Thoughts on how to calcium leaching - Leakage behind tile in grout line

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
I have two spots in my pool that have a leak from behind the tile in the grout line. The pool builder attempted to fix this by putting some kind of sealant in the grout, but didn't work. Pool builder is saying it's calcium leaching through the grout. His suggestion was to scrape the area out and regrout. I'm concerned if there's moisture leaching through it will just find the next weak spot to leach next. Any one experience this before and more importantly, how did you fix it. I've attached a pic - and grout line needs a good scrubbing, will do that once I'm back in the pool (it's about 70 degrees now and a bit too cool for me to get in quite yet :) ).
 

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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,853
Tucson, AZ
Did they use a standard tile grout? Looks like the grout is wicking water up from the pool and then you’re getting efflorescence.

Where is that location? Pool wall? Spa wall?

The installer should have water-proofed the gunite wall from the top of the bond beam to below the tile line. Also, there’s specific grouts that are used for submerged applications. Standard tile grout will absorb water. Epoxy grouts are the best butbthey are a pain to work with.
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,681
Houston, TX
Our water is 52 degrees...makes 70 sound like a steam bath.

how old is your pool? if in a warranty period, I would for sure have the PB fix all places and put them on continual notice, that is if it happens again, they would need to do an extensive investigation...Have you had a lot of rains?
 
Last edited:

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
Did they use a standard tile grout? Looks like the grout is wicking water up from the pool and then you’re getting efflorescence.

Where is that location? Pool wall? Spa wall?

The installer should have water-proofed the gunite wall from the top of the bond beam to below the tile line. Also, there’s specific grouts that are used for submerged applications. Standard tile grout will absorb water. Epoxy grouts are the best butbthey are a pain to work with.
I believe it's seeping from the grout line, down the tile and to the water line. Saying this as after I clean the area I can watch it start forming all over again. The build up starts at the grout line and then begins to seep downward. Take a couple of weeks to make that journey.
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,681
Houston, TX
Matt, isn't efflorescence usually a silica or off white color, not darker? It almost looks like rust of some kind.

What is the orange line btw the two tiles, or is it the lighting in the picture?
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
Our water is 52 degrees...makes 70 sound like a steam bath.

how old is your pool? if in a warranty period, I would for sure have the PB fix all places and put the on continual notice that if it happens again, they would need to do an extensive investigation...Have you had a lot of rains?
Heh - the lowest the water temp got this year was 65. I know I used to swim in Lake Michigan when I was younger (younger) and probably around 70, but no more for this guy :)

The pool is 3 years old. Warranty on tile/grout was 2 years. It's been like that for a while, PB is aware of the problem. His suggestion to scrape and regrout seems like a just a temporary patch, is the real concern then with the shell? It does seems that the weeping occurs much more during the wet season here.
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
Matt, isn't efflorescence usually a silica or off white color, not darker? It almost looks like rust of some kind.

What is the orange line btw the two tiles, or is it the lighting in the picture?
The grout line is a brown color. The coloring is off a bit as I tried to lighten the area for better visual. There are two areas with similar seepage, one is a dark brown and another a lighter color. My initial assumption is it's dirt from behind the pool shell wall, which is why I'm trying to determine what the best course of action is and speak with knowledge with pool builder. Thanks
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,681
Houston, TX
" It does seems that the weeping occurs much more during the wet season here."

what does it look like at the coping and deck joint right above these areas? Do you have any standing water there?

last question: how far is the distance btw the 2 areas that are seeping?
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
Did they use a standard tile grout? Looks like the grout is wicking water up from the pool and then you’re getting efflorescence.

Where is that location? Pool wall? Spa wall?

The installer should have water-proofed the gunite wall from the top of the bond beam to below the tile line. Also, there’s specific grouts that are used for submerged applications. Standard tile grout will absorb water. Epoxy grouts are the best butbthey are a pain to work with.
Forgot to respond. No sure what type of grout was used. It was grout as recommended/provided by the pool tile store. With exception of two similar areas all the other areas of the tile look fine. This is located along the back wall, between the screen footer and pool. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a pic. This also shows a more true color of the area.

IMG_20190210_133025.jpg
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,488
Possibly a drainage issue. If you have higher ground around the pool that stays wet, the hydrostatic pressure can migrate through the wall and cause efflorescence.

What is the ground elevation around the pool and does the ground stay wet?
 
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bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
" It does seems that the weeping occurs much more during the wet season here."

what does it look like at the coping and deck joint right above these areas? Do you have any standing water there?

last question: how far is the distance btw the 2 areas that are seeping?
There are just pavers above that area. I posted a pic of the area in message above.
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
Possibly a drainage issue. If you have higher ground around the pool that stays wet, the hydrostatic pressure can migrate through the wall and cause efflorescence.

What is the ground elevation around the pool and does the ground stay wet?
There is a build up/elevation around that area of the pool, but the ground level itself is actually lower than the pool. Here'a a pic of the area to show the step up at the area with concrete wall / footer behind it
.IMG_20190210_133520.jpg
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
" It does seems that the weeping occurs much more during the wet season here."

what does it look like at the coping and deck joint right above these areas? Do you have any standing water there?

last question: how far is the distance btw the 2 areas that are seeping?
Here's a wide picture of the area. The two areas are on opposite sides of the pool, but on same wall. There's no standing water, but perhaps drainage issue in the soil area between the outside wall and shell? I've also attached a picture that I took when pool was being built, it shows how that area before pavers installed. I've put a red box around the areas with the leak/seepage/whatever it is. Photo   Google Photos.pngPhoto   Google Photos (1).png
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
If you're only getting efflorescence near the sheer descents, I would suspect that they might be leaking.
The PB had a guy out to look for any leaks. Didn't find anything, but it was more visual and he was checking the descent areas. Any suggestions on how to determine if there's a leak in those areas?
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,853
Tucson, AZ
The PB had a guy out to look for any leaks. Didn't find anything, but it was more visual and he was checking the descent areas. Any suggestions on how to determine if there's a leak in those areas?
You’d have to pull up the pavers to see the condition of the base.

Or a leak detection company with very specialized sounding/infrared equipment.
 

bobandsherry

Bronze Supporter
Apr 20, 2016
390
Riverview, FL
You’d have to pull up the pavers to see the condition of the base.

Or a leak detection company with very specialized sounding/infrared equipment.
Thanks. PB said that cost would be mine for detection company (est $350-400) but if there was a leak he'd cover the cost. Guess time to get detection company lined up.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,488
Is the efflorescence only near the sheer?

If yes, then I would suspect that they are leaking.

A pressure test would be the best way to detect a leak, but I don't know of a good way to plug the outlet.

Maybe the manufacturer of the sheer has a way to pressure test.

You might be able to use some sort of strong tape to seal the outlet and then use a standpipe near the equipment to fill the pipe with water a foot or two above the sheers to see if the water leak out overnight.

Or, pull up some pavers and dig down so that you can see if water fills the ground when the sheers are on.

Or, completely expose the sheers to look for leaks.