My Water is Cloudy and Foamy
Taking care of a Hot Tub is generally very easy and requires minimal effort if you can maintain a regular routine. Over the years taking care of my own hot tub and helped customers take care of theirs. I have found the items on this list are keys to succeeding in keeping your water clear and trouble-free. Most of the common hot tub water clarity problems can be avoided just by taking a few extra steps and avoiding unwanted Cloudy, Foamy water.
Steps To Success
- Use a pre-filter when filling the hot tub.
- Testing and adjusting your hot tub water chemistry weekly.
- Emptying and refilling your hot tub every four months or as the manufacturer recommends.
- Shower before using your hot tub to rinse off excess hygiene, hair, and makeup products.
- Consider a hot tub-only swimsuit.
- Rinsing your filters when they look dirty.
- Soaking your filter in a solution every four months.
- Perform an annual plumbing purge.
Even if it seems you are doing everything right and have followed my clear water tips, sometimes your water gets foaming or cloudy. I have assembled a list of common and uncommon reasons why this might happen to your water. We will look at the cause, prevention, and solution of each item I have listed here.
Lotions, soaps, and hair products are the number one reason your water will turn milky or foam up almost rather quickly. Hot tubs and personal products we use daily do not mix well with hot tubs. Your best practice is to shower before entering your hot tub. Use a hot tub-only swimsuit that you may not wash as often and run a second rinse cycle on. Chlorine and other sanitizer do not break these products down. They need help with another product. If you are experiencing this issue, many people will tell you to use a product called foam down. However, this is just a band-aid and only makes the foam go away for 10 or 15 minutes. Overuse of foam down itself can cause cloudy water. Treatment with products that contain monopersulfate or enzymes designed for this problem work best.
Water chemistry. This is the best prevention. As mentioned above, test your water weekly and adjust as needed. Testing weekly can prevent many of the problems on this list. F.Y.I. using clarifiers and defoamers is not the answer. The problem is still there. All you did was sweep it under the rug! When purchasing chemicals for your hot tub, be sure they are made for hot tubs. Some pool chemicals like tablet chlorine can have Cyanuric acid (CYA) in them and can cause problems with your hot tub.
Low sanitizer levels can be challenging, especially if something on this list is causing you a problem. If you cannot keep a chlorine or bromine level, check the items on my list, and fix it. Remember that hot tubs using an ozone or mineral system don’t always need to show a sanitizer level as they are meant to assist your sanitizer. Ideally, once the sanitizer has been used, these assistants will kill any new bacteria.
Total Alkalinity is often overlooked when testing water, as most of us concentrate on pH and chlorine. If left unchecked, this can lead to cloudy water from calcium scaling and affect your pH range, making sanitizers like chlorine less effective. It can also have long-term effects on your equipment. High Alkalinity can be caused by too much pH increase, sweat, body lotions, and other products we apply to ourselves. When you test your water, be sure to check this level. The ideal range is from 80-120ppm (parts per million). If it gets too high, your best solution is to partially or entirely drain your hot tub. You could also use the standard solution for a pool by adding a dry or liquid acid. I don’t like this as it requires more caution. You can read more about Alkalinity in my article.
Why Alkalinity is So Important
Calcium Hardness measures how hard or soft your hot tub water is and the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium. Water hardness is area-specific, depending on how your water is treated before entering your home. High calcium hardness is an oversaturation of dissolved particles, including calcium. The recommended level is between 150-250 ppm. Over time your hot tub water will become cloudy from too many particles; this will also cause the water to scale in and around your equipment. High Calcium hardness is caused either by chemicals that have calcium in them, like certain types of chlorine, or by water evaporation. Use a pre-filter if your water hardness is high out of the tap. Raising low calcium hardness can be done with an increase. Both products should be available at your local hot tub store. The best way to prevent this is in the beginning when you fill your hot tub. Test your water or take it to your local store if you can not do it yourself. If you have water hardness issues, read the label of the products you buy and look for calcium in the ingredients. Avoid excessive evaporation by closing your cover when the hot tub is not in use.
Ozone and Uv systems. Suppose you have a hot tub equipped with an ozone or Uv system check that it is operating correctly. Uv bulbs are good for about a year, and ozone can go after 3-5 years, depending on how often the hot tub turns it on. If these devices are not working correctly, your water treatment routine is insufficient, and you probably have a low sanitizer level leading to poor water conditions. If you are not sure, your device is working properly consult your local dealer.
Inadequate filtration can also cause cloudy water. If you have a good maintenance routine, this should not be a problem unless your hot tub is under-filtered. Not all hot tubs are created equal. Many top brands equip their hot tub with either larger or multiple filters to maximize filtration. Some manufacturers put less effort into filtration, and you have to clean, soak and replace your filter more often. Filters can build up a lot of unseen particles from the water, reducing water flow. Less flow will lead to dirty, cloudy water. Filter inspection and cleaning should be part of your regular routine. The schedule of rinsing, soaking, and replacing all depends on how much you use your hot tub and the manufactures filtration system. The more you use it, the more maintenance the filter/filters will need. A good practice is to inspect the filter/filters once a week. If it looks dirty, rinse them. I recommend soaking your filter/filters every four months when you change your water. When the filter/filters look frayed or worn out, it is time to replace it.
Filter Cycling is more manufacturer and model-specific. Most hot tubs on the market will have settings to adjust how often and how long you run your main pump at a low speed to pull water through the filter. A lot of the premium brands have a dedicated pump for this job. The more water you run through the filter, the cleaner the water. If your water has gotten cloudy, it is possible your filter cycle is too short or does not come on often enough. Check your manual for recommendations on how to set this. If your hot tub with a 24-circulation pump like Hotsprings spas, then this does not apply.
A High TDS in a hot tub is not very common for the average user. However, heavy users that use a lot of chemicals and personal products will have this problem. TDS is the total of all dissolved solid matter, such as minerals, metals, salts, chemicals, and contaminants, including lotions, cosmetics, etc. Anything you put in your hot tub dissolves into the water and adds to the TDS level. Tap water also contains TDS, so over time, the level can get too high as you use the hot tub. An ideal TDS level is less than 1,500 ppm. Signs of High TDS
- Difficulty maintaining water balance
- Salty tasting water
- Colored or cloudy water
- Corrosion of metal parts (above 4000 ppm)
- Algae growth despite a good sanitizer level
- Faulty test readings
- Eye and skin irritation.
Phosphates are one of the most common elements on earth and are essential to organic life. Phosphates can be found in our food, water, and inside our bodies. When you fill your hot tub, you introduce these phosphates into the hot tub. Leaving the cover off any rainwater will also add to your level. As talked about before personal body products also have phosphates and even the chemicals we put in our hot tubs can contain small amounts of them. If you have a high phosphate level in your tap water, you are already facing problems. If not corrected the phosphates will eat up the chlorine in your hot tub. This can be a big problem with automatic systems like the Frog @ease and Salt systems. You will find that no matter how hard you try you cannot maintain a chlorine level and your water will start to look green or cloudy. You can test for phosphates at home or bring a sample to your local store. The range should fall between 400-500 ppm. Since you can not control your water source and have to put chemicals in your hot tub, a phosphate reducer should solve this problem. By now after reading this article, you are probably taking showers before using your hot tub. That will also reduce the phosphates that you are bringing into the water.
Biofilm is another on this list that is preventable with good maintenance. Biofilm is a buildup of bacteria inside your hot tub plumbing that comes from mold, algae, fungus, airborne contaminants, or many other things in this list you brought into the water with you. Biofilm in hot tub plumbing starts with a slimy outer layer that it uses to protect itself. It can become resistant to sanitizers and grow to the point that the water is cloudy, foamy, and even smelly. If this occurs, you are at a severe health risk, and the hot tub should be decontaminated immediately. Biofilm in your water can cause skin rash and if swallowed a bacterial infection. Adding more chlorine or bromine will not help and will only cause your alkalinity to lower making the water more acidic. There are several hot tub purge products on the market formulated to remove biofilm from your hot tub. The best prevention is to use a hot tub purge product once or twice a year to keep your plumbing lines healthy.
I hope you have found this helpful and put you on a path to clear and trouble-free water.