I perused the various forums and wasn't quite sure where to post this so mods feel free to move elsewhere if you deem it appropriate.
Our house was built in the early 70s and the pool was installed in the spring of 1978 by the original owners. We are the 3rd owners of the home and we bought it in 1998 so the pool was 20 years old when I took over. The second owners of our home took over in 1984. Each owner kept shockingly meticulous records of just about everything that was done to the home. This is how I know the pool was installed in April, 1978...I have the original invoice! Kinda cool. The cost was just under $12k!
Along with the original invoice, I also had various pamphlets and flyers/ads and manuals for the various items that came with the pool like the lights, the filter, the skimmer and so on. It is kind of like looking at late 70s, early 80s Sears catalog if you get my meaning in how the ads and pictures looked for some of them.
Fast forward to May-ish, 2015 and we are knee deep (literally) into the backyard and pool remodel. The pool has been gutted: coping removed and plaster jack-hammered down to the gunite and the decking (exposed aggregate concrete) around the pool and most of the backyard has also been jack-hammered and removed. I have a trench dug from the corner of the house to the pool equipment because I have the chance to move the pool breaker box hanging ugly off my house into the new pool-equipment shed and out of sight. I also want to send plumbed water into the shed for the auto-fill and general convenience. While I am at it, I also moved the solar plumbing into the trench and was able to bury more of it (we had that installed in 2005). Also, a new 2" gas line was going into the trench for the new 400k BTU Pentair heater for the attached spa.
ANYWAY, my skimmer and main drain were plumbed from one to the other. This was my chance to separate them and take individual lines back to the pad so I could have some flexibility in setting them. COOL. So on I went to digging out the skimmer (I was getting a new one anyway...it practically fell apart even though my concrete guys were trying to be careful around it). It was the original skimmer dating back to 1978 and I had the ad sheet to prove it...they matched so odds are good that it was original. So I dug out (busted out would be more appropriate to say) the old skimmer and dug down half-way to China to finally get myself some room to cut the main drain pipe that was plumbed into the bottom of the skimmer. I glued a fitting onto it and then installed pipe back to the pad to put it exactly where I wanted it. At the same time, I did the same thing for the skimmer line. SWEET.
As part of the pool refinish, the pool company was to pressure test all my lines during the work. So they hooked together the skimmer, MD, and spa suction lines together and stuck a hose bib and pressure gauge on them and filled them with water to 30 psi. They (and other lines) would remain this way for several weeks as the work commenced. Funny thing though, I saw that the pool company sealed the drain in the spa and at the skimmer but in looking at the main drain, I saw nothing. It was just a small pile of rubble, dirt, leaves, twigs, cigarette butts and small pools of water at the low point of my pool. Hmmm. The next day, the 30 psi was 0 psi for the suction lines. DARNIT. New plumbing was going to be a lot of money. Let's keep in mind that the workers on my pool all spoke nothing but Spanish and my Spanish is weak at best. The company owner is Italian...and his English left much to be desired as well.
As the days went by, they worked on isolating the leaky suction line and found it to be the MD. Keep in mind that communication at this point was weak. I kept asking that if the MD line was leaking, how was it sealed at the bottom of my pool? I didn't see how it was sealed. I even went to the bottom of my pool and clean it up and I could find nothing. No pipe, no nothing. It was like I never had a main drain despite the cover being there..................and that is exactly what the case was! "Chreeees, you no main drain," was what I finally got out of them. The next was, "$2k for main drain if you want." UGH.
I got to thinking back to all these years running this pool and noticing that the main drain always had debris around it...nothing ever went down it for whatever reason. I never thought much about that until now. Now I know that I never had one...a fake main drain? What?!
I was on a mission! Well, there MUST have been a drain there at some point right? In fact, owner #2 had had the pool replastered a year or two before we bought the house...maybe he knows something? I didn't want to spend $2k to lay about 18' of pipe from the main drain to the bottom of the new skimmer. Hmmm, I wonder how far the pipe goes...maybe it is very close to where the drain cover was and they can jack-hammer a foot or two and connect to it?! Ya think?! They wouldn't charge $2k for that!! Heck, I'll rent a jack-hammer and do it myself if I need to!!
So I cut the MD pipe I just installed at the skimmer and get it out of my way. I get out my trusty electrical fish-tape and my 25' measuring tape and get ready to insert the tape into the pipe to see just how far it went. Maybe I'll get lucky! I pull out several feet of the metal tape and reach down deep into the dug hole and get it into the hole and before I even breathe, the tape stops. Thunk. ?? Thunk, thunk, thunk. I'm 8" into the pipe and I hit a dead stop. I jam it in a few more times moving it around: thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. This pipe goes 8" and I cry. Then I get mad. Then I get curious. There is a story here.
The story is that this pool, with the ORIGINAL connections and pipe to the ORIGINAL skimmer never had a main drain. Since 1978, Apache Pools of San Jose, CA, never installed the main drain in the pool at my future home in 1998. I am nearly convinced of it. They pulled a fast one over on owner #1...perhaps. Maybe he knew, maybe he didn't. Or perhaps owner #1 pulled a fast one over on owner #2...perhaps. Maybe he knew, maybe he didn't. Or perhaps owner #2 pulled a fast one over on owner #3: moi! It is quite possible owner #2 told me the main drain wasn't real but I really don't think so. I was a younger man back then with a sharp memory (a far cry from where I am now but hey, time does things) and I'm about 98% sure he didn't tell me...assuming he even knew. But back then I knew just about zero about pools and now I know a bit more than zero so it could have flown right over my head but I still am pretty sure nothing was mentioned.
I'd love to know the real story about my fake main drain. Did Apache fake us all out? Did something get messed up during the install and so they made it look legit even though it wasn't? And what about the mid 90s replaster by owner #2? Was he made aware of it then? Did whomever do the replaster know anything or mention anything? If one removed the drain cover, everything there looked legit, I think. It was only when I had the plaster jack-hammered off did the whole MD contraption get removed and the truth, after a while and some broken Spanglish-Englatalian, laid bare.
What do you think?