Really Bad Calcium and Fog on Glass Tile

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Hi All, I just had a pool built last summer (we finished our second season), and i have terrible build up on my glass tile above the water line. I have an auto safety cover, which limits my ability to raise the water level to try and clear the calcium with the water that may be treated. My pool guy said it requires tons of muriatic acid and scrubbing. I tried myself spraying some diluted acid and scrubbing, but nothing. THe tiles also have a white fog building up. I tried vinegar too. No luck.

I am also reading about MAx Stripp blasting. Anyone have experience here? Why is this happening? I have been brushing the pool religiously including the glass tiles above the water line. Can anyone recommend a service provider in the Jersey Shore area that may be able to help? Some pics attached.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

Attachments

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
17,127
Bedford, TX
Ray,

I suspect your CSI is way out of wack causing your water to scale the tile..

Show us the following test data...

FC
CC
pH
TA
CH
CYA
Water temp
Salt.. if a saltwater pool..

If none of this makes any sense, please read this... ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thanks Jim, Will check and come back in about a week when i am back at the pool. Meantime, now that the build-up is there, am i doomed to live with it, or is there a way to get it out? My pool builder said they cannot help ( i think they want me to bounce the dollars to replace the tiles!
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thanks Jim, Hopefully they can also help. I've been looking for someone in the jersey shore area that does this sort of work, but no joy. My wife is fed up and wants to change out the tile! I only had the pool for 14 months so far, so that is a ridiculous thought!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,683
Tucson, AZ
MaxxStrip does a great job .... BUT ... it has to be done by someone who has experience with it. I’ve had scale blasted off twice - once by someone who was careful and knew what they were doing and once by a knuckle-head that had no clue. The differences were night & day.

Was the bond beam properly prepped with a thin set designed for continuous submersion? Was epoxy grout used or standard cementitious grout?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
18,562
I suspect that it's probably not related to water chemistry. I suspect that it's efflorescence.

Is the ground wet all the time?

Possibly due to moisture from water trapped under the cover permeating into the grout and causing it to dissolve.

Water that evaporates will be aggressive to the grout because it will not have any calcium in it.
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thank you both. My pool builder confirmed that the the bond beam was properly prepped and epoxy grout was used. I indeed keep the auto safety cover on almost all of the time unless we are swimming (we have a 2 yr old that runs all over the place), so James, your thoughts may be spot on in relation to the aggressive evaporation. I also use a saltwater chlorination, so it may be the point re: efflorescence. Now back to the punchline question...how can i remove this stuff?

JoyfulNoise - how do i find a blasting company in the jersey shore? My pool builder has no clue, my pool guy has no clue, and i asked 3 other pool service company's int he area and they all have no clue.

Is there another way to remove this stuff?
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Actually, the PB came back and told me they use a glass approved non sanded mortar which is cementious based to adhere to the gunite. I seriously help all of your good help here.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,683
Tucson, AZ
Thank you both. My pool builder confirmed that the the bond beam was properly prepped and epoxy grout was used. I indeed keep the auto safety cover on almost all of the time unless we are swimming (we have a 2 yr old that runs all over the place), so James, your thoughts may be spot on in relation to the aggressive evaporation. I also use a saltwater chlorination, so it may be the point re: efflorescence. Now back to the punchline question...how can i remove this stuff?

JoyfulNoise - how do i find a blasting company in the jersey shore? My pool builder has no clue, my pool guy has no clue, and i asked 3 other pool service company's int he area and they all have no clue.

Is there another way to remove this stuff?
BioDex 300 scale removal products -

300-tile-cleaner

Warning - the BioDex300 scale remover contains a small amount of hydrofluoric acid (HF). HF is very dangerous stuff and should only be used with proper PPE's - long sleeve, chemical resistant gloves and eye protection. Follow all of their safety directions for use. They also sell a product designed to soften up scale before removal, you can try that as well.

As for MaxxStrip, any pool tile cleaning company should be able to get it BUT, if they have no experience with it, they could easily screw up your tiles. I would be very careful in just hiring anyone to do that work.

Actually, the PB came back and told me they use a glass approved non sanded mortar which is cementious based to adhere to the gunite. I seriously help all of your good help here.
Not good news :( ....cementitious grout that goes through wet/dry cycles will effloresce a lot. Evaporated water has no calcium in it and when it hits the grout, it sucks the calcium out of it. Then it redeposits it all over. The only bullet-proof fix, aside from regroutting, would be to meticulously apply a teflon-based grout sealer to all the tile grout. Given your tile layout, that should take a crew of 2-3 guys a a good part of a weekend in the pool to finish....
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thanks Matt - So it seems that my approach should be to try the Bio-Dex product first. If that fails, fine a Maxstrip blasting guy, and then seal the tiles. I doubt i can handle this as a DYI, and so far have not been able to find anyone in the Jersey Shore area that has experience with this. Will keep trying! IF there is anyone on the forum that knows a provider in my area, pls let me know!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,683
Tucson, AZ
Thanks Matt - So it seems that my approach should be to try the Bio-Dex product first. If that fails, fine a Maxstrip blasting guy, and then seal the tiles. I doubt i can handle this as a DYI, and so far have not been able to find anyone in the Jersey Shore area that has experience with this. Will keep trying! IF there is anyone on the forum that knows a provider in my area, pls let me know!
Sounds good....sorry, I’m a former Long Islander so I don’t know too much about you joy-zee boyz ;)
One thing you might do is double-check with BioDex that the product is ok to use on glass tile. The HF content is small but it could possibly frost the glass tile if it sits too long. A call to the company for technical support should do the trick. Also, keep it away from anything made out of aluminum - that stuff will etch and corrode aluminum like crazy.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
18,562
Some of the minerals might even be coming from the coping. As water evaporates and condenses on the tile and bottom of the coping, it can dissolve grout and other cement, like the coping.

If there's a crack between tile and coping, water can permeate into the crack and get behind the tile.

I don't think that water chemistry is responsible for the deposits. If it was, the scale would be more evenly distributed and lower rather than higher.

I suspect that even if you can get it cleaned up, it's probably going to keep returning.

I might try straight muriatic acid and a toothbrush so that you can get specific with the treatment.

Note: Be super careful when working with acid. Don't do anything that you're not sure that you can do safely.

Other things to consider:

Is the expansion joint behind the coping caulked?

If not, water can get in and migrate through the cement and cause efflorescence.

Does the deck have good drainage?

Again, water trapped behind the pool wall can migrate through the cement and cause efflorescence.
 
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jesper

Gold Supporter
Mar 10, 2019
62
Cyprus
Sounds good....sorry, I’m a former Long Islander so I don’t know too much about you joy-zee boyz ;)
One thing you might do is double-check with BioDex that the product is ok to use on glass tile. The HF content is small but it could possibly frost the glass tile if it sits too long. A call to the company for technical support should do the trick. Also, keep it away from anything made out of aluminum - that stuff will etch and corrode aluminum like crazy.
From the pictures it looks like the rail for the safety cover is right above the tiles. I don't know about this one, but the rails for my safety cover is made of aluminium. I would think it would be hard to avoid at least fumes getting on the rails.
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thank you so much guys. All good points and scaring the heck out of me! I know the deck has good drainage as the township required me to setup drainpipes and leaders all around to get the water properly drained etc. I am sure there are cracks and space between the tile line and the coping, it doesn't look calked to me. The coping however is caulked together if that means anything. Am I 100% screwed here? I am not going to try anything myself at this point as it seems too risky. My PB claims they installed everything perfectly and by the book the same way they did all other pools in my area. And the reality is no other pool i am looking at has this problem! I am still calling any company i can find on google to see if they can help, but still no joy.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
18,562
Are the other pools covered?

What temperature do you keep the water?

Higher water temperature creates more evaporation and can make a difference.

Leaving the pump off can also increase evaporation because the top of the water gets extra warm with no circulation.

When you first remove the cover, is the tile wet or dry?

The coping might be more susceptible to erosion than normal coping. Is it soft and easily scratched?

If you have an extra scrap piece of the coping, maybe cut off a few pieces and soak them in distilled water to see if they are affected.

Get a gallon of distilled water and put a small piece of scrap coping in the water and then periodically test the water for calcium, alkalinity and pH.

If the coping material is susceptible to dissolution, you would find that the numbers increase over time. The calcium will start out as zero for distilled water.
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thanks James:

Are the other pools covered? [Yes, almost everyone in my neighborhood as an auto-cover that is closed daily. I keep the cover close almost all the time for safety, so more than usual.]

What temperature do you keep the water? [Temp is usually around 90-92 degrees. Not on purpose. Between the auto cover and the blistering sun, i cant get the water temp to cool down!]

Higher water temperature creates more evaporation and can make a difference.

Leaving the pump off can also increase evaporation because the top of the water gets extra warm with no circulation. [Agreed.]

When you first remove the cover, is the tile wet or dry? [The tiles are wet initially, and then very quickly they dry up and the fog appears. The hard buildup is always there. Then as the kids play the water goes up and down and the fog goes away when they are wet again. But the hard buildup is always there and showing everywhere.]

The coping might be more susceptible to erosion than normal coping. Is it soft and easily scratched? [Yes. The coping is basically concrete mixed with aggregates for color/design. Hanover pavers (similar to techo block) They are considered soft. So much so that the PB could not drill the auto-cover tracks to the coping bottom, rather they had to drill into the pool shell.]

If you have an extra scrap piece of the coping, maybe cut off a few pieces and soak them in distilled water to see if they are affected.

Get a gallon of distilled water and put a small piece of scrap coping in the water and then periodically test the water for calcium, alkalinity and pH.

If the coping material is susceptible to dissolution, you would find that the numbers increase over time. The calcium will start out as zero for distilled water.

[Will definitely try that. Assume the coping is the issue, is there a manageable solution?]
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,683
Tucson, AZ
If the coping is just concrete & aggregate, calcium will easily leach from that. You might consider having the coping sealed but you want to use a high quality one like DryTreat 40sk OR DuPont StoneTec. Make sure it’s a penetrating sealer and one that will not cause color change.

As for the crust on the grout, I’d still try something like BioDex or even Lysol Advanced toilet bowl cleaner (10% HCl) and gently scrub it. The toilet bowl cleaner is made with surfactants and thickeners to help create a gel consistency. I have used that before in my own pool to clean up small calcium scale/crust spots. You could also use the concentrated CLR liquid but it doesn’t work as well.

Media Blasting (MaxxStrip) is the only way to do it all comprehensively and in a short time but you’re limited to finding a contractor in your area willing, capable and experienced enough to do it.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
18,562
I think that you're going to have to seal the coping, grout and tile.

The tile sealant should be something that reduces the ability of calcium carbonate to stick to the tile.

You're probably going to have to caulk the gap between the coping and the tile to keep water from getting behind the tile.
 

raym50

Member
Sep 2, 2017
12
Brooklyn
Thank you both very much for your input and advice. Now my search continues to find a contractor willing and able to take on these steps, which seem perfectly sensible. I wish the PB initially thought to handle these items when they built the pool! IT's a shame because i cant find anyone around New Jersey that does the blasting. I see a few contractors online in Arizona, California and Texas that proclaim to be pros at this. Should i offer one of them to fly over for this? I cant imagine that would be economical!