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Pool Surface Growths or Damage


Some surface problems involve growths or deposits on the pool surface. Different problems will vary in color and texture. Following are some of the problems that could develop in your pool:
Scale Buildup — scale buildup is usually white or tan in color and feels like sandpaper in the early stages. As it gets worse, the edges become sharp, and if on the bottom, can actually cut people’s feet. Scale is actually calcium carbonate that has come out of solution and solidified on walls. It is caused by poor water balance parameters, such as high calcium hardness, high pH, or high total alkalinity over a period of time. This deposit must be physically removed, and usually requires draining. Acid washing will remove it or sand blasting. To prevent scale buildup, maintain proper water balance.

Algae Growth — algae or fungal growths will usually brush off with some effort. They range in color from white (water mold), to pink (pink slime), to black or green (black spot algae). See Bulletins #120 — Pink Slime & White Water Mold by BioGuard® or Bulletin #117 — Black Algae for recommendations.

Etching — etching occurs in plaster pools where proper water balance has not been maintained over a period of time. Acidic conditions in the water will literally eat away plaster. To prevent this, maintain proper water balance. Etching can only be removed by re-plastering.

Pool Goo or Tar — new vinyl liners often have a buildup of sticky substance that adheres to the bottoms of feet and sometimes turns black. This is plasticizer migrating from within the liner, and is usually only prevalent in colder water temperatures with new vinyl liners. Brushing and shocking can help reduce this buildup, as can increasing the water temperature. This buildup usually goes away on its own as the liner ages and the water temperature warms up.

Cobalt Staining — cobalt staining (also called “Colbalting”), is a phenomenon particular to fiberglass surfaces. This occurs when tiny cracks or blisters form within the fiberglass, then break open and are exposed to the water or air. When this occurs, a black discoloration within the crack or blister may be displayed. Sometimes this can be lightened with an acidic stain remover applied topically. This solution is temporary, and the discoloration will usually return.

Vinyl Liner Wrinkling — acidic water will, over a period of time, remove plasticizer from a liner, cause it to stretch and eventually wrinkle. Maintain proper water balance and test frequently to avoid this problem.

Electrolysis — electrolysis refers to the electrolytic corrosion of metal components due to inadequate electrical grounding. Both metals and pool water conduct electrical currents, and sometimes create a closed circuit in which metal migrates from metal components, such as ladders and lights, into the water. These corroded metal parts may develop pits, rust, or require frequent replacement. Aluminum ladders may accumulate scale, even though the water is properly balanced. To eliminate this problem, make sure that ladders, pumps, lights, and other metal accessories are properly grounded.

Download a printable PDF: BUL-121 – POOL SURFACE GROWTHS OR DAMAGE

Bulletin #121