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Thread: Very rough uneven plaster

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    Very rough uneven plaster

    Hello everyone, quick question about my plaster I'm hoping you can assist me with. We are very new to pool ownership and this will be our first season with a -- hopefully -- open pool.

    A little background and our numbers-- We bought the home in December and the pool was disgusting, dark green, with a whole ecosystem of creepy crawlies living in it. We got most of the debris out and shocked the pool until it was not green anymore and mostly clear. I'll admit since then we've been a little lax, with the cold weather and all, and have basically just been dumping enough bleach in to keep the water from turning green and not testing until now. We have been really dedicated the last few weeks and are almost where we need to be, except for a couple of things.

    The water will look really clear, especially in the shallow end, until we brush or rake. Then huge clouds billow up and the water is cloudy for two days, although maintaining shock level. The water looks good again until we brush or disturb the bottom in any way. I thought at first that this was dead algae. I still think it is, for the most part, but there is something else that is troubling-- I stuck my hand in the pool and touched the sides/bottom for the first time today. They are VERY rough and sandy bits rub off on your fingers.

    Researching this, I have found that it could be one of two things--failing plaster or calcium build up. Either seem to happen depending on the CH dipping to either extreme. The problem is, this pool has been to both extremes. How do I know what the issue with the pools texture is? Earlier I went outside and --very scientifically-- scratched the side of the pool with a nickel in one spot over and over--it created about a 1/4 inch indention. So is my plaster in such poor shape that its that easy to scrape off and indent, or do I have an insane calcium build up?

    Here are my numbers from day one-
    12/16
    FC - 0
    CC or TC - 0
    pH - 7.5
    TA - 90
    CH - 450
    CYA - Off the charts, over 100

    And from today
    4/19
    FC- 10
    CC- 10
    pH- 7.5
    TA- 70
    CH- 120
    CYA- 30

    Added 4 lbs of hardener today because that's what I had on hand, realize I probably need to add more. Also added more bleach after testing so my FC is probably 12 now.

    I apologize for the wall of text and thank you SO MUCH in advance for your assistance.
    Last edited by lbthomas; 04-19-2015 at 08:45 PM. Reason: Edited for clarification
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Some of the dust is certainly dead algae. The rough surface is either calcium scaling that is being softened by the current very low CH levels, or pool plaster that has been seriously etched. My guess is calcium scaling given your initial levels, but there is no really easy way to distinguish unless you can see a color difference between the scaling and some clean plaster (if there is any clean plaster).

    You should definitely do some vacuuming, and get up as much of that dust as you can.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Thanks for the reply. I learned how to hook up the vacuum that came with the house via some youtube videos and gave it a proper vacuum for the first time this weekend. Hopefully I can keep at it and it will knock out most of the cloudiness problems. Do I keep SLAMing until all cloudiness is gone, knowing some of it could be from scraping plaster/calcium from the sides?

    I can't tell if there is a color difference between the normal color and where I scratched it, but when it's daylight tomorrow I'll look again. I don't notice any other color differences overall--all looks white other than some brown areas I'm assuming are algae stains.
    I will say that when vacuuming, the vacuum canister kept getting clogged with what I thought was course sand--I thought there was a filter problem-- until I rubbed the side of the pool and realized that what it was getting clogged with was whatever's coming off the side of the pool.

    So if there's no way to tell if it is etching or calcium scale, what would the best course of action be to fix this?
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    It is possible to tell etching from scaling, just difficult to explain/teach.

    The most obvious indication of scaling is rough areas of one color vs smooth areas of another color. If the plaster was originally white the two colors might be fairly similar. Also with scaling, when you see flat areas they will be slightly lower than nearby rough areas(which build up on top of an originally flat surface).

    Etching should be uniformly colored, with any flat areas higher than adjoining rough areas. Etching forms pits in an originally flat surface.

    It gets more difficult to tell the two apart when the etching/scaling is very severe. Then it might be difficult to find any areas of the original surface.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Ok, I guess I need to feel the sides more and try to find an "original" spot that isn't crumbly/rough and compare it to the rest? I was able to get some pictures this morning, not sure if these will help. First picture shows a white spot, which is where I previously rubbed the coin on the surface and scraped off the crumbly bits.
    photo 1.jpg
    Second picture is of the stair area
    photo 2.jpg
    Third picture is pulled back, of the whole pool. Cloudier than normal because of brushing/vacuuming
    photo 3.jpg
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Update--I examined the sides of the pool this afternoon and found what I guess is 'original surface'. It looks like a big chunk of what I'm guessing is calcium has fallen off. Unless the actual pool side is 'original' and I have degradation/pitting, in which case a huge chunk of my plaster has fallen off, I guess. Very confusing haha. Hopefully these pictures will help clarify.. First picture is of the missing chunk of mystery siding. Second picture is of a piece of whatever it is, I was able to easily break it off with my fingers. Somehow I'm guessing neither answer is good news so I'll just brace myself...
    photo.jpg
    photo 2.jpg
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    No help but wishing you luck. I will be following so I can learn with you.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Thank you Kim. Hoping some of the folks around here will have answers for me.
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    bump
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Looks like a layer of plaster is coming off. Mine looked like that. Time to refinish the pool.
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    So that doesn't look like it could be calcium to you? What could I expect to pay to have the pool refinished? Can this wait til after swim season? Thanks
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    You can wait as long as you can stand looking at it. Cost is variable and dependant on location and type of surface you choose.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Yeah, the rough/chipped/pitted plaster won't hurt anything. I'd keep an eye on it for algae though; crevices like that make an ideal handhold for it.

    Ballpark $10k for a full replaster with tile...could be a bit more, could be a bit less, but it'll be somewhere around there.
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    Ouch. Thanks everyone for the info. Is it normal for the plaster to be crumbly/sandy like this when it gets old? I can rub it off with my finger easily. Or is it because the CH was out of whack for so long? How long does plaster generally last after a replaster?
    15k gal, IG, plaster?, Hayward s200 sand filter, marathon pool pump

  15. Back To Top    #15
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Very rough uneven plaster

    This can happen is the chemistry was not well maintained.
    Plaster should easily last 10+ years. Pebble surfaces should last even longer. Although it really depends on the quality of the install and the chemistry maintenance afterward.

    When we moved into out current house, the plaster very much looked that yours. The pool was about 30 years old, but no idea if what we had was original or not.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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