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Thread: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

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    Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    We are nearing the end of our pool build and we are plastering on Monday (midnight blue color). The PB hasn't talked about the start up procedure specifically yet, but I think he does an acid start up. I just want to make sure I know what I'm doing before the time comes. I've read through Pool School and Pool Math several times, and I think I know what I'm doing but I probably won't know for sure until the time comes to actually start doing the testing and adjusting myself. I've downloaded the swimming pool start up procedures checklist from National Plasterers Council so I think I have a handle on that. Based upon some of the info I"ve found on TFP and this start up checklist, here is my game plan:

    First of all, here is my fill water stats-

    pH - 8.2 (or greater)
    FC - 1.0
    CC - 3.5 (is this normal for tap water? I did the test twice, took 7 drops)
    CH - 50
    TA - 50

    Day of Plaster
    - Try to get 6 hours inbetween plaster and water filling (to help harden surface, I got this from TFP's new plaster start up page)
    - Use two hoses in deep end with clean cloth around the end to fill up as fast as possible, no stopping
    - When in the middle of the skimmer, turn off
    - Test the water for ph, TA, CH (and metals? per the NPC page...don't know how to do that)
    - Start pool pump immediately and leave it running 24 hrs a day

    Next day
    - Test pH, TA, CH
    - Adjust TA to 80
    - Adjust pH to 7.2 to 7.6 (most likely will have to reduce down with MA)
    - Brush pool surface entirely
    - Don't add chlorine
    - Don't adjust CH

    2nd Day
    - Test pH, TA, CH
    - Adjust TA to 80
    - Adjust pH to 7.2 to 7.6
    - Brush pool surface entirely
    - Adjust CH to a minimum of 150

    3rd Day
    - Repeat earlier steps through brushing
    - Chlorine can be added up to 3 (at least 1.5)

    4th thru 28th Day
    - Repeat same steps through brushing
    - CH should slowly be adjusted not to exceed 200
    - CYA should be adjusted to 30-50

    So my first question is, does this plan look right? I don't know how much PB will be doing and how much I will be doing, but I'll make sure to find out so we don't step on each other's toes.

    Right now my biggest concern is brushing. We are supposed to go to my mother's house for Thanksgiving on Friday and not returning until Sunday afternoon. It's only a 45 minute drive away, so if worse comes to worse, I can just drive back to brush. Although it will certainly be a hassle to drive back twice a day on Saturday. I don't have anyone around to brush for me. I'm thinking about trying to get Thanksgiving moved to our house. How imperative is it to brush twice a day, will one good long brushing in the middle of the day suffice for Saturday?

    As far as chemicals, I'm still looking for my sources. I stopped by Home Depot on the way home last night and picked up a few gallons of bleach (even though I know i'll probably use the pucks in the very beginning to slowly introduce CYA). I also picked up some baking soda. They didn't have the muriatic acid that I was looking for, so I'll need to look for that somewhere else. What about calcium chloride? Since I'm in TX, the Home Depots around here don't carry the ice melting products (that I can find). I have a local ACE hardware here in my small town, I might try to go look someday. Any other suggestions?

    Thanks all so much. This website is incredible!
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    CC is indeed fairly common in tap water. You don't need to worry about it, it will go away quickly enough.

    I see that I disagree with the NPC on several things. This is what I recommend:

    Do not bother testing or adjusting TA or CH for at least the first week, and most people wait the full month before adjusting them. They will both come up on their own. If you test and adjust too early they will end up too high. There are some issues if they stay way too low for too long, but that almost never happens.

    For an acid start, the PH will be quite low for a few days. Wait for the PH to come up on it's own before paying any attention to TA. TA will be zero during the extremely low PH period.

    Starting on day three I would put one trichlor tablet for each 10,000 gallons of water in the skimmer(s) and replace as needed when they are mostly dissolved. That will take care of FC and CYA needs for the first several weeks and gives you a gentler rise in FC and CYA and also helps keep PH down.

    Any time you lower PH, lower it all the way to 7.2. Otherwise it will be too high by the next time you test/adjust. This can require dramatic amounts of acid, and in almost all cases needs to be adjusted at least daily, though cold water temperatures can slow this down a fair bit.

    You may well need to get calcium chlorine from a pool store, usually called calcium increaser or something similar.

    The critical steps are brushing at least once every day and keeping PH under control. Most everything else has a fair bit of leeway for mistakes.

    Muriatic acid is sometimes in the outdoor area and sometimes in the paint department at big box stores. Also, paint stores often stock it.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    That's why this place is the best! Thanks so much Jason. I will trust you over the NPC and follow your directions.

    I really wanted to avoid any pool stores but it looks like I will have to for the calcium chloride at least.

    Thanks again!
    Done! Pool build thread here
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Hi Twolabs

    It's been awhile, but in previous years, I've found that pool stores had the best prices on MA and water hardening minerals. Plus, Leslie's sells MA in cases of 4 gallon jugs. You'll be purchasing in bulk for the next short while.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Yeah I'm probably going to have to go to the pool store for the calcium chloride at least. The nearest Leslies is an hour away, so I"ll get my muriatic acid from Lowes it appears. http://www.lowes.com/pd_576051-1327-...7C1&facetInfo=
    Done! Pool build thread here
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Twolabs--what are your thoughts on borates? Are you going to go "Full TFP" or will you stay away from the 20 Mule Team?

    I would really like to do it, but I'm afraid of the potential negative health impact on my doggies. I'm still on the fence, but leaning towards to "not do it".
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    I don't think anyone is telling you/us to never go to the evil pool store or else. The advice is not to get sucked in to believing everything they try to tell or sell you. Bottom line is they do have the stuff needed to care for a pool. Sure almost all of it can be had elsewhere but that doesn't mean you can't ever go to the pool store if it's more convenient/easier.
    Take control of your own pool. Test regularly with a good test kit and make your own choices on what to add and when. Where you actually buy it is of little consequence.
    Just my take on the matter.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by JayBauman View Post
    Twolabs--what are your thoughts on borates? Are you going to go "Full TFP" or will you stay away from the 20 Mule Team?

    I would really like to do it, but I'm afraid of the potential negative health impact on my doggies. I'm still on the fence, but leaning towards to "not do it".
    I'm not, and for the reason you mentioned. My labs will be swimming and my white lab tends to drink and swim all in one motion. Why drink from a bowl of clean water on the back porch when you get drink while swimming. Saves the neck strain.
    Done! Pool build thread here
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Twolabs where in NE Texas are you again? Home Depot usually stocks TONS of the 2 packs of the 31.45% muriatic acid for $10.98 that's $5.50 per gallon and I don't think leslies can beat that. They usually don't store it indoors -- it's usually outside near where the pool stuff is. Ask someone if you can't find it. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Smart-2x1...8-HD/100119310

    Also Walmart has calcium chloride and CYA... They carry the HTH brand granular "Calcium Increaser" (which is calcium chloride) and granular "Stabilizer" (which is cyanuric acid) both 4 lbs each (I think the calcium increaser is like 6.50 and the stabilizer is 14.95) Be careful with instructions on the calcium increaser it says to broadcast but it's almost always best to dissolve any granular product before putting it in so it doesn't sit at the bottom of the pool and CYA should be put in a sock in the skimmer.

    As for bleach, always check that manufacturing date. Don't buy old bleach and make sure it's always just plain old concentrated -- no spashless or scented nonsense. I usually buy the up & up brand 8.25% from Target for 2.99 -- it's 2.75 because I have a Target card.
    14K Freeform Gunite w/60% Blue Quartz plaster, Quad DE filter, Intelliflo VS Pump + Booster for Cleaner, Aquacal Heat Pump

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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Twolabs View Post
    Day of Plaster
    - Try to get 6 hours inbetween plaster and water filling (to help harden surface, I got this from TFP's new plaster start up page)
    - Use two hoses in deep end with clean cloth around the end to fill up as fast as possible, no stopping
    - When in the middle of the skimmer, turn off
    - Test the water for ph, TA, CH (and metals? per the NPC page...don't know how to do that)
    - Start pool pump immediately and leave it running 24 hrs a day
    I just went through a re-plaster and made 2 mistakes.

    1 - I didn't start with a clean filter (DE).
    2 - The second hose that was used came from a water line that gets used rarely and there was junk in the line. I should have made sure that clean water was comming out before it went into the pool.

    Rust in my lines caused a little stain at the bottom of the deep end.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    One would imagine they've seen that happen before. Seems like they should have known better than to just throw the hose in and turn it on without letting it flush out first.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by zethacat View Post
    One would imagine they've seen that happen before. Seems like they should have known better than to just throw the hose in and turn it on without letting it flush out first.

    I know, I know, don't get me started.

    They also put down new coping and tile and fixed my skimmer basket leak, all in all did a great job, except for the last 2 minutes.

    The stain is not too bad...I'm hoping it fades with time.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by zethacat View Post
    Twolabs where in NE Texas are you again? Home Depot usually stocks TONS of the 2 packs of the 31.45% muriatic acid for $10.98 that's $5.50 per gallon and I don't think leslies can beat that. They usually don't store it indoors -- it's usually outside near where the pool stuff is. Ask someone if you can't find it. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Smart-2x1...8-HD/100119310

    Also Walmart has calcium chloride and CYA... They carry the HTH brand granular "Calcium Increaser" (which is calcium chloride) and granular "Stabilizer" (which is cyanuric acid) both 4 lbs each (I think the calcium increaser is like 6.50 and the stabilizer is 14.95) Be careful with instructions on the calcium increaser it says to broadcast but it's almost always best to dissolve any granular product before putting it in so it doesn't sit at the bottom of the pool and CYA should be put in a sock in the skimmer.

    As for bleach, always check that manufacturing date. Don't buy old bleach and make sure it's always just plain old concentrated -- no spashless or scented nonsense. I usually buy the up & up brand 8.25% from Target for 2.99 -- it's 2.75 because I have a Target card.
    Good ideas! I'm about 2 hrs east of DFW on I30. Actually by chance I found out that my local Ace Hardware carries that exact Muriatic Acid and I think it was $5 and some change per gallon. So that was great to see. I'll check out Wal Mart when I go for the Calcium Chloride.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by rexbo View Post
    I just went through a re-plaster and made 2 mistakes.

    1 - I didn't start with a clean filter (DE).
    2 - The second hose that was used came from a water line that gets used rarely and there was junk in the line. I should have made sure that clean water was comming out before it went into the pool.

    Rust in my lines caused a little stain at the bottom of the deep end.
    Good points. I made sure we used clean water hoses yesterday just for that!

    However, as you may have seen in my build thread, I didn't realize that by filling up the spa first (which I was instructed to do so by my PB) without properly configuring the plumbing, caused the bubbler in the beach entry and the skimmer to start to overflow and cause a small stream of water into the shallow end. So now I have a couple of lovely streaks in my brand new plaster.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    It was your PBs fault -- you only followed his instructions. Have you mentioned it yet?
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post

    Do not bother testing or adjusting TA or CH for at least the first week, and most people wait the full month before adjusting them. They will both come up on their own. If you test and adjust too early they will end up too high. There are some issues if they stay way too low for too long, but that almost never happens.

    For an acid start, the PH will be quite low for a few days. Wait for the PH to come up on it's own before paying any attention to TA. TA will be zero during the extremely low PH period.

    The critical steps are brushing at least once every day and keeping PH under control. Most everything else has a fair bit of leeway for mistakes.
    Jason - It appears my PB didn't do an acid start up. I don't know what made me think that they would (I guess I just assumed?) but they came today to start everything up. They got the pump running and without me being home, they added some trichlor tabs, some "shock" (I"m assuming granular chlorine)?) and CYA. I don't know how much of what went in. But no acid.

    So now my test results this evening are:

    pH: 8.2 (or higher)
    FC: 1.5
    CC: 3.5
    TA: 50
    CH: 50
    CYA: 10

    I texted the supervisor who added the chemicals about the pH and he asked about the TA and then just said to let the things they added level out and then we might need to adjust. They aren't coming back until next Wednesday, and I am just really nervous about my pH being so high.

    Do you recommend I go ahead and start adding some acid to get it down? The NPC says (in bold letters) not to adjust pH down until TA is 80. It says I should add baking soda to get the TA up to 80, and the MA to get the pH down.

    I'm thoroughly confused.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    There are different ways to approach things. It sounds like they are doing a plain/normal start, which is what the NPC directions are based on. Since TA and CH are both quite low, it isn't such a big deal that PH is high. You don't want PH, TA, and CH all low or all high at the same time during a plain startup. All three low would switch things to an acid start, but your builder doesn't want to go that way, so it should be avoided. Instead following the NPC recommendations appears to be consistent with what the builder is aiming for. I am less familiar with that approach, as it tends to produce the most plaster dust. Plaster dust can be rather annoying (extra vacuuming) but is not a serious problem.

    A plain startup leans towards keeping the water much closer to "balanced", which means higher PH just at first and bringing TA and CH up towards more normal levels relatively early. You don't want to overshoot if you can help it, as they will continue to go up on their own, but you also don't want to leave the TA and CH levels both low for very long.

    If that all sounds reasonable, then following the NPC directions makes sense. Just keep an eye out for conflicts with what the builder says, and err on the side of doing what the builder says.

    One tricolor tablet for every 10,000 gallons of water, replaced as the old ones get mostly dissolved, will take care of FC and CYA. The CC level is probably from your fill water and should clear up soon.
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Any language in your contract about following TPC start up and surface warranty?

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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    There are different ways to approach things. It sounds like they are doing a plain/normal start, which is what the NPC directions are based on. Since TA and CH are both quite low, it isn't such a big deal that PH is high. You don't want PH, TA, and CH all low or all high at the same time during a plain startup. All three low would switch things to an acid start, but your builder doesn't want to go that way, so it should be avoided. Instead following the NPC recommendations appears to be consistent with what the builder is aiming for. I am less familiar with that approach, as it tends to produce the most plaster dust. Plaster dust can be rather annoying (extra vacuuming) but is not a serious problem.

    A plain startup leans towards keeping the water much closer to "balanced", which means higher PH just at first and bringing TA and CH up towards more normal levels relatively early. You don't want to overshoot if you can help it, as they will continue to go up on their own, but you also don't want to leave the TA and CH levels both low for very long.

    If that all sounds reasonable, then following the NPC directions makes sense. Just keep an eye out for conflicts with what the builder says, and err on the side of doing what the builder says.

    One tricolor tablet for every 10,000 gallons of water, replaced as the old ones get mostly dissolved, will take care of FC and CYA. The CC level is probably from your fill water and should clear up soon.
    I tested this morning and it was

    pH 8.2 (or higher)
    FC 2.5
    CC 0
    TA 40
    CH 50
    CYA (didn't test, I know it can take a long time for the results to show up since they added it yesterday)

    So following the NPC rules, I should get my TA up to 80 before bringing down the pH. All I had on hand was 4 lbs of baking soda, (pool math called for 13 lbs). So I added the 4, brushed the pool and then tested the TA again (about 30 minutes later). Is that a good time to wait for the baking soda to circulate?

    The TA was inbetween 50 and 60. I added the fifth drop and it went to pink and then slightly back to green. The 6th drop turned it pink and it stayed pink, so I"m assuming it was 60?

    So should I go get some more baking soda and continue to get it back up? By adding baking soda I'm raising the pH even more right? I'm nervous about having a pH so sky high.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolguyinCT View Post
    Any language in your contract about following TPC start up and surface warranty?
    I read over the contract thoroughly last night and the only thing that references the chemistry is just the fact that the plaster isn't warranted against chipping, discoloration, cracking, etc. "since such plaster defects generally results from local water conditions, improper use of chemicals, or improper cleaning of the pool."

    So as I see it, the PB is being very lax about the chemicals for the time being, but I want to get a handle on it. I may be overreacting but with such a huge investment, I want to baby it. I'm not going to park my brand new Audi R8 outside the garage.
    Done! Pool build thread here
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    18" raised spa, waterfall into pool
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    1. Bring your TA up to 80 using baking soda and Pool Math to tell you how much more that will be.

    2. Lower your Ph with muriatic acid using PoolMath to about 7.5

    3. retest you TA and adjust again if necessary.

    3.. Read Pool School. You will find that TA has little affect on pH and that the color change tests are ALL designed so that, when there is NO further color change, the last drop doesn't count. i.e. color shows absolutely no change on drop #11, then your TA would be 10(drops) x 10 = 100
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    Re: Two days away from plaster. Needing some advice!

    plaster isn't warranted against chipping, discoloration, cracking, etc. "since such plaster defects generally results from local water conditions, improper use of chemicals, or improper cleaning of the pool.

    Thats pretty standard language, i use it myself.
    It is "inclusive by exclusion" meaning if you have a chemically referenced problem or defect, owner cant say "hey i followed the npc card or did exactly as you told me.."
    The best "protection" an owner can gain during the cure process is to hire a firm to handle it, leaving the wudacuddashudas & why did this happen to the firm.

    If doing it yourself, treat it like its your job (it is!) don't skip a day, no matter how late you worked or how many dance recitals or little league games suck up you time.

    (Disclosure - if my avatar didn't indicate so, i am a pool contractor.)

    Best,
    Ray

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