Cloudy Pool Water? Top 5 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make

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  3. Cloudy Pool Water? Top 5 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make

Cloudy Pool Water? Top 5 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make

Or, as our dads used to say: "Get it right the first time." "Measure twice, cut once." "If you want it done right ..." You get the idea :)
Why is it that we guys internalize these truths with regards to some things and then ignore them in other areas? Pools are expensive, and they take time and money to maintain properly. BUT, if you do things right, don't cut corners, use quality tools from quality brands and just pay attention to getting the details right, pool ownership is MUCH easier, more enjoyable and LESS expensive.
And on that note, this is one of those processes where just ONE mis-step can derail everything else you do. So, don't waste your time and end up with a poor result.

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(it'll only take about 10 minutes), get every step right, and, in about 24 to 48 hours, you'll likely be back to throwing your kids into the pool like little rag dolls (who are you kidding - you KNOW you do that :)
Cloudy pool water is a common problem that many pool owners face. Not only is it unattractive, but it can also pose health risks to swimmers. When trying to clear cloudy water, many pool owners make costly mistakes that can actually make the problem worse, wasting time, money and effort in the process. In this post, we'll cover the five biggest mistakes and explain the right way to clear your cloudy pool.

Mistake #1: Improperly Testing the Water

The Experts: Not always as smart as they think they are
BEFORE attempting to clear cloudy water, it's crucial to test the pool's chemistry and balance it properly. Don't just throw in some clarifier and shock because the "expert" teenager at the pool store counter said "use these".
Failing to properly test the water can lead to using the wrong treatments and/or an ineffective "shock process", leading to further water imbalances and persistent cloudiness. Such mis-steps can cause immense frustration and end up costing hundreds of dollars.
For instance, if you pH is out of balance, any chlorine in the pool (or added to the pool) will be much less effective. If you shock the pool without addressing the pH issue first, not only will you be wasting money, but the shock treatment might not work, and you won't know why. Take a little extra time to "sharpen your axe" and cutting down the tree will be MUCH easier and considerably faster.
Use a reliable test kit or high quality water test strip to check (at least) the pH, chlorine, and alkalinity levels before you do anything else. We, at Pool HQ, highly recommend a reliable pool test kit such as the Taylor brand in order to achieve precise and accurate results. Test strips are quick and convenient and some are fairly accurate, but, you're far more likely to get an errant result with test strips than with proper use of a reliable test KIT.
If you DO decide to go with test strips, lean toward the Aquachek brand strips, which seem to be the most consistently reliable option on the market, and they've been selling in the pool space for quite a long time.
Just our 2 cents. Take that for what it's worth.
Once you KNOW where your water is imbalanced, make the proper adjustments. THEN, and only then, should you move forward with the rest of the process to clear your cloudy pool water.

Mistake #2: Not Thoroughly Brushing & Vacuuming

Ever Felt Like That? Like the dentist is, literally, sitting in your mouth and wanting to have a conversation.
Many pool owners skip the brushing step entirely, which can significantly prolong the clearing process or derail it altogether. Use a quality pool brush to scrub the entire pool surface (floor, walls, steps, corners, etc.) both before AND after shocking the water. It also helps to vacuum the bottom of the pool thoroughly after the brushing, to clear out as much debris as possible prior to shocking the pool (which will preserve chlorine, making the shock process more effective).
Thoroughly brushing and vacuuming the pool walls and floor before and after a shock treatment significantly improves and speeds the process in multiple ways. Just as importantly, though, don't underestimate just how much easier and more effective that brushing and vacuuming process can be with a good quality combination of vacuum head, brush and pole.

Weak Brushes = Weak Cleaning & Wasted Energy

Alot of brushes on the market have weak bristles, don't get into corners well, lose their bristles quickly and are often quite small, requiring far more effort to cover the same area. Consider how much faster and more efficient the brushing process would be with better scrubbing, stiffer, more durable bristles, corner bristles, a wide profile for covering more ground, etc. And, if you've got a rough surface pool, flimsy bristles can't effectively get into the little nooks, meaning you necessarily are leaving behind algae and debris that will simply result in cloudy pool water all over again.
Similarly, if you can't properly get into corners and tight spaces, you'll be leaving behind debris that will likely re-initiate the cloudy water problem down the road. It becomes a real waste of time and effort.

Light-Weight, Weak Suction Vacuum Heads Are Useless

Once you've dislodged all of this debris with your brush, why would you want to waste time with a crappy pool vacuum head trying to get it off the pool bottom? A durable, heavily weighted vacuum head (with a durable, high quality pivoting neck) will keep the vacuum head on the floor of the pool, at least giving it a chance of picking up debris.
Equally important is just how much suction you get from your vacuum head. Now, don't ignore the fact that a clogged skimmer basket and/or a pool filter that is too dirty will drastically affect suction from your vacuum head. So, pay close attention to Mistake #5, since it will not only affect a later step in this process, it will also prolong the vacuuming step.
But, assuming that your basket is clear and your filter is passing water effectively, you're left with the suction strength of the vacuum head as the limiting factor in how fast you can vacuum the pool floor. Don't skimp here. Interestingly enough, although there are whispers that ProTuff may soon release one with their characteristic unlimited free replacement, lifetime warranty, the best reviewed pool vacuum head currently available on Amazon is from a brand you may never have heard of. The FibroPool model is well weighted, pretty well constructed and gets pretty high marks from users. Check it out on Amazon

Light, Wimpy, Twist Lock Poles Waste Time & Energy

Interestingly, many pool owners also under-estimate how critical a proper pole is to the brushing process. Weak poles bend and flex alot, making it difficult to apply proper pressure to the brush for a good scrub (especially at full extension). Those same poles tend to have twist cam locks for telescoping length adjustment, but these locks often don't hold very well. So, again, attempting to put much pressure on your brush can be difficult without collapsing the pole.
As a result, it simply takes many times longer to scrub the pool, and you often STILL don't end up getting it all. A better option is a stiffer pole with a no stick, no slip locking mechanism, of which there are a few decent options (Skimlite and ProTuff are a couple good brands to consider).
Lastly, most poles are very light-weight. For some cleaning tasks (like surface skimming), maybe that could be useful, but not for brushing and vacuuming. Typically, a heavier duty pole with a bit of weight behind it actually makes that process much easier, requiring less downward force to be applied by you, the user (especially if you own a non-weighted vacuum head). Moreover, if you learn proper pole technique, that weight often proves not to be a problem, even for skimming, so don't be afraid of a little weight.
I mentioned there were a few ways in which proper brushing gives you the best chance of success in clearing cloudy pool water:
1) Brushing helps dislodge dirt, debris and algae from pool surfaces, making it quicker and easier for the vacuum and filter to remove them.
2) By dislodging surface debris, you allow your shock treatment access to the underlying surface, providing for more effective sanitizing and cleansing of the actual pool surfaces and making it significantly less likely that you encounter the same cloudy pool water problem again in the near future.
3) Proper "post-water-treatment" brushing creates a significant amount of agitation of the water, dispersing your shock treatment and clarifier even more effectively throughout the pool.
I know it probably seems like overkill to spend so much time talking about brushing and vacuuming in an article focused on a cloudy pool, but, realistically, skipping this step, or even simply doing it poorly will almost certainly make it far more difficult, if not impossible to actually achieve the crystal clear water you're seeking.
Again, if you're thinking about upgrading your brush and or pole, Skimlite is a great US company that makes a good quality pole, primarily for pool pros, but, you can buy one on Amazon as well. If you're looking for the version that has the positive locking system (that can't accidentally collapse), then you want the $179 - 6317 Skimlite model: Skimlite 6317 pool pole on Amazon. It's not cheap, but, Skimlite makes a quality pole (otherwise, pool pros wouldn't be using them).They also offer a decent quality nylon bristle brush that can be found on Amazon. It doesn't look like they offer any sort of warranty, though.
ProTuff Products is another interesting alternative in this category. They too offer a positive locking telescoping pool pole (roughly $200 with lifetime warranty) as well as a high quality nylon bristle pool brush head (about $50 with the same lifetime free replacement warranty) that offers size adjustment as well as highly effective (but removable) corner bristles (as well as other pool tools like nets and skimmers). The biggest difference between ProTuff and Skimlite is the warranty. ProTuff offers a full, unconditional, unlimited free replacement or refund, lifetime warranty on all of their pool tools. And, if you read their Amazon reviews, it becomes quite obvious that they really stand behind that warranty and make it super easy to get replacements. So, even though they are even more expensive than the Skimlite tools, it's, literally, a one time purchase.
ProTuff's pole is relatively heavy, but it's also super-strong and very stable at full extension. So, there's a trade-off there. Of course, as we said, for brushing and vacuuming, that weight really comes in handy, and proper technique makes it much less of an issue for surface skimming than you might think.
Another nice little bonus of both poles is that they both offer a "threaded adapter" which allows you to use the pole for other purposes besides pool cleaning (giving you a much better ROI). You can attach window squeegees, brush heads, paint rollers, and all manner of other tools with this adapter. ProTuff's is stainless steel, so that's a plus, but Skimlite's plastic option might work well also - just not as heavy duty. In the end, you'd probably be very happy with either option.
There are other brands you might consider, but, it doesn't seem that any of the other likely options offer BOTH a high quality, positive locking pole and a durable brush (or anything approaching the warranty that ProTuff offers).

Mistake #3: Shocking the Pool Incorrectly