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How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water

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When you have a cloudy pool, it can be a challenging and time-consuming process to get it clear again. Sometimes your swimming pool can turn cloudy overnight!

We’ll explain the reasons your pool got cloudy in the first place, then share a few methods to fix the cloudy water. It won’t be such a challenging and time-consuming process if you follow these practices.

Why Do I Have Cloudy Pool Water?

Cloudy pool water can happen for a lot of reasons. We’ve broken it down into three leading causes.

  1. The Environment: Everything around your pool can cause your water to be cloudy. That includes weather, birds, construction, trees, gardens, the sun, people, and pool algae.
  2. Your Pool Filter: If your filter system isn’t working properly, or you’re not running your filter at least 8 to 10 hours per day, you are at high risk for cloudy pool water. Your filter system continuously cleans the water in your pool. Without it, you’ll have stagnant water that is more likely to become cloudy.
  3. Pool Chemicals: An excessive amount of pool chemicals can cause your water to be cloudy. That includes high pH, high alkalinity, high chlorine or other sanitizers, and high calcium hardness.

Is Your Pool Cloudy After Shocking?

It’s important you shock your swimming pool every week with the proper amount of shock for your pool size. But sometimes you’ll get cloudy pool water after shocking.

It’s common, and should dissipate over time. Just keep your filter running, and it should clear up. Also, look into a new brand of shock, and make sure you buy one that has a main active ingredient of calcium hypochlorite. Cheaper shocks you can get from big box retailers such as Walmart and Sam’s Club are NOT the best choices.

How To Clear a Cloudy Pool

Once you’ve fixed all the possible causes, you can work on a cloudy pool water fix. Three ways to clear your cloudy swimming pool are:

1. Use A Pool Clarifier

It’s a good idea to use pool water clarifier weekly. Pool Clarifiers work to gather the tiny particles that are making your pool water cloudy, and bring them together to create bigger particles so that your filter will have a better chance of picking them up.

Pool clarifiers are also known as coagulants because the chemical “clots” the offending particles so your filter is able to trap them. Most swimming pool chemical retailers will carry more than one form of swimming pool clarifier. Just ask if the chemical is a coagulant, and you’ll be well on your way to a crystal-clear swimming pool.

Clorox Pool&Spa Super Water Clarifier, 1-Quart 58032CLX

Clorox Pool&Spa Super Water Clarifier, 1-Quart 58032CLX

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Use this simple clarifier to bind small particles in your water to create bigger particles that your filter will have an easier time getting out of the pool water.

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2. Use Pool Floc (Flocculant)

A chemical that includes a flocculant (a substance that causes clumping) is a good idea if you’re in a rush, or would like to see your pool cleared up quickly.

Let’s say you’re having a pool party tomorrow, and your swimming pool is cloudy. By using pool floc, you can clear your cloudy swimming pool overnight, with a little extra work on your part.

Pool flocculants work by gathering all the clouding particles, and sending them to the bottom of your pool, creating a huge cloud on the floor of your pool. Unlike a water clarifier, this chemical WILL NOT help your filter to pick up the particles because all of the cloudy pool particles are at the bottom.

In The Swim Super Floc Pool Water Clarifier - 1 Quarts

In The Swim Super Floc Pool Water Clarifier - 1 Quarts

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One of the most underrated pool chemicals. If you’re looking to quickly get rid of algae (and don’t mind a little hard work), use this to settle all the algae to the bottom of the pool and vacuum it out to waste.

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At this point, you’ll need to manually vacuum up that cloud using your pool pump, not an automatic pool cleaner. When vacuuming, your filter setting should be on the “waste” or “backwash” option. If you’re using a DE filter or cartridge filter, make sure you remove the drain plug.

The idea here is to vacuum up the cloudy water directly OUT of your pool because putting that much dirty water through your filter WILL NOT work, and will send that dirty water right back into your pool.

By vacuuming out to “waste,” it will never run through your filter system. You’re going to lose pool water, so keep your garden hose running in your pool during vacuuming.

Also, you must use a manual vacuum for this process. Automatic pool cleaners will not work, and will disturb the cloud you created at the bottom of your pool. It’s difficult, and you’ll waste a lot of water. But this method will clear your pool in 24 hours if done properly.

3. Use Your Filter System and Bottom Drain(s)

main-drainYour pool’s main skimmer is located at the waterline and clears the surface water. It does not collect the cloudy particles that are at the bottom of the pool. Knowing this, we need to help those particles get to the filter.

You can achieve this in two ways:

  1. Constantly stir up the water, by swimming or with a pool brush, so that it pushes the particles closer to the top of the pool.
  2. Turn on the bottom drains.

Every inground pool is equipped with one or two bottom drains, so it’s easy to use them for this purpose. This method allows the filter to start pulling water from the bottom of the pool, where the cloudy particles are, then circulate the clean water back to the top.

But what if you have an above ground pool that doesn’t have bottom drains?

We have a little trick to mimic the effect of a bottom drain in an above ground pool: Hook up your manual vacuum cleaner and place it at the bottom middle of your pool. Then turn it upside down. Your filter will pull water from the bottom of your pool using the vacuum head, then release the filtered water through the return jet.

There you have it! Three methods to clear a cloudy pool using chemicals and your pool’s equipment. Check out some of our related articles to get more information about cloudy swimming pools.

Happy Swimming!

Recommended Reading

How to Get Rid of Foam in a Pool
In this guide, we'll introduce some reasons on why you might have foam in a pool, how to prevent it from happening, and how to get rid of it.
The Difference Between Pool Clarifier and Flocculant
When your pool is cloudy and you want to get it clear again, you have to make a choice whether to use a pool clarifier or a flocculant.
Tips to Keep Your Pool Clear While on Vacation
If you plan to go away on vacation this summer, but fear that your pool might turn cloudy or green, here are some tips to prevent it.
Will Wearing Street Clothes In The Pool Affect My Water?
Find out why you should wear a swimsuit and learn just what happens to your water when you wear street clothes in the pool.

The Art of Pool Care

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the fluff and confusion of pool maintenance and stripped it down to the bare bones in this easy-to-read illustrated digital guide.

Click here to learn more

Last Updated: Sunday, July 28th, 2013