How to Clear Cloudy Pool Water Fast!

Updated Jun 1, 2021

Cloudy pool water happens to the best of us. It’s not only unsightly but can be dangerous to swimmers if not treated. Don’t let that cloudiness get in the way of your pool being awesome! We got your quick reference on how to fix that cloudy water nonsense as fast as possible.

cloudy-pool-water

What Causes Cloudy Pool Water?

In order of priority, these are the most likely reasons you have cloudy pool water.

  • Not Enough Sanitizer
  • pH is Too High or Too Low
  • You Have Filtration Issues
  • Environmental Issues
  • Too Much Calcium / Water is Too Hard

Let’s get into the details of each issue…

Not Enough Sanitizer Leads to Cloudy Water

If you don’t have enough chlorine, bromine or any other sanitizer in your pool water, you will see biological growth pretty quick. The beginnings of algae and bacteria will give you cloudy pool water.

What causes Reduction of Sanitizer?

  1. UV rays will cause the chlorine to evaporate
  2. Anyone using the water wearing sunscreen, beauty products, sweating or peeing in the water will quickly use up the chlorine
  3. Debris in the water will react with your sanitizer and also deplete the chlorine

Now, Check Your Sanitizer Levels

Check your free chlorine “FC” level. It should be between 2ppm to 3ppm. If you have low FC level, you most likely have chloramine buildup, AKA, “Combined Chlorine” which will turn the pool water cloudy.

Combined Chlorine is basically the used up Free Chlorine. Free Chlorine is “free” to attack any biologicals, but after it attacks or “combines with” those biologicals, it becomes a chloramine.

If you have too much chloramine in the water, it starts to smell like you have too much chlorine and the water becomes cloudy.

Yes, it sounds strange, but the strong smell usually means too much chloramine and you simply need to add chlorine to get rid of the smell.

If you have a Cloudy Saltwater Pool

If you have a cloudy saltwater pool, you do NOT want to run the salt chlorine generator to clear up the water, as it will wear it down quickly. You will want to shock your pool and clear up the cloudy water prior to using your salt chlorine generator again.

Don’t forget to Check Stabilizer Levels

Another reason your sanitizer is not working could be that you have too much cyanuric acid, AKA, “CYA” in the water. If you have too much i.e. more than 40ppm, its most likely causing a “chlorine lock” which basically means the chlorine cant do its job.

If you have too much CYA, you just need to drain some of the pool water and refill to dilute until you reduce the total level below 50ppm.

If you don’t have enough CYA, your chlorine may be burning off way to fast due to the UV rays hitting your pool water.

We recommend having a CYA range between 20 – 50 ppm of CYA in your pool to help buffer your pH scale.

pH is Too High or Too Low

The second most likely cause of your cloudy pool water is that your chemistry is out of whack, is that your pH may be too high or too low. Now, pH does not directly cause cloudy water, but it does affect the chemistry of your water, which leads to cloudiness in your pool water.

If pH is too high, it will lead to calcium scale or calcium not dissolving properly, which will create the cloudy water situation.

If pH is too low, your chlorine will become extremely reactive to biologicals and deplete faster than usual. This will create chloramines fast and place your pool water into another cloudy water situation again.

pH Range should be between 7.4-7.8.

But what will usually happen, is that pH will rise over time in your pool, and the normal range will end up being closure to: 7.4 to 8.2. So, you will want to keep an eye on this once or twice a week to avoid letting things build up.

Filtration Issues Lead to Cloudy Water

You need to circulate sanitizer (chlorine) throughout the pool to kill microorganisms. If any microorganisms get into the water, they can create problems with the water chemistry, the water becomes cloudy, algae starts forming, and the water can become toxic to swimmers.

Check your Filters

You will want to ensure your filter cartridge is cleaned, or you backwash your sand or D.E. filter. If there is any blockage within your filter, the pool water wont circulate or filter correctly and you end up with cloudy pool water.

Check your Pump

You will want to ensure your pool pump is running without any issues. And that it is running at the minimum recommended circulation time.

Check your Baskets

Also check your pump and skimmer baskets to ensure they don’t have any debris blocking filtration and circulation. Another big cause of cloudy pool water.

Environmental Issues Can Cause Cloudiness

Mother nature likes to kick your pool’s butt from time-to-time with things you just can’t get around, such as monsoons, haboobs, dust storms, bush and tree leaves. All of which lead to more cloudy water in your pool.

If this happens, just ensure your chemistry and filtration are good to go, as mentioned above. You will also need to have a brush and/or leaf rake skimmer to remove any large debris in your pool so it does not clog up your filtration system.

Too Much Calcium or Very Hard Water Can Be Cloudy

So how do you know if you have Hard Water, AKA Calcium Hardness? Well, 85% of the United States has hard water, so it’s pretty darn common. There are plenty of calcium and magnesium particulates in the water to begin with, allowing for the potential to start creating cloudy water if your chemistry gets out of whack.

So, if you are starting with high calcium, especially at the 400ppm range, you are already at the point of calcium not being able to dissolve properly, hence creating cloudiness in your water, or worse, you start seeing calcium scale formation.

We recommend having calcium hardness between 150-400 ppm

Use Pre-Fill Filter to Remove Calcium

There are a few ways to resolve the excessive calcium problem in your pool water. To start, prior to filling up your pool, you can use a pre-fill filter on your hose to catch as much of the fine grain particular matter that adds to the total dissolved solids, or (TDS).

If your pool is already filled, you can drain some water to dilute and refill with the pre-fill filter and that should help reduce overall calcium build-up in the water. This should get your cloudiness under control.

Use Clarifier to Remove Calcium

Clarifier will remove calcium that is not dissolved, so if you have excess calcium floating around, then you can try Clarifier. Let the water circulate for a 24-hour period and be sure to clean out your filter after using clarifier, as it will clump things up for the filter to grab.

Use Flocculant to Remove Calcium

You can use Flocculant, AKA, “Pool Floc” to remove excess calcium, if you have the ability to vacuum to waste, or recirculate the water without going through the filter on your pool filter system. This means you most likely have a multiport valve on your filter. Cartridge filter systems don’t usually have this, so be sure not to floc your pool with cartridge filter systems.

How to Prevent Cloudy Water

There are three focus points you always want to remember to prevent algae from coming back to haunt your pool. 1) Pool Chemistry, 2) Pool Circulation, and 3) Pool Cleaning… the Three C’s of Pool Maintenance.

Pool Chemistry

Maintaining pool chemistry will be about 90% of your pool maintenance battle plan! You can manage yourself or get a Smart Chemistry system to automate the process so your pool doesn’t get out of whack.

Pool Circulation

Maintaining pool circulation will be the next 5% of your pool maintenance battle plan! Stagnant Water is the Enemy!

There are two huge reasons you will want to circulate water…

–  Filtration:

You need to circulate water through the filter so dirt, pollen, and any other nasty particles that happen to land in your pool are removed and nothing messes up the pool water.

– Sanitation:

You need to circulate sanitizer (chlorine) throughout the pool to kill microorganisms. If any microorganisms get into the water, they can create problems with the water chemistry, algae can start forming, or worse… the water can become toxic to swimmers.

The great thing about these first two C’s… if you handle Pool Chemistry and Pool Circulation, then, the last “C” – Pool Cleaning, is a piece of cake.

Pool Cleaning

Maintaining a good pool cleaning schedule will be the final 5% of your pool maintenance battle plan!

Some things you just can’t get around, such as monsoons, haboobs, dust storms, bush and tree leaves falling into your pool.

So, every so often, you will need to scoop, skim, brush and dump stuff out of your pool.

Debris, if left unchecked, can block the flow of the skimmer and clog up your pool filter.

In sequence, we recommend…

a. Dump Skimmer Basket

Clear the suction path so the vacuum and pumps can do their jobs. Most floating debris ends up in the skimmer basket. Staying on top of dumping the baskets will help reduce the work that your pool filter needs to do.

b. Vacuum the Pool:

The heavy debris in the pool should be settled if you are just starting your cleaning process and it should be concentrated toward the bottom.

c. Brush the Pool:

After vacuuming, start brushing to knock the stuff off the walls, stairs, etc so your filtration system can eat them up like candy.

d. Run the Pool Pump:

Your pump needs to run long enough to fully circulate the water at least once.  We have a pretty extensive article to describe everything you need to know about running your pool pump.

What is the Minimum Circulation Required for my Pool?

And there you have it… Three C’s of Pool Maintenance!

Conclusion

Anyways, we hope this guide was useful. We have been maintaining pools for some time now and found that the above recommendations should keep you on the right track for getting rid of that pesky cloudy pool water.