If you’ve been looking forward to a soothing soak after a long day at work, there’s nothing quite as disappointing as discovering cloudy hot tub water upon lifting your cover.
This isn’t an uncommon problem and is likely one every hot tub owner will experience at one time or another during their ownership.
Luckily, this may not be as concerning as you might initially believe, and with the right steps, you’ll be well on your way to identifying the issue and clearing up your water!
And we’re going to tell you how to do exactly that!
Read on to discover how to clear up this unsightly issue, and banish cloudy hot tub water for good!
What Causes Cloudy Hot Tub Water?
Cloudy hot tub water can be the result of a number of things, and it’ll take some troubleshooting to discover the root cause before you can work towards clearing it up.
Ultimately, this is most often caused by one or more of the following issues.
Poorly Balanced Water
One of the most common reasons your hot tub water may be suddenly murky is the pH and alkalinity are too high.
This can do far more than just make your water cloudy, however. It can actually result in damage to your hot tub shell and the elements in your system!
Hot tub water that’s too acidic can begin corroding your spa, eating away at your shell, heating element, and jets. This occurs when the pH levels in your water drop below 7.2.
On the other hand, if your pH has risen above 7.8, your water becomes too basic, and can end up depositing hard scale on your shell and throughout your system.
If you’ve discovered cloudy water, this should be your very first consideration.
Not Enough Sanitizer
Another common cause of cloudy hot tub water is a low sanitizer level.
Your sanitizer works to break down the bacteria in your water, and is used up over time.
Each sanitizer will have its own unique lifespan, with chlorine levels dropping more quickly than bromine.
When your sanitizer levels drop below their recommended threshold, your water can quickly develop higher amounts of bacteria, resulting in cloudy water.
An Overload of Organic Matter
Unlike the normal bacteria your water will develop, organic matter is unable to be treated with your sanitizer alone, and can quickly build up in the water.
Organic matter accounts for things like:
- Dead skin cells
- Body lotion
- Hair product
Each time you use your hot tub, you’re leaving organic matter behind, and if this isn’t effectively combated, your hot tub water may suddenly become cloudy or covered with foam.
Your hot tub filters play an important role in the health of your water, filtering out various debris that ends up circulating through your system.
Over time, this can result in a layer of dirt and grime building up on them, which reduces their ability to clean your water.
This can result in a host of issues, including:
- Cloudy water
- Poor water pressure
- A drop in water temperature
- Poor water quality
- Rising energy bills
If left unchecked, clogged filters can even completely stop the circulation of your water!
The last reason your hot tub water has developed a cloudy appearance is because of how old it is.
While your treatment products work to maintain the quality of your water, they also increase the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) in your water.
This can eventually lead to cloudy water that’s difficult to treat, and can begin causing corrosion to your system even if your pH and alkalinity are balanced.
Furthermore, a high TDS can also result in skin and eye irritation!
5 Ways to Clear Up Cloudy Hot Tub Water
Now that we’ve covered the most common causes of cloudy hot tub water, it’s time to learn how to diagnose and fix these problems!
1. Test and Rebalance Your Water
The first step you’ll want to take is to test the alkalinity, pH, and sanitizer levels in your hot tub.
Your alkaline levels should be between 80 and 120 ppm (parts-per-million), while the pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8.
To treat your alkalinity and pH, you’ll need three basic products:
- Alkalinity increaser
- pH up
- pH down
As you adjust your alkaline levels, your pH will also be affected, so it’s crucial to balance your alkalinity first.
To bring your alkalinity levels into their expected range, you can use your alkalinity increaser or your pH decreaser.
Alkaline levels that are higher than 120 ppm don’t happen often, and while there is no “alkalinity decreaser,” you can use a pH decreaser to bring the levels down if you ever find yourself in this situation.
After balancing your alkalinity, you can use your pH up and pH down to bring your pH levels back into a safe range.
When it comes to your sanitizer levels, the range you’re looking for will change depending on what type of sanitizer you’re using.
Chlorine is by far the most popular option and has an ideal level of three ppm. If you’ve chosen to use this sanitizer, it’s important to remember that it acts fast, which means its levels diminish quickly.
This may mean you’ll need to add sanitizer more frequently to effectively combat bacteria growth in your spa.
Bromine is the second most popular, and takes longer to work, maintaining its levels in your water for longer periods of time. If you’re using bromine, your levels should be kept between three and five ppm.
2. Add a Shock Treatment
If you followed the above steps and your water still seems off, you may need to add a shock treatment.
Shocking your hot tub is a crucial element of your water care, and works to support the effectiveness of your sanitizer.
“Shock” is essentially a super dose of sanitizer, quickly combating any stubborn bacteria that may be lingering in your water.
Shock comes in a few different styles, but an oxidizing shock treatment is easily one of the best options.
While your sanitizer is unable to break down the oils found in organic matter, an oxidizer can.
By selecting an oxidizing shock, you can support your regular sanitizer by breaking down any contamination in your water that it’s unable to, ensuring your water is receiving the best care.
Ideally, you should be shocking your hot tub once a week to maintain a clean, safe environment for yourself and your guests.
3. Clean Your Filters
Cleaning your filters should be done at regular intervals and varying intensities throughout the year, following the following schedule:
- A weekly rinse
- A monthly chemical bath
- A quarterly chemical soak
If you haven’t cleaned them recently, there’s a good chance they’re the culprit of your cloudy water.
This can easily be diagnosed by removing your filters from your hot tub and inspecting them. If they look dirty, use your hose to rinse them off.
However, if they look like they’re covered in an excessive amount of gunk, you may want to consider giving them a deeper clean, either by giving them a chemical bath or soaking them in filter cleaner overnight.
To give them a chemical bath, spray them with filter cleaner and set them aside to soak for fifteen minutes.
Alternatively, if you have a powered filter cleaner, dilute the recommended amount in water and submerge your filters for fifteen minutes before rinsing them off.
If they still seem dirty afterward, you may want to consider leaving them to soak in the filter cleaner mixture overnight. This will allow it to deeply penetrate the material of the pleats and lift stubborn debris.
Finally, if your filters still appear dirty after you’ve soaked them, we recommend replacing them with fresh ones.
*Remember that you should never use your hot tub without filters in place. This can lead to damage to your hot tub and systems!
4. Use Clarifier
If you need to clear your water up quickly, you can use a clarifier to temporarily return your spa to its sparkling state.
Clarifier does not treat the underlying cause of your cloudy water, and will inevitably result in the return of the unsightly appearance.
However, it’s a great tool to use if you’re short on time and are unable to work through the steps needed to troubleshoot your spa and clear up your water.
With that said, we wouldn’t recommend using it frequently or back to back. Since it’s not rectifying the root cause, your hot tub is still susceptible to the damage your dirty water may be causing.
5. Drain Your Spa
If you’ve tried everything else on this list and are still battling your cloudy water, it’s time to drain your spa and start fresh.
Oftentimes, if you’ve gotten to this point, it’s likely your TDS is too high, and changing your water is the only option.
After draining your spa, give your shell a thorough clean to get rid of any lingering contaminants to avoid them reentering your hot tub once you refill it.
Once you’ve finished cleaning it, thoroughly rinse your shell, allowing the dirty water to drain out of your spa.
Once you’re confident your spa is clean, you can start refilling it with your garden hose.
If you want to maximize the cleanliness of your water, you can use a hose filter attachment to pre-filter the water before it even enters your spa.
After it reaches the fill line or is two to three inches above the skimmer, you can turn off your hose, test your water, and treat it with your water treatment products to rebalance it.
Tips to Keep Your Hot Tub Water Clean
Avoiding cloudy water is likely at the top of your list, and there are a number of proactive strategies you can use to reduce the risk of this unappealing sight.
Include a “Pre-Soak” Shower
There’s a good reason public pools have you rinse off before jumping in the water. It’s a great way to reduce the amount of contaminants you bring into the water.
This can do the same for your hot tub.
By rinsing off any body lotion, sweat, and deodorant on your body, and giving your shower a chance to wash away any lingering detergent on your swimsuit, you’ll be able to minimize the organic matter that ends up in your water during your soak.
Keep Your Hair Up
Let’s be honest, washing your hair every time before you jump into your hot tub simply isn’t realistic.
Using hats or hair ties, you can keep any products that are in your hair from being released into the water as you soak.
To encourage your guests to do the same, you can keep a basket of hats and hair ties near the spa for easy access each time anyone comes to enjoy your toasty spa.
Wash Off All Cosmetics Before Using Your Spa
While your makeup undoubtedly looks beautiful, it can wreak havoc on your hot tub water.
The oils in cosmetics will melt off into the water, and, if not removed, can quickly result in foamy or cloudy water.
To keep it from getting into the water, give your face a thorough wash before stepping into your spa.
For guests, set aside some face wipes for them to use!
Use Tennis Balls or Spa Sponges
Speaking of oils, tennis balls or spa sponges are a great way to reabsorb some of these contaminants, removing them from your spa before they can cause too much damage.
After you’re done soaking, simply throw a couple of tennis balls or some spa sponges into the water. As they slowly drift along the surface, they’ll absorb any oil they come in contact with.
Stick to a Maintenance Schedule
And of course, the best way to support your water and avoid the dreaded murky depths is by sticking to a well-rounded hot tub maintenance routine!
By caring for your hot tub day to day, you can easily avoid cloudy water from interrupting your relaxation plans!
Effortlessly Clear up Cloudy Hot Tub Water at Sundance Spas of New Hampshire
At Sundance Spas of New Hampshire, our team is here to make spa ownership effortless.
Whether it’s through providing expert guidance when trouble arises or stepping in to diagnose and repair your spa, our team is here to help.
Contact us or visit our showroom today to find everything you need to keep your water crystal clear!