Pool Chemistry: What is a Fire-Up?

Learn why pool maintenance for a new pool is critical during the first two weeks.

As part of your pool resurfacing contract, Cliff’s Pools and Patios performs an initial chemical treatment to lower the pH of the fill water. We add a sequestering agent chemical to suspend any metal particles in the fill water to help prevent staining and add an initial dose of chlorine to immediately kill any bacteria in the fill water.

It is then your responsibility to properly balance the fill water, which includes adding several other balancing chemicals slowly over the next 4 to 6 weeks. This process requires frequent water testing and chemical adjustments. Is also includes strict brushing requirements and cleaning services throughout the first 30 days. Actually the same services you’re used to, only far more frequently. After 30 days, normal routine pool servicing standards should resume. This special start-up process is commonly called the fire-up stage and lasts about 28 days while the new pool plaster finish cures underwater. Some homeowners have a pool service company that can perform this special fire-up service for them, usually at an additional fee. Cliff’s Pools also offers this service for a fee.

What happens during this 28-day curing process? As a natural occurrence, the underwater plaster, regardless of what type of aggregate finish was installed, begins to hydrate as soon as it’s installed and continues for 28 days just like any other above-water cement product.

While the new plaster hydrates underwater, looses plaster dust or “cream” naturally forms on the surface and must be vigorously brushed off to prevent scaling and staining. The pool finish manufacturer and the National Plasters Council and Cliff’s Pool’s and Patios all recommend this aggressive brushing be done daily or at a minimum every other day to achieve optimum results, while also enhancing the beauty of your new pool finish. Most pool service companies cannot schedule this many service treatments; Cliff’s Pools and Patios can.

When this loose cement cream, which has been brushed off, mixes with the pool water it makes the pool water vey alkaline and causes the pH to rise beyond acceptable standards. The pH must then be lowered immediately. An unacceptable high pH will cause scale to form on the new pool finish that cannot be brushed off. To remove scale, or the stains that come with it, would require the pool be drained and acid washed. Not good. Therefore, immediate and accurate chemical adjustments to the pH and carbonate alkalinity, using muriatic acid and other pool chemicals, are mandatory after each brushing.

The cream that was brushed off the walls and floor makes the water a little cloudy for a while but is soon trapped in the filter and the pool clears up again. Subsequently, the main pool filter should be cleaned during each service to remove the trapped cream and allow for proper water flow. The first two weeks are the most critical.

Posted in Swimming Pool How-To.