How Long Does It Take for Pool Clarifier to Work?

How Long Does It Take for Pool Clarifier to Work

Usually after a storm or a pool party, you may notice that your pool water has turned cloudy. What’s happening is that a lot of contaminants and debris are now floating in your pool, and the pool chemicals are not able to clear it all up.

One way to clear the cloudy water is to shock your pool, but shocking the pool takes time. But if you wanted to use the pool much sooner than that, then you may opt to use a pool clarifier instead.

Pool clarifiers can clear up cloudy pools by attaching to the small particles floating in your pool and forming clumps. These larger clumps make it easier on your pool filter to remove them from circulation.

Most residential pools have a 12 hour turnover under normal circumstances (the time it takes for the entire pool to get filtered once). However, as the filter gets clogged up by the clumps formed by the clarifier, it will start to lose efficiency. You need to occasionally backwash the filter once the pressure rises by 10 psi.

Overall, it can take 24-48 hours for the clarifier and filter to clear up the pool, but you can technically swim in it after 20 minutes to an hour, though it’s not recommended.

The timeframe given above is assuming you have done everything correctly. How effective it is depends on how large your pool is, how much product you’ve added, how efficient your filter is, and whether you’ve prepared the pool properly. Keep reading on to learn how to use the pool clarifier correctly for the fastest results.

Why does it take so long for the clarifier to work?

As mentioned, there are many variables that affect the speed at which the pool clarifier works at. If you have a larger pool, it could take longer compared to a smaller pool.

The brand of clarifier you use and how much product you add can also take different times to work (read the instructions carefully so as not to add too little or too much of the clarifier).

The turnover speed for your pool, how often the filter gets clogged, and how fast (or slow) you unclog the filter can affect the pace.

How dirty your pool was to start and whether you’ve done any cleanup or water balancing prior to adding the clarifier plays a huge factor in the rate at which the clarifier works.

How to use pool clarifier

You should always follow the instructions for your specific clarifier to get the best results. However, generally speaking, the preparatory steps for most clarifiers are as follows:

Remove as much debris as you can

Especially after a storm, there may be leaves, branches, and other such debris floating along the surface.

While a pool clarifier can get rid of many things, it won’t have much of an effect on large objects. Plus, these things can clog up the filter which is crucial for clearing up the pool.

So our first priority is to use a net and scoop up all of the large debris in the pool so that the clarifier won’t be wasted trying to coagulate with them.

Check the pool’s pH level

Most clarifiers are only effective if the pool’s pH levels are within the standard range of 7.4-7.6. You may need to add some soda ash to bring its pH up (rainwater is typically acidic and can lower the pH).

Generally speaking, keeping the pH at this range is ideal not just for the clarifier but all the other pool chemicals as well, especially chlorine.

Determine your pool volume

You need to know how much water is in your pool to know how much clarifier to add. It should be obvious that the larger your pool, the more of the clarifier product is needed to clear it up.

Add the clarifier

Once you’ve done all of the preceding steps, it’s finally time to add the clarifier. How much to add may differ depending on the brand of clarifier you are using, so read the instructions carefully.

Just to give you an idea, the amount of clarifier can range from 4-32 oz per 1,000 gallons of water. So I cannot give you an exact amount and you need to follow the instructions on the label to get the best results.

Be careful not to add too much clarifier to your pool. Excess amounts of clarifier can form extremely large clumps that will easily clog your filter, or sink to the bottom where you need to manually remove it. It just slows down the entire process and it is wasteful as well.

Keep the pump running to clear things up

As explained above, the clarifier is not actually clearing anything up; it’s the filter that removes the particles from circulation. The clarifier just makes it easier for the filter to do so.

Therefore, it is crucial that you keep your pool pump running during this process. Most pools have a 12-hour turnover, which means that the entire pool has been filtered within that time.

I advise you to at least run your filter for 12-hours a day while you’re trying to clear it up for best results.

Remember that the filter can clog up due to the clumps getting caught in it, so backwash the filter as soon as you notice the pressure has increased by 10 psi.

Can you swim after adding clarifier?

Yes, you can swim after adding clarifier if you wait at least 20 minutes to an hour.

However, I recommend you not do that because the pool could still be cloudy which affects your visibility.

Furthermore, you may be introducing even more bacteria into the pool and prolonging how long it takes the clarifier to clear up the pool.

Why is my pool more cloudy after adding clarifier?

It can seem like you’ve messed something up after adding clarifier because it will temporarily make your pool more cloudy.

In the short term, that is not an issue and will go away on its own. It just means the clarifier is attaching to the particles and coagulating, giving the appearance that the situation has worsened.

As these clumps get removed from circulation by the filter, the pool will gradually clear up until the visibility improves.

If the situation has not improved after several hours, then there is something wrong with the pool pump and filter. Remember to keep the pump running during this whole process and to backwash the filter occasionally.

Photo credit: Michael Yon (CC BY-NC 2.0)