Does Phosphate Remover Make a Pool Cloudy?

Written by Michael Dean
August 21, 2023

using phosphate remover to fix a cloudy pool

A high amount of phosphates in your swimming pool can lead to an algae infestation. So, if you are dealing with phosphate levels over 300-500 ppb (parts per billion), you will want to use a phosphate remover. However, the word on the block is that phosphate remover will make your pool cloudy. Is it true?

In this article, I will answer why phosphate removers make your pool cloudy before giving you my tips and tricks for getting rid of cloudy water and using a phosphate remover.

Main Takeaways

  • Phosphate removers make a pool cloudy due to the chemical reaction that occurs when the remover comes in contact with phosphate molecules and other compounds in the water.
  • In some cases, your pool may be cloudy after using phosphate remover due to unbalanced pH levels or due to not using enough phosphate remover.
  • Be careful while adding a phosphate remover to your pool and only use it as a last resort since it is a moderately toxic product that can be a health risk.
  • Phosphates can get into your pool via decaying plant matter, fertilizers, and rainwater.

Does Phosphate Remover Make a Pool Cloudy?

The short answer is yes, it does.

The long answer is that although phosphate removers are useful for removing the source of food that algae thrive on, they cause a temporary bout of cloudiness in your pool for various reasons. But for the most part, cloudy water after using this chemical is nothing to be worried about. In fact, it is an almost certain reaction that will occur after using phosphate remover.

Why Do Phosphate Removers Cause Cloudy Water?

Although phosphate removers are designed to reduce the levels of phosphates in the water and maintain a clean, clear pool, phosphate removers cause your water to become cloudy and murky for a few hours or even days after use. 

The main reason why this happens is simply because of chemistry. The process of removing phosphates causes a chemical reaction in the water. Phosphates are present in the water in the form of negatively charged ions seeking a positive charge. Similarly, phosphate removers contain positively charged ions designed to bind with the negatively charged phosphates, which will then eventually be filtered out.

There are a couple of other reasons why your phosphate remover may cloud up your pool:

  1. Not enough phosphate remover: If you already had a cloudy pool and a relatively high phosphate count, you may not have used enough phosphate remover to bind all the phosphates. Phosphates themselves also cause cloudiness in the water.
  2. Unbalanced pH levels: Phosphate removers can cause a change in the pH levels of the water. And if the pH levels have not stabilized after using a phosphate remover, it could also lead to cloudiness.

How To Fix Cloudy Water Caused By Phosphate Remover

If your swimming pool has become cloudy after using a phosphate remover, you can follow these six steps to fix the problem.

Step One: Run Your Pump (Only Step in Most Cases!)

Generally, cloudiness after using a phosphate remover is a temporary hiccup and just needs time and circulation to clear up. In fact, in most cases, all you will need to follow is this step and ignore the rest.

After using the remover, run the pump continuously for the next 16 to 24 hours to help the phosphate remover spread across the water. The pump will filter the unwanted phosphates as effectively as possible.

If your water has not cleared up after running the filter for 24 hours, you’ll need to take further steps to fix your cloudy water.

Step Two: Test and Balance the Water

If your water is still cloudy, test the water and determine the current situation with the chemicals in your pool—specifically, the levels of phosphates, chlorine, and pH in the water. This will help you to identify any abnormalities that may be contributing to the cloudiness. If any of the chemicals are out of whack, bring them back to normal. Remember, chlorine levels need to range from 1 – 3 ppm, and your pH needs to be between 7.2 – 7.8 for clear and clean water. As for phosphates, the closer to 0, the better, but as long as you are under 300 ppb, you’re in the clear.

Step Three: Use a Clarifier

Sometimes, the particles generated by using a phosphate remover are too minuscule to be removed by the filter. In this case, you can grab a flocculant or clarifier. Adding it to the pool will cause all the particles in the pool to clump together, making them large enough for your filter to catch. You can even vacuum up the clumps to help your filter along.

Step Four: Wait and Monitor

After rebalancing your water, adding a clarifier, and removing the clumped matter, wait and monitor the water. It may take several hours or even a day for the water to clear up. Keep your pump running the entire time; you don’t want algae sneaking up into your pool while you’re sorting this out.

Step Five: Repeat if Necessary

If the water does not clear up after following these steps, you may need to repeat them. Be patient and persistent! Cloudy water is not a cause for alarm—it can easily take a few attempts to get the water back to its clear state. If you’re struggling, reach out to an expert for help; I’m sure they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Tips For Using Phosphate Remover

Not sure how to use phosphate remover correctly? Here are my top tips!

  • Do not add more than necessary: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage. Phosphate removers should be used sparingly since they are moderately toxic and can pose a serious health risk to swimmers.
  • It should be a last resort: When dealing with any algae bloom issue, attempt to resolve it by using algaecide and chlorine first. You should only use phosphate remover if the phosphate levels are too high. And make sure that you don’t use too much phosphate remover.
  • It is not a substitute for algaecide: On that same note, remember: phosphate removers are not a substitute for proper algae removal treatments. It is a tool used to starve the algae of a primary food source. A remover, by itself, will not eradicate the algae.
  • Use it after killing off the active algae: Deal with the active algae first by shocking the pool and using an algaecide. Only then should you use a phosphate remover. This is because when the dead algae begin to break down, phosphates are released back into the water, becoming a potential cause of concern for a second round of an algae infestation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are phosphates bad for your pool?

Well, they’re not great news. Phosphates are not inherently harmful to the water but can contribute to unwanted algae growth and decreased water clarity. Having phosphates in your pool is like rolling out the red carpet for any algae spores passing by in the wind or rain. Therefore, try not to allow phosphates to build up too much in your water.

Where do pool phosphates come from?

Phosphates can come from various places. They can come from fertilizers, chemicals and bacteria released by decaying organic matter, dirt and debris, or unbalanced fresh water from municipal sources.

And that’s it for phosphate removers and cloudy swimming pools? Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

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