How do I fix my cloudy pool water?

There’s nothing like taking a refreshing swim in your backyard pool. However, at some point, instead of seeing clear, sparkling water just before you dive in, you might see cloudy water instead.


First of all, don’t panic. Cloudy, murky water is a common pool problem that is relatively easy to remedy. In this article, we’ll explain what causes cloudy pool water and the steps you can take to get your pool water back to looking its best.




What makes my pool water cloudy?

Every backyard pool owner gets a crash course in chemistry. Maintaining your pool’s pH levels at about 7.4 to 7.6 is optimal. A much higher or lower level can affect the acidity and, therefore, the clarity and safety of your water. If you’re using a pool every day, you may need to test its pH level more regularly.


If your pool’s pH is above 7.8, it can cause chlorine to be ineffective. You can use a pH reducer to lower it. A pH lower than 7.2 can lead to increased bacteria and algae, and unsightly water. If this is the case, you should use a pH increaser.

In addition to pH imbalance, there are other underlying factors that can lead to cloudy pool water. Here are some of them.


  • Heavy rainfall that has diluted chlorine levels

  • Poor water circulation

  • Environmental debris

  • Human contaminants

Testing the water will give you an idea of what is going on. In addition to the pH level, check the combined chlorine and total chlorine or bromine levels, calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, and total alkalinity.


Chlorine levels should be around three parts per million (ppm), and combined chlorine should be below 0.5 ppm. The difference between the free chlorine level and the total chlorine level is related to how much combined chlorine, or chloramine, is in the pool. When the amount of chloramine is over 0.5 ppm, your water may appear cloudy and be unsafe for swimming.


Another possibility is that you may have added too much chlorine stabilizer (such as cyanuric acid). Too much cyanuric acid can increase algae growth in the pool and cause the water to appear murky.


It’s also a good idea to monitor your pool’s total alkalinity, which should be between 80 and 120 parts per million.


Ways to fix cloudy pool water

Sometimes a pool shock treatment is all it takes to get rid of the murky water. If your pump and filter are functioning well, your water should be clear in about 24 hours after a shock treatment. If the water is still not clear, recheck your chemical levels. Sometimes a second shock treatment is needed.


If you have adjusted your chemical levels and shocked the pool, your pool’s circulation system may be the culprit. Examine the water flow carefully. Clean or replace your filter as needed.


Depending on how often you use your pool, the filter should run between 10 and 24 hours a day.


Another possibility is that algae growth and debris in the pool have accumulated to the point that a deep cleaning is needed. You may need to clean, scrub, and vacuum the sides and floor of your pool to loosen and remove the dirt.

After this cleaning process, you may need to backwash the pool, chlorinate, and clarify as needed.


Can I prevent cloudy pool water?

You can’t prevent some of the situations that cause cloudy pool water – like a thunderstorm -- but you can follow some steps to lessen the chances of murky pool water happening in the future.

  1. Monitor your chemical levels regularly, especially after heavy use of your pool.

  2. Clean away leaves and debris as soon as possible.

  3. Ask swimmers to shower off before entering the pool.

  4. Check that jets are pointed downward, and the filter is operating properly.

  5. Run the pool pump for a minimum of eight hours each day.

  6. Routinely check and empty skimmer basket

  7. Clean the filter or backwash more often if needed.


No one wants to swim in cloudy water, and, in some cases, it is unsafe to do so. We hope this article helps you determine the cause of your murky water and how to restore it to its clear state. If you have any questions about your cloudy pool or any other aspect of pool maintenance, please let us know. At Tops Pools, we know swimming pools, and we want you to get the most out of yours.