The American Water Company
June 7, 2020
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Cloudy Water Woes - Swimming Pools & Spas

Author: Administrator
Clearing up cloudy pool or spa water is easy to do. There are only two major problems that cause cloudy water and they are:

1) A lack of filtration
2) A lack of chlorine (or other sanitizers such as bromine)

The pool or hot tub water needs to be filtered daily in order to remove organic debris from the water. Organic debris can be anything from plant matter, twigs, hair, skin etc. and all of these will consume chlorine in the water. This is why it is difficult, if not impossible, to keep chlorine levels in the pool if you have leaves or debris on the floor of the pool.

The filtering process helps to remove this debris from the water and capture it in the filter system. This allows your chlorine to remove microscopic debris not captured by the filtration system. A pool skimmer works well to remove debris floating on the surface of the water. If debris is allowed to float for long enough it will then sink to the bottom and begin to decay which will result in algae blooms in the water unless the chemical sanitizer prevents this.

Minimum Filtration Rates
In order to meet minimum filtration rates for residential swimming pools and spas you need to pass the entire volume of water through a filter every 12 -24 hours. Most governing bodies that regulate pool filtration want to see 2 turnovers of the entire pool through the filter in 24 hours however many home owners actually run the system close to once every 24 hours with minimal problems.

If you have a cloudy water condition in the pool or hot tub then you should run your filtration system at maximum until the problem has been resolved. Commercial pools and spas will have much more strict water filtration requirements that will be determined by the health and safety governing body in the area that you are located. Usually filtration for these high bather load systems will need to see a minimum of 4 complete turnovers daily. Some commercial hot tubs even need to be drained or partially drained daily to meet minimum safe standards.

What Causes Cloudy Water
If your filter system has not been turned off or turned down recently, and yet you are having cloudy water conditions then this is likely to be a lack of sanitizer in the pool water. In swimming pools the ideal range for sanitizer is 1-3ppm of chlorine. In hot tubs it is more common to run bromine with levels of 2-10ppm being ideal. If you let the pool or spa run with zero available sanitizer for any length of time then cloudy water is likely to occur.

Without sanitizer in the water to kill bacteria and oxidize organic material in the water the bacteria count will increase dramatically. In hot tub water where 104 degree temperatures promote quick bacteria replication you can see the amount of bacteria in the water double as quickly as every 15 minutes. A single night with no chlorine or bromine in the water is more than enough to have a bacterial bloom that will result in cloudy water. If you continue to run the system without adding sanitizer then you will see the water turn cloudy and then become green usually within 24-48 hours.

No Sanitizer In The Water
This lack of sanitizer in the water is the most common reason for cloudy and also green pool and spa water. To resolve this issue you need to add sanitizer to the water until you have a minimum of 3ppm chlorine (or minimum 5ppm bromine) that shows up on your test strips or liquid testers. If you add chlorine sanitizer to the water and then still test zero free chlorine in the water, this means that the chlorine that you have added has been completely used up already by the bacteria in the water.

Continue adding chlorine until you can take a test of the water and read an established sanitizer level. Check twice daily to make sure that the level does not drop again to zero. If you can maintain the sanitizer level in your water then you will notice the water is dramatically better after 24-48 hours however 72 hours sustained with sanitizer levels above zero the water should be clear. If at any point the sanitizer level drops to zero again for then you will likely need to wait another 3 days keeping sanitizer in the water until you pool or spa clears up.


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