New pool startup is critical to new plaster and equipment, however a lot of new owners have no idea how important it is and pool builders may or may not take care of it for them. Improper startup can cause staining, discoloration, improper curing, and even create problems that could reduce the life of the pool surface.
A professional service should be considered if the startup is not included as part of the initial pool contract. It’s key that new pool owners understand the requirements for their particular pool plaster type and specific warranty requirements so that they can make the right decisions and protect their new pools for years of enjoyment.
Initial Water Fill
- Water should be tested before filling the pool in order to understand the water chemistry and determine the best approach for filling. For example, in some cases it’s best to have water delivered because the fill water has very high metal or calcium content.
- Wrap a towel around the end of the hose and secure it to capture impurities, prevent spraying, and protect the surface while filling.
- Pro Tip – An empty milk jug or soda bottle can be tied to the hose to keep it from touching the new pool surface as it fills.
- Once the pool is filling it shouldn’t be stopped until complete as it could create a permanent water line ring.
- Pro Tip – the autofill shouldn’t be used as it will create a streak in the plaster (similar to the water line ring.) A garden hose should be used instead.
- Start the filtration system as soon as the pool is filled and let it run 24 x 7 until the water is clear, over a week typically.
- Brush Brush Brush!! The pool should be brushed at least 2 times per day during the first week, but more is even better. The plaster dust needs to be stirred up often so it can be filtered out and not affect the smoothness of the plaster surface.
- Test pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and metal content.
- If there are metals in the water, add a CuLator to completely remove them.
- High alkalinity should be adjusted to 80 ppm using muriatic acid.
- Pro Tip – Always pre-dilute the acid by adding it to a five gallon bucket of pool water.
- Low alkalinity should be adjusted to be between 80 ppm – 100 ppm to enable pH adjustment.
- pH should be reduced to 7.2 to 7.6 by adding pre-diluted Muriatic Acid
- Brush Brush Brush!!
- Once the alkalinity and pH are adjusted then adjust calcium hardness levels to a minimum of 150 ppm.
- Adjustments requiring more than 20 lb. of Calcium Chloride should be diluted and added in 10lb increments (no more than twice per day.)
- Brush Brush Brush!!
- Test pH and alkalinity and adjust as needed.
- Add stabilizer (CYA), we recommend liquid as it mixes more quickly and will not settle on the new plaster finish.
- Brush again, why not?
Day 4 – Day 28
- Brush Brush Brush!!
- Test pH, Carbonate Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness.
- After the 4th Day, calcium levels should be adjusted slowly over the 28-day period, not to exceed 200 ppm.
- After the 4th day, adjust CYA levels to 30 to 50 ppm.
- On the 7th day, if there is any plaster dust remaining – remove it using a brush pool vacuum.
General Info, Do’s and Don’ts
- Remember to contact the plaster manufacturer to understand their guidance and warranty requirements before filling with water, their guidelines should be followed to make sure the plaster warranty is not voided.
- Owners shouldn’t get in the pool for the first 14 days as the surface is still curing and could be damaged.
- pH tends to increase during the curing process and as a result acid may have to be added often, but it will eventually normalize.
- Don’t use the heater until the plaster dust is gone, usually about 2 weeks, however some plaster manufacturers recommend waiting 28 days before using the heater as it could have an effect on the curing process.
- Do not shock for 30 days.
- Do not add chlorine for the first week and do not add salt or turn on the salt generator for 28 days.
- Do not use pool cleaners (built-in or wheeled such as Polaris) for the first 28 days.
- Do not use any chemical feeders like in-line chlorine/tablet feeders or salt-water chlorine generators as they could be damaged or could cause damage to the finish.
- The pool surface will feel rough initially, but over time it will become more smooth. Brushing frequently helps and should be continued over the life of the pool.
For more detailed explanations and guidance, here are 2 excellent resources:
- Pool Guy Podcast Show – New Plaster Pool Startup Issues
- National Plasterers Council – Start-up Procedures Card