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How Do I Fix Cloudy Water Issues?

May 13, 2019

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What Causes Cloudy Water?

We've all dealt with it before, we show up to our pool on Monday morning only to find the pool looking like someone has replaced our pool water with 2% milk. You panic because you have a busy pool schedule ahead of you this week and need to fix this problem quickly. What do you do!?

Cloudy water plagues all pools and spas at some point in an operator's career and knowing how to effectively solve the problem is key to saving time being closed, and, potentially, a lot of money. Many times a service company will come in a sell you a thousand things that will make your pool clear up for a time, but inevitably, a few days later, the cloudiness comes back. In this article we are going to cover the best ways to attack cloudy water by attacking the cloudiness at the source. 


Why Is My Pool Water Cloudy?

Cloudy water is caused by many things actually. In fact, that is sometimes what makes cloudy water diagnosis so difficult. The most common causes of cloudy water are:
  • High Levels of Foreign Contaminates
  • Low Flow Rate
  • Lack of Chlorination
  • Early Algae Growth
  • High Levels of Total Dissolved Solids

Though these issues are common, it may come as a surprise to many reading that solving these cloudy water issues long-term is actually quite easy and 99% of the time it DOESN'T require the use of a clarifier!


How Do I Easily Fix Cloudy Water?

The secret to clearing up cloudy water is simple actually! And to be honest it isn't one secret, it is three. And to be totally honest, the secrets aren't necessarily even secrets! The 4 secrets to easily fixing cloudy water are:

  1. Backwash
  2. Chlorinate
  3. Clean
  4. Clarify If Necessary

Why do these 4 steps work so well? The answers are quite simple and contain zero marketing spin. 

Firstly, your pool water needs to move at a certain speed, or Flow Rate, in order for it to move quickly enough to prevent contaminate buildup. If your water is unable to move at that required Flow Rate, then your water will begin to cloud up. Backwashing, or cleaning your filter, will clear out the contaminates in the filter that are causing your water to move more slowly than necessary. 

Secondly, Proper Chlorination is key to clarity. Not only is chlorine a highly effective clarifier, it is also crucial in preventing algae plumes from growing. Early stage algae growth is signaled by clouding in your water. By keeping your chlorine levels between 3.75ppm-4ppm at all times, your pool is very very unlikely to cloud up. 

If you find your pool is already cloudy, your filter has likely slowed your water down to the speed that your chlorine feed system has slowed it distribution of chlorine into the water. Once your water is at the proper Flow Rate, your chlorine feed will most likely begin to feed properly again. 

Thirdly, clean your pool. After a busy or high use weekend, your pool will be filled with grime, gunk, and debris. These pollutants can bring in contaminates that could potentially perpetuate cloudy conditions. Remove these contaminates, remove the cloud. 

Finally, the use of clarifiers may be necessary. But please note that you should do the first three steps before using a clarifier. Clarifiers should be seen and used as a last-ditch effort. 


But, Do Pool and Spa Water Clarifiers Actually Work?

Don't get me wrong, water clarifiers do work. Depending on the clarifier you are using, it will work in one of two ways.

  1. Dissolving the particulates (Acid based clarifiers)
  2. Bonding the particulates into larger compounds (Flocculant) 

Acid-Based Clarifiers

The most common clarifiers on the market are the acid based clarifiers. These clarifiers work by dissolving the the foreign matter down to a microscopic level. Does this work? It absolutely does. But it should also be a cause for concern. Simply because the clarifier makes the foreign matter "disappear" doesn't mean it eliminates them altogether. In fact, over time, this foreign matter will continue to amass in the pool and become visible again. And eventually the foreign matter will become so high, that no amount of clarifier will help the issue.


Flocculants work by bonding the foreign matter together so it is heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the pool or is large enough to be captured in your filter. In fact, some of the clarifiers like the Sea Klear PRS are capable of removing things like cryptosporidium


Is It Easy To Keep My Pool Water Clear?

When asked if it is easy to prevent cloudy water the answer is a resounding yes! As always, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. But if you find yourself walking into a dirty, cloudy pool, you now know the four steps that will get you up and running in no time!


How Do I Learn More About Keeping Pools And Spas Clean and Safe?

Pools and spas can be complex and water clarity is just one of the areas where good solid research and practice is needed when it comes to making sure your property or home is as safe and healthy as possible. Signing up for one of Pool Training Academy's CPO® (Certified Pool Operator) Classes is the best way to make sure you and your property are as covered from liability as possible. Pool Training Academy has CPO® classes taking place all over the United States, from Denver, CO to Bozeman, MT, Park City, UT to San Antonio, TX. Pool Training Academy's Certified Pool Operator Class is the premier choice for those who want to learn more about their pools and spas. To sign up for a class near you just click here. 

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