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How to Fix Cloudy Spa Water: A Complete Tutorial

Fixing Cloudy Spa Water

Your hot tub or spa is going to involve a lot less cleaning and maintenance than your swimming pool ever would, if only because the water is superheated to high temperatures on a consistent basis – and there’s a lot less water than you have to manage, too.

At the same time, because that water is so hot on a regular basis and because the water can get super concentrated with contaminants it’s not at all uncommon to have cloudy, milky water that you want to address ASAP.

After all, there aren’t too terribly many people that want to go for a long soak in a hot tub or spa that is little more than a bacteria soup filled with all kinds of nasty bits of dirt, debris, oil, lotion, and everything else you can imagine.

Thankfully though, armed with the inside information we highlight in this quick guide, you’re going to be able to address cloudy spa water pretty quickly.

fixing cloudy spa water

What’s Behind Cloudy Hot Tub Water in the First Place?

Before we get into the specifics of actually clearing cloudy hot tub water, though, it’s important to touch on why your spa is getting cloudy to begin with.

There are a whole bunch of different reasons that can contribute to cloudy water and it’s important that you don’t reject any of them out of hand. Later we’ll discuss how to clear up all of these common issues and even a couple of ways to prevent them from taking hold in the first place.

Right out of the gate, it’s important to understand that algae is going to absolutely love getting a chance to grow inside of your spa.

Dead leaves, dirt, debris, and all kinds of other natural elements that blow into your hot tub and aren’t fished out immediately become food sources and breeding grounds for algae. It doesn’t take very long for algae to take hold, establishing a larger and larger population that die off and add that milky complexion to your water that’s immediately recognizable.

On top of that, hard metals that are in your water supply can also change the complexion of your spa water pretty quickly.

If you fill your spa with a garden hose (the odds are pretty good that you did) it’s likely that you introduced quite a bit of heavy metal into your water – and we don’t mean when you turn on your Bluetooth speakers.

This is something you can address with a hose filter that will talk about in just a little while, but it’s one of the most common reasons that your water is a little murky.

If you haven’t been staying on top of your regular hot tub and spa maintenance the chances are that your water looks a little rough, too.

Your spa may or may not be enjoyed by a lot of people on a regular basis – all of them putting their own body oil, lotions, suntanning cream, etc. into the water – but even if it’s just you that’s taking regular soaks those same contaminants are going to build up a lot faster than you would have thought possible.

You’ll want to be using chemical treatments to treat your hot tub regularly (something we dig into it a little bit), but neglected maintenance will definitely cause the water to begin clouding.

Higher pH levels, high alkalinity levels, and high calcium levels can all contribute to anything but crystal-clear and perfectly healthy water in your hot tub.

Get Rid of Biofilm ASAP

This particular issue that your hot tub may have to contend with is one we wanted to separate from the rest of the pack, if only because it can quickly become not just unpleasant to look at but actually dangerous to your health and wellness.

Biofilm is a sticky, slimy substance that can build up in your swimming pool over time – created by bacteria that is trying to establish a barrier between the chlorine and chemicals you are using to clean and sanitize your spa in the first place.

Not only will biofilm establish itself in the spa you are swimming in, but it’s also going to work its way into your filtration system and your plumbing – becoming almost impossible to root out without using pretty aggressive methods.

Even worse, biofilm can be responsible for allowing really dangerous forms of bacteria to explode throughout your hot tub. We are talking about E. coli and the bacteria that cause Legionnaires Disease, to serious health issues that can quite literally threaten your life in the lives of your loved ones.

If you even assume that you have a bit of biofilm establishing itself in your hot tub you need to do a complete dump out, deep clean, and refill of your spa ASAP. This isn’t something to full around with.

Clean and Flush Your Hot Tub Regularly

Of course, it’s not a bad idea to regularly clean and flush your hot tub every couple of months just as a general rule.

Think about it this way.

Your spa is little more than an oversized bathtub, but the main difference here is that you aren’t flushing all your bathwater down the drain after every single use. Instead, that water is sticking around – day after day, week after week, month after month – even as more and more people jump into the hot tub on a regular basis.

If it isn’t obvious by now that’s more than enough reason to clean and flush your hot tub every three months or so, making sure that you are getting rid of all the old water that just can’t be shocked or sanitized any longer.

It’s also not a bad idea to take that opportunity to do a real good scrub down of your spa while it is dry, tending to your filtration and plumbing system as well.

Make Sure Your Filter Is Doing Its Job

Your filter gumming up is one of the most common symptoms of cloudy water and something that you can usually address pretty quickly.

All you’ll want to do is pull out the actual filter cartridge itself, inspect it to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced, and then either giving it a deep clean to scrub all of the gunk and junk that may have accumulated or swapped it out entirely with our new cartridge.

Your filter is a major part of keeping your water clear and healthy and you need to be sure that you are filtering your water on a regular and consistent basis.

As a general rule you’ll want to make sure that your filtration system is running for at least 60 minutes two times a day (more often if you use your spa on a frequent basis). Luckily, most modern hot tubs and spas include automatic filter schedules that will handle all the heavy lifting for you.

Quick Clearing Tips and Tricks to Fix Cloudy Spa Water

One of the easiest tips to clear your spa water that’s become a little cloudy is to check the chemical balance and then adjust as necessary.

Water test kits are ridiculously inexpensive these days (as well as highly accurate) and they will help you understand exactly what’s going on under the surface of your water from a chemical standpoint. You’ll know exactly how much of each chemical to add – or how much water needs to be mixed in to dilute the chemical balance – inside of about 15 minutes or so.

Secondly, if you’re dealing with a cloudiness issue that isn’t going away with regular chemical maintenance and might not be a bad idea to shock your hot tub for 24 hours or so.

Some manufacturers recommend a shock on a weekly basis, though some feel that that’s a bit overkill depending on how often you use your spa and its overall water capacity. Even still, a shock every now and again is definitely going to brighten and clear your pool most of the time.

If heavy metal issues are a problem in your water it’s a good idea to use a metal sequestrant product that’s going to pull them out of the water itself and lock them into your filter for easy disposal later down the line.

Best of all, metal sequestrant products work automatically as soon as you dump them into your spa so you don’t have to do any heavy lifting to clear your water in a hurry.

For more serious issues (including the early stages of biofilm development) you’ll want to be sure that you are flushing your spa circulation system – especially every time that you change out the water in your spa.

Before you drain the water completely add a line flushing product designed specifically to treat these types of issues and give it about 30 minutes to 60 minutes to circulate through the system entirely.

When you come back to your spa you’ll see a lot of nasty foam bubbling on the surface, but that’s a good thing! That means that the flush worked and did its job and your circulation system is now free and clear of the contaminants that are now floating on the water you are about to dispose of.

At the end of the day, as long as you keep on your regular hot tub maintenance – and treat serious issues quickly and decisively – you shouldn’t have to worry about cloudy or milky water all that frequently.

Use the tips and tricks above to navigate the issues that you do come across, though, and you’ll get your spa water back to better than brand-new ASAP!

Posted in pool maintenance

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