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Causes and Cures for Cloudy Water

We get calls, emails, and comments about cloudy water all the time. It’s one of the most common problems in a swimming pool, and the reasons for cloudy water are almost endless. Here, we’ll walk you through the most common causes of cloudy water and what you can do to cure it.

The first step is to decide what type of cloudy water you have–what color is it? We’ll break it up into three color categories to help you begin to narrow down the cause: milky water, green water, and rusty water. Identify what color your water is and let’s get started! Keep your test strips handy; they’ll help a lot as you work through determining the cause of your cloudy water.

Milky Watermilkypool

If your swimming pool water is milky like this one, there are four likely causes.

  • The first possible cause is small, suspended particles in the water. This is typically caused by high pH or high alkalinity–dissolved minerals can “precipitate,” or come out of solution in the water and transform into small, solid particles. To remedy this, you’ll need to lower your pH or alkalinity. There are a number of products you can use to lower alkalinity and pH. We recommend Pool Solutions. Follow package instructions to lower the pH or alkalinity to the proper level (here’s where it’s important to know your current reading, so you can use the proper amount of product!) Important note: never put the whole amount in at one time; we recommend the rule of halves. For example, if you have determined that you need 10# of pH-, put 5# in to start. Let the pool run for a day, and then test the water again. If the pH is still high, add half of the remaining dose (2.5#). Wait another day and check the water clarity and chemical levels. Water is incredibly responsive, and it always seeks to balance itself. The prescribed dose of chemicals is often too much, leaving you with an over-correction and the
    opposite problem than you started with. 
  • The second possible cause is a buildup of dirt and pollution as a result of poor filtration or not enough chlorine. To remedy this, backwash your filter and shock your pool. You can add a clarifier when you’re finished to add a little extra polish to your water.
  • This third possible cause is over-stabilized water. Stabilizer is an important part of the chemical makeup of your pool; it keeps the chlorine from being zapped by the sun and helps keep your pH level stable. However, too much stabilizer in your water can reduce the effectiveness of your chlorine, increasing the time it takes to kill the organisms that cause haziness and cloudiness. To remedy this, you’ll need to remove some of the water from your pool and replace it with fresh water. You can remove water from your pool by performing an extra-long backwash through your filter. Be sure you don’t completely empty your pool–you should only need to remove a couple of inches to fix your problem.
  • The fourth possible cause is a blocked or ineffective filter. Whether you have a sand, cartridge, or DE filter, you’ll need to service it every so often. Sand and cartridges need to be replaced eventually, and a DE filter will need to be cleaned. This is on top of your normal backwashing routine. If this is a recurring problem for you, and you’re having to service your filter more often than you used to, it might be time to replace the filter. Call your local pool company if you’re not sure.

Green Water

If your pool is green, the most probable cause is algae. Algae forms when there is not enough chlorine in the pool, as chlorine keeps algae from growing. Your chlorine has probably either fallen below the necessary level, or has become ineffective. The quickest way to fix this is to shock your pool–the high dose of chlorine will kill the algae quickly. You can also use an algaecide. After adding the correct dose of chemicals, be sure to brush the surfaces of your pool, paying extra attention to easily-missed spots like behind ladders and around the light. 24 hours later, backwash your filter to fully remove the algae.

Rusty Water

The most probable cause for rust-colored water is iron or other metals. Important note: sometimes iron can turn water a greenish color, too. You’ll want to take action on this quickly, as iron can stain your pool surfaces. Our absolute favorite product  for removing iron from swimming pool water is Ferri-Tabs. They’re the most effective product we’ve ever seen at removing iron–it’s truly incredible. If the iron in your water has settled onto the surface of your pool, you’ll need to use a stain remover to get it back into the water. Once the iron is in solution, drop the recommended number of Ferri-Tabs into your skimmer (1 tab per 3,000 gallons). Let your pool run for 24-48 hours, and then backwash your filter. Your pool should be sparkling clean and ready to swim!

Vinyl Liner Replacement

During the life of a vinyl liner swimming pool, the time will come for the liner to be replaced. If you take good care of your liner, it will typically last around 15 years. But, no matter how careful you are and how well you care for your pool, your liner will eventually need to be replaced. Don’t worry, though–this is a relatively quick process and it won’t take too much time out of your swimming season. Here in Michigan, we know every moment of pool season counts–everyone wants to make the most of their swimming pools during the few months they can! So rest easy: a liner replacement will only put your pool out of commission for a day or two. Plus, a liner replacement will make your pool look brand new! With a new liner, your swimming pool will have a whole new look and feel about it.

Check out this video of our crew replacing a vinyl liner.

How to Clean and Store Your Safety Cover

If you’re opening your pool yourself this year, make sure you properly clean and store your safety cover. It just takes a few steps, and you’ll help to ensure the longevity of your cover.

Step 1: While the cover is still on the pool, remove any debris from the top of it. If your cover is solid, not mesh, use a pump to remove water from the cover before you try to get the debris off. It will be much easier to remove any debris when it’s not soaking wet.

Step 2: Use the installation rod that came with your safety cover to remove all of the springs from the anchors. Then, using the hex key that also came with your cover, lower the anchors into the deck. Make sure you do this before you remove the cover from the pool, as this avoid damage that could come with the cover or springs getting caught on the anchors.

Step 3: Grab a friend (trust us–this step is possible alone, but it’s much easier with one person on each side of the pool) and remove the cover. Starting at one end of the pool, fold your cover like an accordion in small sections as you work your way down to the other end. Then, lift the cover (don’t drag it!) and remove it from the end of the swimming pool, moving it to a flat, clean area.

Step 4: Now, unfold your cover and clean it. You can use a mild detergent mixed with water, or a safety cover cleaner. Use a soft cloth or sponge to clean the cover; for really dirty covers you can use a pool brush. Leave your cover spread out to dry.

Step 5: When the cover is dry, you’ll want to bring your friend back to help you with this last step. Fold the cover in half as many times as possible, until it will fit in your storage bag. Make sure you don’t store the cover on the floor or anywhere that animals could easily get to it and build a nest. Either hang it high, or invest in a large plastic storage bin to keep your cover safe from harmful pests.

If you need more clarification, check out this video from our friends over at Swim University.

Now that your safety cover has been removed, cleaned, and stored, it’s time to finish your pool opening. You’re not far from swimming now!

Opening Your Own Swimming Pool

Opening an in-ground swimming pool is a big job, but it’s doable. If you’re feeling handy and you want to do it yourself this year, here’s a step-by-step guide. First thing’s first: grab a friend–you won’t want to do this alone!

1. Clear off winter cover: Remove all leaves and other debris from the cover. You can use a submersible pool cover pump or a sump pump to remove the water. When the water has been removed, use a broom to remove debris. Make sure you don’t use anything sharp–you don’t want to tear your liner!

2. Remove the cover: Be careful not to get any of the remaining water or debris in the pool while you remove the cover. If some falls in, though, don’t fret–you’ll take care of it in a later step.

3. Clean & store cover: Lay the cover flat. Use soap, water, and a soft brush to clean your cover, check your local pool store for a cover cleaner, and make sure you let it dry before you put it away. Be sure to store it somewhere that bugs and rodents won’t be able to get to it–a big plastic bin is a great idea.

4. Remove winter plugs and skimmer ice compensators: Make sure all winter plugs are removed from any openings in your pool. Don’t forget about return jets and step jets! Remove the ice compensator from your skimmer basket, remove the plugs at the bottom, and replace the basket. 

5. Re-install deck equipment: Any deck equipment you may have, including ladders, step rails, and diving boards. Make sure you lubricate all bolts to prevent rusting.

6. Fill up your pool: Fill the pool so the water comes up to the middle of the skimmer. If your pool needs a lot of water and you have hard water, you might want to consider scheduling a water truck. If you just need to top off your pool, hose water is generally fine (unless your water is very hard or otherwise questionable).

7. Set up your filter and pump: Replace the drain plugs and any other parts, including the pressure gauge. Your filter probably has one main drain plug, and your pump may have one or two. If you have a multiport valve, replace the air bleeder, sight glass, and pressure gauge and set the valve to “filter.” Now is also a good time to check the O-ring on your pump housing. Make sure it’s not dry or cracked; this can cause your filter to pull air.

8. Turn it on: Turn on the power to your pump and filter and make sure everything is working properly. Keep an eye out for any leaks or drips. If your pump isn’t pulling water, you’ll need to help prime it. Shut off the filter, remove the pump lid, and fill the housing with water; then replace the lid and turn the filter back on. This should help get the pump pulling water.

9. Clean it out: Use a plastic leaf net to remove any debris in your water. If there is a lot of debris on the bottom of the pool, scoop it up with the net, being careful not to stir it up too much–this makes it harder to get all of it. Try to remove as much debris as possible from the water, as this will help your system to run more smoothly. Debris in pools easily becomes debris trapped in skimmer baskets and pump baskets, which can lower the effectiveness of your filter and pump. Use a pool brush to brush the walls and floor of your pool to help get the dirt into suspension in the water, allowing the filter to remove it.

10. Add chemicals: Take a sample of your pool water to your local pool store to get it analyzed. Make sure your pH and alkalinity are properly balanced before adding any other pool chemicals–this is very important. Once your pH and alkalinity are balanced, you can add the appropriate amount of sanitizer to your water.

Let your pool run for at least 24 hours, then vacuum your pool. Retest your water with an at-home test kit or strips. If all the levels are good, and the water is clear or cloudy blue, it’s ready to swim in! Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get everything cleared up, especially if you’re opening later in the season (after Memorial Day).



Automation Systems

The Pool Guy’s favorite automation system is the EasyTouch system that works with the Pentair equipment. You will find this system on all of our new swimming pool projects – either the pool only or the pool and spa combo.

ool Guy's Easy Touch SystemThe best way to learn your new automation system is to get into the programming menus and see what happens when you start to schedule and push buttons. For those of you who would like a quick reference guide, download the

Easy Touch Owners Manual Here

EasyTouch Indoor Controller Manual


Service/Scheduling for Michigan Pools: 248-478-4978 team@askthepoolguy.com

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