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Thread: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

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    Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    I am still in the learning phase here, reading through the forums until my head hurts some nights so please forgive me if I'm getting some of my facts mixed up.

    Our first pool. Bought the house the beginning of last summer and continued to maintain the pool as directed by the previous owner, much of which I slowly found out was all wrong. Went in knowing we were going to need to do some renovations but not expecting so much so quick. Last fall we re-tiled which solved the water loss problem we were having. Prior to that we had already been told we wouldn't get more than a couple more years out of the existing original plaster. Now that the new tile looks so nice, we decided not to wait until the plaster really goes and replace sooner than later. Along with refinishing the bottom, we want to add salt and do a few other things to bring the whole pool up to like new standards like refinish the gunite slide and replace fiber optic lights with LED.

    So we've settled on a pebble finish, most likely Pebble-Sheen or possibly Pebble-Tec if the total project cost gets to high and we want to scale back without losing anything.

    I like salt for the ease of maintaining and the water feel. My concerns are two-fold:
    First, I can't recall where but I thought I read that a SWG makes it very difficult to maintain calcium levels which makes sense since salt is the most common type of softener for residential hard water. And that is also confirmed by all the aggregate websites clearly stating not to add salt to the pool for generally 30 days or more after a new finish is completed. So does that mean that finish will also be doomed to not last nearly as long as claimed, or will I be constantly be adding calcium?

    Second, scaling is also mentioned as an issue with salt pools, especially with negative edge pools (I don't have that) and water features (the slide). Is there an easy solution to avoid the scale buildup or will that be a constant battle.

    On a somewhat related side note, is salt becoming less popular, of the 4 PB I have spoken with for the renovation, only one is recommending a SWG. All will put one in "if that's what you want" but three are heavily recommending against.
    One wants to put in a mineral system plus UV (I've pretty much written him off), one advocates a combo of ozone & UV plus a chlorine feeder, the third just recommends just the chlorine feeder.
    At first I thought it might be a profit motive and everyone has their own twist, but total system pricing on all the recommendations all are pretty close and unless profit margins are much lower on SWG (something I doubt from comparing the quotes to equipment only prices online) that reasoning doesn't make much sense.

    The only argument against salt that makes any sense to me is the environmental one and for that reason one of the PB recommended replacing my DE filter with a cartridge type to avoid the need to backwash and pour out so much salt water.
    41x20, 27k Gunite kidney shaped inground, 8 ft deep end w/3ft raised beam, square granite diving rock & 16 ft gunite slide built into hill.
    Pentair Intellipro VS pump, Hayward DE filter, AquaComfort 150k btu heat pump.

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    pabeader's Avatar
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    Re: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    Just a note on the comment about salt in water softener. The salt is never in contact with the water you drink. It is only used to 'clean' the resin bed in the softener tub. It's the resin that does all the work in a softener.

    There is no reason against using a SWG with plaster. The only legitimate thing I've read is that splashout can sometimes cause issues with super soft natural stone around the actual pool itself. But I don't think you have that, so good there.

    UV is only useful if you are indoors. Otherwise the sun does more for you that way than a residential UV unit will ever do.

    The salt level in a pool is 1000s of times less then that in the ocean. No environmental issues there. In fact, many folks use their pools to irrigate their plants if they need to drain and refill for some reason.
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    OK, let's cut through the noise and just hit some points -

    1. Salt water pools operate at ~3400ppm salt. That's about 10X less than the salinity of ocean water. All interior pool surfaces are compatible with salt BUT, yes, you do have to let plaster surfaces (plaster, pebbletec, pebble sheen, etc) cure for 30 days before you add salt. Once plaster surfaces are cured, salt has no affect on them.

    2. Scale is caused by one thing and one thing only - improper water balance which is usually the result of the pool owner not properly testing and maintaining water chemistry. There is calcium hardness in all pools. Once the pH, CH, TA and temperatures get high enough, calcium carbonate will scale out - that is just a fact of chemistry. SWG's do tend to cause pH to rise (but not always) but so does aeration from water feature. The point is, if you maintain your pool water according to TFP recommended levels and you properly balance your CSI (calcite saturation index), your pool will be fine.

    Example - My pool water currently has a CH of 750ppm. That is almost 2X the recommended limit by TFP and yet I have NO SCALE on my tiles and my SWG is spotless every time I take it out and check it. Why is this so?? Because I keep my CSI in balance. If you listen to all the PB's and so called "experts" they'd be telling me I have to drain my pool. Nonsense!

    3. UV and Ozone systems are nothing more than pricey toys that make very little sense from a pool water chemistry perspective. If your pool is an outdoor pool, the sun provides all the UV you need. Ozone can not maintain a residual in pool water, most ozone generators are terribly undersized (i.e., they don't produce enough ozone) AND ozone only affects the water it comes in contact with so delivering it to the surface using standard wall returns is useless.

    Unless you have major stone and masonry work that you don't seal and don't want damaged by salt water, then SWG's are the most effective way for a pool owner to manage their water. Stenner chlorine pumps are a good second place (Stenner owners will now beat me with a wet pool noodle).

    4. Pool water and landscape plants - it depend A LOT on the plants you have around but most plants are unaffected by the salinity found in salt pools. Some grasses and flowering perennials are not salt tolerant. So you can use pool water to irrigate and you just figure out what plants can handle it and what can not. Cartridge filters are good. I love my DE filter and would never get rid of it. I like having the option of just backwashing instead of having to tear apart a filter. To each his own on that front. Some municipalities REQUIRE in-line traps for DE filters to capture backwashed DE, but some do not. Consult your local pool code to figure out if there are any filter restrictions in your area.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    I see you're in Massachusetts.

    You guys get MORE than enough seasonal rainwater to wash away any salt splash out that would occur on stone or masonry work near the pool. Therefore, salt water damage to your hardscape from splash out is a non-starter.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    OK, let's cut through the noise and just hit some points -

    1. Salt water pools operate at ~3400ppm salt. That's about 10X less than the salinity of ocean water. All interior pool surfaces are compatible with salt BUT, yes, you do have to let plaster surfaces (plaster, pebbletec, pebble sheen, etc) cure for 30 days before you add salt. Once plaster surfaces are cured, salt has no affect on them.

    2. Scale is caused by one thing and one thing only - improper water balance which is usually the result of the pool owner not properly testing and maintaining water chemistry. There is calcium hardness in all pools. Once the pH, CH, TA and temperatures get high enough, calcium carbonate will scale out - that is just a fact of chemistry. SWG's do tend to cause pH to rise (but not always) but so does aeration from water feature. The point is, if you maintain your pool water according to TFP recommended levels and you properly balance your CSI (calcite saturation index), your pool will be fine.

    Example - My pool water currently has a CH of 750ppm. That is almost 2X the recommended limit by TFP and yet I have NO SCALE on my tiles and my SWG is spotless every time I take it out and check it. Why is this so?? Because I keep my CSI in balance. If you listen to all the PB's and so called "experts" they'd be telling me I have to drain my pool. Nonsense!

    3. UV and Ozone systems are nothing more than pricey toys that make very little sense from a pool water chemistry perspective. If your pool is an outdoor pool, the sun provides all the UV you need. Ozone can not maintain a residual in pool water, most ozone generators are terribly undersized (i.e., they don't produce enough ozone) AND ozone only affects the water it comes in contact with so delivering it to the surface using standard wall returns is useless.

    Unless you have major stone and masonry work that you don't seal and don't want damaged by salt water, then SWG's are the most effective way for a pool owner to manage their water. Stenner chlorine pumps are a good second place (Stenner owners will now beat me with a wet pool noodle).

    4. Pool water and landscape plants - it depend A LOT on the plants you have around but most plants are unaffected by the salinity found in salt pools. Some grasses and flowering perennials are not salt tolerant. So you can use pool water to irrigate and you just figure out what plants can handle it and what can not. Cartridge filters are good. I love my DE filter and would never get rid of it. I like having the option of just backwashing instead of having to tear apart a filter. To each his own on that front. Some municipalities REQUIRE in-line traps for DE filters to capture backwashed DE, but some do not. Consult your local pool code to figure out if there are any filter restrictions in your area.
    Thanks for all that info. My main concern was that somehow the salt water would damage the pool finish even after it is cured so that is good to know it isn't an issue, I wasn't so worries about the stone or deck materials, especially since after everything else is done, I'm planning on re-sealing the concrete deck myself. Also good to know I won't have to worry about the scale as long as I keep everything else in balance. I was just having visions of my newly refinished slide getting a crusty white coating like a fountain we used to have in a previous home where there was hard water.

    The more I read, the more I see to confirm the only ones having anything good to say about any of the "alternative" sanitizers besides SWG are the sellers and manufacturers. I just don't understand how these products last so long on the market when they are so universally understood to be snake oil. And why PB continue to sell them, it can't help their business in the long run when someone has to replace the system because of all the bad effects and tells everyone they know what junk it is and who pushed it on them.
    41x20, 27k Gunite kidney shaped inground, 8 ft deep end w/3ft raised beam, square granite diving rock & 16 ft gunite slide built into hill.
    Pentair Intellipro VS pump, Hayward DE filter, AquaComfort 150k btu heat pump.

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    Here is an excellent thread on salt and plaster, When Should Salt be Added?.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
    Hayward Aqua Rite T-15 SWCG, Jandy LXi 400k BTU NG heater, 350 sq.ft. of Sun Star solar panels, TF-100 Test Kit, Dolphin s300i Cleaner
    Test Kits . Pool Math . Chlorine/CYA Chart . The SLAM Process

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Is SWG safe for pebble finishes

    Quote Originally Posted by TruckLoan View Post
    The more I read, the more I see to confirm the only ones having anything good to say about any of the "alternative" sanitizers besides SWG are the sellers and manufacturers. I just don't understand how these products last so long on the market when they are so universally understood to be snake oil. And why PB continue to sell them, it can't help their business in the long run when someone has to replace the system because of all the bad effects and tells everyone they know what junk it is and who pushed it on them.
    Snake-Oil - "a product, service, policy, etc. of little real worth or value that is promoted as the solution to a problem, particularly a problem that does not exist."

    The systems are marketed to people in various ways -

    1. They save you money on chemicals
    2. They lower you chemical usage
    3. Chlorine gas was used in WWI to kill soldiers in the trenches
    Etc
    Etc

    Fear and ignorance combine powerfully to make people believe silly things.

    As for market punishment of PBs, unfortunately that theory only works when the supply side of the economic equation is close to saturation. If the supplier base is limited, the collusion and territorialism will create monopolistic pressures on the market to the detriment of the consumer. The PB, contracting and trades world is very territorial and often there is not more than one or two longtime PBs in a given area. Therefore, review systems don't really punish them as much as you might think.


    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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