Cloudy Pool Water: What to Check Out First

When it comes to enjoying your pool, crystal-clear water is a must. Wading through cloudy water is certainly not what you envisioned when you installed your pool and is likely to put a damper on your sunny day. Cloudy pool water is not just uninviting; it can be unsafe for swimmers. So, what is the answer to eliminating cloudy water and making your pool pristine again? In this guide, we will discuss the factors that cause cloudy pool water, the tools you need, and the steps you can take to clear up the issue. 

What Generally Causes Cloudy Pool Water? 

Understanding what causes cloudy pool water is vital for two reasons. First, knowing what issues to be on the lookout for can help you prevent cloudy water in the first place. Although, if you do find yourself with a cloudy pool, it is much easier to treat and remedy the situation if you can narrow down the cause of the problem. There are actually several different factors that can contribute to your pool water becoming cloudy, and you may be dealing with multiple issues. Some of the most common factors to check for include:

  • Poor pool water filtration 
  • Water balance issues
  • No low chlorine
  • Environmental factors

Unfortunately, since these factors can sometimes join forces to create a cloudy pool, clearing up the water may be a multi-step process. 

Poor Filtration

Poor circulation and filtration are the leading causes of cloudy pool water. It is important that you ensure your pool’s filtration system is functioning correctly. You will need to make sure to clean out the pump and skimmer baskets. Backwash the pump as well to ensure that debris doesn’t build up and clog the system. You will also want to check the pressure gauge. If the pressure is 8-10 PSI above normal, it is probably time to clean your pool filter. Remember to check the filter for signs of wear and tear and replace it when necessary. 

Additionally, confirm that you are running your pump long enough each day. If you are only running it for a couple of hours, it may not have time to circulate and clean the water sufficiently. Once you have reached the point of cloudy water, you may need to run the pump for at least 24 hours to speed up the process of clearing the pool’s water. If you have found that you are running your pump more frequently or for longer periods of time to clean your pool, it is probably time to change the filter media. If you believe your pump is running the right length of time and the cloudy water is not related to other issues outlined below, you should also check for broken parts or mechanical problems. If your pump is not running correctly, it cannot clean the water as well as it should. 

Water Balance Issues

Chemical imbalances are often the culprit for cloudy pool water. If your pool chemicals are out of balance, you are unfortunately going to face a variety of issues, including dull, hazy, or cloudy water. Use your pool water test kit to check if your pool’s pH, alkalinity, and calcium levels need to be adjusted. When you are balancing your pool’s chemicals, remember to retest after approximately 12 hours to determine if treatment was effective or if you need to continue treatment. 


We recommend your pool\’s total alkalinity (TA) level be between 100 and 150 parts per million (ppm). Once alkalinity levels start creeping higher, you may find yourself with cloudy water. Keeping alkalinity balanced will help maintain stable pH levels and prevent calcium scaling as well. pH and alkalinity are closely linked, so it’s important to make sure your alkalinity levels are in check before making any adjustments to your pH levels since alkalinity affects pool pH stability.

pH levels

The pH level of your pool water affects the functioning of the other chemicals in your water, so balancing it is extremely important. The ideal pH is between 7.4 and 7.6. Since pH and chlorine work in tandem, if pH levels are too high, chlorine becomes less effective at disinfecting the water. High pH can also make the water look dull. 


If you have hard water, it may show up as cloudy water or calcium scaling and build-up on pool surfaces. To maintain the correct calcium balance, first test your water. To lower calcium hardness, you can use a pool flocculant to cause calcium solids to clump together. Make sure your pump is off first so that the clumps do not clog your filter. When the calcium clumps together, you can vacuum it up. For calcium that has already dissolved, you can use muriatic acid to adjust alkalinity, which will affect calcium. 

No Chlorine

Your pool’s free chlorine level can sometimes be completely used up from different causes. Heavy rainfall can dilute the water, sunny, hot weather will oxidize the chlorine before it has a chance to work, or heavy usage can cause it to deplete. When the pool water does not have enough chlorine, organic matter can quickly take over. Not only can low chlorine cause cloudy water, but chlorine is essential to sanitize and kill bacteria, so you and your family are also at increased risk for illness if you swim in unsanitary water. Therefore, if your chlorine levels are low, you need to shock your pool right away.

First, do a thorough cleaning and vacuuming of your pool to remove as much dirt and debris as possible. Then, shock your pool at night so that the sun does not immediately eat up your chlorine. Finally, leave your pump running for at least eight hours or more – remember that it is essential to circulate the pool water fully. If you are wondering why your pool is cloudy immediately after shocking when the other chemicals are balanced, don’t worry. The cloudiness should clear up on its own in this situation. 

Environmental Factors

Many different environmental factors can turn pool water cloudy. For instance, rainstorms and run-off water introduce more minerals that affect chemical levels and make the water cloudy. In addition, increased dirt, pollen, and other debris can make the water dirty and clog your filter, which, as discussed, can interfere with the cleaning process. If your pool water is green in addition to being cloudy, you are probably dealing with algae. You must rid the pool of algae with a thorough cleaning and algae treatment.

Additionally, increased human activity can introduce more contaminants. A build-up of hair and skin products, makeup, sweat, skin, and other bather waste can lead to cloudy water. When the water is full of these particles, it can reflect back the light and make the water look cloudy. 

How to Avoid Cloudy Pool Water in the Future 

One of the most effective ways to avoid cloudy pool water is through proactive pool care.

  • Routine Maintenance – Our pool owner’s guide will give you a good overview of cleaning your pool, maintaining chemical levels, and developing a routine to make it a habit. Maintaining a pool is much like maintaining the rest of your home – protect the investment through preventative care, and you will save on hidden pool costs related to treatment. You will also save a lot of frustration down the road. 
  • Be Prepared – Always have your pool test kits, water balancing chemicals, and chlorine pool shock readily available. If you are testing your pool water regularly, you will notice chemical changes and be able to adjust them immediately if you have the right tools on hand. Addressing the most common causes of cloudy water before it sets in is the best way to prevent it. 
  • Winterize Your Pool Correctly – Yes, winterizing your pool will help you protect your pool pump and equipment. Correctly balancing chemicals before closing the pool makes it easier to open the pool with fewer issues. If you open your pool to cloudy water and algae, there could be issues with the way it was closed. 

Healthy pools need high-quality tools and regular maintenance in order to avoid cloudy water

The regular maintenance mentioned above is key to maintaining a clean pool with clear, sanitary water. Cleaning your pool water every day helps reduce the chance that debris and organic matter will introduce bacteria or clog your filtration system. ProTuff’s sturdy pool rake allows you to quickly and efficiently clean your pool, which makes overall maintenance more manageable. Here at ProTuff, we take pool care seriously, so if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us for more information. You deserve to enjoy your pool, and our knowledgeable and friendly team is ready to help.



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