5 common pool issues and how to solve them

To help you keep your pool water clean and sparkling clear we are going to cover 5 of the most common problems and how to fix them.  This "how to" guide will cover the following 5 common pool issues:

1. Cloudy pool water

2. Algae

3. Eye and skin irritation

4. Foam

5.Stains and scaling

1. Cloudy pool water

It is usual for pool water to become cloudy from time to time.   There are 3 main causes: chemical imbalances, filter issues or organic debris in your pool.

The first place to start is to check your sanitiser levels.  Chlorine can drop due to evaporation (this is a good time to remind you to add chlorsave/cyanuric acid at least twice a year to your pool - Cyanuric acid acts as a sunscreen to prevent the sun burning off your chlorine - ideally add to your pool in spring and towards the end of summer).  Chlorine levels can also drop if there has been heavy rain or increased pool use.  When chlorine levels drop bacteria and algae can multiply resulting in cloudy pool water.  Your chlorine level should be at 2 to 3 ppm (parts per million).  If testing shows it is below this then add chlorine in the form of liquid chlorine or chlorine granules which have been dissolved in water in a bucket or instachlor (instachlor is fast dissolving chlorine granules used for shock treatment).  After adding chlorine run your pump and test again after 2-3 hours.  If you are not at 2-3ppm then repeat the process (ie add more chlorine, run the pump and wait another 2-3 hours then test again).

Another cause of cloudiness is high calcium hardness.  This not only results in cloudy water but high calcium levels can also damage your filter and other pool equipment. When calcium hardness is high you may also see crusty grey or white scale on surfaces, piping and equipment. Measure your calcium hardness levels - your calcium hardness should be between 100 and 300 ppm. If testing shows it is above 300ppm then you will need to drain water from your pool and refill with clean water.  Remember to turn your pool pump off while doing this.

The next thing to check is your pool filter.  If it is not working properly it can't keep your pool water sparkling clean.  Is it damaged or clogged or old?  Depending on the type of filter you have try increasing the time it is running each day or backwashing it.  If it is damaged, not working properly or old it might be time to replace it.

For pools with sand, glass or diatomaceous earth media it might be time to change it.  Media should ideally be changed every few years.

If your chemical levels and filter/equipment are fine then you may have too many leaves or other organic debris in your pool.  Things like  leaves, pollen, dust and dirt particles, even sunscreen can cause cloudiness.  To fix this brush/scrub the walls then use a vacuum head/brush or run your automatic cleaner.  You can also add a pool clarifier (like Assie Gold crystal cubes plus/sparkle cubes, Lochlor sparkle pills or Crystal Water crystal clear (crystal clear comes in 1 litre or 5 litres)).  A clarifier will help microparticles clump together and drop to the bottom so they can be vacuumed up

2.  Algae

Algae can grow in your pool when your sanitiser (chlorine) levels are low or the filter is not working properly or as a result of chemical imbalances.  Algae in your pool can not only make the pool slippery but also cause skin irritations, eye infections and if swallowed cause an upset stomach.

If you see signs of algae in your pool (your pool is starting to look green or you notice signs of yellow or black algae) shock your pool with chlorine - as mentioned above use liquid chlorine or chlorine granules which have been dissolved in water in a bucket or instachlor (instachlor is fast dissolving chlorine granules used for shock treatment) then run your pump for 24 hours to disperse the shock chlorine and circulate the water.  For pools with a salt water chlorinator you can choose whether to add chlorine to your pool water  or to add 2-4 bags of salt and turn the chlorinator up to 100%   After this vacuum the dead algae with a vacuum head/brush.  You should also backwash to remove any spores which might be in your filter system/media.

3. Eye or skin irritation

If swimmers are experiencing eye or skin irritation this is a sign that the chemicals in your pool are unbalanced.  Chlorine levels that are too high can irritate skin and eyes.  Low pH can made the water acidic and irritate eyes and skin.  pH that is too high can promote the growth of algae and bacteria which can also irritate eyes and skin.  Crystal Water Antichlor can be used to reduce chlorine levels or alternatively drain some water and add clean water.  Test your pH - it should be between 7.2 and 7.8.  If your pH is too low then add pH increase (soda ash - available in 1kg, 2kg, 4.5kg or 25kg).  If your pH is too high then add pH decrease (sodium bisulphate - available in 1kg, 2kg, 4.5kg, 10kg or 25kg).

4. Foam

Foam floating on the top of your pool is the sign of a chemical imbalance.  One reason could be algaecide.  If there is no algae to kill then the chemicals in algaecide can cause foam.  Other causes could be soaps or shampoo.  To get rid of foam check your chemical levels and adjust as required.

5.  Stains and scaling

There are a number of reasons for stains on your pool surface.  For organic stains (like algae, decaying leaves, berries or insects) brush the stain - you can use some chlorine directly on the stain if necessary to remove it.  If the stains are widespread then it may be helpful to shock dose the pool with chlorine (as above use liquid chlorine or chlorine granules which have been dissolved in water in a bucket or instachlor (instachlor is fast dissolving chlorine granules used for shock treatment) then have the pump circulate the water for 8 hours.

Brown stains on the floor or walls of your pool can be caused by metals such as manganese or iron.  Brush the stains as soon as you notice them and test your pH and alkalinity and adjust if necessary.  If the stains have been there for a while or are stubborn then use a multistain remover (like Lochlor multi stain remover 1kg or lochlor stain and scale defence 5 litre).

If you have noticed sandpaper like deposits in your pool then you've got scaling.  This can happen when calcium levels are too high.  Over time high clacium hardness can corrode your pool surface, block pipes and damage your filter.  As mentioned above to reduce calcium levels drain some pool water and replace it with clean water.  To remove scaling scrub/brush the scale until it comes off.  If the scaling is extreme you may need to drain your pool and have it acid washed.