Why is my spa water cloudy? If I’ve heard this question once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. This may be the number one spa water problem plaguing spa owners.
Sadly there’s a large amount of misinformation on the net about cloudy spa water – for instance, “Bromine is going to make your spa cloudy”, or “Metals within the water cause cloudy hot tub water”, or the constant sales pitch – the minute you simply add this super-special-magical spa water treatment, your spa water problems will disappear.
When your hot tub water is cloudy, hazy, milky, the challenge will be one of these conditions listed below, or a combination of more than one.
1. High Calcium Hardness or Total Alkalinity
Your spa water chemical balance could be liable, and it’s the first place You ought to check. Take an accurate reading of your calcium hardness, alkalinity and pH levels. In areas where hard water is common, calcium may come out of solution and cloud the spa water. If your calcium hardness levels are above 300 ppm, use Calcium & Scale Control to tie-up minerals in solution, and prevent them from making the spa water cloudy.
When your test for Total Alkalinity shows elevated levels, more than 150 ppm, excess carbonates may come out of solution, and turn the spa cloudy. High TA levels will also cause it to become more difficult to control your pH, or keep it in range. Use pH decreaser to lower TA to around 100 ppm. In the event that your spa pH level is outside of the range of 7.2-7.6, adjust accordingly for easier control of cloudy water.
TDS, or total dissolved solids, is not usually a concern in spas and hot tubs – but, if it has not been not drained your spa in years, for whatever reason – you might have a high concentration of dissolved solids in the water. When water reaches it’s saturation point, where it can absorb no more solids, frequent bouts of cloudy water could be the result. Its time to drain and refill the spa.
2. Low Spa Sanitizer Levels
A lot of people are sensitive to bromine or chlorine, and attempt to manage the spa with the least amount possible. That could be OK, in the event that you have other sanitizers working, for instance an ozonator, or a mineral cartridge, and the water chemistry is balanced, especially your pH level.
Otherwise, spas ought to have a level of 2-3 ppm of bromine, or slightly less if using chlorine. When sanitizer level drops below 1.0ppm, particles and contaminants in the water begin to run rampant or grow at a rate faster than they are being destroyed.
A suitable sanitizer level should destroy the particles that induce cloudy water. To assist it out, shock the spa water regularly, especially several people have been using the spa, or if sanitizer levels have mistakenly dropped to inadequate levels. If a chlorinated spa shock is clouding your water, consider MPS shock instead.
3. Cloudy Fill Water
Maybe the problem is not created by the spa, but in your fill water. Nonetheless, balanced and sanitized spa water with proper filtration should self-correct, and eliminate the problem in the water in a day or so. A spa clarifier should help coagulate suspended particles for easier filtration. Usually, it might be worthwhile to use a spa pre-filter, to get rid of particulates that cloud your spa water. Just attach it onto the hose when adding water or refilling your spa or hot tub.
4. Air in the System
Small particles of air, tiny bubbles – could make the spa water appear cloudy. Should the spa has bubbles coming into the returns, but the air blower and spa ozonator are turned off – it could be an air leak, located on the suction side of the pump. The suction side is anything prior to the spa circulation pump. A loose union fitting preceeding the pump, or a loose pump drain plug can pull air into your system.
Low water level within your spa can also bring air into the spa, and give the water the appearance of becoming cloudy or hazy. Inspection of the pipes and equipment before the spa pump could show the origin of the air leak, that could then be sealed by using sealants or lubricants.
5. Spa Filter Challenges
This can be a common reason behind cloudy spa water. A spa filter cartridge might be positioned incorrectly, letting water to bypass the filter cartridge. Be certain the cartridge is fully seated on both ends causing the water to go through the pleated spa filter material.
A spa filter cartridge won’t last forever, and each cleaning reduces it’s efficiency a bit more. After about 15 cleanings, swap out the spa filter and you’ll notice an abrupt improvement in water clarity. Based on how much the spa may be used, and how much is asked of the filter, you should swap out the spa filter every 12-24 months.
Spa filter cartridges can likewise become gummed up with oils or minerals, drastically reducing their filtration ability. These substances can be very hard to eliminate with a garden hose alone. Spraying a cartridge in spa filter cleaner before cleaning will digest greasy or crystallized deposits, and restore full flow to the filter.
DE filters are more widely used on inground spas, and if a DE filter grid develops a hole, it can allow DE filter powder leak directly into spa. This tends to cloud the water, and create deposits of a light brown powder on the seats and floors of the spa.
6. Spa Pump Problems
There are plenty of pump problems that can lead to cloudy spa water, the most common being the length of time the spa filter is running each day. You may need to increase the period of time the spa pump operates, to improve your daily filtering time. Operating a pump only on low speed will also result in ineffective filtration. Run it on high for at least 2 hours daily.
Another issue could be the spa impeller. It could be clogged – filled with pebbles, leaves, hair or a wide range of things. The vanes on any pump impeller are small and can clog easily, which will inhibit the flow volume considerably. Another possibility is that the impeller is broken – the pump switches on, but the impeller is not moving, which could reduce flow rates to zero.
Should you have no flow from your pool pump, there could be an air lock, especially if you have just drained and refilled the spa. To resolve an air lock, switch off the pump and loosen a union located on the pump and make it possible for the air to escape, tightening it when water begins to leak. When the pump doesn’t activate at all – well, there’s your cloudy spa water problem. There might be a tripped GFI button, loose wires, bad contactor or relay, or another control problem.
Air leaks preceeding the pump, as discussed above, also makes the pump ineffective by lowering the overall water volume. Water leaks following the pump are also a problem, as your water level will soon drop below the skimmer intake, begin to suck in air, lose prime and stop pumping your water through the filter.
7. Biofilm Problems
Biofilm in short is a slimy bacteria that coats the interior of pipes and fittings. In extreme cases, it can cloud the water, and you could notice slimy flakes floating in the water, or have severe challenges with spa foaming. Biofilm forms quickly in any spa which has sat empty and idle for some time. Should you suspect a biofilm contamination, lower the pH to 7.2 and apply spa shock to raise the chlorine level above 10 ppm. Once the shock has done its job, follow it up with a solution of Jet Clean, to eliminate biofilm deposits.
8. Salt System Problems
Salt systems have become more popular with spa owners, although they are much more prevalent on swimming pools. The difficulty with salt systems is that one can place too much reliance on them, and neglect to check your chlorine level. Spa salt cells also need occasional cleaning to sustain chlorine output.
Adding salt to a spa when needed may cloud your spa temporarily, until such time as the salt becomes fully dissolved. When adding salt, do not overdose, and run the jets on high for greater agitation of the water.
9. Biguanide Problems
If you use a non-chlorine, biguanide sanitizer in your spa, and then have difficulty with cloudy spa water, you are not alone. This is actually the main issue for using a PHMB sanitizer. You might find relief by draining and refilling the spa, and changing the spa filter, which is probably jammed up with residue. Using spa chemicals with any amount of chlorine, or using algaecides or any non-approved chemical will not simply cloud the water in a biguanide treated spa, but might create some wild colors, too!
10. Soaps, Lotions, Cosmetics and Hair Products
The difficulty is common to just about every spa, unless you are careful to shower well before using your spa. Everything we use on our body as well as in our hair can wind up in the spa, and can bring oils, phosphates and detergents straight into the water, and a hundred other undesirable chemicals. These can consume sanitizer, clog spa filters and render the spa water cloudy and foamy. If the spa has a high bather load, or is employed as if it were a giant bath tub, you should expect problems with water clarity. Adding spa enzymes can help control greasy gunk, and reduce sanitizer demand and clogging of the spa filter.
Cloudy spa water is not so difficult to identify and resolve – but do not forget that you might have several of these issues working against you. Consider each possible cause of cloudy spa water carefully – it’s likely to be one or two of these situations above. Draining the spa regularly is definitely one more piece of advice to prevent cloudy water – depending on how much the spa may be used, draining it every few months is an excellent preventative way to insure against the spa water from becoming cloudy to begin with!
More information about hot tub covers is available at SpaCap.