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Thread: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

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    Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    Got cracks in tiles on inside spa wall at the spillway to the pool. There are no obvious cracks on the pool side of the wall. Question: What are the common causes of this? Pictures attached. Thanks in advance.
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    In San Diego, in-group pool @ 20,000 gals. Built in 2002. Here to learn from the best.

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    ozdiver's Avatar
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    Re: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    Have you got all the thinset off from behind the tiles?
    It is more elastic than the tile or underlying gunite.
    There may be cracks underneath if that were the case.
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    Re: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    hi ozdiver: I've had contractors and the original builder look at it. Seems an underlying concrete buildup is separating from shotcrete shell. There appears to be a line of separation from the middle of the inside spa tiles to just below the pool side water line tiles. Seems like the spa wall was not properly build to height, or properly reinforced to the shotcrete before it was tiled. The spa dam wall is clearly a structural component of the pool/spa. Seriously, it's an inside wall between the pool and spa and water flows over it under normal filter pump operation, I was provided with a lifetime pool structural warranty when I purchased the pool. However the builder sent out a guy who tries to claim this wall is not a structural failure. I disagree. Furthermore there is nothing in the warranty that says the spa dam wall is not covered. Do others have experience with this and what was necessary to remedy the issue? I look forward to your replies.
    In San Diego, in-group pool @ 20,000 gals. Built in 2002. Here to learn from the best.

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    Re: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    I have some thoughts.

    How much is this going to take to repair properly? Getting rid of the crack?

    When pools are build they shoot the gunite over the rebar cage and level it to a certain elevation. The tile crew comes on later and finishes the elevation of the top of the pool with mortar and then installs the tile. Usually that mortar cap on the pool walls is very thin -- in your case its thick and now 13 years later it is separating.

    I doubt you will find someone to say that installing the leveling coat of mortar without tying it into the pool structure is below the normal level of workmanship. On the other hand the gunite is at least two inches below the finish height of the wall -- so who knows.

    Your PB is saying its not structural because its really cosmetic -- it does not affect the integrity of the pool structure. Its not compromising any of the rebar nor is the pool leaking. Is the spa leaking into the pool? If it is then that helps you.

    I would get several estimates to fix the whole thing send the pool builder a demand letter and if he still says no file a suit in small claims -- you have nothing to lose. If the pool builder says its not structural point out that the two concrete objects, the pool and the mortar cap are separating -- its more than a crack -- isn't that structural???


    Good Luck

    Gordon

    - - - Updated - - -

    I have some thoughts.

    How much is this going to take to repair properly? Getting rid of the crack?

    When pools are build they shoot the gunite over the rebar cage and level it to a certain elevation. The tile crew comes on later and finishes the elevation of the top of the pool with mortar and then installs the tile. Usually that mortar cap on the pool walls is very thin -- in your case its thick and now 13 years later it is separating.

    I doubt you will find someone to say that installing the leveling coat of mortar without tying it into the pool structure is below the normal level of workmanship. On the other hand the gunite is at least two inches below the finish height of the wall -- so who knows.

    Your PB is saying its not structural because its really cosmetic -- it does not affect the integrity of the pool structure. Its not compromising any of the rebar nor is the pool leaking. Is the spa leaking into the pool? If it is then that helps you.

    I would get several estimates to fix the whole thing send the pool builder a demand letter and if he still says no file a suit in small claims -- you have nothing to lose. If the pool builder says its not structural point out that the two concrete objects, the pool and the mortar cap are separating -- its more than a crack -- isn't that structural???


    Good Luck

    Gordon
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Re: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    Thanks for this Gordon, glad you chimed in. I'm having a hard time getting anyone to quote this thing in San Diego. Everyone asks who the builder is, then they say we don't do that kind of work, go back to the builder. Even other builder's are saying that. I do have a couple estimates though, and they are 1/2 what the builder quoted.

    What's interesting and unique about the dam wall actual structure is that it directly serves 2 functions. 1) Allow water over the dam during normal pool filtration, and 2) keep water in the spa, away from the pool when heating the spa. From that perspective, it's never ok for the structure to fail, and allow the dam wall to leak. Is the dam wall leaking? Well, if 2-3 inches fall off, I think so. Is it going through the crack right now? I lowered the water to prevent such a thing. But clearly, a compromise in the wall structure will prevent it from serving it's intended use. For a dam wall, that seems like more than a cosmetic issue. BTW, if water goes into the crack, who knows if rebar is getting wet until other cracks develop.

    So I would argue that external walls and spa dam walls have different structural requirements based on their unique functions. BTW, is there are standard or building code for how thick the mortar cap should be? 1/2 inch, 3 inches, 5 feet?

    Thanks for you input. Very appreciated.


    Quote Originally Posted by gwegan View Post
    I have some thoughts.

    How much is this going to take to repair properly? Getting rid of the crack?

    When pools are build they shoot the gunite over the rebar cage and level it to a certain elevation. The tile crew comes on later and finishes the elevation of the top of the pool with mortar and then installs the tile. Usually that mortar cap on the pool walls is very thin -- in your case its thick and now 13 years later it is separating.

    I doubt you will find someone to say that installing the leveling coat of mortar without tying it into the pool structure is below the normal level of workmanship. On the other hand the gunite is at least two inches below the finish height of the wall -- so who knows.

    Your PB is saying its not structural because its really cosmetic -- it does not affect the integrity of the pool structure. Its not compromising any of the rebar nor is the pool leaking. Is the spa leaking into the pool? If it is then that helps you.

    I would get several estimates to fix the whole thing send the pool builder a demand letter and if he still says no file a suit in small claims -- you have nothing to lose. If the pool builder says its not structural point out that the two concrete objects, the pool and the mortar cap are separating -- its more than a crack -- isn't that structural???


    Good Luck

    Gordon

    - - - Updated - - -

    I have some thoughts.

    How much is this going to take to repair properly? Getting rid of the crack?

    When pools are build they shoot the gunite over the rebar cage and level it to a certain elevation. The tile crew comes on later and finishes the elevation of the top of the pool with mortar and then installs the tile. Usually that mortar cap on the pool walls is very thin -- in your case its thick and now 13 years later it is separating.

    I doubt you will find someone to say that installing the leveling coat of mortar without tying it into the pool structure is below the normal level of workmanship. On the other hand the gunite is at least two inches below the finish height of the wall -- so who knows.

    Your PB is saying its not structural because its really cosmetic -- it does not affect the integrity of the pool structure. Its not compromising any of the rebar nor is the pool leaking. Is the spa leaking into the pool? If it is then that helps you.

    I would get several estimates to fix the whole thing send the pool builder a demand letter and if he still says no file a suit in small claims -- you have nothing to lose. If the pool builder says its not structural point out that the two concrete objects, the pool and the mortar cap are separating -- its more than a crack -- isn't that structural???


    Good Luck

    Gordon
    In San Diego, in-group pool @ 20,000 gals. Built in 2002. Here to learn from the best.

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    Re: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    Part of the problem here is vocabulary. Your understanding of pool structure and your PB's understanding are different.

    I doubt you are having water intrude into the gunite wall and affect the rebar. If may suspicions are correct the mortar cap of the bond beam is separating from the bond beam. That last sentence is phrased in PB speech. The mortar cap is only for leveling so the tiles and coping are level and parallel with the pool surface. The cap is usually from zero to about a 1/2 inch thick. Better rebar crews and gunite crews end up with mortar caps of less than a quarter inch.

    Your PB sees structure as the rebar cage covered in gunite -- if that is not compromised his warranty is not breached.

    Spillways and negative edges are difficult because they have to be absolutely level. But that mortar cap appears excessively thick.

    I would make sure the PB is correct and that this is not a crack in the top couple of inches of the bond beam.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Re: Cracked tiles on spall wall spillway.

    Thanks gwegan. I suspected it would come down to a definition. I appreciate the extra that care and spillways and infinity edges require. Here is the language in my warranty.

    PB "warrants the pool structure will remain functionally sound for the period of time that the pool is owned by the Buyer or 1 year from completion, whichever is longer. (Coping, decking, colors, plumbing, electrical, filter, heater and other pool accessories and equipment are by definiiton, not part of the pool structure.) The term structurally sound means that the swimming pool retains water. The repair will commence and be completed by PB within a reasonable time after Buyer notifies it of the problem."

    Please note that I reasonably assume that "retains water" also means, "doesn't leak" when/where it's not supposed.

    There is no mention of rebar, gunite, bond beam or mortar. It only warrants that the pool (and spa) are functionally sound. That is they hold water under normal operation. Nor is there an exclusion of the spa wall as a water tight barrier to the pool. I believe the spa is leaking now or is threatening a leak due to the crack. It is therefore not functionally sound as described under the warranty. It is the result substandard workmanship that used excessively high mortar (> 1 inch) to level the wall without reinforcement to the underlying bond beam and shotcrete.

    I also think the spa wall with crack is also a potential hazard to swimmers if part of wall falls into the pool.

    Does this shed a new light on the situation?

    By the way, would rebuilding the wall with stainless steel reinforcement constitute a change to the structural integrity? The PB has specifically warned that a change to structural integrity (for better or worse) would invalid my lifetime warranty.
    In San Diego, in-group pool @ 20,000 gals. Built in 2002. Here to learn from the best.

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