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Thread: Plaster Problems

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    Plaster Problems

    I had my pool replastered by a local Pool Builder (PB) with a standard blue colored plaster (white plaster with blue dye added). Within the first two weeks the color started to get splotchy. The PB said it would fade. It never did, it just kept getting worse to the point that the pool surface looked like a tie dyed t-shirt. Then the color began to completely fade out over most of the pool surface. Later, when my pool pump went out and I had a green pool for awhile, leaves on the bottom of the pool left stains on the white parts that do not come out. The parts that still had color did not permanently stain. (See previous post for some pics: http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-...ae-t30748.html). The surface is rough. My daughter says it hurts her feet when she plays in the pool.

    I complained to the PB and he sent a couple of inspectors for an "objective" assessment; fellow pool builders. They took some pictures, asked me some questions about how I maintained the pool chemistry (BBB of course!) and wrote up a report. They reported that the surface wasn't etched or scaled and the surface was still smooth. I don't know how they concluded that because I told them otherwise and I and my general contractor (who was also there and initially recommended the PB) never saw them even put their hands in the pool. The report said they "observed a couple of small brown stains in the bottom" which is an understatement because the bottom is dotted with many dozen brown stains which I cannot get out no matter how much I shock and brush. The report did admit the plaster was discolored but concluded that a colored plaster surface cannot be guaranteed after the pool is filled and turned over to a pool owner for use and care.

    What is the standard startup time for a new plaster job and is the PB responsible during that period? (i.e. What is the typical time period when a new pool is "turned over to a pool owner for use and care"?) Even though the inspectors tried to slant their report in favor of the PB I feel their final conclusion actually helps my argument since the discoloration started in the first few weeks. I know I am also responsible during start up for some of the maintenance. My wife and I brushed the pool a couple of times a day in the first several weeks. We also did not run the pool cleaner and instead kept the surface clean by brushing the dust toward the main drain while the filter pump was running. During that time the PB came a few times to check and adjust the chemistry.

    I believe the problem is more than just discoloration. The integrity of the plaster is compromised as evidenced by the discoloration, roughness, and stains that won't go away. I believe my PB is liable and should fix it. I'm not even sure the source of the problem has anything to do with the startup period; it seems more likely the cause is due to the plaster itself (mix, materials, plastering) as I learned is sometimes the case in this document: http://www.cmc-concrete.com/CMC%20Se...sentations.pdf. I am interested to hear the opinions of the TFP experts.

    Thanks.
    26K IG plaster pool, 2 Baker Hydro Skimmers (Model HS), 4 return jets (one plumbed with a PoolSkim surface cleaner), Hayward 1.5 6-way Multiport Valve (Sp710x-All), Polaris 380 w/ Polaris PB4-60Q Halcyon 3/4 HP Booster Pump, Pentair SuperFlo 1.5 HP (1.65 SFHP) Two Speed Pump (SF-N2-1-1/2A), Stainless Steel Hayward vertical DE 36ft2 filter (Duralon tank model DE3600), Purex CHD Pool Star light, 2 Intermatic mechanical time switches controlling the filter pump and booster pump, Hasa 8 gallon 3/8" Pool Liquidator Chlorinator, 1.5" return line with 3 x 1.5" suction lines, Austin, TX

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Plaster Problems

    The period during which the builder is responsible during initial startup varies from a few minutes to a couple of days, rarely longer, all depending on the builders policies. After that it is up to you. Once you take over it is critical that you keep the PH in the proper range. Rough plaster is indicative of calcium scaling, which happens when the PH is not properly maintained. The organic staining you describe will normally come out after a few days at shock level. However, it can occasionally get embedded into calcium scaling, and then it won't come out until the calcium scaling is removed.

    The initial startup period typically lasts three or four weeks, with the plaster not fully curing for up to a year. It is common for acid additions to be required daily during the first month, though that varies a bit depending on the kind of plaster startup being used.

    Any medium or dark plaster color will always be somewhat uneven, however your description sounds like something beyond that. Calcium scaling will be white/off white/tan in color, covering up the plaster color in any area that gets scaled. That seems more consistent with your description.

    In fact, the only thing that argues against calcium scaling is that the "objective" assessment did not reach that conclusion. Calcium scaling is fairly obvious when viewed in person, less obvious in photos. Any competent builder should recognize it easily. Plus, I wouldn't expect any "friend of builder" bias to prevent a report of scaling, since scaling is almost invariably the fault of the homeowner and thus an easy way for them to get out of any warranty coverage.

    Nothing you have said indicates that "The integrity of the plaster is compromised". "integrity" refers to the physical status of the plaster, ie is it falling off. Most of the issues you mentioned are around appearance, for which the word "integrity" does not apply. The roughness you describe could be pitting, for which "integrity" will occasionally apply, but is much more likely to be scaling, for which "integrity" does not apply. Appearance issues can be resolved, though sometimes only expensively. Integrity issues require the complete removal and replacement of the plaster.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: Plaster Problems

    Thanks for your reply JasonLion.

    I realize scaling seems to be the obvious problem at first. I wish the problem was scaling because then I could fix it. However, the following facts seem to rule out scaling:
    1. Scaling should be easy to spot. The PB and inspectors didn’t think it was scaling. Also, before sending the inspectors the PB sent his plaster guy over. When I described the problems to the plaster guy before he came he said he was sure it was scaling. But when he arrived he decided almost immediately it wasn’t scaling and said the only way to fix the problem is to replaster the pool. When I asked him what the problem was he wouldn’t answer and practically ran away while I was still trying to talk to him.
    2. If it is scaling, the organic staining should come out with several days at shock level and brushing; it doesn’t. And the staining is not due to iron; I did the vitamin C test with no effect.
    3. The roughness of the surface is not due to any buildup, rather, to me, it looks like the plaster is pitted. I see it in both the white and blue areas and the rough feel is consistent across both colored and white areas.
    4. I've never had high CH. I usually have to add Calcium Up to keep it above 200.

    The reason I think the integrity of the plaster is compromised is because of the pitting and the fact that the stains won’t come out (which seems to indicate the porosity of the plaster is compromised).

    There are two issues I’m trying to resolve:
    1. How do I fix my pool? – I’m reaching the conclusion that it has to be replastered again.
    2. Who is liable? – Is it reasonable that the PB is not responsible for the issue if it started within the first few weeks after installation and progressively got worse? I believe I did my part in maintaining the pool. If everyone did what they were supposed to do upon installation and during maintenance and the problem happened anyway, doesn’t that point to an issue with the materials and thus fall back to the PB?

    Determining the root cause of the problem may require a materials science expert; however, I wanted to post this to vet out the more obvious arguments in the case. Thanks again for everyone’s comments.
    26K IG plaster pool, 2 Baker Hydro Skimmers (Model HS), 4 return jets (one plumbed with a PoolSkim surface cleaner), Hayward 1.5 6-way Multiport Valve (Sp710x-All), Polaris 380 w/ Polaris PB4-60Q Halcyon 3/4 HP Booster Pump, Pentair SuperFlo 1.5 HP (1.65 SFHP) Two Speed Pump (SF-N2-1-1/2A), Stainless Steel Hayward vertical DE 36ft2 filter (Duralon tank model DE3600), Purex CHD Pool Star light, 2 Intermatic mechanical time switches controlling the filter pump and booster pump, Hasa 8 gallon 3/8" Pool Liquidator Chlorinator, 1.5" return line with 3 x 1.5" suction lines, Austin, TX

  4. Back To Top    #4
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Plaster Problems

    1) Your point 1 is a good point. If several experienced pool people thought it wasn't scaling then it probably isn't. Scaling is fairly easy to spot in person.
    2) Organic and metal stains can become embedded in calcium scale so that normal treatments will not remove them. This invalidates your point 2, but does not really impact your overall evaluation.
    4) Relatively low CH levels is suggestive, but not solid evidence. High enough PH and TA levels will cause scaling even when CH is low.

    If you indeed have pitting then the only solution is re-plastering. As for liability, it is very difficult to say. Pitting can be caused by unsuitably low PH/TA/CH levels, which would be your responsibility. It could also be caused by improper plaster mixture or surface prep, which would be their responsibility. An appropriate expert can often, but not always, determine this by careful examination, as the different causes leave the surface looking different ways. The time frame allows for both possibilities, as many plaster composition/surface prep problems take a little time to manifest, just as low PH takes time to cause damage.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: Plaster Problems

    Any suggestions on how I find an "appropriate expert" to determine if there is pitting and the root cause?

    Ultimately, if I am responsible for getting this fixed I guess I could look at painting the surface. I know it's a band aid; however plastering is so much more expensive and I'm not sure how long I plan to stay in this house. If I end up selling the house painting would seem to be better than (a) nothing (because the pool would look bad to potential buyers) and (b) plastering (because I would not get my money back out). If I end up replastering at some point I would be making a long term investment and should probably upgrade to something like pebble tech. I just don't have the $$$ for that. So, do you think painting is a viable option?
    26K IG plaster pool, 2 Baker Hydro Skimmers (Model HS), 4 return jets (one plumbed with a PoolSkim surface cleaner), Hayward 1.5 6-way Multiport Valve (Sp710x-All), Polaris 380 w/ Polaris PB4-60Q Halcyon 3/4 HP Booster Pump, Pentair SuperFlo 1.5 HP (1.65 SFHP) Two Speed Pump (SF-N2-1-1/2A), Stainless Steel Hayward vertical DE 36ft2 filter (Duralon tank model DE3600), Purex CHD Pool Star light, 2 Intermatic mechanical time switches controlling the filter pump and booster pump, Hasa 8 gallon 3/8" Pool Liquidator Chlorinator, 1.5" return line with 3 x 1.5" suction lines, Austin, TX

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    Re: Plaster Problems

    The answer to the cause and solution of the "splotchy" color may be in the type (water parameters) of water used to fill the pool. Please post those.
    What chemicals were added at start-up and the following two weeks? And how much? Pictures would help too.

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