns your filter needs to be taken apart and diagnosed (with the system off and the pressure released).
If you have a sand filter you need to make sure it’s backwashed and not impacted. Sand filters are the least efficient filters in terms of filtering efficiency. If all other factors are good and you are still unhappy with your water clarity you may need to upgrade your filter from Sand to DE or Cartridge.
If all 4 factors are working together, you should have blue clear swim-safe pool water. If you still have cloudy water problems and all four factors are in line, then you have a more complex problem and should consult a pool service professional in your area. High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), high Phosphates, some Algaecide, Biguanides and other pool additives when used improperly or dosed too high, as well as some inorganic metals, can cause cloudy water that may be beyond typical homeowner’s capacity to resolve.