Sunday, May 27, 2012

Replacing The Caulking Around A Pool

This walkthrough will cover the steps we took while replacing the caulking around a pool.
This is not meant as a complete set of instructions on how to remove and replace caulking or how to use Deck O Seal. It is meant as an additional reference to their products included instructions for anyone attempting to replace their own pool deck caulking. If you are unsure about doing any of this yourself then don’t hesitate to hire a professional.

The caulking of a pool is a flexible material that allows the concrete next to a pool to move a small amount without creating a gap that allows water to flow in between. Over time the caulking can dry, crack or break, creating openings for water. If water gets between the pool and the concrete it can cause the ground to become soft and the concrete to move up or down next to the pool.

The entire process of removing and then pouring takes hours and should be started and finished in the same day, since removing the existing caulking leaves that area vulnerable to water.

What you will need to follow our steps
- A caulking/coping product (I used Deck-O-Seal) - the amount you need depends on the area you will be covering

- A household-style broom
- A small brush or small broom

- A flat head screw driver (to open the caulking containers)
- Linoleum knife (also known as a Vinyl knife)

What you might need
- A pair of work gloves

- A bottle of Acetone

- Outdoor kneepads
- Scissors

1) Removing the existing caulking
Firstly, the old caulking needs to be removed. Use the Linoleum knife to cut both sides, and then pull the caulking out.

Note 1: Do this step for the entire pool before anything else, but do not do sections at a time. The caulking will start to dry as soon as it is mixed, so once the caulking is mixed the entire pool should be prepped and ready. 

Note 2: If any section of caulking needs to be redone then redo the entire pool. The color will probably not match if only a section is replaced, and if the caulking broke in one area then all of the caulking could be ready to crack/break since it will have all been subjected to similar conditions.

Usually there is either foam or sand underneath the old caulking.

For the moment leave whatever is underneath alone and only remove the old caulking. Keep these removed pieces as they might be needed later.

2) Leveling the area that the new caulking will sit in
The space between the pool and the concrete next to it needs to be a quarter inch valley from the top of the line of the pool. 
If there are any holes or gaps in this area then the new caulking will drain through this and not settle down correctly. If there are any gaps use sand to fill them, leveling out the space to the correct depth.

It is possible that a gap is too deep to be plugged with sand, in this case use a small piece of the old caulking to plug this gap then pour sand over that.

This valley area needs to be clean, anything poking up (old caulking left stuck to the side or bottom or foam at the bottom of the valley that was used originally to create the proper depth for the caulking) can poke up though the new caulking while it is drying. Make sure this valley is clear and is the proper depth.

Use a brush or small broom to help level out the sand.

3) Prepare the new caulking mixture

We used Deck-O-Seal for this job, if you have a different product your steps will vary. Always follow the instructions that come with your mixture.
In the Deck-O-Seal box are two containers of caulking mixtures, a pour bottle, instructions and a wood mixer.

Pour the small container into the gallon sized container.

Both have a thick texture. Scoop out as much as you can from the small container to the large container.
Mix with the included wooden mixer for 10 minutes. While mixing be sure to push along the sides of the gallon container to mix both of the chemicals completely together.

4) Pour the caulking from the gallon container to the application bottle
Slowly pour the newly mixed caulking to the provided bottle.

This can be a messy process, so pour over a tarp or something similar.

Attach the top to the bottle. Cut the top of the bottle (with the Linoleum knife or a pair of scissors) at a 45 degree angle; this will help you to pour in a consistent way.

Place the top back on to the gallon sized container. This will prevent items from blowing inside and hopefully slow the drying process of the unused caulking until more is needed.

5) Pouring new caulking around the pool
The new caulking should settle between the pool and the concrete next to it, not over them. Slowly squeeze the bottle allowing a small amount of caulking to be released while moving along the already prepared valley around the pool.

Notice that the caulking sits in the valley, not over lapping either the pool or the concrete side.

If any caulking drips onto the deck, use acetone to clean it up while it is still wet.
Go as far as you can with the bottle, then refill for the leftovers still in the gallon container. There is about 2.5 to 3 bottles worth of caulking per one gallon container.

If you run out prepare another gallon using the same steps you used to make the first and repeat as necessary.

Each prepared gallon is expected to be good to use for about one hour (at 77 degrees Fahrenheit) after it is mixed. After that it will be too solid to be poured.

6) (optional step) Apply sand to the newly poured caulking
I have noticed that not everyone does this. We always do so I am including it in this walkthrough.
Apply a small amount of sand to the still-wet, newly poured caulking. Doing this give the caulking a grain-like texture that better matches most concrete textures.

7) Letting the caulking dry
It will take about 24 hours to dry assuming ideal warm weather (77 degrees Fahrenheit or above) conditions. After the 24 hour period check the caulking; it should be firm and not feel tacky. If it has not finished drying give it another 24 hours.
Once dry, sweep up the remaining sand from around the pool with a standard house broom.

Note: Do not sweep the sand while the caulking is wet or tacky, as this will cause the caulking to streak and/or leave broom gashes in the caulking.
(after pics)

Final notes
There is no way to know how long caulking will last before it cracks or breaks up. It will depend on weather conditions and the soil underneath the concrete/pool. Also, it should be noted that it is possible that the ground is soft and the concrete will move causing gaps, regardless of the quality/state of the caulking.

Wine Country Pools & Supplies

Friday, May 4, 2012

Swimming Pool Algae Removal

Algae  can appear in any pool or spa. They prefer to bloom in shadows but can grow anywhere underwater. Brushing algae alone may not be enough to kill them so I will list here the various steps we use for removing algae.
Note that two different types of algaecides are used. This is done to ensure that the algae are removed in a timely fashion. In most cases, we are hired to remove algae in a pool or spa that we have not had any previous experience with. Our goal is to remove the algae as quickly as possible.

What I used (What you would need to follow the same procedure)
1) A Chlorine and Acid test kit
2) 3 gallons of liquid Chlorine
3) 1 Gallon of liquid Acid
4) Swimtrine Plus Algaecide
5) EZ Clor EZ Clor Granular Algae Out
6) A swimming pool pole
7) Swimming pool net
8) Swimming pool brush (at least one, I used two)
9) Diatomaceous Earth (DE) (Since this pool filter was a DE filter)

1) Check chemicals.
Check the chlorine and PH levels with any standard swimming pool test kit. The chlorine should be at least 3.0 and the PH around 7.2.
Use liquid chlorine to raise chlorine levels and liquid acid to lower PH levels since liquids are the fastest to dissolve in water. (Not sure aboutPH levels? See our PH/Alkalinity guide.)

2) Skim the water of debris.
Skim the leaves with a swimming pool net, branches, grass, palms and any other debris out of the water. These can dissolve into the water, leaving phosphates and/or nitrates behind for the algae to consume.

I use a slit net that catches much smaller pieces of debris. However, this net is more expensive than the average net and is more difficult to maneuver around the water because of its smaller net holes.

3) Use algaecide.
Next, use a liquid copper based algaecide. It won’t get caught in a skimming net and dissolves quickly in the water. Swimtrine Plus was used for this specific job.

4) Brush pool/spa.
Algae has layers and if left alone, the algaecide would need to pass though each layer. When algae are brushed, the layers are reduced, allowing easier access for the algaecide.
I use two swimming pool brushes, a small brush to get in corners, between rock fixtures, and around steps and then a large brush for the sides and floor.

5) Skim again.
Brushing the floor and walls usually stirs up previously unseen debris. These should now be removed from the water.

6) Use second algaecide.
Now, apply a chorine based granular algaecide around the pool/spa. This algaecide will sit an area and slowly dissolve. This is great for concentrating the algaecide on or near algae. I use a chlorine based algaecide since it will also boost the chlorine levels in the water. Since the PH was also just balanced, we know that the chlorine will be at its peak effectiveness. A potassium or bromine based algaecide could also be used, but we stick to what we already know works well.

7) Wait.
The pool/spa needs to filter. Ideally, the system should run constantly for 24-48 hours. The water needs to circulate to mix chemicals and the filter needs to be filtering out dead algae from the water. The pool/spa will change colors from green to grey to clear. The gray is dead algae that will need to be filtered out.
In some cases, the system will be so clogged with algae that it will stop pushing water. The filter will need to be cleaned now and then again after the dead algae is removed from the water.

48 hours later

At this point, the majority of algae will be removed from the water.

8) Clean the filter.
It is now time to clean the filter. In this case, it was a Pentair Quad Filter.

If you need to see a more detailed description of how to do this, see our cleaning filter walkthroughs.

How to clean a Purex Triton 4000 Series DE filter

How to Clean a Hayward ProGrid DE Filter

9) Balance chemicals.
Recheck the chemicals. The chlorine levels will probably be low (under 3.0) from killing algae and the PH will have also dropped below 7.2 from the low PH of granular algaecide.
Use liquid chlorine for raising chlorine levels and soda ash for raising PH levels.

10) Brush pool/spa for the last time.
Check walls and floor; the pool/spa may need to be brushed to remove any remaining dead algae or even vacuumed depending on what your water currently looks like.

There is no way to prevent algae from ever appearing, however keeping the chemicals strong and the pool filtering long enough each day go a long way in keeping algae blooms down to a minimum.