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Spillway loaded with calcium

Spillway loaded with calcium

So you just spent a lot of money on your backyard swimming pool with decorative tile or water features. It’s your dream pool and gives you the opportunity to host pool parties, BBQ’s and just a way to cool off in the warm summer temperatures. As the months go by you start noticing a white ring on the tile water line and scaling on the decorative water feature. What is it and why is it there? Suddenly your gorgeous swimming pool is an eyesore that no matter what you do, you see it everywhere. This is a frustrating issue that swimming pool owners deal with in the Southwest and Southern United States. It’s calcium and other hardness minerals in the fill water and there is no way to prevent it from coming into your pool.

Unfortunately, when individuals build swimming pools they are not made aware of this problem before it appears. Typically, you will see it on the water features and spill ways before the tile line, if they are in use. As water splashes the tile and rock formations it is left out to dry in the scorching summer heat, and when it dries you will see white flakes that build up over time. The more you run the water feature or spill ways the worse it gets; whether the tile is sealed or not. As it continues to build up, it gets thicker, thus making it impossible to remove without professional help.

As water evaporates in the swimming pool the calcium and other hardness minerals stay in the pool. In a perfect world, swimming pool water wants to be between 200-400 parts per million (ppm) calcium hardness. As these numbers rise the water will constantly try to rid itself of calcium by attaching it to the liner, tile line, plumbing and equipment. At this point changing out the water is necessary.

Calcium along the water line in a pebble tech pool

Calcium along the water line in a pebble tech pool

The following options can help rid calcium in the pool

  • Hire a tile cleaner to clean the tile, rocks and spill ways. If this is done, changing out the water is crucial or it will come back in a couple of weeks.
  • Buy a sequestering agent which binds up the calcium but keeps it in solution.
  • Drain the pool and refill it with hard tap water.
  • Recycle it…giving you the best quality of water to start with.

If you are faced with this problem, pool stores will usually sell you a pumice stone to scrape the calcium off, but chances are after 15 minutes you will be exhausted with nothing to show for it. They will also tell you to drain your swimming pool which is definitely a good option because at least the water will be better than what is in there now. But, in our opinion the best option is hiring a tile cleaner to get rid of it, recycle the swimming pool water after the job is completed and finally get educated on how to prevent this from happening in the future.

If it all possible, diminish the use of the water features or spillways and remember to change out the water every two years. If you decide to run the water features, try to do it at night without direct sunlight or dry everything off after each use. To prevent long term damage to the liner, plumbing and equipment, recycling the swimming pool water is crucial to keeping the best quality of water in the pool at all times.


  1. You made a good point about not using a pumice stone to scrub the calcium buildup off of your pool. It takes all my energy just to clean my bathtub, so I can’t imagine cleaning an entire pool that way. Also, that isn’t really addressing the cause of the problem, is it? I agree that it would be best to hire a professional to remove the calcium stains for me.

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  4. David says:

    Can muratic acid remove that calcium stain?

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