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Thread: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

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    Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    Hello-

    I bought our house, complete with a gunite pool, five years ago and I have always had problems with the pool which I knew were caused by leaks somewhere in the system. In the last year, though, when the weather was warm (which was a lot of the time) the autofill ran constantly and our water bills started becoming crazy high. I knew I was just masking the problem but I didn't quite realize how bad it was. This winter I turned off the autofill and the pool level dropped almost to the bottom of the pool within weeks. I had the pool drained and cleaned and it is now obvious that the shell is, to the shock of no one, literally covered in cracks. Every two feet, there's another long crack in the plaster. Many of these have water seeping back out of them which is clearly bad; many do not and may only be cracks in the plaster and not the concrete.

    I am having the lines pressure tested to run all the traps, but for now, let's assume that the problem is the cracked shell.

    As is apparent from a dozen other posts in this forum, north texas clay is murder on swimming pools - particularly in times of extreme heat and drought, both of which have been common over the last five years and show no sign of going away. So what to do now with a heavily cracked pool in notoriously unstable soil? According to the guys who built the pool, I have limited options:

    1. I get someone to fix the cracks with epoxy or polymer or something and use carbon fiber staples to hold the shell together. This will obviously not keep the ground from moving and the gunite will crack again, maybe the next day, maybe not for five years. He thinks doing this, plus the replastering, will cost around $10,000. If I have to spend $10,000 every ten years to fight off North Texas geology I can live with that, but there's no reason why the pool wouldn't just develop new and varied cracks immediately after repairing the current ones.

    2. I do the above, plus I put the pool on piers. He thinks piers cost $20,000. Would this stop the movement? My house is on piers and there are cracks in every wall we have. So I don't think this is a silver bullet either and it's an expensive non-solution. Has anyone put piers under an existing pool before? That sounds like a crazy undertaking to me.

    3. I've read about people installing drip irrigation systems on this forum to keep the surrounding soil moist so it doesn't constrict and move around. Is this a real option? Irrigation systems cost a lot less than $20,000. Do they work?

    4. Finally, he thinks I can pull the whole thing out of the ground and fill it in with dirt for $12,000. If this pool's just going to keep cracking, then maybe I should just give up on it entirely. This is a pretty seductive solution, as compared with a never-ending (and losing) battle against geodynamics.

    I am pretty bummed out about my choices and don't really see an obvious way forward. For $10,000 I can either put in a temporary solution that may need redoing next summer or I can eliminate the problem entirely, but I lose the pool and bring down my property value (and I have to figure out how to landscape a backyard that obviously used to have a pool in it. Plus it would be depressing to look out on where a pool used to be the rest of my life).

    I appeal to the members of the forum for some help, advice and North Texas geological commiseration. Based on the forum, it seems like the answer may be "hire a soil engineer." Anyone know any good soil engineers in Dallas?

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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    Is there any way to turn this cracked plaster pool into a vinyl lined pool? This may be very naive of me, but it seems a much cheaper alternative assuming it could be done?
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    I hadn't thought of that. Seems like putting a vinyl liner in a concrete pool has plusses and minuses but it definitely is something I should look into. What about putting in a fiberglass liner? That seems like it might be a better solution?

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    tcrote5516's Avatar
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    Well fiberglass cracks too albeit with a MUCH higher tolerance for shifting but why risk it? A liner would be the best solution and should be cheaper than filling in the pool with dirt if you can believe that. It wouldn't require any work to be done to the existing pool surface unless there is a significant crack that could cause a wear spot in the new liner (which is unlikely if it's holding water for more than a day). The liner would laugh off any future shifting and should give you a trouble free pool
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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    No, I can't see that working too well because your fiberglass pool would have to fit exactly into the concrete shell, in all the right places for support. It seems doubtful you'd find a FG pool in the perfect configuration. Of course, I know squat and am speculating.... If wrong I wanna know.
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    Ok, but isn't it true that you can't put a liner over stairs? And I'd have to replace all the skimmers, inlets, drains, etc.? Am I working off old tapes? If vinyl liners solve the cracking problem (and apparently resist algae better) why isn't everyone on the vinyl pool bandwagon?

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    Mod Squad YippeeSkippy's Avatar
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    yes, people put vinyl over stairs all the time. IMO it is the most attractive way to do vinyl. I believe some "pad" the steps under the vinyl for increased comfort.

    I can't comment on the rest you mention, sorry!
    My Amazon Smile for November12K Fiberglass IG, Infinity 4000 automatic cover, SWCG, Hayward Sand Filter, Hayward 1.5 Pump, Doheny Discovery Robot, Savi Melody LED pool lights, outdoor speakers and other assorted doo-dads. Sundance Altamar Hot Tub.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    Yes, a micro-irrigation system with a battery operated timer is cheap and works great. We had a crack the first winter, epoxied it and installed the irrigation. It was fine for a couple of years. I was slow in starting it back up last spring because I thought we had plenty of rain. Cracked again and one side raised up 1/4". Epoxied again, started irrigation again and it was good all summer and winter and the pool is level again. The key to controlling movement in this black clay soil is maintaining even soil moisture, even in winter.
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    Micro-irrigation seems like such a simple solution with the keys being diligence and consistency. The pier option seems rather like building a bigger dike to keep a sinking city dry.
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    so, we have to do almost the same thing with our foundations here.. I installed an irrigation system for the lawn but it also serves to water around the house/concrete slab foundation... we do have a few cracks in the bricks but they were there before I put the irriagation in and have not gotten any worse....

    I think a liner pool would be a perfect solution.. vermiculite the inside of your existing pool, reuse you current skimmers, suction and returns except the main drain.... you would need to have a custom install but there are plenty of places near you that do liner pools
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    Re: Pier Pressure: How to Stabilize A Heavily Cracked East Dallas Pool

    You can't put a liner in without cutting out and replacing the returns. It takes a return that has a seal ring on it to seal the vinyl to it. The skimmers would also have to be replaced. The concrete has to be lined with something to protect the vinyl from the rough concrete. Pool base is not the thing to do it with.
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