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Cloudy Swimming Pool Water Troubleshooting
By Dave LeBeau

So your swimming pool water is cloudy again! What causes cloudy pool water? There are many different reasons that lead to cloudy swimming pool water. Following are the most common reasons for cloudy pool water and information on how to troubleshoot the problem in order to return the swimming pool water to a crystal clear condition.

Why does the pool water turn cloudy?

Early Algae Growth - in most cases cloudy pool water is simply a sign of the earliest form of algae growth. Make sure you take action immediately at the first signs of cloudy water because algae can take over your pool very fast, sometimes in as little as 24 hours!

Basic Troubleshooting for cloudy swimming pool water

Following are the basics for troubleshooting cloudy pool water. In most cases following these steps will help identify and solve the problem.

Insufficient Filtration - The most common reason for cloudy pool water is a lack of sufficient filtration. The most common reason for insufficient filtration is simply having a dirty filter that needs to be cleaned. Start your troubleshooting with the assumption that the pool filter is dirty. Clean the filter and then run your system for 24 hours to see if the water will clear. If the filter is already clean, check the filtration cycle time to make sure the filter is running for enough hours during the day. Try increasing the filtration cycle time and see if this solves the problem.

Insufficient Sanitizer Hand in hand with the proper amount of filtration is maintaining an adequate level of sanitizer or chlorine. Without a sufficient level of chlorine, bacteria and algae can start growing very quickly and will soon cause the pool water to get cloudy and eventually will lead to a full bloom of algae. Also, remember that the swimming pool water needs to be balanced in order for the chlorine to be effective. Make sure your PH reading is between 7.2 and 7.8.

Insufficient Circulation The next piece of the puzzle is making sure your swimming pool equipment is providing a healthy amount of circulation. After checking to make sure the pool filter is clean, the filtration cycle is long enough, and that there is enough sanitizer in the pool, turn the swimming pool pump on and make sure it is providing enough circulation. Without good circulation there will definitely not be good filtration, even if the filter is clean and the filtration cycle time is sufficient. First check the pump basket to make sure it is completely filling with water when the system is on. Then check to make sure the return flow to the pool is healthy. Sometimes debris gets caught up in the impeller of the pump and restricts the amount of circulation. If there is debris caught up in the pump that could very well be the problem. Remove the debris and turn the pool equipment back on to see if that solved the problem.


If the problem hasn't been solved using the ideas above you will need to move to the some more advanced troubleshooting ideas. Following is a quick summary of some of the other issues that could be playing a part in the cloudy pool water.

Breach in Filter Media Sometimes the filter media can have a rip or tear that allows debris to re-enter the pool during filtration. When cleaning the filter always examine the filter cartridges or grids to make sure there are not any breaches preventing the filter from providing an adequate level of filtration.

Conditioner Level Too High If the conditioner level (otherwise known as stabilizer or cyanuric acid) is too high, the chlorine in the pool will be rendered ineffective. Test the water and make sure the conditioner level is between 20 and 80. If it is too high the pool will have to be partially drained until the conditioner level is within an acceptable range.

High PH Level If your PH is too high, adjust it to between 7.2 and 7.8.

High Calcium Hardness If your Calcium Hardness is greater than 500, you will need to partially drain the pool until the level is within an acceptable range (150 - 500).

As you can see a simple thing like cloudy pool water can sometimes get complicated. If following the steps above hasn't solved the problem, consider calling your local swimming pool professional for assistance.

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