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Cloudy Water in Swimming Pools - Causes & Cures

Why do you have it & what causes it:
Cloudy pool water is a HUGE open-ended issue.  You can watch the video here. There is NO SINGLE CAUSE of cloudy pool water.  Cloudy pool water is caused by the following conditions:

  • Early algae growth caused by low or inadequate sanitizer/oxidizer levels.

  • Insufficient filtration caused by too small a filter (sized improperly, especially true with cartridge filters) or insufficient hours of filter operation.

  • Too frequent backwashing or cleaning of the filter (doesn't allow filter to "reset itself" or collect enough debris which actually aids in filtration).

  • Poor circulation due to inadequate pump (horse power doesn't mean too much, sometimes smaller is better) or positioning of the return jets.

  • Poor circulation due to lack of pool usage.

  • Overwhelming introduction of dirt & debris into the pool (overhanging trees, construction area nearby, etc.)

  • Heavy bather usage without proper additions of sanitizers/oxidizers.

  • Overwhelming introduction of "unfilterable" waste from swimmers (cosmetics, lotions, body fluids).

  • Use of Heater (water too warm) causing faster sanitizer usage.

  • Use of Solar Heating System (system is not being adequately chemically treated to kill build-up of biofilms, algae, etc.).

  • Bio-films in the filter system - filter tank, pump, plumbing lines. (more information on bio-films here)

 ...Are you getting the Hint?  Here's more...

  • Insufficient sunlight on the pool. UV rays are a GREAT natural oxidizer. (Indoor pools are a whole other issue that we will not address here, click here.)

  • Lawn & chemical sprays "drifting" into the pool (from a neighbor).

  • HIGH pH causing sanitizer (chlorine) to work more slowly thereby allowing algae & bacteria to grow.

  • HIGH pH causing scaling to begin to occur.

  • HIGH Calcium Hardness causing scaling to occur. HIGH Calcium Hardness is due to regular usage of calcium-based chlorine (Calcium Hypochlorite such as hth, Sun, many others) or source water high in calcium hardness (over 300 ppm).

  • HIGH Calcium Hardness in conjunction with WARMER water temperature (over 85) causing calcium to precipitate out (calcium dissolves & stays in solution BEST in cooler water) & cloud the pool.

  • Filter needing a chemical cleaning (remember that using a straight acid will only set the greases & oils into the filter media).

  • Pool not being vacuumed or brushed on a regular basis.

  • Trace heavy metals (iron, copper, manganese) present in the water.

  • Household cleaners and chemicals being used in or around the pool.

  • Broken or otherwise damaged filter lateral (sand), septum (DE) or element (cartridge).

  • Unclean solar blanket.  A biofilm is building on the side in contact with the water.

  • Make-up water added to pool from an unclean garden hose.

  • Dirty pool toys & floats putting a strain on the sanitizer.

  • Make up water that isn't treated the way it used to be.  Many municipalities are treating the drinking water with chloramines rather than chlorine;  they do an adequate job with bacteria but don't have the oxidizing strength to combat other non-lethal pathogens.  The switch was done to placate people's perceived "fear" of chlorine being in the water.

  • Lack of pool-owner care as in regular testing, vacuuming & maintenance.

  • When was the pool last shocked?  Hmm?

For a more in-depth understanding of this problem, please click here.

Not to be facetious, but as you can see there are many reasons for cloudy water.  It's rarely caused by one issue.  Normally it's a combination of factors & you will need to go through this list (not exhaustive, if we're pushed we could probably think of a few more) item by item to see if it applies to your particular condition.

Click here for Prevention & Treatment of Cloudy Pool Water.

NEVER DRAIN your pool.  The liner will shrink, voiding the warranty and could cause damage to your pool.  In gunite, plaster, or even fiberglass pools removal of the water from the pool could result in the pool structure "floating" and causing serious damage to the structure.

If you still need help, here's how to reach us:

Telephone (during store hours): Stratford  203-377-0100
FAX: (24 hrs) 203-375-7787


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