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Thread: Foolhardy restoration?

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    Catram's Avatar
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    Foolhardy restoration?

    Hi everyone!
    I've been lurking on this site for 14 months, and now I'd like to post. I'm hoping to draw some opinions on my restoration project.
    For better or worse, I have decided to resurrect my in-ground, cinder block (plastered) pool and restore it to working order. I have a general plan to go on, but I am still pandering on some of the details, because I want to do the best I can in order to minimize future repairs.
    My pool is a very typical 16' x 32' geometry, deep end is about 6.5' deep, shallow is just under 2.5', with a slope between them. The floor is no good, I plan to pour a new one on top. The walls are riddled with cracks, some spots worse than others. The worst cracking is in the the shallow end wall, in addition to there, one side wall is cracked at the bottom (in shallow area) because two courses of cinder blocks have separated due to the top portion shifting slightly inward under pressure from the surrounding earth (this seems to be just above the winter low-water line, one of the jets is set low).
    To me, it looks as if most of the other cracks have been caused by seepage coming down from the tops of the walls; they have never been sealed properly, and they have been perforated extensively because the coping installed was 2" x 12" pressure treated lumber secured directly to the concrete that was poured into the block tops. I believe water seeped in and over the course of many freeze-thaw cycles caused the cracking. The crack distribution seems to support this theory (i.e. starting mostly at the top)

    My general plan:
    - pour a new end wall two feet (give or take) from the existing shallow-end wall, where the worst cracking is
    - in the process, i'd like to cut a corner (drawing to follow) off of the shallow end to reclaim some deck space, since the corner of the pool is within ten feet of my house there
    - from the corner, i'd like to create a sloped entry, bypassing the need for stairs
    - i need to replace the skimmer
    - i need to move one jet, since it is in the shallow end wall to be replaced
    - i have no main drain, which makes emptying the pool a real hassle, so i'd like to add one (or two since the parts kit I bought includes 2)
    - fill and patch all of the cracks, which I have now ground out to 'V' shape
    - seal the cold seam all the way around the bottom corner (floor to walls) and at the two corners where my new wall meets the old ones
    - pour a new floor, which will also cover most of the crack that has developed due to earth pressure from outside
    - on pouring the new floor, i'd like to extend the shallow end slightly, and increase the slope so I don't use too much deep-end space, possibly with a vertical drop at the bottom of the slope
    - prime with a high build submersible primer and paint with epoxy submersible paint
    - install masonry coping
    - pour new deck
    - raise existing wooden deck that is at one end to match deck height throughout

    What I am not sure about (a lot of things)...
    - best crack securing/sealing strategy
    - best cold seam sealing strategy
    - how best to incorporate new (larger) skimmer into existing wall
    - if there is any point in installing both main drains, since i only really want them for draining
    - best jet locations, how to tie onto existing 1 1/2" threaded pipe embedded in walls
    - how much rebar to put in my floor
    - whether i need to break up existing floor, or pour right onto it
    - how much rebar to put in my wall
    - how best to accomplish the sloped entry, should I have a small step, then slope, or is a slope directly from the deck height ok as long as a crown it
    - best concrete mix(es) to use
    - the best order to do the work in
    - several more items I can't think of right now...

    The pool has been empty for 3 seasons, and the condition of the structure hasn't changed, I believe that barring future infiltration of water the cracking shouldn't progress too much further. Of course, I know I will have more repairs to do while it finds equilibrium, but I believe I can stay on top of it. Also, the pool walls have been drying out. I know they have water inside, because in some areas wet spots begin to appear at the cracks when I grind them out and expose bare cement. Most have stopped doing so, the most recently ground out cracks still show some wetness, but it is diminishing.

    Thanks in advance for any comments, or advice on my project. I appreciate any input.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    16'x32' 75000L coated cinder block (plaster?) IG, 1 1/2" plumbing, 1hp pump, sand filter, painted surface, with many cracks, probably built in 1980's, under construction.

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    Catram's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Here are a couple more pics. I do have some stick drawings to illustrate my changes to the shape, I'll post them tonight.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    16'x32' 75000L coated cinder block (plaster?) IG, 1 1/2" plumbing, 1hp pump, sand filter, painted surface, with many cracks, probably built in 1980's, under construction.

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    duraleigh's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Brave project. My first concern is that the structure will never reach equilibrium and will continue to expand and contract with the seasons.

    If that's the case, your pool will always leak.

    A custom made vinyl liner could be dropped, attached to the walls and the movement and cracking of the blocks and floor would be irrelevant.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Catram's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Yes, I should have specified at the outset that I'm trying to avoid using a liner. My only motivation is that I have time to spend, but not much money. I was quoted $4500 plus incidentals to put a liner in...at this point that's beyond my means. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the cracks?
    16'x32' 75000L coated cinder block (plaster?) IG, 1 1/2" plumbing, 1hp pump, sand filter, painted surface, with many cracks, probably built in 1980's, under construction.

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    cramar's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    I'm by no means an expert but that's a lot of cracking and if there's known movement involved in the floors or walls I suspect that you have to address that problem properly or its going to continue to be a problem. Do the sides need to be excavated and repaired?

    I appreciate budget restrictions but part of me wonders if it's less money in the long run to put a liner in, also, if you ever intend to sell the house it would be nice to leave the new owner a properly fixed pool.

    Just some thoughts, I hope everything works out and the pool can be resurrected.
    20' X 54" Sharkline Matrix Resin AGP, 9400 Gallons, Sta-Rite 1 HP Dynamo Pump, 150 lb Pentair Sand Filter, Gorilla Pad,
    Foam Cove, Taylor K-2006 kit, BBB method, 8'X20' Fafco Sunsaver Hard Plumb, DIY Fountain, Margarittaville Fiji


    My Build: one-man-one-pool-and-one-deck-agp-pics-t37172.html
    My Build 'To-Do' List for other DIY'ers: my-pool-build-list-t40249.html?hilit=list

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    Catram's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Thanks for the info. I am considering excavating the outside of the pool walls in problem areas to possibly tie the walls back into the earth better. Interestingly enough, in the areas where the cracking seems worse, the top 4+ feet of the wall are exposed on the outside, since the pool is built into the hillside.

    There certainly are many cracks, but most have no separation at all. I have been quite thorough in searching and opening even the tiniest ones, in hopes of addressing all of the issues up front. I hope I am not being too stubborn in pursuing this restoration, but I feel like the work invested dictates that I take a crack (no pun) at making it work.

    I have had a few ideas for the repairs that I will put out there, in case someone can warn me away from any of them:
    - to close the cracks, I figure that I will need to try to inject something into the cracks(that are open) to secure/seal them, and then possibly finish with something else over top. I have read somewhere that silicone could be used for this, I don't know if it makes some sense because there will be a little flexibility even after curing. The other product that seems a good choice is the sealer i have seen used on foundation cracks, if it holds well, it could solidify the walls better.
    - I have a high-build epoxy primer that applies with a trowel, and sands/paints very nicely (I have used it on the pool at work) that I am considering using to fill/face the cracks. It is made by Tnemec, and is intended for use underwater. The product is S215.
    Overview: http://www.tnemec.com/product/view/Seri ... acingEpoxy
    Data Sheet: http://www.tnemec.com/resources/product/PDS/215.pdf
    - There are 3 cracks in the pool that are significantly worse than the rest. In these spots, I have considered the use of concrete 'staples'; although I am not well-versed in their use, less-so in this type of application. My inclination is to ascertain the layout of the cinder blocks, and try to lock them together at key locations, setting the staples fairly deeply into the blocks (2-3"). I'm considering just cutting and bending rebar to fabricate 'staples', that way I can make them the width of two cinderblock wall-thicknesses.
    - I believe that some of the patching that has been carried out on the pool was done with hydraulic cement. I have no experience with it, but I notice it seems to bond nicely. Since my epoxy is limited to 1/8" depth per coat unless I modify it, I am considering the following for deeper voids: inject foundation glue/sealer, fill to just shy of the surface with hydraulic concrete/cement (is there a difference?) and flush it out with troweled epoxy before a roll-on primer coat (or 2), and paint.

    - Another angle that occurred to me is the possibility that I could pour another 6" wall inside the existing cinderblock. This struck me as a difficult task, since I can only access the pool area with a wheelbarrow, and that's a lot of concrete to pour all at once. It's probably not too late to change my attack, I'd have to round up some serious labour.

    - if I do pour a new 'shell', can I seal the are concrete without plastering it? I would fill the voids with my epoxy filler before priming the whole thing, then paint as usual.
    - Is there a way to pour walls and floor simultaneously to avoid a cold seam?
    - in the shallow area, where I intend to raise the floor level on a slope towards the corner, there will be a space where old floor exists below new floor, and there is a gap between. Should i punch holes in the old floor to promote drainage?
    - when I pour the new wall in the shallow end, what is the recommended method of tying the two sides of the form together near the bottom so they don't bulge?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    16'x32' 75000L coated cinder block (plaster?) IG, 1 1/2" plumbing, 1hp pump, sand filter, painted surface, with many cracks, probably built in 1980's, under construction.

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    cramar's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    There's a couple of guys here that documented building their own cinder block pool from scratch, if you can find those threads I think they could answer a lot of your questions. They've been very helpful to others.

    I look forward to following this project!
    20' X 54" Sharkline Matrix Resin AGP, 9400 Gallons, Sta-Rite 1 HP Dynamo Pump, 150 lb Pentair Sand Filter, Gorilla Pad,
    Foam Cove, Taylor K-2006 kit, BBB method, 8'X20' Fafco Sunsaver Hard Plumb, DIY Fountain, Margarittaville Fiji


    My Build: one-man-one-pool-and-one-deck-agp-pics-t37172.html
    My Build 'To-Do' List for other DIY'ers: my-pool-build-list-t40249.html?hilit=list

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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    I would use hydraulic cement to fill cracks/gaps in the cinder blocks. I am wondering if it would be less expensive to just repair the walls with hydraulic cement and throw in a vinyl liner by the time everything is said and done.
    Even I you fixed the walls you will still need to seal them with plaster or some type of epoxy paint and/or primer or
    Something along the lines of.
    I can tell you that for a good epoxy paint you will pay $$$
    My cousin painted her pool with epoxy several years ago and it was very expensive then, they are trying to squeeze out another season or two due to expense as it is about due for another coat.
    18' x 33' Aqua leader AGP (~19k gal) w/hayward swimpro voyager cartridge filter and 2hp hayward pump.
    8 Gal LQ, hayward heater.

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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Most of the expense on the liner was labor I'd guess. Why not learn how to do it? I think the result would be more likley to last longer and be less prone to failures.

    As for the steps? Why is eliminating them a good idea?
    Inlaws Pool Boy since June 14th 2012, Pool built ~ 2003, In-Ground, 16'x32'
    13500 gal, Vinyl Liner, Fiberglass Slide, TF-100 Test Kit, Hayward 210T
    sand filter, A.O. Smith 1.5HP main pump motor (C48L2N134C1),
    Hayward SuperPump (model ?), Polaris 380 & PB4 Booster Pump

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    Catram's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Thanks for the responses!
    Cramar, I'll look again for cinder block stuff in the forums, I probably missed the something there, thanks for the heads up.
    Highlandreef, you're right about epoxies being expensive. Luckily, I do get a bit of a discount, so my total epoxy expenditure will be $400-$600, considerable, but not unmanageable. Do you have experience with hydraulic cement? Any tips? The only thing I know for sure is that it cures fast, and seems to bond well.
    UnderWaterVanya, my labour is always first to get invested. It's more fun that way, um, right? I don't even have steps now, so I'm not eliminating them, just avoiding putting them in. I had a ladder installed at the shallow end; I will be moving it to the deep end.
    Thanks again for the responses, I'm nervous about this, and it feels good to at least hear feedback from someone.
    16'x32' 75000L coated cinder block (plaster?) IG, 1 1/2" plumbing, 1hp pump, sand filter, painted surface, with many cracks, probably built in 1980's, under construction.

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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catram
    UnderWaterVanya, my labour is always first to get invested. It's more fun that way, um, right? I don't even have steps now, so I'm not eliminating them, just avoiding putting them in. I had a ladder installed at the shallow end; I will be moving it to the deep end.
    Thanks again for the responses, I'm nervous about this, and it feels good to at least hear feedback from someone.
    Without steps and with a gradual slope - I wonder if the sloped portion will get enough circulation - I also wonder about slippery slope and banged heads.
    Inlaws Pool Boy since June 14th 2012, Pool built ~ 2003, In-Ground, 16'x32'
    13500 gal, Vinyl Liner, Fiberglass Slide, TF-100 Test Kit, Hayward 210T
    sand filter, A.O. Smith 1.5HP main pump motor (C48L2N134C1),
    Hayward SuperPump (model ?), Polaris 380 & PB4 Booster Pump

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    CUTiger78's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Catram. the first pool I owned was much like yours. It was a DIY concrete block pool. Maybe it had been "plastered" with a skim coat of cement, maybe not. At least 20-years old when I got it, it had been painted every year or two with pool paint from http://www.sausea.com/. Located in Mt. Holly, NJ, with lots of freeze-thaw cycles. Looked good enough, didn't leak, and hosted many good times.

    My advice - fill big cracks with hydraulic cement, as others have suggested; make other repairs as necessary; paint your final product with a paint of your choice. Expensive, epoxy products are high-cost, high-energy to apply, but last a while. Cheaper, easier to apply products may have to be re-applied yearly, but re-painting your pool should take less than 4 hours (that's how long it took me, in the same size pool, liberally hydrated with Bud).

    Good luck!
    36K gallon 42X22 gunite/plaster kidney-shaped IG;
    1 hp Hayward Super Pump (new in 2012);
    Hayward S244T sand filter w/ Zeosand (both new in 2009);
    175K BTU LAARS Lite2 LG natural gas heater; Polaris 380;
    TF-100 test kit.

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    Catram's Avatar
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    Re: Foolhardy restoration?

    Vanya - good points. I was asking my local pool guy if i needed to have a return (trough and floor grating) at the sloped entry, he said it was't necessary. All the same, I still believe that I should have a jet pointing across the slope or something, to keep it moving. Also, I would introduce some grit in that area, just a bit. Luckily it should be easy to keep clean, since it'll be easily accessible. I'm definitely leaning toward a lip all the way around, and just 3 or so inches of water at the shallowest point. The grade will be enough that I could put a jet a foot below the water at one end of the slope, and keep it flushing most of the inclined area; also, the skimmer will be at the opposite end of the 'beach', so it may help to keep up some current too.

    CUTiger78 - I like the way you work. I agree 4 hours makes sense for a good coat on a pool. Prep time excluded perhaps. Bud usually adds time too, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I have exactly your outlook on this project, I will get the pool 'up to snuff', to the best of my perception and ability, and, if I need to, I will have a quick, easy method to drain, repair/repaint. Once a year, maybe a day's labour, plus Bud coefficient. I'll check out that paint, thanks for the link.

    I took a few photos to show some fiddling I did with 2x4's to give myself an idea how the dimensions will look with the new wall and the slope. There are two 2x4's one above the other that are meant to represent the location of the new wall. In fact, I'm considering trying to form the wall in two parts, with a 45 degree portion to return to the skimmer wall. There is a 2x4 to represent the top edge of that wall. I used some white spraypaint (all I had) to rough in the slope profile where it meets the existing walls, my plan to extend the shallow end slightly can be observed, especially on the side where I'm trying to fix the wall blocks into place.

    Queries:
    - how hard is it to form up a wall that diverts 45 degrees halfway along it's length?
    - once i have the wall(s) poured, can I just dump in gravel until I like the slope, and then put down rebar just before pouring the new floor?
    - is my rebar spacing going to be similar to a house foundation, or is it supposed to be more?

    My basic plan for pouring the floor is to try entering the pool at the shallow end, with plywood down, to roll a wheel barrow on into the centre of the deep end, filling of the edges from above, on the pool deck. As I fill the gap in the centre, I'll pull up my floor and continue to pour, backing out the shallow end. I wonder how well the rebar will support the plywood/wheelbarrow load? I'd mask the walls to avoid covering them with bits of concrete.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    16'x32' 75000L coated cinder block (plaster?) IG, 1 1/2" plumbing, 1hp pump, sand filter, painted surface, with many cracks, probably built in 1980's, under construction.

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