How to Get Rid of Foam in a Swimming Pool

Updated on May 29, 2018
Barack James profile image

Barack is a chemical engineer with a knack for pool chemistry. He has been in the pool maintenance industry for 8 years.

What Are the Causes of Foam, or White Bubbles, in a Pool?

White foam or bubbles can make a swimming pool look like a bigger version of a bathtub, which can be so embarrassing for a public or private pool. There are a few measures that one can take to prevent the formation of foam inside and around a pool.

Once you know the causes of white bubbles, it will be easier to take prior measures to avoid any chance of having foam in your pool or spa.

For better understanding of how to deal with white foam, this article is divided into two parts:

Firstly, we are going to discuss the causes of foam inside a swimming pool, so that we can know how we can curb occurrence of foam in the future.

Secondly, we are going to cover steps you can take as an individual to clear an already foam-affected swimming pool or spa. Let's go!

1. Body Lotion, Oil, Shampoo, Soap, Deodorant, Laundry Detergent, Hair Spray, Makeups

Now you know: Things that we use on a daily basis to maintain beauty and cleanliness are the major cause of white foam in pools.

Whether a public or home pool, it is always advisable to encourage swimmers to take a light shower before entering the pool. In this way, all these cosmetics may be removed to avoid formation of white bubbles or foam inside or around the pool. Remember, prevention is better than cure!

2. Low Calcium Levels

Yes! Low calcium levels is the next common cause of foaming inside a pool or spa. Low calcium causes extra softness in water, which contributes to foaming when heavy swimming occurs, and worst of all, scaling in plaster pools and on metallic components of the pool.

The only way to avoid foaming as a result of low calcium levels is to maintain your pool's calcium hardness between 100 - 400 ppm.

You need to be extra careful when raising the levels of calcium hardness, however, since the only way to reduce it is to dilute the pool water, which can be very tedious.

3. Poor Water Balance

Overall, pool water balance plays a very important role in pool maintenance. When chemicals are not properly balanced, a number of pool problems arise, including foaming, cloudy water and algae.

Also, too many chemicals inside a pool with lots of phosphate might be a contributing factor to the foaming, and you have to know which chemical you are adding and what it is going to do the pool.

You need to use high-quality chemicals since poor-quality chemicals have been associated with foaming and other pool problems.

Ensure that all chemicals, especially chlorine, the pH level, alkalinity, and calcium hardness, are balanced at all times, since their concentration in water highly affects other chemicals. You need an accurate pool testing kit, like LaMotte ColorQ Pro 11, which is a digital testing kit and very easy to use.

4. High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

TDS are foreign solids that are dissolved in a pool water like soil, oil and other dirt. There is a special device used to measure the level of TDS accumulated in pool water over a given time, too high TDS is not only a possible cause of foaming in pools but also very dangerous health-wise and should be taken seriously to ensure that it does not get too high in a pool.

5. Algaecide

Algaecide is one of the most common pool chemicals in use. Using low-grade algaecide, like 10% polymers, is known to be among the major contributing factors to foaming in pools.

Now that you know, avoid low-grade algaecide and other pool chemicals, since they are very problematic in the long run.

6. Aeration in Biguanide Pools

Don't get me wrong here, biguanide itself does not cause foaming. But using aeration equipment like air jets on biguanide-treated pools has a foaming effect.

This foaming should settle and disappear by itself after a long while, however, and shouldn't bother you much.

Here are some tips on how to get rid of the foam already present in your pool.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of the foam already present in your pool. | Source

How to Get Rid of Foam in a Swimming Pool

Clearing foam in your pool will depend on the cause. However, below are four simple options that you can perform in order to get rid of foam.

1. Remove the Foam Using a Hand Skimmer

The very first thing you should do is remove the foam using a hand skimmer. This task alone can make a big difference to your pool.

You will definitely not remove all the bubbles using a skimmer, since some will pass through the skimmers, but that should not worry you yet.

If all the chemicals are properly balanced in the pool, leave your pool pump running, and the small foam that remains will eventually clear up, especially when the cause is the use of algaecide.

Next time though, try and use non-foaming algaecide like Polyquat 60 or In the Swim Pool Algaecide 60 Plus.

Finally, try as much as possible to avoid copper-based and 10% polymers algaecides, since they cause metal stains and foaming respectively.

2. Balance Your Pool Water Chemistry

The next step you should take is to make sure that all the chemicals in your water are well balanced.

Begin by taking measurements for the pH (7.4 - 7.6), TA (100 - 150), calcium hardness (150-400 ppm), and total chlorine (3 ppm).

Then adjust all of them separately in that order, as required for a standard pool. Leave your pool pump running for at least 24 hours, and this should get rid of all the foam.

3. Shock Your Pool Using Chlorine

Shocking the pool is another option you can try when all the chemicals are well balanced but foam is still available.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to shock a swimming pool.

After shocking, leave the pool to settle while the pump is running and see if this will get rid of the white bubbles.

4. Add Anti-Foam Chemicals

If all the above three options fail to do away with the foam, it is time to use an anti-foam reagent.

I recommend Pool & Spa Anti Foam Defoamer Concentrate, which is the best anti-foaming reagent I have ever used. This anti-foaming chemical is concentrated and will get rid of foam before your eyes and does not affect other chemicals in a pool, which is a major consideration before adding any chemical to your pool.

Happy swimming!

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