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onBalance demo pool project underway

onBalance demo pool project underway onBalance demo pool project underway

Construction is underway at onBalance’s demonstration pools, a swimming pool plaster study being conducted in Tucson, Arizona.

The research and consulting group is currently building two demonstration pools to study a variety of plaster and pigment defects under different types of water chemistry conditions.

In their latest news, the plumbing of the two pools was completed with the installation of four pumps and filters, finished by the Tucson IPSSA chapter on February 6.

Members spent five hours setting up four Waterway pumps and Hayward filters. The chapter donated their time and labor, while using it as a learning opportunity in equipment installation, as many of its members had never had occasion to set up equipment from scratch. Funds for the equipment were donated by Jerry Wallace, owner of Swim Chem, in Sacramento, California, IPSSATucson Chapter, IPSSA Region 8 and the IPSSA National Board.

According to onBalance member Que Hales, the two pools have been gunited and tiled, and now that the plumbing is complete, upcoming work will include the electrical work, pouring the slab and decking. He says they are hoping to begin plastering in March or April.

The goal of their first set of experiments is to examine the effects of water chemistry on pigmented plaster as well as studying varying concentrations of calcium chloride, a set accelerant to the plaster admixture.

Hales said that the pigment experiment was inspired by a conversation he had with Jim Meadows, a now retired pool plasterer.

“Jim told me that every time he plastered a pool with blue, the blue in the plaster would fade. It got to the point where he either refused to do blue, or tried to strongly discourage people from using blue because he didn’t want his customers to be unhappy with the work that he did,” Hales said.

Hales explained to Meadows that inorganic blue pigmented plaster would hold up under the bleaching effects of chlorine, but it was a lot more expensive, so it would be difficult to sell competitively to his customers. Organic pigments, on the other hand, can fade when exposed to chlorine.

Hales decided to research the color fading issue in his own lab, using over a hundred different collected samples from manufacturers as well as making his own blue and black plaster samples, called coupons. The organic pigmented coupons, composed of copper pthalo, all faded under chlorinated water. Meanwhile, the inorganic pigmented plasters, which are cobalt based, held up.

onBalance Demonstration Pools, Tucson, Arizona, February 12, 2021. Hales and his research team at onBalance decided to test this phenomenon on a larger scale and under different conditions, and have set to work building demonstration pools.

For their first experiment, they plan to plaster a pool in four sections.

Three of the sections will be organic pigmented blue plaster and one will be inorganic pigmented blue plaster.

They plan to divide the pool in half and then for one year subject half of the plaster to aggressive water, while the other half of the pool will be LSI balanced.

Hales said they expect to see the fading and discoloration more noticeable in the organic sections, and will observe the additional effects from aggressive verses balanced water.

For their second pool, they plan to study the effects of calcium chloride set accelerant to the plaster mix. The common industry-wide accepted plastering standard is that the mix should not contain more than two percent calcium chloride.

However, some plasterers exceed this limit and onBalance has reported that when it is exceeded problems start to become visible.

To study this, they will divide the pool into four sections of white plaster and add 0, 1, 2 and 3 percent calcium chloride to the sections to bracket the two percent standard. They plan to divide the pool in half and then for one year subject half of the plaster to aggressive water, while the other half of the pool will be LSI balanced.

Hales said they expect to see that higher amounts of calcium chloride can lead to a light grey discoloration effect on the plaster as well as increased porosity; and again, the effects of aggressive verses balanced water will be observed.

onBalance welcomes donations for completing the project. Hales said that while the cost of building the pools is now covered, the major expense will be in the petrographic lab studies to analyze the samples, which will be upwards of $16,000. To see how donated funds have been allocated, go to www.poolhelp.com.

To donate, send a Venmo payment to @Que-Hales. He can be contacted at [email protected] Also, if anyone wants to get involved in the building portion of the project, includes electrical work, decking and plastering, they welcome the help, say it will be a great learning experience.

“The more the merrier – If people want to come and get involved, great!” Hales said.

IPSSA Tucson volunteers, onBalance Demonstration Pools, Tucson, Arizona

IPSSA Tucson volunteers, onBalance Demonstration Pools, Tucson, Arizona

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