5 Alternatives to Acid Washing Your Pool

Written by Michael Dean
July 2, 2024

acid washing pool plaster

Acid washing your pool can be a pain. Not only is it dangerous and expensive, but it also takes a toll on both you and your swimming pool. That said, if your pool is extra dirty and murky, even after thorough cleaning, it may be time for an acid wash. Thankfully, if you want to avoid acid washing your pool, there are some alternatives that may work, depending on your situation.

In this article, I will go over several alternatives to acid washing your swimming pool, how to prevent the need for it, and answer some frequently asked questions. Let’s get straight to it!

Main Takeaways

  • Alternatives to acid washing your pool include diamond polishing, replastering, pressure washing, brushing the pool, and a no-drain acid wash.
  • To prevent the need for acid washing your pool, maintain it well by regularly cleaning it, running the filter, shocking it, and maintaining a good chemical balance.
  • Acid washing should be a last resort but can restore the luster of your pool.

Alternatives to Acid Washing Your Pool

Acid washing is a fairly common method for deep-cleaning swimming pools, especially when there are stains or heavy algae buildup. However, it’s a harsh process that can damage the pool’s surface over time. It is also difficult and can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, here are some alternatives you should consider.

1. Diamond Polishing

You should consider diamond polishing if you have a concrete pool and do not mind shelling out a bit more money on an acid-washing alternative. Diamond polishing is extremely effective at removing stains and smoothing out rough areas of the pool and will restore your pool to its original luster without any harsh chemicals. The best part is that you can diamond polish your pool without draining it, so you’ll save money on your water bill. Keep in mind that this method is NOT DIY-friendly, and you must hire a professional to diamond polish your pool.

2. Replastering

If you haven’t replaced your pool plaster in more than 10 years, it may be time to replaster your pool. Take a look at your plaster. Is it rough and thin? Does it have stains and chips? If so, replastering the pool would be a better option to restore your pool to its original condition instead of acid washing the pool.

Replastering is a more extensive renovation process that involves removing the old plaster layer and applying a new one to the pool’s surface. This completely refreshes the look and feel of your pool, addressing issues such as cracks and pitting. However, keep in mind that this option is time-consuming and costly. Plus, you will need to drain the pool for this and hire a professional to ensure proper application.

3. Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is a great way to remove stains, dirt, and algae and is gentler on your concrete pool than acid washing. It may not be as effective on deep stains, but it is still super effective for general cleaning and maintenance.

To pressure wash your pool, you will need to drain it beforehand. When you are pressure washing, be careful, as you don’t want to damage the surface of your pool!

4. Brushing the Pool

You should regularly brush and clean your pool to avoid the build-up of dirt and algae and to keep it nice and clean. But more than a preventative method, if you find some stains on your pool surfaces, if it’s a light stain, you may only need a simple brush to get your pool back in shape.

To brush your pool, attach a nylon-bristled brush to a pole. Then, brush all the surfaces of your pool, paying particular attention to the areas with stains.

5. No-Drain Acid Wash

While technically a type of acid wash, you can lessen some of the workload of a traditional acid wash and do a no-drain acid wash instead. This alternative method involves adding acid directly to the water so that it cleans the pool’s surfaces without the need to drain the pool. This can help you save a lot of money on a hefty water bill! A no-drain acid wash is a great way to remove stains from the pool, but it may not be as effective as a normal acid wash for more severe stains.

Here are the steps to do a no-drain acid wash:

  1. Clean the pool: Brush, vacuum, and shock it to get it as clean as possible.
  2. Remove accessories: Remove all pool accessories from the pool, including your ladder, pool toys, lights, rails, and anything else that might be affected by acidic water.
  3. Raise the water level: Top up your pool water to cover every part of your pool.
  4. Turn off the pump: Do not run the pool pump and filter at any point during the no-drain acid wash process!
  5. Decrease the pH: Use a pH decreaser or sodium bisulfate to lower the pH and alkalinity of your water. Make sure the alkalinity is at 0.
  6. Brush the pool and test the water: Brush the pool consistently for 72 hours to keep the water circulating, and continuously test the water to ensure the pH levels are still low.
  7. Raise the pH: After 72 hours, raise the pH and alkalinity with a pH increaser or soda ash.
  8. Test the water: Make sure your pool’s pH is between 7.2 and 7.6 and its total alkalinity is between 80 and 120 ppm.

How to Prevent the Need to Acid Wash Your Pool

While acid washing your pool may eventually be necessary, there are some tips and tricks you can follow to prevent your pool from needing it for longer. In the end, it all boils down to proper pool care and maintenance. With these tips, you shouldn’t need to acid wash your pool more than every 5-7 years.

Clean Your Pool

Skim the surface of your pool daily to remove leaves, bugs, and other debris. Regularly brush and vacuum the walls and floor of your pool to prevent the buildup of algae and stains.

Balance Your Pool Chemistry

Test your pool water regularly with a test strip or liquid drop test to ensure proper chemical levels, as follows:

  • pH: 7.2-7.6
  • Chlorine: 1-3 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 175-275 ppm
  • CYA: 30-50 ppm

Correcting these chemical imbalances, no matter how small, will prevent algae growth and scale formation, which are common reasons for acid washing.

Maintain Your Filter

Clean or backwash your pool filter regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A clean filter is key to removing those nasty contaminants from your pool.

Shock Your Pool

You should shock your pool once a week to maintain clear water. Shocking helps prevent the buildup of algae and bacteria in the pool.

Use Algaecides

Algaecides help prevent algae growth, providing an extra layer of protection against contaminants that can stain your pool surfaces.

Cover Your Pool

I highly recommend investing in a good-quality pool cover to reduce the amount of debris that enters your pool. A cover keeps out leaves and dirt, which can cause staining.

Circulate the Water

Always ensure your pool pump and filter run for at least 8 to 10 hours a day. Proper circulation helps distribute chemicals throughout the pool and prevents stagnant areas where algae and bacteria can thrive.

Is Acid Washing Okay for Your Pool?

No matter how well you care for your pool, there will come a time when you may need to acid wash it. Acid washing is incredibly effective at removing stubborn stains and algae, but no doubt it’s a harsh method for your pool surfaces. While you will end up with a pool that looks brand new, I recommend only acid washing as a last resort when other cleaning methods have failed, and the pool’s appearance has significantly deteriorated. This is because acid washing strips a thin layer of plaster or concrete from your pool.

While you may be unable to avoid acid washing your pool at some point during its lifespan, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a professional. Acid washing can be dangerous, as you will be handling a harmful substance that can damage the pool if done incorrectly.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to acid wash a swimming pool?

To keep your pool in tip-top shape, you may need to acid wash it every 5 to 7 years. While there are alternatives to acid washing, as mentioned above, there is no substitute for a good old-fashioned acid wash for severe and deep stains.

How do you remove pool stains?

To remove pool stains, you must first identify the kind of stains in your pool. For example, if you have an organic stain, you can remove it with a chlorine shock. Or, if you have a metal stain, you should use citric or ascorbic acid granules. For more on this, check out my full post on how to remove pool stains.

Acid Wash or Not?

Acid washing should be a last resort. If your pool looks less than ideal and you simply cannot remove any severe staining, it may be time to drain the pool and acid wash the surfaces. A single acid wash is not likely to hurt your pool, especially if you hire a professional to do the job. But do not over-acid-wash your pool. Instead, maintain your pool well throughout the year to avoid having to acid wash your pool more than every 5 to 7 years.

Do you have any more questions about acid washing? Let me know!

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