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.