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Got A Pool Foam Problem? Here’s How To Get Rid Of It

Pool foam is yet another addition to the ever-growing list of potential problems you can face as a pool owner.

The good news is, a foamy pool is one of the easier issues to deal with, so let’s talk about what it is, why it happens, and how to get rid of it.

What Is Pool Foam?

Pool foam, or froth, is a collection of bubbles that settle on the surface of your swimming pool when the water is too “thick”.

When pool water is thick, it means there are excess chemicals in it. This, coupled with strong winds or air from the filtration system—such as your pool pump, return lines and return jets—causes bubbles to form, eventually creating a foamy substance.

This can result in your pool looking like an oversized bubble bath, and while it’s still safe to swim in, it’s certainly not indicative of a healthy, well-balanced pool.

How To Get Rid Of Pool Foam (Emergency Fix)

A number of different factors can lead to a foamy pool, and the best way to tackle a problem like this is always to identify and address the root cause.

With that being said, if time is of the essence and you need a quick, easy solution to tide you over, you’re in luck!

Enter, the defoamer. (No, it’s not a bad Hollywood movie)

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This little beauty is an anti-foam chemical that simply pours directly into your skimmer or filter intake, and it breaks down the foam in your pool within hours. It also prevents new foam forming for as long as you continue to add it.

The best part is, it’s a simple water-based formula that doesn’t disturb your pool chemistry or leave any undesirable residue behind. It also works regardless of your water temperature.

If you need a quick and easy (albeit temporary) fix for pool foam, this is the way to go about it.

How To Get Rid Of Pool Foam (Permanent Fix)

If you want a long-term fix to pool foam that doesn’t require a lifetime supply of defoamer, you’ll need to tackle the underlying excess chemical issues that lead to thick water.

There are a few different categories here, so let’s through each of them.

Standard Pool Chemicals

Chemical imbalance is always a prime candidate when troubleshooting any issue, particularly those to do with your water.

This could be having too much or too little:

Another common cause stems from the pool opening kits that contain a cocktail of chemicals to help you kickstart your pool season.

While these can offer a convenient way to get your pool up and running, they may also add unnecessary substances to your water—such as clarifier, scale remover and algaecide—which, in excess, can lead to the formation of pool foam.

Note: Algaecide is actually one of the most common causes, especially if using it as a preventative measure. If algaecide has no algae to kill, it will linger in the water until it eventually breaks down by itself.

The solution is to test your water, take the steps required to get everything back in balance, and only ever add the necessary chemicals based on the feedback from your testing kits or test strips.

Everyday Chemicals

Everyday chemicals are those that aren’t supposed to be used in a swimming pool, but still manage to find their way in.

This can happen when people use a pool without properly showering, bringing in various products on their personal body, such as:

  • Hair gels/waxes and hairspray
  • Traces of shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorants and perfumes
  • Makeup
  • Skin creams
  • Body soaps
  • Sunscreen

But it’s not just the chemicals we put on our bodies. If you consider everything that can potentially make contact with your pool water, you have to think bigger.

This means laundry detergents used on clothes, and particularly swimming costumes, as well as household cleaning agents used on things like pool toys, floats, covers (including safety covers), and even vinyl liners.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that some household products can be successfully used in swimming pools for various purposes, such as:

With that being said, using too much of any chemical product in a swimming pool can lead to undesirable conditions, and these are no exception.

The solution is to shock your pool to oxidize combined chlorine (or chloramine), raise free chlorine levels and “reset” the water chemistry in your pool. Also ensure that your pool shower is put to good use before entering the water.

Organic Chemicals

Even without the makeup and endless hair products, the human body produces enough organic material to dislodge your pool chemistry.

At the risk of turning this into a biology lesson, these organic contaminants can include:

  • Sweat
  • Saliva
  • Tears
  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Feces (yes, it happens)

Too much organic material in a pool creates what we call a “high organic load”, which can not only lead to foam but also increases the demand on your sanitizer — so it’s bad news all around.

The solution is the same as the last point; start with a chlorine shock treatment to get your chemistry back into ideal ranges, but also encourage bathers to rinse off before entering the pool to prevent it in future.

Still Got Foam?

If your water chemistry is immaculate and you’re still seeing foam on the water surface, you may have a more serious issue with your pool.

Namely, your pool is drawing in more air into the circulation system than it should be, leading to the formation of bubbles. In other words, a part of your swimming pool is damaged or defective.

This could be anything from a damaged o-ring or seal to a more expensive issue like a faulty pump or filter. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to try the usual cleaning protocol first, such as backwashing or cleaning your filter.

If you’ve tried everything suggested in this article and still can’t get rid of your pool foam problem, it may be time to call in a professional.

No Longer Foamy, Homie!

When it comes to sorting out issues with your swimming pool water, pool foam ranks high as one of the least problematic and easiest to fix.

Simply keep your water balanced and your bather load to manageable levels and you should be able to keep the foam at bay.

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