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    Cloudy Pool Water after Opening

    May 29, 2019


    What to do? You have balanced the pool water, shocked the pool, run the filter for a week and it is still cloudy. We get a lot of calls from customers in the beginning of the season about cloudy pool water. They have done all the right things (usually) and the water is still cloudy.

    I do not always answer questions with a question, but when I do, it may be a cloudy pool water discussion. I'll need to ask you some questions, to try to get to the bottom of the issue.

    Q: What Type of Pool and how Large is it?

    Aboveground or inground? Vinyl or Concrete? These questions are important to give me an idea of what type of equipment may be attached to the pool, and the surface (vinyl or concrete) is asked because a concrete pool can have different water balance parameters. Size of the pool, in gallons gives me an idea of how much work the filter system has to do.

    Q: Do you have a lot of Trees around the Pool?

    What I'm really asking is - does your pool have overhanging trees with lots of spring tree debris that gets into the pool? Some pools are practically covered by a large bank of trees that started small many years ago, and this makes it harder for marginal pool filters to keep up. And it's not just the leaves and twigs, but the invisible dust, dirt and pollen that washes off the trees during a rainstorm. See my earlier post: Cloudy Pool after Rain.

    Q: What type of Filter do you have?

    For sand or cartridge filters, I always ask when was the last time the sand or cartridge was changed. If they do not know, it's a good bet that it's been a long time. I would say about 60 percent of the time they need to change the sand or replace filter cartridges. Filter sand should be changed every 5-7 years for inground pools, but for above ground pools, filter sand needs to be replaced every 2-3 years, because of the smaller tank size, and much less filter area. Change filter cartridges every 2-3 years, however if the filter is undersized or has had to deal with many algae or cloudy water clean-ups, new cartridges could be needed sooner. DE filter grids generally last about 10 years. All 3 types of pool filter media can be cleaned and rejuvenated by using pool Filter Cleaners, to remove mineral scale and oils and improve filtration. Used regularly, filter cleaners can extend the life of your filter media.

    Q: What type of Filter Valve do you have?

    Sand and DE pool filters can bypass water into the pool unfiltered, if the multiport or push-pull valve malfunctions. Usually, it's a bad spider gasket or plunger o-rings, but other valve problems can also allow some water that enters the valve to bypass the filter. To inspect the inside of the valve, just shut off the pump and remove the top screws to pull out the key assembly (multiport) or plunger assembly (push-pull, aka slide valve) to look for any valve parts out of place or damaged. The type of filter you have also provides other clues, because of the varied levels of effectiveness. DE filters can remove particles as small as 2-3 microns, but cartridge filters only 10-20 microns and sand filters only 20-40 microns. Sand filters can pass small silty debris, right through the sand bed, and back to the pool.

    Q: Is Debris coming out of the Returns?

    If debris is coming out of your pool returns, then you know there is either a filter problem or a filter valve problem. For a DE filter, remove and clean to inspect the grid assembly to make sure the grids have no holes, the manifold has no cracks, and the whole assembly is screwed together tightly. On a cartridge filter also, the cartridge should have no holes in the fabric or cracks on the ends, and must snug up tightly into the manifold, to keep water from bypassing the pleats, and entering thru the ends. Sand filters will pass fine dust as mentioned above. This is normal, but if you see larger bits of debris passing through, you may have a valve problem.

    Q: What are the Water Balance Readings?

    What I'm really asking is, do you test your water regularly? Cloudy pool water is often a result of poor water balance. High pH, and high calcium or alkalinity readings can cause or worsen cloudy pool water. High pH also makes chlorine very sluggish and ineffective. Some people ignore their cyanuric acid level, which they can do at home with a Complete test kit. If too low (less than 20 ppm), the sun will eat up much of your chlorine, and if too high (over 50 ppm), it makes the chlorine less active and slow to kill.

    Q: How long each day are you Running the Pump?

    My hope is that your answer will be 24/7, or something close to that. Many people will tell me 8 hours per day, or something really low. When clearing up a cloudy pool after pool opening, run the filter non-stop for as long as it takes to clear things up. Pool pumps are built for "continuous duty", or constant operation, and do not worry, the pool filter won't blow-up while you are sleeping! Especially if your filter is undersized or not as effective as it could be, it will need more filter time. Even an excellent filter should operate 12+ hrs per day, and more as water temperatures increase.

    5 Ways to Clear a Cloudy Pool After Opening

    1. Robotic pool cleaners. Most robotic cleaners filter the water as they vacuum the pool, down to 3 microns. Some of them work are better filters than the pool filter! Using any type of pool cleaner is good in that it helps improve circulation, and removes the DDD - dust, dirt and debris.
    2. Slime Bag! I'm not calling you names, the Slime Bag is a filter bag that attaches to your pool return, and the bag captures all the fine particles that are making your water cloudy - down to 3 microns just like a DE filter. Perfect for sand filters that pass fine dust back to the pool, or any undersized or overworked pool filter.
    3. Clarifiers or Flocculents can also help by attracting the particles together, making larger clumps of that are more easily removed by your pool filter. Clarifiers help your filter trap particles more easily, while flocculents sink them to the floor, for next-day vacuuming to waste.
    4. Phosfree for Algae. If your pool opened with lots of algae, I would definitely recommend using a phosphate remover product. I have used Phosfree in my pool for a couple of years now. Although it is used to fight algae, another cause of cloudy pool water are phosphates, which builds-up from algae, leaves and other plant material.
    5. Clean the Pool. The first thing you want to make sure if that your pool has no debris - leaves, sticks, etc. Balance the water, shock the pool, make sure the filter system is in good shape as well as the media you are using. If your pool has lots of trees surrounding, you will want to have a good Leaf Rake and the Leaf Gulper is also useful for heavy leaf vacuuming.

    Keep at it, with good water balance, good chlorine level and near constant filtration. If your filter needs help, try one of these supplemental filtration methods above, and/or add a good clarifier. I predict blue and clear water in your future!

    Debbie Farnan
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
    SPP Pool Expert
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