Cloudy Water In Above Ground Pool

by MIke
(Mathiston, MS)

We recently purchased a 20' x 4' round above ground pool. After filling it, we tried to get the water clear but it only got cloudy. So, we went to a local pool and spa store with a water sample to see what chemicals we needed to clear up the water. The sample readings were as follows:

Sanitizer/Chlorine - 2.4/1.7

Total Alkalinity- 126

pH - 7.4

Calcium - 52

Backup/Microfloc - 3.

We were given the following instructions :

Day 1 - Add 1 quart of Metal reducer(metal magic).
Day 1 - Also add 8 lbs. of calcium plus.

Day 2, Add 10 lbs. of calcium plus.

Day 3 allow the pool to circulate and keep the filter changed.

Day 4, add 1 bag of Shock. The results were nil. It remained cloudy and if anything, got worse. So, we went back a week later with another water sample. The readings were as follows:

Sanitizer/Chlorine - 0

Total Alkalinity - 118

pH - 7.4

Calcium - 209

Backup/microfloc - 1.

We received the following instructions:

Add 1 lb. of Balance Pak 200. 30 minutes later, add 1 qt. of metal reducer (Metal Magic).

Then 30 minutes later, add 1 bag of shock. Also we were told to add chlorine tabs to the skimmer.

We have followed all the instructions and purchased over $100 worth of chemicals and we still have cloudy water. I mean very cloudy (as in, you can't even see the bottom of the pool).

Thanks for the question Mike, and thanks for the chemical readings. It makes things alot easier. One thing I would like to have is your stabilizer level (cyanuric acid/CYA). First thing is you need to get a good pool test kit. Since 1999 I've used and recommend a Taylor FAS-DPD K-2006 kit.

Pool Water Testing

Water Testing Kit

For now, don't touch the alkalinity (TA), calcium, or pH. The TA should be between 80 - 100pm, but it can go to 120 and still be in the safe zone. The Balance Pak 200, if I know that correctly, is only sodium bicarb. which is nothing more than baking soda. Here's the MSDS sheet for it:

If you need to raise the TA or pH, go to your local grocery store and get baking soda. To raise just the pH, 20 Mule Team Borax will do just fine.

Do You Really Need All These Chemicals For A Pool Or Are They Just Trying To Get Your Money?

You need to get a tab floater (about $10 - $13). NEVER put chlorine tabs in the skimmer. When the pump turns off the tabs keep dissolving. When the pump turns back on your system will get a huge blast of acidic water.

I will assume that your CYA is a bit low, but it needs to be tested. The proper range is between 30 - 50ppm. If it's low, you need to shock with Dichlor. This is a stabilized form of chlorine and will add the CYA. Your chlorine is getting eaten up because of a possible algae problem, there's no CYA, and the sun and heat.

Be careful when using Dichlor as it can get out of hand quickly. For every 10ppm of chlorine added with Dichlor, you'll raise the CYA by 9ppm. For every 10ppm of chlorine added with Trichlor tabs you'll raise the CYA by 6ppm.

After the CYA reaches the proper range, you'll then switch to regular liquid chlorine. Don't use granular as this will also increase the calcium hardness and you don't want that. Have your Dichlor ready, along with your regular chlorine, a pad of paper and a pen. You need to track your readings.

Take your chlorine and CYA levels. Remember, if your CYA level is already between 30 - 50ppm, don't use Dichlor, use regular chlorine.

Do the 1st shock with Dichlor in the evening, then retest (chlorine & CYA) in the morning. You need to allow for one full turnover of the water between tests. This is normally about 8 hours. Record the levels. Shock again with Dichlor. Retest (chlorine and CYA) in the evening. Once the CYA is between 30 - 50ppm, switch to regular chlorine and shock again.

Keep the chlorine level above 12ppm while the water clears. You'll need to keep manually dosing your pool with chlorine until the water clears. You'll start to see the chlorine level holding more because you've recorded the levels. You need to back wash once per day, or clean the cartridges once per day.

Lay off any more chemicals or algaecides, or pretty much anything else the pool store tells you to add. You can use a PolyQuat 60 algaecide as you're going through this process. It will give a little added protection against any possible algae blooms.

For the metals, you need to understand what a metal sequestrant does and doesn't do. A metal sequestrant does not remove metal from pool water. It holds it in solution until it can get filtered. Then you backwash the metal out.

Because metal sequestrants break down over time and get filtered and backwashed out, you need to weekly dose your pool if you have high iron and copper. Metal sequestrants that are based on HEDP, phosphonic acid or something similar are the most effective. Jack's Magic Blue, Purple, and Pink Pink Stuff, Metal Magic, Metal Free, & Metal Klear are very good.

Be sure any algaecides you use don't have any metals or copper in them. You don't want to add to the problem. Keep filtering 24/7 until the water clears.

To post a reply, or if you have a similar question, you can see your post (Cloudy Water In Above Ground Pool) on the Q&A page in the "Cloudy, Milky, Discolored Pool Water" category.

Swimming Pool Questions and Answers

Check back to this post for answers.

Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


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