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Pool Tile Cleaning: How To Best Remove Calcium Buildup

There's nothing better than a refreshing swimming pool on a hot day. Pools are a wonderful addition to almost any home. Especially in nice, warm places like Southern California, there's nothing like a pool to cool off, relax, and just have a great time. Unfortunately, if you have a pool with glass or porcelain tile, you're probably also quite familiar with one of the less pleasant parts of owning a pool, and that's pool tile cleaning. Somehow, no matter how well you maintain your pool, no matter how clean you keep it, and no matter what chemicals or additives you use, over time there'll be unsightly calcium build-up around the waterline, and also all over the spillway if you have a Jacuzzi.

When they first see calcium build-up, most pool owners try to wipe it off with scrubbers, cleaners, or pumice stone. Well, sponges and scrubbers just plain don't work, and if you try cleaners that are supposed to dissolve calcium, you just end up with a big mess in the pool, and the calcium still won't go away. Pool places often recommend pumice stone to scrub calcium off. Pumice is solidified lava and can do a good job removing calcium, but it's hard, frustrating work that can cut your hands and scratch your tile. Soft pumice is safer, but it tends to crumble, so you can go through a lot of (fairly expensive) blocks. Some people try muriatic acid, but that can be dangerous and is definitely not recommended.

So what method works best for pool tile cleaning? The answer is that this is one area where it's best to leave it to the professionals. That's because there's really only one method to remove calcium and bring your pool back to its former shine and glory, and that's glass bead or soda blasting. "Blasting" sounds serious and a bit intimidating, but all it really means is that a pressure hose uses tiny little glass beads (they're so small, it feels more like powder in your hands) or soda grains to clean the calcium off the tile. This works exceptionally well, but it needs to be done right.

The science behind blasting is that you shoot something at the calcium that is harder than the calcium, but softer than the porcelain tile. Glass does the job. Glass beads, however, would damage glass tiles, so glass pool tile cleaning uses soda blasting instead. So selecting the proper bead type is crucial, and a good professional service will check the tile and select the proper bead. The second important thing is pressure. Too much pressure, and the tile can get damaged. Too little pressure and calcium residue will be left behind. Professional services will use big truck-mounted compressors for the necessary high airflow at just the right pressure.

How does a service do the blasting, and what happens to the beads? The methods vary depending on the type of pool and tile. Porcelain tile is by far the most common, and in those pools, there's no need to completely drain the water; you simply lower the water level a few inches below the tile. The bead blasting then safely removes the calcium buildup. But what happens with the glass bead used for blasting? That settles at the bottom of the pool from where it is quickly vacuumed out after the cleaning.

Ugly calcium buildup is inevitable in most pools (the calcium leaches from the pool plaster and then builds up on the tile). You can try to remove it manually, but between the time it takes and the risk of hurting yourself and the tile, this is one area where getting a professional service to do it makes much more sense.

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