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How to Solve Cloudy Pool Water

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R emember those movies where a rich family throws a glamorous pool party and there is always some inadequate guest (usually the leading role) who just doesn’t fit in. You could just see the dark stormy clouds gathering over the party and preparing to wreck it. But do you know what you could never see? Cloudy pool water. Yes, even if they fight and sometimes punch each other, the décor is always the same: a beautiful outdoor pool with water so clear you would be tempted to drink it. The bottom is visible as it was nothing between it and your eyes.

Now, how do they do it? How is their pool always so amazingly clear? Could you keep yours the same? The answer is yes. It’s time to solve that cloudy water problem once for all, and we have some efficient ideas. So, let’s get through the possible causes first and then determine how to fix them.

Proper maintenance is the key to any pool problem, so schedule it wisely and perform it on time. Or make things easier and get a trustworthy friend. Check out our selection of robotic pool cleaners and compare prices and specifications. We’ve already ranked the products so you can easily find the best one.

Cloudy pool Image

Why Has My Pool Gone Cloudy?

The issues are diverse, but they are all related to maintenance. To put it short, if you haven’t been cleaning your pool on time or one of your cleaning equipment doesn’t function properly, the distance to getting milky water is probably getting shorter and shorter if it hasn’t already disappeared at all.

Here are some of the most common water clouders:

1. Environmental Factors

If the water isn’t clear, there’s a great chance that it isn’t safe as well. Pools need sanitizer treatment to remain bacteria and algae-free. Thus, when you add Cl to the water, it will attach to the contaminants inside and neutralize them. This is the way it works with microorganisms, and, as a consequence of this action, free chlorine turns to combined chlorine, which is no longer able to fight other contaminants. This is actually why you keep adding chlorine into the water.

However, chlorine tends to extend its action to larger items, and it often attacks the leaves, branches, and other debris that fall into the water. It attaches to skin cells, hair, cosmetic solutions, and other elements you may bring in. Therefore, it may get consumed faster than you would know it, and the sun sure helps a lot, as it acts upon chlorine, breaking it apart and making it evaporate.

This is how, in the end, your water gets to have a milky texture. The debris starts to rot and mix whit the water, while the chlorine is too low to fight algae and bacteria. The entire environment becomes unbalanced.

2. Filtration Issues

It is either your pump that has problems or your filter needs to be cleaned. Or you just may not be running the pump for the right amount of time. This doesn’t mean that it needs to work 24/7, but 8 hours every day are recommended for the water to remain clean.

If the filter is deteriorated or filled with debris, it won’t deal with the elements it is supposed to, so even if the Cl has killed the algae, they will stay in the water and change its color. Not to mention that if the Cl level is unbalanced, the rotting algae can fill the water with bacteria and turn the pool into a safety hazard.

Lift the pressure from your filter by keeping the water always clean. Take a look at our best pressure-side pool cleaners and discover a cost-effective way to reduce your work and prevent the water from looking cloudy.

Pool water testing kit Image

3. You Didn’t Do the Math Right

Keeping a pool balanced implies a fine game of measuring, testing, crunching numbers, picking sanitizers, and carefully filling up the gaps. You will need to deal with factors like pH level, alkalinity, chlorine level, different mineral levels, and metal levels. Only when all these elements have been brought within the right parameters, you can rest assured that your water will remain safe and clean.

Nevertheless, it is enough for one of them to out of balance for everything to become a mess. We have already explained how a low level of chlorine and sanitizer can lead to bacteria and algae growth, and allow microorganisms like E-coli to grow and put your family in danger. But the pH can have a serious action as well. If it is too high it can lead to scale deposits on the pipes and the pool’s walls and make it harder for the pool cleaner to deal with dirt. Bacteria usually find a good place to grow on walls with scales, as it can find cracks to hide. High alkalinity can also damage the metal parts of your pool system and even attack vinyl components. Thus, as the system is getting eaten, the water will get filled with all the waste and lose its clarity.

Calcium can also be a serious issue, as it hardens the water and creates some sort of flaky buildup that changes its color.

Pool filled with green algae Image

4. You Have an Algae Problem

Each pool deals with algae once in a while, and this is why pool shocking and the use of algaecide is mandatory. However, it depends a lot on the area where you live. If the wind can easily find algae sources and carry them to your pool, you will find yourself in an interminable fight with them that will require large amounts of algaecides. And, while it is true that they cloud the water, this is just the last of your problems. They pose a real threat to kids and pets, which may find it more difficult to save themselves in case of drowning.

Of all the algae types, the black ones are the worse, as they can easily take over the water and walls. Read our article about how to deal with black algae and get them out of your pool’s system once for all.

Robotic pool cleaner cleaning the walls of a pool Image

How to Make the Pool Crystal Clear Again

Some of the factors from above must be responsible for the milky texture. It is unaesthetic and you shouldn’t be surprised that no one is willing to give it a try. But what’s truly important is that the water may be dangerous as well, so you should not try to use the pool while at this stage.

We recommend taking your time to apply one of the following solutions. In some cases, you may even need to combine them.

Perform a Deep Cleaning

Collect all the large debris that is floating at the surface of the water and then get down to scrubbing the walls and the floor. Vacuum the water as well. If available, your robotic pool cleaner can take care of this for you. Additionally, check the filters and unclog them or replace them if damaged.

Periodical maintenance is the only one that will guarantee you that the water remains clean. The pool is always in contact with the natural elements, so it will quickly gather dust and debris. One way to protect it and ease your job would be to install a pool cover. Nevertheless, although it will keep leaves and branches away, it won’t be able to fight bacteria, so you will still need to use the right amount of Cl.

Apply Shock Treatment

This will solve your problem with bacteria and algae, although if the problem is aggravated, you may need to use an algaecide later. This solution is once again a mandatory step when performing maintenance, and it implies the use of 3 up to 5 times more chlorine than usual to kill microorganisms.

When dealing with pool shocking, you will need to pick a sanitizer, which can be chlorine-based or Cl-free. The second variant is good for quick sanitizing, but it won’t help you get rid of algae. It is better to go for calcium hypochlorite, but only if you are not dealing with hard water, or lithium hypochlorite, if your water is rich in calcium.

Before shocking your pool, remember to test the water first to determine how much sanitizer you will need to use. Check out our best digital pool water test kits and trust this operation to a highly-accurate device.

Woman puring sanitizer into a pool Image

Try a Water Clarifier

The purpose of a solution of this type is to clump tiny particles together. It acts as a coagulant, forming cloths of contaminants that are easier to capture by the filter. This is actually a quick and easy way to reduce cloudiness, but it implies that the water is generally clean of large debris. However, a water clarifier doesn’t have the properties of a sanitizer, so you shouldn’t rely on it to keep you safe against bacteria. Proper periodical cleaning is still mandatory. It does make the water look impeccable, though, and acts quickly so it is nice to have one around if you have a pool party coming over.

Use a Flocculant

It resembles a clarifier in a certain way, as it brings the particles together as well, but instead of sending them towards the filter, it drags them to the bottom. It comes as a powder that needs to be scattered around the pool. Then, it usually needs 48 hours to act, and you should be preparing for a tougher job.

As all the dirt is now at the bottom of the pool, you will need to get down there as well and vacuum it with a hand vacuum. We know what you are thinking, but an automatic device won’t do it. It may actually mix the dirt with the water and make it cloudy again. So, the work cannot be avoided. But, hey, you will have a spotless pool at the end.

Aid Your Filter

The filter is usually positioned at the top of the pool, and this is great as it can capture all the debris that tends to gather at the surface of the water. But the dirt that tends to gather at the bottom never gets to be removed. Thus, the water remains milky even if the filter is clean and in good shape.

The good news is that you can aid it filter better by stirring the water. How? Invite as many people as possible to swim, use the drains to stir the water, if available, or place your vacuum in the middle of the pool floor in an upside-down position to mimic a bottom drain if not available.

Find a first-rate pool vacuum cleaner among our top and make things easier for your filter. Whether you use it to vacuum the water or stir it, it is an efficient way of keeping dust and debris away.

The Bottom Line

What’s even more important than treating these problems is to prevent them, and the best way to do it is to keep a maintenance schedule. Make the purpose of cleaning the large debris every day and pick a day of the week to scrub the walls, vacuum the water, and shock the pool. Nevertheless, keep in mind that sometimes, even if the pool is well-balanced and clean, it can still look milky. The water may be rich in iron or other metals. In this case, a clarifier or a flocculant can easily solve the problem.

Trystan Jensen
Trystan Jensen
Trystan is a trusted reviewer who has extensive experience in customer satisfaction gained while he worked as a market research analyst. He is well aware of what consumers want, as well as what they expect the most from the acquisitions they make. It is his personal interest in technologies that help improve life quality combined with his attentiveness to detail and customer experience that make Trystan an unending source of qualitative content.