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Acid wash pool without draining

Most regular pool shop staff lack the experience and chemical knowledge to remove serious staining. Because of this, many pool shops will advise their customers to acid wash their pool, or even install a new interior to remove the staining. This is often because they simply don’t know what else to suggest. In most cases, we can chemically remove the stains without draining the pool because we are the experts in pool stain removal.

Why do pool shops recommend acid washing?

  • They don’t know what the stain is
  • You will need to buy lots of chemicals when the pool is refilled
  • Shops make about $500 profit on an acid wash
  • It often works but does not prevent the stains from returning

What does Acid Washing do to my pool?

  • Reduces life of pool surface
  • Makes pool surface more coarse
  • Dissolves cement that bond pebbles
  • Can sometimes cause surface cracking

How to acid wash a pool

Acid washing is a cleaning process that involves completely draining your pool and then pouring or spraying a very strong mixture (usually 50/50) of hydrochloric acid and water on the walls and floor of your pool. This process is repeated several times to remove stains. After this process is complete your pool is then filled with water once again.

Most pool interiors such as pebble, glass bead or Quartzon are not designed to be acid washed more than two to three times as this process etches (eats away) the interior and reduces its overall thickness. Those who have already acid washed their pool have told us that since the wash the interior feels rough. This happens because the cement that is normally between the individual pebbles or beads is eaten away by the acid leaving the pebbles more exposed.

Remember your pool’s coloured cement interior is a very thin veneer that is often only 3-7mm thick. If it is not done correctly, acid washing can permanently damage this thin layer.

Risks of acid washing your own pool

If an acid wash is not done properly, it is possible that streaks from the flow of toxic acid can permanently etch parts of the pool surface. Once these streaks appear, there is no way of removing them because the cement is permanently dissolved. Therefore, it is very important to know exactly what you are doing and be very careful when acid washing a pool.

Acid washing can be an effective way of removing pool stains but it should only be done if absolutely necessary. Also, we understand that there are situations where there is no other choice. However, if your pool is left empty for an extended period, the pool surface most likely will delaminate (or separate) from the structure of the pool – particularly if your pool interior is over 10 years old. So please refill as soon as you can because many pools are damaged by exposure to sunlight and temperature differences.

Cost to acid wash a pool

Apart from treatment costs, an acid wash can be inconvenient and expensive. For example, an acid wash alone costs between $850-$4000 depending on the size of your pool and the severity of the stain. This estimate does not include the tap water needed to refill the pool which is usually around $185 for 50,000 Litres of water from most major city councils. Also there is the cost of the salt, pool acid, sunscreen and buffer to rebalance your pool water after it has been refilled.

Be careful with cheap acid wash prices as some unethical contractors will approach you for more money half way through the wash if the stains are not releasing easily. They will argue that extra time and materials are needed to remove the stains. For example, we had one client pay over $3,500 for an acid wash when the actual price they agreed on was less than $900. This scenario can be a very stressful situation for pool owners.

The importance of contractor insurance

If you certain that you want to acid wash your pool then we strongly suggest choosing a reputable contractor who has current liability insurance. This is because very occasionally as the water is draining out of the pool the sides of the pool can lift out of the ground, buckle or crack during the process. For example, the damage from uplift pressure is not repairable.  So to help prevent this, most pools have a hydrostatic valve that normally releases the water pressure under the pool. Consequently, it’s job is to let groundwater into the pool when needed to release the pressure.  Moreover, in older pools, these valves can seize up which causes the water pressure under the pool to be very high. So in these situations, pool uplift is a strong possibility when the water is drained.

When this uplift occurs the pool is irreparable and an entirely new pool is required as you simply cannot push the pool back down. You will require your contractors insurance to build an entirely new pool should this happen to you.

Pool lifting out of ground
After being drained for an acid wash the hydrostatic pressure pushed this concrete pool out of the ground during refilling

Need advice on acid washing?

You can speak to a stain specialist about your pool today. There is no cost or obligation and we are happy to look at pictures and talk with you before we send a kit or visit. Email pictures to or call us on 0416 927 837.

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Certified technicians all with at least 7 years experience.

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Approved contractors for commercial and public pools.

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