Spa plaster crack turns out to be delamination/bubble

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#1
[EDIT] After Photobucket lost all of my data, I've tried to restore some old posts. Unfortunately the TFP Photo Gallery tends to rotate iPhone images. Apologies in advance. [END-EDIT]

So I actually discovered the crack in my PebbleTek back in April 2016 and it took all summer and fall to get the plasterer to schedule my warranty job. As you might guess, a busy plasterer has no motivation whatsoever to do warranty work. Still, I kept at them, calling every two weeks and eventually giggling at the various excuses used by the poor woman who has to answer the phone (I believe she's the wife of the guy that owns the plastering company). First it was - "No problem with the warranty job, we're just ramping up for the season so give me a week and I'll call you with a date. We'll schedule between plaster jobs." Then it was - "Ya know, {the owner's name here} doesn't want to do plaster repair work in the hot summer, it could cause further damage. We'll get you scheduled in September." Then it was - "Gosh, we're having a busy Fall, but you're at the top of the list." I was a good sport about it because the crack was only about 12" long and appeared to be a surface crack.

Well, here's what it looks like after he tapped it with a hammer (notice how faded the surface plaster is compared to the bulk color) -



And patched (Mr. Smiley Spa) -




So it looks like that area of plaster never really adhered to the gunite very well. Oh well, I hope the patch he puts in isn't too noticeable but I'm sure it will be....I'll follow up with more photos of the fix once it's in place.

PS - It's interesting to see how the bulk of the "Caribbean Blue" PebbleTek plaster has held it's original grey blue color, but the surface plaster creme has gone completely light grey from chlorine exposure....where's an AquaBright rep when you need one....
 

bdavis466

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In The Industry
Aug 4, 2014
4,276
San Clemente, CA
#2
I'm working on a pool with the same color Pebble Tec that has several rust spots to repair. The underlying plaster looks identical to yours in color, in fact I was blown away at just how blue it was.

It really is a shame since we all pay good money for these plaster finishes and agonize over color choices only to have the surface fade as it pleases and watch the water color transform into an undesirable shade.

There has to be a better material... Whether it's AquaBright or not, only time will tell. It certainly is easy to repair though (when a 2,000 pound piece of basalt is pushed across the surface :brickwall:)

I'm curious to see how your patch turns out... I've yet to see one that wasn't completely obvious :suspect:
 

JoyfulNoise

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Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#3
I'm curious to see how the patch turns out... I've yet to see one that wasn't completely obvious :suspect:

Your wish is my command -

IMAGES LOST BY PHOTOBUCKET!

I told him to stop right there, the patch looks GREAT!!

But he insisted on doing a little more work -

IMAGES LOST BY PHOTOBUCKET!

Yeah, it'll be obvious....but he said if I brush it, it'll totally blend in!! Don't your love those magic nylon bristles that heal all plaster issues?!?!? I'm guessing plasterers say that because they get a chuckle at all the pool-owners that run around their pools brushing 5 times per day for the first thirty days...

Anyway, here's something interesting, he asked me if I had any propane. I said, "why no, I don't. my BBQ is run off nat gas!!" I wonder why he wanted to hit it with a torch? Trying to heat it up fast to cure the surface? Dry it a little quicker? It was a nice day (upper 70's) but tonight will be a little chilly (mid-40's). Anyway, he told me to leave it until the morning, then refill the spa....and don't forget to brush that spot 5 times per day while it cures; it'll blend in no time at all :laughblue:
 

bdavis466

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In The Industry
Aug 4, 2014
4,276
San Clemente, CA
#4
That actually looks better than I thought it would.

I bet a decent acid wash will help blend it in.

- - - Updated - - -

Oh and no swimming or heater for 30 days on fresh plaster!!! Brush 200 times a day!

Don't be alarmed, your acid demand will be extreme until the patch cures in exactly one year when your water will once again become manageable.
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#5
....(when a 2,000 pound piece of basalt is pushed across the surface :brickwall:)

Oh come on now, do tell?!?! There's definitely an interesting story behind THAT parenthetical....

- - - Updated - - -

Oh and no swimming or heater for 30 days on fresh plaster.

Don't be alarmed, your acid demand will be extreme until the patch cures in exactly one year when your water will once again become manageable.
No Swimming .... CHECK!

Heater OFF ..... CHECK!

Refill Spa with Perrier .... (gonna need to make a Costco Run)

Acid demand is what I live for!! But I will mark my calendar - December 12th 2017 will be the day my pH suddenly stabilizes to 7.5 with no acid additions...I look forward to drinking in celebration :cheers:
 

bdavis466

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Aug 4, 2014
4,276
San Clemente, CA
#6
Oh come on now, do tell?!?! There's definitely an interesting story behind THAT parenthetical....
When the crane is long gone and someone decides one of the stones should be repositioned...



This is after the repair - I didn't get one before as I was busy pulling my hair out and gnashing my teeth



Swimming .... CHECK!

Heater OFF ..... CHECK!

Refill Spa with Perrier .... (gonna need to make a Costco Run)

Acid demand is what I live for!! But I will mark my calendar - December 12th 2017 will be the day my pH suddenly stabilizes to 7.5 with no acid additions...I look forward to drinking in celebration :cheers:
Delaminations happen when there aren't enough phosphates in the water...wait a minute...didn't you get rid of some recently???
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#7
{HOME OWNER} : Gee, you think we can move that insanely heavy chunk of prehistoric earth 12" to the left now that the crane is gone?

{FRUSTRATED CONTRACTOR} : Why yes, let me suspend the laws of physics and reduce gravity by 99%...

{multiple dope-slaps with heavy rubber mallet ensue, home owner exists stage left bloodied and bruised}

...if only life could be like the theater....

Nice stones by the way. Is that going to be a fountain? How will the water fall?



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

bdavis466

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In The Industry
Aug 4, 2014
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San Clemente, CA
#8
Each basalt had its own water line plumbed in through a cored hole. The water trickles down as anything more than that just splashes out of the basins.





From Pebble Tec repair to basalt fountains - Where are the hijack police???
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#9
Each basalt had its own water line plumbed in through a cored hole. The water trickles down as anything more than that just splashes out of the basins.

From Pebble Tec repair to basalt fountains - Where are the hijack police???
It's the off-season....Danny is drinking a beer and sitting in front of his wood-burning stove eating shaved cheese. Don't expect prompt action....

Cool fountains man....you got mad skillz....
 

pooldv

Mod Squad
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Aug 10, 2012
24,993
DFW, TX
#14
That patch is a little better than most. Sorry I missed all the hijacking! I am 100% on the honeydo list! :deal: Remodel bathroom before my brother and family get here on Monday. 3 tile guys flaked out on us the last week and a half so I had to do it. Total gut. Replace tile on floor, new pex, new shower/tub valve, Hardie board, marble subway tile, vanity, faucet, lights. The whole 9 yards.

Then I had to drink and sit in the hot tub. Repeat daily until finished.
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#16
So I let it sit overnight and then refilled the spa with hose water this morning. The plasterer used his submersible to drain my spa into my pool but I just drained that excess water off this morning while filling the spa. I figure the 4% exchange in water volume with "fresh" water wouldn't hurt anything. After the spa was filled, the chemistry looked like -

pH : 7.4
TA : 120ppm
CH : 280ppm
CYA : 0 ppm
FC : 0.6ppm
CC : 0 ppm
Salt : 200ppm (the muni water has some chloride in it)

Temp : 70F
CSI = ~0

I guess there was some acid left over in the pipes overnight (probably not the best idea to do that in hindsight) from his acid wash because my spigot water typically has a pH of 8.0. So the excess acid dropped the pH of the spa but didn't do too much to the overall TA. I'm going to leave it like that for a few days and turn off the spillway so that the spa water can remain separate. It's probably not doing anything in reality, but it makes me feel better psychologically.

....oh, and I'm brushing like 10 times per day....sadly, the patch is still fairly noticeable -



So I'll just have to wait it out and hope it blends in over time.

It was rather amazing to look at the plaster surface in the light of day when I went out there this morning. The plaster creme is essentially bleached grey. So, in just under 4 years, the color of my PebbleTek has degraded fairly rapidly. In all those times I've only ever SALM'ed twice and probably had a few days here or there with high FC. Other than that, I have always followed TFP Recommended levels. I now feel much better about staying away form the darker plaster colors because, honestly, if they perform as poorly as the blue pigments, then my pool would probably be fairly mottled and patchy looking from the bleaching of the color. The only fix I could imagine would be to acid wash the surface to try to remove the bleached layer of plaster and bring out some of the underlying color (99% of the plaster thickness is still blue), but then you have trade off the enhanced color for a weaker plaster surface and, like picking a scab, you'll just go back on the acid demand rodeo while the "fresh" plaster surface re-cures.

Dang, where's that AquaBright rep when a guy needs one....
 

Rossterman

Well-known member
Jun 5, 2016
241
Martinez, CA
#17
Our Caribbean blue pebbletec was very brown after a few years. When we drained and acid washed, it came back the grey color like your patch. Did they acid wash the entire spa area? If not, you might consider a drain and acid wash to remove the embedded dirt and get the color match closer.
 

BigEinAZ

Well-known member
Jan 3, 2016
580
Mesa, Az
#18
I dont think the plaster re-cures after an acid wash. All the hydration that was going to happen has happened after four years (except for some miniscule amount still potentially ongoing deep within the matrix). My PB told me they like to acid wash and polish every three to four years to refresh the pebble surface, due to our water chemistry here in the desert. They bead-blast the tile and grout at the same time.
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
14,519
Tucson, AZ
#19
Our Caribbean blue pebbletec was very brown after a few years. When we drained and acid washed, it came back the grey color like your patch. Did they acid wash the entire spa area? If not, you might consider a drain and acid wash to remove the embedded dirt and get the color match closer.
I was hoping to avoid an acid wash but you are quite right, one may be in order. I may wait out the winter to see what happens to the color contrast and then decide in the spring.

Now if only I could find a reputable AquaBright installer....hmmmm...

I dont think the plaster re-cures after an acid wash. All the hydration that was going to happen has happened after four years (except for some miniscule amount still potentially ongoing deep within the matrix). My PB told me they like to acid wash and polish every three to four years to refresh the pebble surface, due to our water chemistry here in the desert. They bead-blast the tile and grout at the same time.
Sorry, I was using the "re-cure" terminology a little loosely. On microscopic scale only the very near surface of the plaster is fully cured with a cap of calcium carbonate/calcium silicate and no calcium oxide (quicklime) or calcium hydroxide (slack lime). In the deep regions of the plaster, water from the plaster mix has "cured" most of the calcium oxide/silicate but there does remain a small amount that does not cure because water simply can't penetrate the outer skin layer that first forms. This is why pinholes and small cracks in the plaster surface will produce calcium nodules - the underlying material traps water that is much more caustic than the pool water thus causing calcium precipitation into the void.

So, when you acid wash, you do expose a more "fresh" layer of plaster that has some fraction of calcium lime in it though not nearly as much as the original. You will reform a new skin of calcium carbonate and calcium silicate, but it is typically more rough, porous and weaker than the original. This is why TFP avoids recommending acid washes on any regular basis as it just degrades the quality of the plaster surface faster.

Here in AZ we do have ridiculously hard water so I totally get where your PB is coming from in terms of his acid washing/tile cleaning recommendation. The best anyone can do here is to closely monitor and maintain an appropriate CSI value to try to extend the plaster life as much as possible. I certainly try my best but now with my water at 1000ppm CH, it's gotten a lot harder.

If only I knew a reputable AquaBright rep .... so hard to find those guys .... they usually too busy playing with rocks and boulders in an attempt to avoid being crushed to death ....


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BigEinAZ

Well-known member
Jan 3, 2016
580
Mesa, Az
#20
I get what you're saying now. Best of luck getting that Aquabright traveling road show to venture out here to the desert. Promises of smoked meats, cash, and liquor may be your best play here . . . :)