One of the hallmarks of a well maintained pool is water clarity – the kind of clarity that allows you to spot a quarter in the deep end of the pool…and tell if it’s heads or tails! Water clarity is not simply a nice feature to brag about to your friends and neighbors, but is one of many signs that things are going well with the pool’s pump, filter and chemical sanitation. But what do you do if your pool is cloudy or hazy? What if you’ve been at it for a week, two weeks, or more, and it just won’t come clear? Here at E-Z Test Pool Supplies we often talk with our customers about water clarity and the “Four Steps to Clarity”. So, what step are you on?
The four steps are designed to bring back that clear sparkle you’ve seen in the pool, with each successive step taking a more serious and aggressive approach to solving the issue. In general, this series of blogs will be aimed primarily at owners of sand or cartridge filter systems, since DE filters by their very nature remove the finest particles leaving the water clear anyway. If you are maintaining sufficient sanitizer levels, shock the pool regularly, balance your water, and keep a consistent and adequate filter run-time, you should not see the issue of cloudiness with a DE filter – unless your DE filter is undersized or damaged. Sand filters, in particular, although are great at maintaining water clarity are generally poor problem solvers due to the nature of how they function. And if you’re in the predicament of attempting to clear a pool that has been cloudy for some time, a sand filter may only frustrate the problem.
First I’d like to say that in order to clear a cloudy pool there are some necessary Water Clarity Prerequisites –
- Run the filter 24 hours a day, seven days a week until it is clear and only stop to clean the filter or backwash as needed
- Maintain a somewhat higher chlorine level – 4-6 ppm is a good level
- Keep your pH in the desired 7.2 – 7.6 range, and
- Resist the urge to add much in the way of balancing chemicals such as alkalinity, calcium and chlorine stabilizer – these can always be adjusted once you’re in the clear. You don’t want to be fighting the first goal which is clarity.
Step 1 to Swimming Pool Water Clarity
Step 1 is designed ONLY for sand filters, so if you have a cartridge filter, this step will not apply to your situation and skip to step 2. The introduction of a sand filter aid is recommended. This is a fine powder-like material designed to be added directly to the skimmer basket slowly as the pump is running which enters the filter and coats the top layer of the sand, making the filter temporarily a finer particle removing filter. Sand filters remove particulate down to 20-22 microns, and while this may sound pretty small, there will be quite a bit of material smaller than this that passes right through the filter and back into the pool. Each particle on its own may be small, however the cumulative effect of so many small particles results in cloudy or hazy water that doesn’t go away no matter how much you run your filter.
At E-Z Test Pool Supplies we recommend Sand Helper as the first place to start with recurring clarity problems. The directions will recommend so many cups added to the skimmer as the pump is running depending how large the diameter of the sand tank is. I recommend not being so polite to problem cloudiness! If you are having major issues with cloudy water and need a solution, I strongly recommend using half of the container, 1 ½ pounds, shaken slowly into the skimmer with the pump running. At this point you should see the pressure on the gauge at least about 5 psi. Let the filter run overnight and backwash the next morning to remove the Sand Helper and the fine particles removed by the product. If necessary repeat with the other half of the container. For many cases of cloudy water involving sand filters this will give needed relief. If not you may have a more serious problem with more serious action to take. In short this is the best place to start since it is the least time consuming of the four steps.
Next week we’ll talk about kicking it up a notch if you don’t get the results desired. Don’t lose hope…keep swimming.