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Thread: Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

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    Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

    I'm looking to buy a house with an inground gunite pool. The water level on the house side is 3 inches lower than the back side. The concrete deck is starting to upheave as well. There is a slight slope in the backyard, and a retaining wall of railroad ties can be seen under the concrete deck. Am I looking at removing the entire decking and having the pool leveled? The ties are pretty rotted and move easily when you step on them. One skimmer doesn't get enough water to function. Any words of wisdom? I'm having a repair estimate done, but I was hoping to get some knowledge before then.

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    In the Industry
    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

    Any words of wisdom?
    Don't stand on the downhill side of the pool!!

    That's a totally unusable pool and probably unsafe as well.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    SouthWest Alabama

    Re: Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

    It sounds like the pool haas settled on the outside. I assume the retaining wall is on that side. It's going to cost a lot to fix even if it can be fixed. Yo may be looking at the cost of a new pool.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Re: Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

    It is an inground pool so I wouldn't call it unsafe. It is unlikely that it would tip over as an abg pool could. Your cost to repair this to "perfect" is probably more than what you could replace the pool for. Also it is unlikely that you can straighten it up without damaging the plumbing that is buried around and connected to te pool.
    Over 30 years in the pool business
    We build vinyl, fiberglass, stainless steel pools
    Certified in Hydraulics

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    Re: Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

    I am no expert, but we have a similar situation that we are workjing through now. The pool proper is not suffering, but our decks have settled (4" settlement over a 36" run) and the retaining wall has failed. I removed it in the fall with a mattock and chainsaw (where needed). RR ties don't last long as landscape material. It took me an hour to remove 50 feet of retaining wall 2 feet high.

    We only moved in a year ago, so I don't have a lot of backstory, but it looks as though the previous owners attempted to terrace the yard in 3 steps - a small garden, the pool and deck, and the greenspace. Behind us there is a large hill, so the hydraulics of the earth would have a lot of loading downwards into our property.

    Our steps (and we are barely into this process) have included:
    1. costing a polymer overlay to fill and level the concrete decks (contractor - $5200 +tax
    2. costing to replace broken plastic coping at the corners of the pool (DIY) $200
    3. costing to build a new retaining wall of interlocking brick (DIY) $2000 and counting
    4. We are also building a safety fence, but this has nothing to do with your situation.

    We are at the 'shovel ready stage but balking a little. Since we don't want to get halfway down the path and then decide its more than we want to mess with. The stringlines and layout work is done, and the contractors are waiting for the word 'Go.'

    You will notice that our worklist doesn't include any work to the pool itself. Since we have no leaks, and no cracks, we see no reason to mees with what aint broken at this stage. If the liner starts giving us issues in the future, we will replace it then. I don't know if your situation is as fortunate. For me, engineering the slope and repairing/treating cracks in the concrete deck take centre stage, and aesthetics come after that.

    I suspect we will be replacing our liner in a couple years. At that time I will worry about fixing the hole in the ground.

    We have a blog running that covers our work out there and update it regularly. I can direct you to it if you are interested. This project will be a big part of our summer this year.
    Reluctant Owner of 32 X 16 ft Hole in the ground that leaks, drinks money, and turns green faster than you can say "Dangnabit!"
    Current Project: Retaining wall rebuild, Landscaping Reno, and Deck & Coping Replacement.
    Next Project: Liner Replacement
    Visit the blog:

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    Re: Leaning pool held in place by railroad ties

    I am replying to this (very old) thread since my blog has had a number of hits from my last message in the last week. If folks are still reading, then info is needed. Please forgive me resurrecting such an old thread.

    1. We DIYed the retaining wall and ended up installing just over 100 linear feet of interlocking stone retaining wall. This required trenching and placement of 8" of 'A-gravel', one course of stone below grade, and 1-2 courses of stone above grade. We used a faux wood, concrete capstone to finish the wall. In the course of replacing the retaining wall, we discovered that the pool plumbing was buried about a foot below grade (we are in Canada with a hard frost) and so we replumbed the pool from the jets to the pump using tigerflex hose set inside Big-O drainage tile for protection. This portion of the project was very long and time consuming.

    2. Once the wall was complete we turned our attention to the pool and deck. The liner actually failed when we tried to open the pool, and so we went whole hog and replaced everything. A rented concrete saw scored the concrete deck, and a sledge and mattock broke up the deck. I started off DIYing concrete removal, and removed 3 sides of the deck before I realized I was running out of time. Since we had a 2 week vacation scheduled, I hired in contractors to place new coping, pour an 8" concrete strip to hold the coping in place, and to place pavers for a new deck. In the process, it was realized that not only had the hydraulics of the soils destroyed th eold deck/pool, but that chipmunks had undermined the deck and excavated the downhill side of the pool. The contractors used a jackhammer to break up the remaining deck and used it as fill on top of the sand in order to deter rodents at their tunneling level.

    3. With the coping complete and landscaping in place, the pool contractor placed a new liner and we replanted gardens surrounding the pool. We are very happy with th eend product and so far have no issues. Except that our new stairs keep floating up - but I think I even have that solved now. A little while ago I posted a before/after on our blog, I would suggest that whatever traffic is going from here to the blog look at that post rather than hitting the blog's frontpage:

    Even with the DIY element, this project came in at over $25,000 (in Canada 2013) for the new deck, coping, liner, retaining wall and plumbing. It was a very long project, and took most of the summer working evenings and weekends. The retaining wall was the most time consuming piece.

    Thanks for checking out the blog - if you need help, I am more than willing to share our experience, post here or leave comments, I check both.
    Reluctant Owner of 32 X 16 ft Hole in the ground that leaks, drinks money, and turns green faster than you can say "Dangnabit!"
    Current Project: Retaining wall rebuild, Landscaping Reno, and Deck & Coping Replacement.
    Next Project: Liner Replacement
    Visit the blog:

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