Picture this: You’ve got on your brand-new Marvel’s Avengers bathing suit. You spent the last 20 minutes lathering in sunscreen and blowing up your favorite float- you know the one- the finest float out there, perfect for summer naps and floating relaxation. So, as I said, you’ve got your favorite giant pink flamingo float in arm and get ready to walk up the steps into your pool... except you realize you can no longer see the pool floor. Instead, you see a never-ending cloudy haze of blue. You’ve met one of summer fun’s worst enemies, coming in #2 right after thunder storms: Cloudy Pool Water.
How do you battle this common pool foe?
First, Know the Causes of Cloudy Pool Water:
There are several catalysts for cloudy pool water, but first it’s helpful to know a bit of the pool chemistry behind keeping your water crystal clear. Clear pool water is all a game of balancing pool chemicals. The goal is to keep pH balanced so chlorine can do its job disinfecting, but other elements like alkalinity also have to be kept in check for PH to remain stable. When all of these components are aligned, you create the perfect environment for chlorine to disinfect and destroy contaminants.
If you’re curious how chlorine works, here’s a quick chemistry lesson: there are 3 types of chlorine: free, combined, and total chlorine. When you pour chlorine into your pool, it reacts with the water to form hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion which produce free chlorine. As the free chlorine reacts with contaminants in the water, it becomes combined chlorine. Once chlorine reaches its combined state, it is ineffective at killing bacteria and microorganisms. This reaction is less productive during daylight hours or days of high heat, which is why it is preferable to shock your pool at night. Otherwise, you leave your pool susceptible to bacteria, algae, and microorganisms- oh my!
Your levels of free and combined chlorine equal the total chlorine in your pool, but you will only see total and free chlorine levels on a pool water test strip. You want the levels of free chlorine as close to the total chlorine levels as possible. This ensures the chlorine in your water is effective.
Now that we’ve concluded our mini chemistry lesson, let’s dive into some chemical causes for cloudy pool water.
Chlorine is too diluted or concentrated:
Chlorine is that chemical everyone thinks of when they think, “pool care.” When chlorine is too diluted, your pool water is powerless against microorganisms that can cause health-related issues from E. Coli to norovirus. However, by the same token, too much chlorine can also make your pool look cloudy, and can be bad for your health if not allowed time to dilute. Chlorine that is too concentrated can cause eye, throat, and lung irritation, so be sure to give your chlorine the recommended amount of time (most containers give you a time frame) to do its job disinfecting your pool water completely and test your water before jumping in.
pH is imbalanced:
When your pool’s pH is off, it renders the kind of chlorine you want- free chlorine- useless, and creates combined chlorine, which is useless against contaminants and makes your pool cloudy. This susceptibility is why it’s important to test your water. The pH in your pool should generally fall somewhere between 7.4 to 7.6.
Balanced alkalinity helps stabilize the pH in your pool and in turn keep the free chlorine levels in check. High alkalinity causes pH imbalance and creates scale in your pool that can flake and cause clogs in your filter. The ideal range of alkalinity is between 80 to 120 parts per million (ppm).
Too much calcium (hard water):
Too much calcium in water can worsen the buildup of scale, and is intensified by high alkalinity and imbalanced PH. The ideal range of alkalinity is between 150-350 parts per million (ppm).
If your pool filter is clogged, not being run often enough, or its overall effectiveness is declining, your pool water will stay stagnant and won’t allow for proper cleaning or circulation of chemicals. This creates the perfect conditions for the chemical foes listed above to go haywire, despite even your best efforts, creating cloudy pool water and potential health concerns.
Environmental factors: pollen, insects and lot of rain:
Everything from pollen to insects to a deluge of rain can add to a cloudy, or even green, water issue. Rainwater adds nitrates to your pool that create breeding grounds for algae. Large debris or particles like insects and leaves further introduce challenging conditions for keeping a pool clear.
Next, How to Clear Cloudy Water:
Now that you know how your pool chemicals work and what may perhaps be causing your cloudy pool water, you’re ready to take action.
Get your water tested
Water testing is free at all Namco locations, and our team can walk you through the pool chemicals you’ll need to get your pool back to its crystal-clear glory. They can also recommend the best water testing strips for you to use at home. For your reference, here are some common chemical fixes:
When shocking a pool, you’re adding chlorine or non-chlorine chemicals to your pool that increase free chlorine levels, which eliminate bacteria, algae, and that ineffective combined chlorine we talked about.
Pool clarifier causes all the tiny particles clouding up your pool to stick together, making it more likely that your filter will be able to clear them out.
Pool flocculant causes the floating particles in your pool to sink to the bottom, allowing you to take the next step- vacuuming them out.
Follow the chemical regimen recommended to you at your local Namco. After the recommended time frame, test your water again to ensure your chemical levels are safe to swim in.
Clean or replace filter components (Sand, diatomaceous earth, or cartridge)
A filter that is not running optimally will not clean particles out of your pool, meaning no matter how much effort you put in to clear up your pool water, the situation will only continue to get worse over time. If you find your filter is not running optimally, it may be time to change your filter’s cartridge, sand, or diatomaceous earth. This will allow your filtration system to do its job by removing those nasty particles to keep your water clear.
Get the large debris out of there!
You can help your filter by vacuuming your pool and stirring the water.
Vacuuming your pool assists your filter by removing the larger particles and debris like bugs and leaves from your pool floor. You can also encourage the filtration process by stirring your pool water. As filters are installed at the top of a pool, stirring the water gives your filter a chance to pick up the waste that’s settled to the bottom after vacuuming. Even if you don’t have major debris in your pool, this may be a good option to remove smaller debris.
Another option is to purchase a robotic cleaner to assist in the cleaning effort. All you have to do is drop it in a few times/week and clean it out after each use. Robotic cleaners are a great investment to help keep your pool clean with minimal effort.
Last: Create a Maintenance Plan
Regular maintenance plays a huge part in keeping a pool crystal clear and safe for summer fun. It’s important to come up with a weekly maintenance plan that works for you and your family so everyone can enjoy your pool throughout the summer months.
This maintenance should include:
Run the pool pump (If you don’t know how long to run your pool each day, check out Swim University’s pool pump calculator).
Remove large debris from the water using a net skimmer
Check water level
2 times/week: run robotic cleaner for maintenance.
Vacuum the pool floor to remove larger debris
Check the pool skimmer and pump baskets and clear large debris
Add any necessary maintenance chemicals like shock or
Test your pool’s chlorine, pH, alkalinity, and other levels to ensure they’re safe for your family
Clean your filter
Check calcium levels
Congratulations- now you know how defeat Cloudy Pool Water! If you ever need a bit of extra help achieving clear water, we’re always here to help at your local Namco.