Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sarro no more, acid, acid baby!


My pool was gorgious when it was finished almost five years ago.  The brillant sky blue little tiles made the water look so amazing and I was so taken with it.  Looking out from the terrazzo towards the emerald green garden area the awesome blue color of the pool water just set things off.  I was happy and the all was right with the pool gods.
This was my first pool so I had a learning curve on pool maintenance and all that stuff.  I can only surmise that over the years I allowed the ph to get wacked out from time to time because after a while this kind of brownish/gray/green build up started. 
Oh, I may not have brushed the pool walls and floor as often as I should have either.  Anyway this build up was very stubborn and I learned that it was called sarro and it was a by product of the heavy mineral deposits in the underground water here in the Yucatan. 
It actually started showing up at the water line on the pool walls.  At first it would come off with the pool brush and then I had to drain the water a wee bit and use some muratic acid and the brush and then it escalated to using a screwdriver and scraping as hard as I could.  While this was going on the floor was getting a build up especially along the floor at the base of the walls.
Things got worse so I thought that I'd throw on the scuba gear and see what I could do to remove the build up.  With a special hand filed and edged scraper I went down and commenced to scrape.  Over a few days I burned up four tanks of air and accomplished getting the steps scraped.  Total hours probably about three and a half.  I did not get much enjoyment out of scraping each little one inch square tile one at a time but the results were great.  However it wasn't something that I wanted to continue with.
For a while I tried various things on the tiles at the water line including using what I was told was pretty strong acid with little or no results.
Then as luck would have it I was over at our friend's Jim and Marianne's house and they had just had their tiles at the water line cleaned.  Jim said it was pretty fast and easy and Javier always did a great job.  I was introduced to Javier and I asked if he could clean the sarro off of the tiles in my pool.  He said yes, gave me his phone number and I said that I'd call.
I knew that I'd have to drain my pool and that kept me from calling for many months.  Sometime in the past I had been told that there was a possibility that when a tiled pool is drained and when the tiles dry out they might start coming loose.  I was fearful of that happening but the sarro had finally gotten so bad that I got to the point that I was willing to risk it.
So I made the call, well, as usual when I need to call someone that speaks Spanish Debi has to do the talking.
Javier came by on Friday and looked at the pool which was still filled with water (40,000 liters) and said he would come back on Monday and clean the pool.  Cost:400pesos.
He said that I needed to go to Barroso and get twenty liters of industrial acid.  Since I get most of my pool supplies from Hidromechanico I asked if I could get it there.  He said no that it had to come from Barroso. 
I asked when he would arrive on Monday and he said he would arrive at 11 and work for about two hours and then go eat and then return and finish around 2.
Oh, and the pool needed to be empty.  I kind of figured that but it was nice of him to remind me.
I said ok and the deal was made.

This is the 20 liter container of acid I got from Barroso. 225pesos

I opened the drain valve and emptied the pool starting late Sunday night into early Monday morning.  It took about three and a half hours to drain.

When I awoke the pool was empty and you could really see how bad the sarro was.

It was hard to believe that I had cleaned these steps previously and they had gotten so bad in less than a year.                 

You can see the build up of the sarro is heavier on the pool floor especially close to the walls.

This photo really gives a great overall picture of how bad the sarro is/was!  Of course the pool looked much better when it was filled with water which in turn allowed me to procrastinate longer than I should have!

I figured that I'd get up Monday morning and go get the acid and hopefully get Tate to the Vet for a nail trim.  I called the vet at 9 and he wasn't available so I made an appoinment for the next morning at 10.  Around 9:30 I was ready to go get the acid and Iwas heading towards the door and the doorbell rang.  Debi and I went to the door and there was Javier and two guys.  We looked at him, we looked at each other and then back at him and Debi asked "are you here to clean the pool?"  He said "yes", Debi said "but your early", he said "yes".  
Hmmmmm, a new phenominom....early!  We're really more adapt at the late arrival but not this.  We were kind of stunned and you could see a puzzled type look starting to come onto his face.
Debi says to him "Tom hasn't gotten the acid yet, he was just leaving to go get it."  Javier says "ok" and then asks "if I am going to the Barroso on calle 51 by 76 that is about ten minutes away?"  I say "yes" and he says "ok he'll be right back!"
I scurry off to Barroso and am back at the house by 10:15.  I carry the acid back to the pool while thinking that it will be great to have the cleaning done even sooner than projected and I'll be able to get the water back in the pool faster!  Yea!!!!

Shortly after I get back Debi leaves to run some errands.  I decide to do some painting around the know a little touch up here and there.  The regular homeowner maintenance stuff.  I get my painting supplies out and I start painting figuring that Javier and his guys will arrive soon. 11 AM comes and goes.  12 noon passes, no pool guys.  1 o'clock comes and goes. A little after 1 Debi comes home and asks "how's it going?"  I said "it's not, they haven't come back yet."  Debi says "you're kidding?"  She gets her phone out and calls Javier.  She asks "what's happening", he responds by asking "do you have the acid?"  She says "of course, we've had it since 10:15."  He says "ok, I'll be there soon."  Ok, now were talkin' about the normal reality I'm used to!  LOL!
Javier and his guys show up around 2:30. 

As we all stand there looking into the pool Javier comments on the amount of sarro that is in the pool.  He says "I may need to get more acid, probably 5 to 10 more liters, but not to do it now as he wants to see how the cleaning goes."

They got ready by first finishing up their cokes and punching a hole in each plastic cap.  They would be used for distributing the acid to the walls of the pool.  They took off their chanclas, rolled up their pants legs, filled up their five gallon bucket with water, got out their short bristled broom that looked like it had been through at least a thousand other pool cleanings and it had not one straight bristle left in it.  The cubeta de acido was tipped to fill an old plastic one liter yogurt container that they used to fill their coke bottles and the cleaning commenced.

They worked on the steps and the walls first and they periodically hosed off where they had applied the acid.

I expected to see metal bristled brushed and scrapers to assist in the sarro removal.  But yet again I was wrong.  They allowed the acid to do all the work and when I asked about the use of a heavy duty brush or metal bristled brush they showed me that neither would be of help. 

They used their broom to move the acid around on the walls and floor after the initial impact of the acid had done its thing. 
The amount of bubbling and off gasing from the interaction between the acid and the sarro was overwhelming.  The acid bubbled streams of blues and greens and the vapor steam rolled into the air.  Javier's guys were prepared for this and as the vapors became overwhelming they puller the necks of their t-shirts up over their noses.
The bucket of water was used to stand in to remove the acid from their feet, ankles, calves, wash off their coke bottles and their hands periodically.

At about the three quarter completed point Javier asked me to go back to Barosso to get ten more liters of acid. 142pesos. I certainly had to agree as the sarro was being very uncooperative.
The extra acid was just the ticket and as the sun was going down the sarro was gone.

The drain was closed and the pozo pump was turned on and the filling commenced.
I missed getting a picture of Tech and Ceniza running up and down the steps and into the water as the pool was starting to be filled.  But you can see I did capture Debi in the pool.

The fill took a little under six hours and when we awoke in the morning my pool was gorgious and the brillant sky blue little tiles made the water look so amazing and I was so taken with it.  Looking out from the terrazzo towards the emerald green garden area the awesome blue color of the pool water just set things off.  I was happy and the all was right with the pool gods once again!


Jonna said...

How beautiful!! Maybe get the guys back a little sooner next time?

Really though, it looks great and I'm sure you are enjoying it.

Unknown said...

I so enjoy reading these posts, but I better get back to work before the boss catches me ... ;-) Thanks for the break!

Unknown said...

Looks wonderful! Great post!

Nancy said...

Nice to see you posting! The pool looks great.

suk said...

Tom, glad to back your blog. What about change system to salty water system. My friend shelly has that system her pool no problems cleaning tiles. Our pool has a salt water system but we are not there so y are not using Tx god we did put tiles whole pool, even just border I can see calcium deposit. I scrubbed like y with organic stuff from USA it is not even touching. Well, I am glad y have a connection now. Make sure wear mask. Enjoy beautiful pool now, what a maintenance, never ending story. Lol

Unknown said...

Now you have no more sorrow about sarro.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom for that informative and helpful tip about the Sarro. I also love the arches above your pool. Are they constructed of brick and plaster, stone or ???? We have a similar wall by our pool and have been trying to figure out how to dress it up a bit. Any info appreciated.