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Thread: Missing Waterline Tile

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    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Westford, MA
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    Missing Waterline Tile

    Simple question. Pool was originally filled June 1st, 2011, so it is about 2 years old. Opened the pool this year and a number of the upper waterline tiles were loose, being held only by the caulk (I've pulled them off, since they kept get caught on the solar cover). Same thing happened first opening last year. Last year the tile guy from the PB was out pretty quickly to replace the tiles. This year, not so quick (there is a 3 year warranty on the tile, so I'm hesitant to do anything myself, yet!).

    Most of the tiles came off the thinset pretty cleanly (back of most tiles are clean). A couple came off with some gunite attached, maybe 1/2" to 3/4" thickness (on the far right of the right set of missing tiles in the picture, if I'm able to attach it successfully). If I were to try to tackle this myself, I know I would have to chip any remaining thinset off the gunite, before I attempted to reset the tiles.

    A couple of questions:

    1) I've been trying to keep the water level below the exposed gunite. Is that necessary? Is it safe/OK to let the gunite get wet? I would think it should be fairly dry when trying to re-install the tiles.

    2) If I were to try to tackle this myself, where the gunite has come loose, can I fill that with thinset or would I need to mix and apply some type of concrete base first? My guess is that trying to apply a layer of concrete that small would cause more problems than it would prevent.

    Thanks for any comments/suggestions.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    New (2011) 25000 gal gunite; 21x38; 3.5 - 8' deep; All Hayward: VSP, 48 sq ft DE filter, SWG, 400K BTU Gas heater, PS-8 Controller; Polaris 280

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    duraleigh's Avatar
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    Re: Missing Waterline Tile

    1. Not really. The pool wall is a bit porous but not very much....getting it wet will not hurt.

    2. I can't see from the pic but what "gunite" is loose? Gunite is the pool body. It looks to me you are missing some thinset but that's all I can see from that pic.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    alanpaul's Avatar
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    Re: Missing Waterline Tile

    PoolFun,
    I agree with Dave, regarding the gunite being fine, and just a portion of thinset is missing.

    Now, it's just my opinion, but having done tile work before (tho not in a pool), I'm not satisfied with the original tiling job you received.

    Note that the horizontal lines in the thinset from the notched trowel still show.

    This indicates to me that the tiles were placed on the thinset, not pressed into it with a little massage, vibration, or shake.

    The thinset should mush down a bit when the tile is pressed in.

    To me, it appears that your tiles were floated on the surface of the thinset, and thus did not have a strong enough bond, and that's why they are coming off. It's also possible that the thinset was mixed 'too' thin, or was applied too thinly, and simply didn't provide a strong enough bond. (It's hard to tell from a photo.)

    Further, the only visible area that appears to have bonded well is where the thinset came off with the tile. That bond probably broke last due to force (or weight) when the rest of the sheet of tile fell (or was pulled away).

    If you go around your pool's water line and lightly tap on the tiles with the plastic handle of a screwdriver, you should hear a "tick, tick, tick" sound. That's solid.

    If you hear a more hollow "tack" or "tock" or "tuck" sound, there is air space beneath the tile. That will likely lead to the kind of failure you are experiencing, due to temperature change (expansion and contraction) and/or water intrusion.

    My 2 cents: I'd find a master tile setter in your area, have him/her look at your tile job, and tell you what the cause of this problem is. Then you'd be able to speak knowledgeably with your PB tile person.

    Please note again, this is just my opinion.

    Best wishes and good luck.
    Alan in Wellington, FL - near West Palm Beach
    15,200 gal IG, painted plaster, 1988; 200 SqFt cartridge filter, 2013; 1.5 HP 1-speed pump (uprated), 2005; heat pump, 2005;
    soon to repair (dead) SWG AquaRite T-15 cell, 2005, and replace (dead) suction-side cleaner, 2005.
    Almost everything died this winter 2012-'13, and I know we shouldn't complain... but, Arrgh!

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    Join Date
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    Westford, MA
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    Re: Missing Waterline Tile

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    2. I can't see from the pic but what "gunite" is loose? Gunite is the pool body. It looks to me you are missing some thinset but that's all I can see from that pic.
    It is hard to see on the picture, but the area on the right, that shows grey, is missing some concrete. On the back of that tile, the total thickness of the material was less than an inch, so it is not a lot, but it more than just the thinset.

    Quote Originally Posted by alanpaul
    Now, it's just my opinion, but having done tile work before (tho not in a pool), I'm not satisfied with the original tiling job you received.
    Me either posting.php?mode=quote&f=82&p=514646#

    Quote Originally Posted by alanpaul
    If you go around your pool's water line and lightly tap on the tiles with the plastic handle of a screwdriver, you should hear a "tick, tick, tick" sound. That's solid.

    If you hear a more hollow "tack" or "tock" or "tuck" sound, there is air space beneath the tile. That will likely lead to the kind of failure you are experiencing, due to temperature change (expansion and contraction) and/or water intrusion.
    Been around the entire waterline. There are a few more that are hollow next to some of the missing tiles, most sound pretty solid. I'm thinking I may try to get the hollow ones loose before the other ones are repaired.

    Quote Originally Posted by alanpaul
    My 2 cents: I'd find a master tile setter in your area, have him/her look at your tile job, and tell you what the cause of this problem is. Then you'd be able to speak knowledgeably with your PB tile person.
    Good idea, I'll see if I can find one. This also assumes that I'll be able to actually talk to the tile person and he doesn't just show up to do the job.

    Thanks for the replies.
    New (2011) 25000 gal gunite; 21x38; 3.5 - 8' deep; All Hayward: VSP, 48 sq ft DE filter, SWG, 400K BTU Gas heater, PS-8 Controller; Polaris 280

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    alanpaul's Avatar
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    Re: Missing Waterline Tile

    PF,
    2 more cents from me (I'm going broke! ).

    Put your findings in writing to the PB, be apologetic for your request for warranty work, let him understand that obviously the original tile job wasn't well done, and request, if possible, a different tile guy from the original installer.

    Also post only the the findings by the pool for the PB's tile repair guy to see, so he'll be informed as to the cause of the problem. If he's any good, he'll know what to do, and will do it.
    Alan
    Alan in Wellington, FL - near West Palm Beach
    15,200 gal IG, painted plaster, 1988; 200 SqFt cartridge filter, 2013; 1.5 HP 1-speed pump (uprated), 2005; heat pump, 2005;
    soon to repair (dead) SWG AquaRite T-15 cell, 2005, and replace (dead) suction-side cleaner, 2005.
    Almost everything died this winter 2012-'13, and I know we shouldn't complain... but, Arrgh!

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