For both residential and commercial pools, fiberglass waterslides are a popular option. Fiberglass is more resistant to corrosion than many other material options on the market. These slides are often easier to clean and maintain, and fiberglass is a versatile and lightweight material that makes it a good choice for water slides.
However, over time, knowing how to maintain a fiberglass water slide and make necessary repairs will be useful. Read on to learn the most common forms of fiberglass water slide damage and how you can repair and prevent it.
Just as you perform regular cleanings on your pool, you should regularly clean your water slide. There are, however, a few things to bear in mind when cleaning fiberglass.
You want to avoid cleaners with ammonia, as they may damage the surface of the slide and cause staining or discoloration. Try to never use abrasive cleaners containing small mineral particles. The scouring effects may be effective for cleaning things, but those minerals may cause scratches, cuts, and other damage to your fiberglass water slide.
In general, cleaning your slide with a gentle cleaner and warm water is best. Recommended cleaners for fiberglass water slides are Simple Green or other environmentally friendly cleaners that don’t contain high levels of bleach.
No matter where you set up your water slide, you must account for environmental hazards. Some of the more common examples are exposure to humidity or salinity in the air if you live near the coast or have a saltwater pool.
Thankfully, fiberglass is highly resistant to any damage or corrosion brought on by humidity. However, if you live in an area with exceptionally high levels of moisture in the air, we recommend regularly checking the underside of the slide for any signs of mold, mildew, and other common growths from excess humidity.
External temperatures are also some of the most common environmental issues to keep an eye on when it comes to your fiberglass pool. Drastic changes in temperature may cause the materials to expand or contract, causing warpage. The warpage may become more severe when the climate temperatures reach significantly higher or lower levels than the pool’s water temperature.
The last things to consider are the possible effects of the pool water on the slide. Chemicals, pollutants, and minerals may impact your water slide. Common signs of damage from this cause are rings, noticeable build-up, fading, and other forms of discoloration. Maintaining clean water will help keep your slide in better condition.
Because of the chemicals we put in pool water and the natural minerals found in the water itself, it’s natural for mineral build-ups to occur on your slide when the water evaporates. Some of the most common chemicals left behind are calcium, carbon, sodium chloride, magnesium, and potassium.
As previously mentioned, many of these build-ups appear as white spots, streaks, or rings that stand out against the surface of the slide. If left untreated, these spots may result in unsafe conditions for those using the slide, creating a gritty texture that makes the ride down a less-than-pleasant experience.
Removal of mineral build-ups may require stronger cleaners and tools than for regular maintenance cleaning. You may want to use a calcium or lime remover. When testing an unfamiliar product, it’s a good idea to apply a small amount of it to a typically unseen part of the slide to test if it results in any noticeable discoloration.
Carefully follow the instructions on the cleaning product and apply it to the white mineral deposits on your fiberglass water slide. You may want to use a plastic brush or something with soft bristles instead of a more traditional cloth. After scrubbing the cleaner into the mineral build-up, you will need to let it rest as per the product’s instructions. Afterward, rinse off the excess cleaner and check for mineral residue. Repeat as necessary.
When learning how to maintain a fiberglass water slide, some of the most frustrating issues you may encounter are cracks, chips, and other similar damage. Cracks may form over time from use or excessive warping. Whether or not you can repair the crack is dependent on the size of the crack.
While larger cracks may require a full replacement of the part or entire slide, smaller crackers are usually easy to repair. You can attempt to repair the crack using a fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). The first step is to wipe off and vacuum the crack to remove dirt, debris, and other irritants that may have gotten into the damaged area. You then want to fill the crack with the polymer, using a putty knife or similar tool for particularly deep cracks. Once it’s done, you want to smooth out the top and wipe down any excess polymer with a warm rag. We advise wiping in only one direction.
After the polymer hardens, you want to sand the area to ensure that no protrusions are left, guaranteeing a smooth texture necessary for a pleasant experience. After sanding, you will need to reapply a layer of gelcoat to the affected area and give the area a good buffing to further reinforce the smoothness of the slide. In fact, if you buff one area of the slide, buffing the entire slide may be a good idea to maintain a similar texture throughout the slide’s surface.
Other than cracks in the slide itself, a much more common occurrence is small chips or cracks in the slide’s gel coating. Gel coating is a common feature with fiberglass slides that provides smoothness, but it is susceptible to scratches and other smaller damages.
Like repairing a crack with the fiber-reinforced polymer, minor damage to your water slide’s gel coating is fixable with a gelcoat putty that you can purchase at your local marina or hardware store. Simply cover the scratches or chips with the putty before sanding and buffing the affected area.
For more information on maintaining residential water slides, American Aqua Designs is a leading manufacturer of pools, water slides, and lazy rivers. We have several helpful guides for maintaining your residential or commercial swimming pool and a wide variety of products and services for those looking to expand. Contact us today with any questions, comments, or concerns to speak to a trained member of our team.