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How To Clear Cloudy Pool Water

Not much kills the mood to enjoy your pool faster than cloudy, murky pool water. If you’ve owned a pool for any amount of time, chances are pretty good that you’ve struggled with cloudy water at least once or twice. In order to clear the water quickly, it’s important to get down to the root of the problem.

What Causes Cloudy Pool Water?

Pool water test kits for testing water chemistry
Poor water chemistry causes most cases of cloudy water. Test your water to make sure it's properly balanced.

Leslie's Pool Shock
Chlorine issues often cause cloudy water. Adding a recommended dose of shock to your pool can clear it right up.

Pool water circulation and filtration
Poor circulation or filtration can contribute to cloudy water. Make sure your pump and filter are working properly.

Bottle of swimming pool clarifier
Weather events or increased swimmer use can cause cloudy water. Sometimes, all you need to do is add a clarifier

Some of the more common reasons a pool will turn murky include low or no chlorine, combined chlorine, water balance issues, poor circulation, filtration problems, weather events, and increased swimmer use.

How Do You Fix Cloudy Pool Water?

Before we get started, there are a few essential supplies you’ll need to have on hand.

  • Test Strips or a Test Kit
  • Non-Chlorine Shock
  • Water Clarifier
  • Calcium Hypochlorite Shock

Here are a few guidelines for common cloudy water scenarios:

Water Balance Issues

In most cases, cloudy pool water is caused by factors related to water chemistry. Since water chemistry changes almost daily, the first thing you’ll want to do is test the water to determine the level of adjustment needed. If you're testing at home, use a test kit or test strips. Or, if you’re looking for the most accurate results, you can bring a water sample to your local Leslie’s store for a free comprehensive AccuBlue® water test and customized treatment plan. Use these results as a guide to treat and balance your pool water.

Total Available Chlorine vs. Free Available Chlorine

As pool water warms in summer, more chlorine is needed. If there’s a difference between your Total Available Chlorine (TAC) and Free Available Chlorine (FAC) levels, treat your pool with a non-chlorine shock. We recommend using Leslie’s Fresh ‘N Clear, which is an oxidizer with a built-in clarifier. It works by breaking up organic contaminants that bind to the chlorine and prevent it from doing its job. Use a non-chlorine shock if your Free Available Chlorine level is 2.0 parts per million or higher.  

No Chlorine

If your water test is showing low or no chlorine levels, you’ll need to treat your pool water with calcium hypochlorite shock. Using a product such as Leslie's Power Powder Plus 73 will effectively sanitize and clear the pool water of contaminants, including bacteria, algae, and other organic material that could be causing cloudy water.

DIY TIP: In addition to monitoring chlorine levels, it's important to monitor other aspects of your water chemistry, too. For example, high calcium hardness and TDS levels can contribute to cloudy water conditions, and unbalanced pH and Total Alkalinity can reduce the effectiveness of your other pool chemicals. Balanced pool water is healthy pool water!

Poor Circulation or Filtration

If chlorine levels look good and there are no other issues with water chemistry, the next thing to check is your pool’s circulation and filtration system. Clean out the pump and skimmer baskets, and check the pressure gauge on your pool filter. If the pressure reads 8-10 PSI higher than its starting (clean) pressure, the filter needs to be backwashed, cleaned, or have the media replaced.

To clear cloudy water, you may need to run the filter 24 hours for a day or so to expedite the clean-up. For sand filters, adding a small amount of Alum acts as a filter aid, and flushes out with a backwash. Both sand and cartridge filters benefit from a chemical cleansing, using a filter cleaner. And when the cleaning frequency increases, filter sand or cartridges may have already lost the ability to trap very small particles.

Other Factors

Summer rains, storms, and strong breezes bring in pollen, pollution, dirt, and other particulate matter into the pool. For active pools, higher swimmer counts may bring in higher levels of bather waste like sweat, cosmetics, and body oils, which can overwhelm your sanitizer and filter. Keep a good supply of chlorine shock and tablets, clarifier and water balancing chemicals to make fast corrections to cloudy pool water.

When in Doubt, Add Clarifier

Even when the tests are normal, chlorine levels are perfect, the filter is clean, and the circulation is good, sometimes your pool water just needs a little boost to stay clean and clear. Add a water clarifier, such as Leslie’s Ultra Bright Advanced. Clarifiers bring tiny particles together so they can be more easily removed by your filtration system. After adding the product to your pool, run the pump continuously on high speed until your water turns crystal clear again.

When your pool water turns cloudy, it’s not just an eyesore in your otherwise beautiful backyard — it’s also a safety concern. Never swim in a pool that's cloudy! Learn why in our recent blog post, "Understanding the Dangers of Cloudy Pool Water."

A properly maintained pool should always be clean and clear. If it’s anything less than that, it’s important to get a handle on it quickly. If you need more help troubleshooting your cloudy water issues, bring a water sample to your local Leslie’s, and let our friendly associates help you find the right solution.

At Leslie’s, we’re here to help you create a safe, sanitary, and enjoyable pool experience.

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