Hi. I have learned a great deal by visiting this site and will be starting a pool remodel soon. Hopefully there are some elements of my story that will ultimately prove helpful to someone.
I purchased my home five years ago. It was the first time I had ever had a pool as I grew up in Colorado. The home inspection showed the original pump was failing and some of coping around the pool deck was loose. This was fixed prior to closing. Soon thereafter however the original salt-water system began to have problems. I don't recall the brand but it was not mainstream by any means and it was connected to some strange mechanical timer with odd pull out pins. The pool service company started to put pucks weekly into the skimmer baskets and to be frank I am not sure if the original salt water cell ever worked. Also the color-wheel lights could only be controlled by manually turning an on/off switch by the pool equipment which was very cumbersome.
So I replaced the original system with a Hayward Aqualogic salt water cell based system with a variable speed pump. Lights switched to LED. Replaced the very bulky sand based filter with a cartridge based system. A remote now controls the lights and fountain deck jets. Kept the original heater, although honestly it never gets much use. This was about 3 1/2 years ago. The complete package with install was $8,400. I had a mixed experience with the Hayward brand. The pump and both LCD lights ultimately failed but the subsequent replacements under the three year warranty have worked perfectly.
This summer season I started to notice unstable water levels. I have had leaks in both skimmers and once near my pool light several times over the years. My experience with leak detection companies had been as follows: they get in the pool, they put a piece of putty by the pools light surround or inside the skimmers, they bill you $200 and tell you it is fixed, and then inevitably the leak later reappears. It was after a couple of these go arounds that I got the idea that maybe it was time to rehab the pool itself. I figured I could probably address the leak issue completely with a remodel. I also started to notice strange progressive discoloration of the plaster. It almost looked like dirt but could not be scrapped or brushed off. I do have someone service the pool weekly, but given what I read here, I am not sure how much attention is being paid to pH or calcium hardness. The Hayward remote tells you the salt level, so I was lulled into a somewhat false sense of security as that has always been on point, but I now recognize that a pool test kit is a must.
I interviewed several companies and ultimately went with the one that was PebbleTech certified.
So this is the pool. I always thought the shape was unusual but I was told it is known as a cathedral shape and will leave as-is.
Here you can see the plaster discoloration issues; i think this was probably related to chronic pool chemistry issues in retrospect.
Here are the elements to be addressed : replace the coping, replace the pool tile, and refinish the main pool surface:
And of course figure out the leak.
PB explained that the skimmer, light area, and return jet leaks would be fixed with the type of remodel I had in mind. The larger issue could be with the drains. There are four in the pool. So this week a real leak detector came to look at the pool. He pressurized the lines and then listened with a microphone device. Turns out there was a leak in one of the return jets. The real discovery, however, was that three of four pool drains are completely blocked. It is possible that this might have been done deliberately to address prior leaks. It was certainly not something that any of the other "leak detection companies" that I had hired previously discovered. As an aside, this is a real issue with Florida in general--great weather but many cons and scams so due diligence is especially important.
Next week an attempt will be made to unblock the drains; if there are leaks then the drains will need to be replaced which would run about $1000 per drain. PB also mentioned that the one non-leaking unblocked drain could be expanded with a newer drain type, but we did not get into detailed specifics. Once the scope of the leak and drain work is known then I can finalize coping, pool finish, and tile choices. The planned start date for the remodel is the 3rd week of September.