For 32 years, the voice of the pool and spa service professional.

It’s time to pick your start-up method

By Marcelle Dibrell

With spring upon us, the swim season has begun. It’s one of the most demanding times of the year for service technicians, builders and plasterers alike. That is because in addition to readying existing pools for the season, spring is the busiest time of the year for new pool construction. With hot summer months ahead, many homeowners are ready to put in a new pool, and pool service technicians are regularly called in to manage the crucial first steps of a new pool start-up. 

This all-too-important task involves the timely filling, regular brushing and chemical control that can ultimately determine the final appearance and longevity of a newly plastered pool. According to the 2015 Service Industry News survey, roughly half of service technicians responding to our survey offer to perform new pool start-ups. It’s a lucrative service. In California, for example, service professionals charge an average of $450 for the job.

And why not?

It’s not an easy job. It’s time consuming. It involves rigorous chemical maintenance. And at the end of the day, it is frequently the service professional who is blamed if anything goes wrong with the surface’s appearance. According to most experts, new pool start-up procedures take about a month, when the majority of the plaster’s hydration reactions take place. During this time, the pool is most susceptible to staining and scaling unless the water’s balance is kept firmly in control. Proper start-ups require twice daily brushing and constant vigilance of the water chemistry. But experts disagree on what that water chemistry should be.

The National Plasterer’s Council approaches new pool start-up chemistry with a focus on alkalinity, and emphasizes keeping Langelier Saturation Indices in the ideal range. Then there is an acid start-up procedure, and as the name implies, pH levels are kept low in an effort to produce a smooth finish. Almost an opposite approach: onBalance’s bicarb start-up, is where water is pretreated with sodium bicarbonate to achieve a pH of about 8 to convert surface plaster into a harder, denser material. Pool start-ups procedures are a controversial topic in the industry, and there may be no one-size-fits-all method for every finish. 

In this issue of Service Industry News, we present the three most common plaster start-up procedures. 

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