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Useful Tips
As the owner of a newly plastered pool, you may have some questions about the care required to properly maintain the new surface. The following suggestions and pointers will help inform you about special areas of concern. Please remember that these are tips and for specific instructions it is always best to consult your builder, plasterer or service professional.

FILLING YOUR POOLOOL 

The hose is placed at the bottom of the pool with a clean soft cloth wrapped around the end to diffuse the water entering the pool. The water must be left running until the pool is full and the water level is halfway up the skimmer opening. If more than one hose is used, additional hoses should be placed on the deck and weighted down so that the water will project into the deep end of the pool. Additional hoses should only be turned on once the pool contains 3 -4 feet of water, with the volume adjusted so that the water does not contact plaster, only the center of the water in the deep end of the pool. Use care that water is not introduced in a manner that can damage plaster. Do not use the fill line to fill the pool. Do not fill the pool using softened water.

THE START-UP OF NEW PLASTER

There are several approaches to initial start-up. The main objectives are to balance pH, total alkalinity and hardness levels, and to remove the plaster scale (dust) created by fresh plaster and water. Questions regarding start-up should be directed to the builder, plasterer, or service technician. The start-up procedure plays a critical role in the cosmetic appearance of the plaster surface in the years to come. Consult your builder, plasterer or service company regarding special brushing needs during the first month of new plaster.

BASIC TOOLS NEEDED TO MAINTAIN THE POOL

 A basic set of equipment for the pool owner includes: an extendable pole, nylon brush, skimmer net, vacuum hose, brush-style vacuum head, and a 4-way test kit. A roller-vacuum head may be used after the first month.

TIPS TO HELP YOU THROUGH THE SEASONS

Your pool care will change depending upon the seasons of the year. You will find that during the summer season, your chemical usage will increase due to evaporation, greater sunlight, increase in water temperature and pool usage. During periods of high winds, your plaster may need to be brushed more frequently to prevent dirt from adhering to the surface. In the rainy season, you may need to lower the water in your pool to maintain the proper level (halfway up the skimmer opening.) Do not allow pool to overflow. 

CARE OF THE PLASTER SURFACE

The surface of your pool is constantly changing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many factors contribute to these changes, including the water hardness, heat, evaporation, treatment, maintenance, usage, and the composition and curing characteristics of the plaster itself. In time, the cosmetic appearance of the plaster will gradually change as a result of these naturally occurring factors. There are some procedures that can be helpful in minimizing these effects. Please consider the following section on preventive maintenance for better plaster care.

PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

Brushing

The brushing of your pool is an important plaster maintenance procedure. Brushing will help keep the surface smooth and free of debris, as well as help prevent metals and minerals from adhering to the surface. Whether you have a pool service or an automatic pool cleaning device, the pool owner should be sure to thoroughly brush the pool at least every other week. 

Water Testing

The pool owner should test the pool water for pH, alkalinity and disinfectant levels before adding chemicals. At least twice per year have your pool water tested for calcium hardness, total hardness, and dissolved solids. In areas of high water hardness, evaporation, high usage, or other unique chemical factors, it would be advisable to perform these tests more frequently, even monthly. Consult your builder, plasterer or service professional regarding specific recommended testing frequency for your local area. If possible, have copper and iron levels checked as well. 

Stain Preventives

The regular use of stain preventive type chemicals can greatly reduce the staining effects of the dissolved minerals in your pool water. Follow manufacturers directions or refer to your pool professional for proper dosages for your pool. 

Filtration

Proper filtration is important to the upkeep of your plaster and your pool. Your pool should be filtered daily to insure the removal of dirt and debris as well as to provide adequate circulation. Never allow dirt and debris to remain undisturbed for long periods of time as this will promote discoloration or staining.

NOTE: It would be helpful to markdown your filters clean operating pressure so that you can easily determine when cleaning is necessary. Generally speaking, the filter will require back washing or cleaning when the pressure is 5-12 pounds over the initial clean starting pressure. This will vary from filter to filter, depending on type and model. Check the manufacturers recommendations for your specific brand and model of filter.

WATER CHEMISTRY AND YOUR PLASTER

Water normally contains many dissolved minerals and metals. When water evaporates, only distilled (pure) water is lost, and all the dissolved minerals and metals are left behind. The eventual buildup of this material in your pool water adds to the water hardness. Calcium is one of the key elements found in both your pool water and plaster. It exists in equilibrium; if the water is too high in calcium, it can precipitate onto surfaces as scale. If the water does not contain enough calcium, it can actually draw it out (etch)from the plaster itself. In essence, a certain amount of calcium is necessary in pool water, too much or too little will likely cause problems. Imbalances in pH and alkalinity can also play a role in these problems. Be extremely careful when adding chemicals to your pool as some chemicals can bleach or burn the finish if allowed to settle on the surface. Scaling or corrosive conditions can be reduced by monitoring and maintaining proper chemical balance. 

Regular Pool Treatment

When you sanitize your pool, you are primarily treating the organic (living) materials in the water, and adjusting the pH and alkalinity to compensate for any changes the sanitizing agent may have had upon them. Water used to fill your pool can also affect pool water balance, and may require treatment. Regular pool treatment does not reduce the amount of dissolved minerals and other elements in the water. If your pool water tests high in dissolved minerals or calcium hardness, you should consider using stain preventive chemicals. In time you may need to drain and refill your pool when the level of dissolved minerals and hardness becomes excessive.

Local Water Conditions

Local water conditions will play an important role in your pool and plaster chemistry, as they differ greatly from area to area and even from day to day. You may want to consider having the water analyzed from the tap you use to fill your pool in order to check its chemical makeup. 

Alkalinity Testing

Alkalinity is an often neglected aspect of pool care. Proper control of your water alkalinity is essential to stabilize your pH. This will insure the effectiveness of your sanitizer and that your pool water does not go through drastic pH changes. Contact your builder, plasterer or service professional for suggested levels based on the sanitizer used and local water conditions. 

NOTE:  Colored Plaster Pools Naturally occurring mottling is more evident in colored plaster pools. Since the scale that forms on plaster is white, colored pools may require different care than white plaster pools. Strategies to deal with colored plaster can include chelating, sequestering or calcium reduction. Please consult your builder, plasterer or service professional for more information. 

SERVICE

 In choosing a professional pool maintenance company for regular service, be sure the service professional is properly trained and licensed as required. A qualified pool service company will make all the difference when it comes to helping you care for your investment. But, remember, even the best pool service cannot be at the poolside all the time. You should brush your pool regularly, and you may need to occasionally skim debris or add chemicals. Contact your service professional if you have any questions about your pools additional maintenance needs. 

This information has been produced as a cooperative effort by the National Plasterers Council, the National Association of Gas Chlorinaotors, the Swimming Pool Trades and Contractor Association and the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association. Photographs courtesy of Sunshine Pools, Inc. For additional copies, contact the National Plasterers Council, 28892 Marguerite Parkway, Suite 240, Mission Viejo, CA 92692.

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