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Thread: Fiberglass pool: is bulging ever "okay?"

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    Fiberglass pool: is bulging ever "okay?"

    Hi everyone! My wife and I just bought an older home ('77) that comes with a pool in significant disrepair. I've owned some hot tubs, but am admittedly pretty ignorant when it comes to pools. Tried to educate myself as much as possible but please forgive any stupid questions.

    So my question regards bulging of the fiberglass walls. Here's some quick background...This pool is of indeterminant age and was already somewhat "old" when the current sellers moved in four years ago. The pool inspector guessed it was around 15 years old. It's 25x12. I had it inspected and leak checked, and all seems to be more or less ok. The inspector noted some bulging but didn't seem too concerned, however, because fiberglass pools are rare here (central Texas) he admitted he wasn't an expert. When we first saw the property the pool was about 3/4th empty (the house had been vacant for some months) so I highly suspect that's what caused the bulging. I plan on getting it re-gel coated.

    SO...here are some questions I haven't really been able to find answers to on my own:
    1) Is bulging ever just "cosmetic?" Or is always an issue that needs to be addressed before something catastrophic happens?
    2) Since I don't know how long it's been bulged out, would trying to correct it and "bend it back" possibly cause more harm than good? It could have been bulged for a decade without issues and I'm almost afraid of cracking it by trying to fallen it out.
    3) I've seen pictures of what looks like horizontal braces/jacks used to push the walls back into place, but all the written information I've found advocated messing around with the backfill...is that the only recommended way of fixing these issues?

    heres a picture. Yup, looks pretty nastyIMG_4898.jpg

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    Mod Squad Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Fiberglass pool: is bulging ever "okay?"

    Hello and welcome to TFP! Us fiberglass owners enjoy some things about pool care unique to our FB pools, but at the same time we have those same precautions like not letting the water get too low. FB pools are known to shift or lift-up & out of their original position when the water weight is missing. Humor me please because I'm struggling to see on this small image ..... is the shell bowing-in or outwards? It looks like it's bowing inwards to me. If so, and as you noted, other owners have installed horizontal braces to span across the shell to stabilize it when empty to prevent collapsing inwards from the pressure of the earth around the pool. Some will also drill some holes in the bottom to allow upward water pressure to equalize and prevent an up-heaving effect when the ground gets saturated. You appear to have dodged that bullet though as the pool has been quite low of water and does not appear to have moved upwards.

    In your case, I really think whatever company you contract to repair the gelcoat should be able to address the shell movement (bowing). Many of those companies are prepared to empty a FB pool, thus brace and stabilize it to prevent movement. In your case, they can evaluate bracing requirements, and if there is any cosmetic damage from movement after all these years, they would be in the best position to perform the gelcoat repair anyways.

    I'm curious to hear more about your pool's history and what advice you receive from local contractors when you hire them for the gelcoat. Keep us posted, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
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    Re: Fiberglass pool: is bulging ever "okay?"

    Texas Splash,
    Thanks for the reply! Correct, it's bowing in. I'll let you know what the gel coat company says when they come and look at it. Inferring from your verbiage, this doesn't sound like something catastrophic or a deal breaker? I was half-afraid I'd get responses like "yup, you bought a lemon that can't be fixed."
    Thanks again

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    Mod Squad Texas Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Fiberglass pool: is bulging ever "okay?"

    Inferring from your verbiage, this doesn't sound like something catastrophic or a deal breaker?
    At this point, I'd be inclined to stay optimistic. For all we know, once the gelcoat process is complete, the pressure of the water against the pool shell might push it back outwards closer to its original position. Hard to say as it sounds like the pool has been somewhat dormant for a long time, and there's no telling how solid that soil is against the outer shell. But I think there's hope. I hope your gelcoat company is optimistic as well, or perhaps has some other thoughts with their experience. We'll watch for updates to see how things turn out. Have a great day.
    Pat (a.k.a. Texas Splash) ~ My Pool: Viking Fiberglass; 17,888 Gal; Waterway Supreme 2-sp/2-hp pump; Hayward Ctg filter; TF-100 w/ Speed Stir
    Vital Links: POOL SCHOOL, RECOMMENDED LEVELS, RECOMMENDED CHEMICALS, Poolmath Calculator, SLAM, Chlorine/CYA CHART.
    If you enjoyed your TFP experience, please consider donating to Support TFP!

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