Augh, pool replaster start-up problems


Active member
Jun 1, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
Help! Our pool was just replastered. Unfortunately, the contractor didn't go through proper start-up procedures. :grrrr: We still have a final payment due, and hence some leverage, so I'm hoping to get the wisdom of people here on just how bad things might be down the road in terms of longevity and appearance.

Friday July 16: Tile contractor finally arrives, does a beautiful job. I called the plastering company to ask when they would be ready to hand off from start-up service to a regular pool care company (I've taken care of the pool for the last 12 years, but wanted to get a professional for the post-replaster period since my pool care schedule can be, uhm, erratic :oops: ). They said that Tuesday the 27th would be fine.

The replaster was done on Monday July 19. Pool (25k gallons) started filling Monday afternoon, completed by the following morning. When I came home late on Tuesday, the pool had cleared and water looked good, but problem sign number 1: the company installed a suction side non-wheeled cleaner :grrrr:. The filter had been cleaned.

Wednesday, cleaner was still there, filter had either been cleaned or backwashed.

Thursday, cleaner removed, filter backwashed again. I called the company and left a message that I needed to know any specifics about caring for the new plaster, including when we could go swimming.

Friday, nothing. No phone call from the company, no visit by their techs, no letter or informational brochure about Caring/Using Your Newly Plastered Pool. I brushed the pool twice. Didn't think to test the pool water, because after all with proper start-up the water should be fine, right?

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, same deal.

Tuesday, the pool service tech from the pool care company we'll be using showed up. He called me to report on what he'd found:
*Chemicals were way out of whack. There was no chlorine in the pool :grrrr:, the ph was sky-high :grrrr: and there was no conditioner in the water. :grrrr:
*Small iron stain on a step which might bleach out, possibly from a leaf. I hadn't noticed this before.
* Noticeable mottling of the (white) plaster surface. This I'd noticed--you can see it up close, but not from a distance.
He told me he'd documented all of this in his notes. The water is now in good shape, and the pool company will be coming out twice a week to brush for the next three weeks.

Obviously, I feel like an idiot, but I'm a furious idiot. I should probably have checked the water myself on Friday and checked back with the forum here, but I figured that a plastering company with 40 years of experience wouldn't steer me wrong. Even though I'd had problems communicating with the company the previous week, I figured that for something as important as saying "be sure to watch the water chemistry this weekend, because even though we told you we'd be doing start-up for a week, we're bailing as of day 4" they'd be in contact. :roll:

So now give me the bad news. We live in Southern California, so weather is mild. Will the bad startup affect the lifetime of the replaster? Will the cosmetic blemishes get worse? The pool was in such bad cosmetic shape before the replaster that it looks gorgeous to our eyes, but if the mottling gets worse (I'll post a picture later), we might not feel quite so delighted. We still owe about $1k (haven't been contacted about THAT, either), and DH is an attorney :mrgreen:, so I'd really like to know if we are only dealing with cosmetics or with a serious failure on the part of the contractor. Am I going off the (forgive the pun) deep end over this?

There will also be massive karma payback, because at least four pool-owning friends said "we need to get our pool redone too, why don't you give me a recommendation?" :p Not to mention that the plastering company was recommended to me through a coworker on a workplace forum read by, oh, about 5000 people. Throw in Angie's List, and you're starting to see some serious ill will. <cue evil laughter>

If nothing else, it's a good object lesson on What Not To Do for some future forum reader. Kids, definitely don't try this at home! :-D

Thanks for any advice.


LifeTime Supporter
May 22, 2007
West Chester, PA
I'm sure some more experienced folks will chime in here, but I'll give it a start.
We had new plaster last year. You might want to go ahead a brush twice a day, even with the service coming out. Adjusting the pH twice a week is asking for trouble, at least at first, because it can rise over 7.8 REALLY fast, especially in the first month, and will take a lot of tending for the first year. Be very careful this winter, we didn't realize what would happen with sky high pH. Calcium scaling, which is almost impossible to remove without an acid wash.
If you have a test kit giving us your numbers would also help.
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