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Thread: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

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    New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I'm feeling really sick about this. Our pool is almost done (a few odds and ends need to be taken care of, and deck is supposed to be poured next week), and my kids are just dying to be able to go swimming. Even though it's still under construction, I've been trying to keep the water clear / balanced, and the bottom clean (repeatedly vacuuming out the dirt/debris that inevitably ends up in the pool as work is being done). The water is now really clear... too clear.

    Vacuuming this afternoon, something about the way the sun reflected off the bottom of the pool caught my eye. I took a closer look, and saw what appear to be cracks, which are present in several different areas. At first I thought maybe they were just scratches, but the "structure" of the patterns along with how the sun reflects differently off of different segments makes me fairly certain these are cracks:









    That last one appears to be the most serious... with the others that I've examined, when I slide the end of a piece of wood over the bottom I can just barely feel the texture of the cracks, while on that last one, the crack (about 10 - 12 inches long) that extends out at about the 10-11 o'clock position from the round spot is deep enough (or, more accurately, one side of the crack is higher than the other) so that the end of the piece of wood sliding across it is stopped by it, even if I push fairly hard. I have not gotten in the pool to examine more closely.


    Now, to back up a bit, this does not come entirely as a surprise. Going back about 2 months to when the install began:


    Hole was dug, and strings were run across the bottom of the hole in a zig-zag pattern, with fresh sand used to level it off (a laser level was used)








    The delivery of the pool shell was about 4 hours late. And, further complicating things, the crane truck kept getting stuck in the torn-up yard trying to get the pool over to the hole. By the time they were ready to lower it in, it was dark.






    Elapsed time between beginning to lower it into the hole and being "done" (lifting straps removed), approximately 5 minutes. I found this odd, as other accounts of fiberglass pool installs usually described a painstaking process of carefully lowering the shell into the hole, lifting it out to make sure it contacted the dirt uniformly and to make leveling adjustments as needed, which was usually repeated numerous times until it was perfect. In this case, it was placed the hole, and a quick leveling check was made, before pronouncing it "done" so everyone could go home after what ended up being a very long day (and it was Valentine's day, perhaps adding to everyone's anxiousness to get out of there). Filling began, and I was given instructions to turn the hoses off later that night which I did.


    The next day, they came back to continue the installation (plumbing, etc.). In this photo you can see what I didn't notice at the time, but did a few weeks later:



    Measuring from the surface of the water, the areas marked +1" and +1.5" were higher than the ends of the pool. The 1" difference on the back side was noticeable, but not terribly so, as it was just a gradual rise in the middle. But on the closer side, it was very obvious, as it rose very quickly from the shallow end (which is on the left) to that inward curved section, then gradually dropped back down towards the deep end on the right (note, the perspective of the photo along with the inward curve exacerbates the appearance of the height difference, but I carefully measured it). I also noticed that the "lip" (not sure if this is the correct term) that goes all the way around the pool was bowed out in this spot (you can also see this in the pic), plus I observed a small gelcoat crack at the edge of this lip (about an inch long).

    You can see the water level difference in this photo (I hadn't looked at the pool from this angle much, which is why I didn't notice it until then):



    I brought this to the attention of the builder, telling him I felt that the pool was not set correctly, and that it should be pulled out and reset level. He came by the house a day or two later with a representative of the manufacturer. I expressed my concern over possible structural problems arising from what appeared to be a high spot in the hole, and both the builder and the manufacturer insisted it would be fine. Their explanation was that the heavy rains we got a few days later (which, incidentally, was after the pool was completely filled and hole backfilled) had resulted in sand being washed from underneath the shallow end towards the middle, resulting in the shallow end being lower. This didn't make sense to me, since the deep end was also lower, but the representative was insistent that it was fine. Cosmetically, they said once the pool was completed with the tile and brick coping installed level, the unlevelness would disappear, though I noted that because the pool was now essentially 1.5" higher than originally planned, this would possibly have ramifications down the road with how the decking met up with the house.

    In the end, I was assured the warranty would not be affected, and although I still was uneasy about it (after all, it's little consolation that repairs or replacement would be covered if it still means my yard has to get destroyed again, concrete torn out, etc.), I relented. Apparently that was a big mistake.

    I don't know when these cracks appeared... they may have been there from the beginning and I've just not noticed due to the water not being clear and/or dirt on the bottom. I put a call into the builder this morning, but have not heard back from him. I'm quite sure I will be told that these are just superficial gelcoat cracks... and maybe they are. But there are so many of them (along with that particular one that seems a lot more serious than just a hairline gelcoat crack) that I think it's reasonable to be concerned about the structural integrity of the pool.

    And even if they are just cosmetic, I feel like I've just paid full-price for a new vehicle that is full of hail damage.

    Here's what it looks like now:


    Any advice or comments would be welcome.

    --Michael
    Slidell, Louisiana (near New Orleans) 11,000gal kidney shaped Trilogy fiberglass pool Intelliflo VS Triton TR100 filter Easytouch 4 w/IC20 SWCG Polaris 280

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I can't help you since we are currently in our install of our Fiberglass pool. But I can tell you that they set ours in and out of the hole about 8 times, tested for levelness, adjusting the limestone fill each time before finishing for the day.

    The 1 time drop and go sounds fishy to me...and why are they using sand? I thought that was the old way of doing fiberglass.
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Wow! None of that sounds good and they sure look like cracks to me. That much out of level is an issue, too.

    Do you have any financial leverage?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Quote Originally Posted by TK13LG
    The 1 time drop and go sounds fishy to me...and why are they using sand? I thought that was the old way of doing fiberglass.
    I have read that more and more installers are using gravel, but for whatever reason this manufacturer recommends sand.

    I did speak with the builder this evening... he'll come by tomorrow to look, but from what I described, he said they are most likely just cosmetic "spider cracks" that can be repaired by the manufacturer.

    --Michael
    Slidell, Louisiana (near New Orleans) 11,000gal kidney shaped Trilogy fiberglass pool Intelliflo VS Triton TR100 filter Easytouch 4 w/IC20 SWCG Polaris 280

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Wow! None of that sounds good and they sure look like cracks to me. That much out of level is an issue, too.

    Do you have any financial leverage?
    Not much... it's nearly fully paid, minus $2K or so.

    --Michael
    Slidell, Louisiana (near New Orleans) 11,000gal kidney shaped Trilogy fiberglass pool Intelliflo VS Triton TR100 filter Easytouch 4 w/IC20 SWCG Polaris 280

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Man, that is a bummer. I try hard to stick up for PB's when it's justified but it really looks like this guy did a poor job. I only watched a fiberglass install once but they probably spent an hour or more lifting and lowering to get it right.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I would demand a new pool, you didn't pay all that money to have it repaired before it is even finished and the manu will probably send a rep to inspect the damage, if the pool was not installed properly the manu could deny the warrantee claim.
    If the pool builder wont replace the pool it might be best to seek legal advise.
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Ouch - very sorry to read about the issues you are having. We had our FG pool installed late last year and I can confirm that they took a VERY long time to set the pool initially on the ground. Furthermore, they did not finish setting the pool (e.g. it was still hooked up to the crane) until the pool was partially filled with water. Additionally, almost everything that I read - both prior to our install and since - has indicated NOT to use sand and that only gravel should be used. I hate to say it, but based on my experiences and research, in my opinion you did not get a quality install.

    Do you have any recourse in reaching back out to the FG manufacturer who came to your property previously to discuss/review the cracks that are now appearing?
    41' x 16' x 7' deep rectangular IG FG Blue Hawaiian Olympic Bay model w/ Glacier Blue 'Extreme Quartz' finish / 2 skimmers, 4 returns + 1 dedicated vacuum line / Sta-Rite IntelliPro VS-3050 pump / Sta-Rite System3 Modular Media S7M400 Filter / Pentair EasyTouch w/ ScreenLogic 2 / Pentair IC40 SWG / Pentair UltraTemp 120 Heat Pump / Coverstar Auto-cover / Savi Color Changing LED Pool lights x 4 / Pentair MacgicStream Laminar LED Deck Jets x 4 / 2 x 2 Jacuzzi Jets installed on shallow and deep end steps / SR Smith Typhoon Waterslide / Polaris 9400 Robot. See my build thread HERE

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I'd have one more face to face with the PB and the rep if you can get him back out. No satisfaction---------I'd start looking in the yellow pages under "L". Document, document, document in the mean time.
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    The manufacturer rep assured me that the install was ok and would not affect the warranty (he said he would provide me with a letter to that effect).

    I'm really not sure what to do at this point. Since the pool is mostly paid, I don't have much direct leverage. I can certainly lawyer-up to demand a redo if that's truly what is needed, but of course that's not without cost (both in terms of time and money). Yet the thought of accepting a badly flawed installation resulting in a damaged pool structure that needs extensive repair before the job's even done is appalling... I'm quite literally feeling sick to my stomach over this, especially since we're only a week or so away from completion.

    I'm thinking a possible compromise could consist of a substantial discount, written assurance from the manufacturer that the warranty is still valid, repairs to the existing cracks, and a pledge from the builder and manufacturer that if more cracks form (indicating that this will be an ongoing problem, not just a one-time occurrence resulting from the initial installation), the shell will be replaced at no cost to me (including decking, brick, tile, etc.).

    On the other hand, these cracks are so plentiful, I'm not sure if it's practical to repair them all.

    --Michael
    Slidell, Louisiana (near New Orleans) 11,000gal kidney shaped Trilogy fiberglass pool Intelliflo VS Triton TR100 filter Easytouch 4 w/IC20 SWCG Polaris 280

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I have said before, I am reluctant to get between a PB and owner because it's hard to get the whole picture. Secondly, I am not familiar enough with fiberglass pool to be very well versed.

    That said, I would ask why the cracks are there. Secondly, I doubt very seriously they can be repaired....it looks like the whole gelgoat has lifted and cracked. I think your long term concerns are valid and I don't think I would accept leaving them in place.
    Dave S.
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    I would ask why the cracks are there.
    I suspect I will just get an expanded version of the hurried explanation I got last night on the phone... "oh, that happens from time to time... we see that every now and then on some of these pools, but they can fix it so that you'll never even be able to see the repair."

    Aside from this issue, I really like this builder... he lives right around the corner from me, and has come across as an honest and trustworthy person. But with this problem (starting from when I noticed the pool had not been set level), my confidence has been seriously shaken... he and the manufacturer insisted that the install was within standards and would not be a problem, and I (foolishly) took their word for it, yet here we are a month and a half later with a pool full of cracks.


    Secondly, I doubt very seriously they can be repaired....it looks like the whole gelgoat has lifted and cracked.
    Tough to say. I mean, I'm sure it can be repaired, but can it truly be repaired to the point where there is no evidence of it? If it were one small ding, that would be one thing, but this is a widespread network of cracks. And will this be a chronic, ongoing problem? I'm sure the builder will say no, it's a one-time thing that, once fixed, will probably not reappear. But that's easy (and natural) for him to say... once the job is done and some time has passed, he's off the hook.

    Honestly, my preference is to not have to replace the shell... we're just a week or so away from finally being able to go swimming. Starting over would probably mean no pool until near the end of Summer. So, I don't want to go through all that if it's not truly necessary. But at the same time, I don't want to be looking back 4 or 5 years from now (with ongoing costly problems) wishing that I had not accepted it.

    --Michael
    Slidell, Louisiana (near New Orleans) 11,000gal kidney shaped Trilogy fiberglass pool Intelliflo VS Triton TR100 filter Easytouch 4 w/IC20 SWCG Polaris 280

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I'm probably not qualified to comment further on damage and it's repairability so I hope others with some fiberglass experience will chime in soon.

    1.5" out of level to my mind is unacceptable and indicates a seriously deficient installation. That surely has to be what caused the cracks.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    1.5" out of level to my mind is unacceptable and indicates a seriously deficient installation. That surely has to be what caused the cracks.
    Yes, I think that's safe to say. The cracks are fairly widespread, but there is a distinct concentration of them in the general area of the high spot.

    The question would then be, are these cracks just a one-time occurrence that happened at the time of the installation? I'm sure the builder will say yes. And the manufacturer (who will likely be the ones who have to repair it) will probably say yes as well, since they don't want to have to supply a whole new shell (it's better for them to roll the dice on a repair, and hope that's the end of it, leaving a replacement as a last resort).

    But if a replacement does end up being required a few years down the road, it's me who will have to tear down a planned safety fence, resod the lawn, pay for new decking/tile/bricks, etc., and whatever other expenses come up as a result.

    --Michael
    Slidell, Louisiana (near New Orleans) 11,000gal kidney shaped Trilogy fiberglass pool Intelliflo VS Triton TR100 filter Easytouch 4 w/IC20 SWCG Polaris 280

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I would definitely speak with an attorney before agreeing to anything. Usually a consultation is not too expensive, and I am sure the last thing you want right now is additional expense on top of all of your pool installation costs. But really, you are potentially looking at a long term risk, and I have a feeling that if they do the repairs they will have some sort of document stating in some roundabout way that they are not responsible for any further damage and you agree to accept the repair as-is. While I completely understand not wanting to extend this installation process for another few months if they agree to a full replacement, really what is a few months more when facing years of worry and additional expense? You could discuss with the attorney the possibility of mailing a strong worded letter to them both (installer and manufacturer) before filing a suit. When faced with this type of legal threat, they might decide it is in their best interest (meaning, cheaper for them) to just install a new pool rather than go through the expense of a legal suit.
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I'm sick to my stomach for you. Wow. I'm no pro but it seems like the whole thing will spiderweb crack all over the place and keep doing it. It would worry me for years to come and every time I looked at it I would be looking for new cracks and obsessing over it. I would never be happy. I would gripe about it to all of my friends and anyone that has a pool or even just likes to swim. I'd be talking about it with the girl at the grocery store check out.

    I would for sure call a lawyer on Monday and have him call them. New decking, coping, fence, sod, and time will be very expensive if you have to do it all again later on your own.

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this especially with everyone ready to swim.
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Your situation is paramount to buying new $50,000.00 Pickup truck that was damaged between the factory and the dealership, at which time they "Patched" it up so it would look good enough to sell it and get it off the lot...basically once you sign on the dotted line and drive it off their lot it is your baby.

    For the amount of money you are spending, and it is already showing signs of damage before it is even completely installed, I would "DEMAND", that they either pull it out of the ground and start from scratch or pull it out and give me a "FULL REFUND" and take my business to someone else.

    If you let them continue with this install, and agree to a patch job you will end up regretting it, and it WILL cost you dearly in the long run.

    The farther they get with this install the more they are going to have at stake to replace it and it will get even harder to get them to replace it once it is finally determined that it can't be patched up and made to look/work properly.

    Stand your ground and have them do it right, even if it means NO swimming this season, better than loosing out on future swimming seasons and additional expenses and a much harder fight down the road.

    Document every thing, every conversation, every detail, including your "Demand" that they start over and do it right, even if that means spending a few bucks to have a Lawyer send them a letter, if you end up havng to take them to court down the road, it will go more in your favor if you can prove that you knew there was a problem from the start, and that you brought the issue to their attention, including a "Demand" that they start over and do the job right including a "New" pool, versus allowing them to "Patch" it up, or accepting a partial refund or reduction of cost.

    Once you sign off and accept it as done they can and WILL come up with a million reasons why it was all done properly and the problems occured after the fact and that something either you or mother nature or whatever else happened has "Voided" the warranty and they are no longer responsible.

    Another idea would be to have your insurance agent come out and see what is going on, as well as a city buildng inspector,if either one of those state it is not right and will not pass inspection, or be covered by your insurance due to sub standard product or work then you have a better leg to stand on.

    Good luck with whichever road you choose.
    Samantha

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    DO NOT LET THEM POUR CONCRETE FOR THE COLLAR! DO NOT PAY ANY ADDITIONAL MONIES AT THIS POINT!

    The pictures show there are at least two hard points under the shell They didn't settle where the rest of the sand did. They caused the pool to come out of level, created the impediments, and thus, the spider cracks you found. It was with the addition of the weight of the water that pressed the pool into them.

    Spider cracks can be fixed but they may show slightly. If I was your attorney, I would demand compensation for before suggesting that you accept that. This is the installers fault, IMHO. It should have been caught before the impingement cracks showed.

    My gut says they didn't have enough sand in the bottom base for the pool to sit on for a suitable cushion. BTW, sand is a suitable base material unless there is a high water table and flow. It doesn't form voids. It is possible to drop a shell seemingly correctly on the first shot. It is not normal but it can happen.

    When checking for level when a shell is first set, they should use at least 10 points around the pool. It should be within a quarter inch all the way around. As back fill and water are added, this should be checked periodically.

    Scott
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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    I would lawyer up period. You don't have to be a jerk to protect your interests. They are giving you the runaround and need to make this right, even if it means taking a loss on the job.
    (DIY):16K Gal 20X30 rectangular IG Gunite, w/spa, CCP 520 filter,2 Pentair VS pumps, 400KBTU Pentair gas heater, Heat Pump for cooling, **update5.25.2013** added an intellichem with acid pump that will control existing SWG. My Build Thread Here

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    Re: New fiberglass pool is full of cracks... HELP!

    Here is another question, does your builder/installer have a pool service? I would contract with them to do the chems and maintanence for the first year and this is why...If you do allow them to patch the shell and the cracks spread or come back they may try to say the damage is from improper pool chemistry. If they are the guys doing the chems they won't have that out. Plus, get all their promises in writing, notarized if possible.
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