How to Get Rid of Pool Foam

by Matt Giovanisci | Last Updated: July 26, 2013

Foam in a pool is due to the water being “thick.” This thickness creates bubbles, lots and lots of bubbles. The bubbles are filled with air that can come from your return jets that blow the water back into the pool or the wind outside.

Some common causes of pool foam are:

How To Prevent Pool Foam

Rule #1: Algaecide

One of the main causes can be the type of algaecide you use. You want to look for algaecide that is “non-foaming,” and don’t overuse it. Follow the directions on the back of the bottle. You should only need a few ounces per week. You can stop using algaecide altogether if you follow basic pool chemistry and keep your water clean.

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Cheap chemicals you might pick up at the local big box store (Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, etc.) could be harmful to your pool water. I have seen chlorine pucks that are unstablized – a huge waste of money – and algaecide that comes in gallons. Find a high concentrate algaecide that won’t cause foaming.

Rule #2: Shower

This may be a tough rule for your kids to follow, but rinsing off in the show before swimming can prevent foam from developing. The shower will rinse off any makeup, shampoo, or soap residue on the body before introducing it into the pool.

Rule #3: Watch Out For Pranksters

Funny as it may be, I have heard stories of pranksters throwing bubble bath liquid or laundry detergent into pools to foam-up. This is not cool. It will make it very hard for you to get rid of. In fact, you will have to drain and refill the pool quickly or order to get rid of the foam. This is very rare of course.

How To Get Rid of Pool Foam

If the foam is caused by algaecide, it will breakdown on its own. Just give it a few days to enter into the water all the way. You can skim the foam off the surface to help speed things up.

To get rid of foam, you need to make sure the chemicals in your water are properly balanced and at the correct levels with some test strips.

Check the pH and alkalinity and adjust them to the proper levels if needed (pH should be 7.4 – 7.6 and alkalinity should be between 100 – 150ppm).

If adjusting these levels alone doesn’t get rid of the foam, you can shock the pool by adding chlorine or non-chlorine shock. I suggest just adding 1 pound per 10,000 gallons of water. For instance if you pool is 21,000 gallons, you would add 3 pounds of shock, and do it at dusk and let your pool run overnight.

If all else fails, you can purchase an anti-foam chemical to add to the water. This will get rid of the foam right before your eyes. I would only use this if you’re in a pinch – right before a party or before you have guest over and don’t want to be embarrassed that your pool looks like a washing machine.

Happy Swimming!

Matt Giovanisci, the founder of Swim University®, started in the pool and spa industry at age 13 and moved to bigger companies along the way, helping thousands of pool and hot tub owners every year. He wanted to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale, so he launched Swim University® in 2007. Since then, he's worked to make pool and hot tub care easy for over 10 million homeowners. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.

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