A salt water pool is a great alternative to a traditional chlorine pool, as it offers many benefits such as softer water, less irritation, and lower maintenance costs. However, salt water pools are not immune to problems, and one of the most common issues is cloudy water.
Cloudy water can ruin the appearance and enjoyment of your pool, as well as pose a health risk if the water quality is poor. In this article, we will explain why your salt water pool might be cloudy, and what you can do to clear it up.
Causes of Cloudy Water in Salt Water Pools
There are several possible causes of cloudy water in salt water pools, but they can be grouped into three main categories: chemical imbalance, poor filtration, and environmental factors.
One of the most important aspects of salt water pool maintenance is keeping the water chemistry balanced. This means testing the water regularly and adjusting the levels of salt, chlorine, pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and stabilizer as needed. If any of these parameters are out of range, it can cause cloudy water in your pool. For example:
- Low salt level: Salt is the main ingredient that your salt chlorine generator uses to produce chlorine, which sanitizes your pool. If the salt level is too low, your generator will not be able to produce enough chlorine to keep your pool clean and clear. You should aim to keep your salt level between 2,700 to 3,400 parts per million (PPM), depending on your generator’s specifications.
- High pH level: pH is a measure of how acidic or basic your water is. A high pH level means that your water is too basic, which can reduce the effectiveness of chlorine and cause scaling on your pool surfaces and equipment. Scaling is the formation of white, chalky deposits that can make your water cloudy and damage your salt cell. You should aim to keep your pH level between 7.2 to 7.6.
- Low chlorine level: Chlorine is the chemical that kills bacteria, algae, and other contaminants in your pool. A low chlorine level means that your pool is not properly sanitized, which can lead to cloudy water and algae growth. You should aim to keep your chlorine level between 1 to 3 PPM.
- High calcium hardness level: Calcium hardness is a measure of how much calcium and other minerals are dissolved in your water. A high calcium hardness level means that your water is too hard, which can cause scaling and cloudy water. You should aim to keep your calcium hardness level between 200 to 400 PPM.
- Low stabilizer level: Stabilizer, also known as cyanuric acid or CYA, is a chemical that protects chlorine from being broken down by the sun’s UV rays. A low stabilizer level means that your chlorine will dissipate faster, leaving your pool vulnerable to contaminants and cloudy water. You should aim to keep your stabilizer level between 70 to 80 PPM for salt water pools.
Another possible cause of cloudy water in saltwater pools is poor filtration. Your pool filter is responsible for removing dirt, debris, and particles from your water, keeping it clear and clean. If your filter is dirty, clogged, or undersized, it will not be able to perform its job effectively, resulting in cloudy water. To ensure proper filtration, you should:
- Clean or replace your filter media regularly: Depending on the type of filter you have (sand, cartridge, or DE), you should clean or replace your filter media according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally speaking, you should backwash or rinse your filter once a week or when the pressure gauge rises above the normal range.
- Run your pump for enough hours per day: Your pump is what circulates the water through your filter and distributes the chemicals evenly throughout your pool. If you don’t run your pump for enough hours per day, your water will not be filtered or sanitized properly, leading to cloudy water. The recommended run time for your pump depends on several factors such as pool size, filter type, and weather conditions, but a good rule of thumb is to run it for at least 8 hours per day.
- Use a clarifier or flocculant if needed: Sometimes, even with proper filtration, there might be some fine particles in your water that are too small for your filter to catch. These particles can make your water cloudy and dull. In this case, you can use a clarifier or a flocculant to help clear up your water. A clarifier is a chemical that binds with the particles and makes them larger so that they can be filtered out more easily. A flocculant is a chemical that causes the particles to sink to the bottom of the pool so that they can be vacuumed out manually. You should follow the instructions on the product label and use them sparingly, as overusing them can cause more problems.
The third possible cause of cloudy water in salt water pools is environmental factors. These are things that are outside of your control, but can still affect your water quality and clarity. Some examples of environmental factors are:
- Rain: Rain can introduce dirt, debris, and pollutants into your pool, as well as dilute your chemicals and lower your salt level. You should test your water and adjust your chemicals after a heavy rainstorm, and remove any debris from your pool surface and skimmer basket.
- Wind: Wind can blow dust, pollen, leaves, and other contaminants into your pool, making it cloudy and dirty. You should use a pool cover when your pool is not in use, and skim your pool regularly to remove any floating debris.
- Sun: Sun can increase the evaporation rate of your water, which can raise your salt level and lower your water level. You should check your water level and salt level regularly, and add fresh water as needed to maintain the proper level. You should also use a stabilizer to protect your chlorine from being degraded by the sun’s UV rays.
- Algae: Algae are microscopic plants that can grow in your pool if the conditions are favorable. Algae can make your water cloudy, green, or slimy, as well as consume your chlorine and reduce its effectiveness. You should prevent algae growth by keeping your chlorine level, pH level, and stabilizer level within the recommended ranges, and shock your pool weekly or as needed to kill any algae spores. You can also use an algaecide to prevent or treat algae infestations.
- Swimmers: Swimmers can introduce sweat, body oils, sunscreen, cosmetics, and other organic matter into your pool, which can consume your chlorine and create cloudy water. You should encourage your swimmers to shower before entering the pool, and limit the number of swimmers in your pool at one time. You should also shock your pool after a heavy bather load or a pool party to restore your chlorine level and clarity.
How to Clear Up Cloudy Water in Salt Water Pools
If you have cloudy water in your salt water pool, don’t panic. There are some simple steps you can take to clear it up and restore your pool’s sparkle. Here is what you need to do:
- Test your water: The first step is to test your water using a reliable test kit or test strips. You should check the levels of salt, chlorine, pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and stabilizer, and compare them with the ideal ranges for salt water pools. If any of them are out of range, you should adjust them accordingly using the appropriate chemicals. You should also test for phosphates, which are nutrients that feed algae and can cause cloudy water. If you have high phosphate levels, you should use a phosphate remover to lower them.
- Clean or replace your filter media: The next step is to clean or replace your filter media according to the type of filter you have (sand, cartridge, or DE). You should backwash or rinse your filter until the water runs clear, or replace it if it is worn out or damaged.
- Run your pump for 24 hours: The third step is to run your pump for 24 hours non-stop to circulate the water through the filter and distribute the chemicals evenly throughout the pool. This will help clear up any remaining particles or contaminants in your water.
- Shock your pool: The final step is to shock your pool using a non-chlorine shock product such as potassium monopersulfate or sodium percarbonate. These products will oxidize any organic matter in your water without affecting your salt level or pH level. You should follow the instructions on the product label and use enough shock to raise your chlorine level to 10 PPM. You should also turn off your salt chlorine generator while shocking your pool to prevent over-chlorination.
After following these steps, you should see an improvement in your water clarity within 24 hours. However, if you still have cloudy water after 48 hours, you might need to repeat some of the steps or consult a professional pool service.
How to Prevent Cloudy Water in Salt Water Pools
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to cloudy water in salt water pools. By following some simple maintenance tips, you can avoid having cloudy water in the first place and enjoy a clear and sparkling pool all season long. Here are some tips on how to prevent cloudy water in salt water pools:
- Test your water regularly and adjust your chemicals as needed: You should test your water at least once a week and adjust the levels of salt, chlorine, pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and stabilizer using the appropriate chemicals. You should also test for phosphates and use a phosphate remover if needed. This will help keep your water chemistry balanced and prevent cloudy water from a chemical imbalance.
- Clean your filter and run your pump regularly: You should clean or replace your filter media according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and backwash or rinse your filter once a week or when the pressure gauge rises above the normal range. You should also run your pump for at least 8 hours per day or more depending on the weather conditions and bather load. This will help keep your water filtered and circulated and prevent cloudy water from poor filtration.
- Use a pool cover and skim your pool regularly: You should use a pool cover when your pool is not in use, especially during the night, to prevent dirt, debris, and pollutants from entering your pool. You should also skim your pool surface and empty your skimmer basket daily to remove any floating debris. This will help keep your water clean and clear and prevent cloudy water from environmental factors.
- Shock your pool weekly or as needed: You should shock your pool using a non-chlorine shock product once a week or as needed to oxidize any organic matter in your water and restore your chlorine level. You should also turn off your salt chlorine generator while shocking your pool to prevent over-chlorination. This will help keep your water sanitized and sparkling and prevent cloudy water from low chlorine level or algae growth.
Cloudy water in salt water pools can be caused by various factors such as chemical imbalance, poor filtration, or environmental factors. However, by following the steps outlined in this article, you can clear up your cloudy water and enjoy a clear and sparkling pool.
You should also follow the tips on how to prevent cloudy water in salt water pools by testing your water regularly, cleaning your filter and running your pump regularly, using a pool cover and skimming your pool regularly, and shocking your pool weekly or as needed. By doing so, you can avoid having cloudy water in the first place and maintain a healthy and beautiful salt water pool.