To clean your rails or ladders you must first remove them
from the pool. They are wedged in sockets called deck anchors. By
lifting up the escutcheon plates-the decorative circles around the
rail/ladder where it goes into the deck-you will see the bolt that
raises the anchoring wedge. Using a wrench, you can
unscrew this bolt about a half an inch. You may then need to knock down
the bolt to drive the anchoring wedge down, freeing the rail/ladder. You
now should be able to lift the rail or ladder up and out of its
sockets. If the rail/ladder is stuck, you can use a rubber mallet or
similar tool to bang the rail just above the deck to break it free.
If the handrail/ladder still will not come out and you are
sure the wedge is knocked down, you can try using a car jack to get the
rail out. By putting the jack under the hooked part of the rail (you may
need to use a short piece of 2 x 4 to reach), you can apply force
upward. Be careful not to jack it too hard as you can deform the rail or
bend it. Try lifting the jack just enough to apply pressure and hitting
on the rail just above the anchor with your rubber mallet. In most
cases this will free the rail.
Occasionally, you may come across
a rail that will not come out, even with light pressure from a jack.
The rail has probably corroded to the anchor, and you may have to
distort or destroy the rail to get it out. You will have to determine if
replacing the rail and/or the deck anchor is worth it at this point.
Now that you have removed the handrail/ladder you can clean
it. The best cleaner for this is Naval Jelly®. Use a plastic scouring
pad (not steel because it scratches the rail) to scrub with. You may
want to disassemble a ladder to make cleaning easier. Be sure to rinse
thoroughly after cleaning to remove all risidual chemical from the
rails. Note: If you can't find Naval Jelly at your local hardware store, try
using Coca Cola®.
Now that you have cleaned them well, you can apply some car
wax to them if you like. This will help protect them from the elements
longer. If you close up your pool for the winter, this is an ideal time
to remove and clean your handrails and ladders. By cleaning them, you
will maintain that new look much longer.