2020 Pool & Backyard Renovation - Advice Needed

txge429

New member
Feb 13, 2020
4
St. Louis, MO
Hello TFP! This is my first post but I'm really looking forward to engaging with the great TFP community!

I am in the planning phase for a pretty significant renovation this season that will include our pool, deck and landscaping. I'm a pretty advanced DIY type person, have flipped houses and successfully completed many significant projects over the years. I share this because I will be taking on the majority of this project myself and am not afraid to make mistakes and give things a try, only planning to hire out the actual pool refinish application. Located in St. Louis, MO.

What am I working with?
- Pool =
- Early 1970's concrete or gunite (Under my ownership for 3 yrs)​
- 20' x 40' Free-form design, estimating about 25k+ gallons​
- 2 skimmers & 3 returns (1 of which is not in use currently, was plumbed for pressure side cleaner previously; planning to plumb as normal return)​
- No know structural issues​
- Resurfaced by prior owners 15+ yrs ago with standard white plaster finish (Definitely at end of life)​
- Chlorine sanitation with new (last season) Hayward VS pump and Hayward cartridge filter (which I love by the way)​
- Using Hayward robotic cleaner​
- Deck & Coping =
- Deck is concrete that appears to be original to the pool​
- Deck has significant movement and has sunken down/separated throughout​
- Coping is a standard brick bull-nose coping, installed by prior owners during resurfacing 15+ yrs ago​
What decisions have I already made?
- New Pool Finish = Pebble Tec/Sheen finish (Hired out)​
- New Tile = 1x2 glass (Hired out)​
- New Coping = Travertine bull-nose (DIY)​
- New deck = Travertine Premium Pavers (DIY)​
- All other plumbing, maintenance or enhancements (DIY)​
What Advice do I need?
1. Replacing pool skimmers? I'm leaning towards replacing since I will have the deck removed, good chance I'll damage them when removing the current concrete actually. They are not leaking currently, but are original to the pool I believe, so roughly 50 yrs old. Is it a good idea to proactively do this?​
2. Replace suction and return plumbing? Leaning towards doing this as well since the deck will be gone.​
- If replacing the return plumbing, would the strategy be to just replace the lines up to the return on the exterior of the pool shell? OR, is it possible/advisable to completely replace the return/fitting through the shell and on the pool interior?​
3. Adding an additional return? Not sure on this one, the pool is pretty efficient to maintain but the shallow end does have some dead spots and generally less circulation. Not sure though if it's worth putting a new hole in the pool shell to do this. Opinions?​
- I assume the process here is to use a core drill to go through the pool shell and then install the return plumbing. Anyone done this? Any advise or risks to consider? (If someone is aware of good thread on this would love to read it as well)​
4. Should/could I do any maintenance to the existing pool light niche? - There is one light niche, original to the pool and I will plan to switch over to LED. Regarding the Niche itself though, is there anything I should consider doing prior to having the refinish work completed?​
5. Adding Nichless LED lights. I'd like to consider adding an additional light or two but haven't found much content on "how" people are doing this. Seems you would use a core drill and install. Any advice, install methods or existing threads the community would recommend?​
Wow, this initial post got longer than I expected! There's a lot here but the main question I've been wrestling is "what" all should I do since the pool deck will be removed and the pool will be getting refinished. Planning that I won't have this opportunity for another 20 years.

I am thinking about filming this entire renovation and turning it into a youtube series to hopefully help others. I definitely don't know everything, but am excited to take this on.

Appreciate the thoughts and conversation from the community!
 

Attachments

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
11,701
Northern NJ
What Advice do I need?
1. Replacing pool skimmers? I'm leaning towards replacing since I will have the deck removed, good chance I'll damage them when removing the current concrete actually. They are not leaking currently, but are original to the pool I believe, so roughly 50 yrs old. Is it a good idea to proactively do this?​
Post pics of yoru skimmers. Let us see what condition and model they are. Check that you can find a new skimmer that fits the mouth and hole and you don;t have a skimmer with an old weird size.


2. Replace suction and return plumbing? Leaning towards doing this as well since the deck will be gone.​
- If replacing the return plumbing, would the strategy be to just replace the lines up to the return on the exterior of the pool shell? OR, is it possible/advisable to completely replace the return/fitting through the shell and on the pool interior?​
Depends on the condition and type of piping you have. If you have flexible PVC anyplace then you should replace it. I would leave budget and time to do it and decide after you demo the deck and dig down and see what you have.
3. Adding an additional return? Not sure on this one, the pool is pretty efficient to maintain but the shallow end does have some dead spots and generally less circulation. Not sure though if it's worth putting a new hole in the pool shell to do this. Opinions?​
- I assume the process here is to use a core drill to go through the pool shell and then install the return plumbing. Anyone done this? Any advise or risks to consider? (If someone is aware of good thread on this would love to read it as well)​
That is what I have heard folks do although I have not done it.

4. Should/could I do any maintenance to the existing pool light niche? - There is one light niche, original to the pool and I will plan to switch over to LED. Regarding the Niche itself though, is there anything I should consider doing prior to having the refinish work completed?​
Your metal niche is probably providing the bond to the water. If you replace it with a plastic niche without a metal water bond you will need to install a water bond in your skimmer or elsehere.

5. Adding Nichless LED lights. I'd like to consider adding an additional light or two but haven't found much content on "how" people are doing this. Seems you would use a core drill and install. Any advice, install methods or existing threads the community would recommend?​
The nicheless LED lights install in 1 1/2" PVC. The PVC installs the same way as the return discussed above.

@bdavis466 may have more detailed thoughts.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
12,030
Evans, Georgia
You don't mention how you sanitize your pool, but If you don't already have one I'd install a Salt Water Chlorine Generator (SWG) to the equipment pad at the same time.

Welcome aboard- I love watching those older pools be restored with a little TLC. Lots of pics, please!?

Maddie :flower:
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
1,459
Morris Cnty NJ
Not hard to do you use a core drill as you thought. Hitting rebar is the hard part lol. Remember if you dig up the piping you have alot of compacting to do to be ready for paver base. The ground has 50yrs of natural settling so be careful you need mechanical compaction and its alot of digging and soil to make it wide enough for a plate to get in there. A mini ex is really handy for repipes. Dont know how much experience you have with oavers/coping but it's the hardest job on a pool and a freeform is very tough. With expensive coping you cant practice you will need LOTS of templates. Takes me about 50 total hours on a medium square pool and close to 100 on a freeform that's cutting and install. On concrete pool with tile the coping has to be dead level or tile will show everything. I would do the skimmers and the piping if you plan on staying there long term your thinking is right there. You can abandon the niche and fill it and switch to nicheless lights. You will have to deal with bonding as stated. On a 50yo pool there likely is no bonding at all. Makes it that much harder to do it right
 

txge429

New member
Feb 13, 2020
4
St. Louis, MO
Post pics of yoru skimmers. Let us see what condition and model they are. Check that you can find a new skimmer that fits the mouth and hole and you don;t have a skimmer with an old weird size.
Thanks for the great reply and thoughts on each of my questions. I'm attaching a few pics of one of the skimmers. The previous owners left a box full of paperwork associated with the pool, I'll look through that this weekend and see if there happens to be any documentation on the skimmers as well.

Thanks!
 

Attachments

txge429

New member
Feb 13, 2020
4
St. Louis, MO
You don't mention how you sanitize your pool, but If you don't already have one I'd install a Salt Water Chlorine Generator (SWG) to the equipment pad at the same time.

Welcome aboard- I love watching those older pools be restored with a little TLC. Lots of pics, please!?

Maddie :flower:
Thanks Maddie! I am currently sanitizing with chlorine, have a new in-line chlorinator that I'll be installing this season that claims to be designed specifically for variable speed pumps. I've definitely considered going with SWG, but just haven't had any experience with them yet. I'll add this to my research list.

I'll definitely take lots of pics throughout the project and may even film a lot of the work. More to come!
 

WhiteWine

Active member
Nov 4, 2018
40
Orlando
I just did similar work on my pool and I 100% DIY except for the pool plaster.

1. Replacing pool skimmers? I'm leaning towards replacing since I will have the deck removed, good chance I'll damage them when removing the current concrete actually. They are not leaking currently, but are original to the pool I believe, so roughly 50 yrs old. Is it a good idea to proactively do this?
I replaced mine and I was glad I did. It was super brittle when I was pulling it out and there were hair line cracks all in the throat.

2. Replace suction and return plumbing? Leaning towards doing this as well since the deck will be gone.
- If replacing the return plumbing, would the strategy be to just replace the lines up to the return on the exterior of the pool shell? OR, is it possible/advisable to completely replace the return/fitting through the shell and on the pool interior?

3. Adding an additional return? Not sure on this one, the pool is pretty efficient to maintain but the shallow end does have some dead spots and generally less circulation. Not sure though if it's worth putting a new hole in the pool shell to do this. Opinions?
- I assume the process here is to use a core drill to go through the pool shell and then install the return plumbing. Anyone done this? Any advise or risks to consider? (If someone is aware of good thread on this would love to read it as well)
I bought a 2" hammer drill bit on Amazon to core through my pool. My initial thought was that it needed to be a neat core that fit the pipe. It ended up better to make a larger hole (about 5-6"). This allowed for the new pipe to be hydraullically cemented in and be able to get the cement in better then when the hole was only 2".
Next time I would just use a normal 1/2" drill bit and work around in a circle to make the hole then hammer out the middle. This way you can feather out the edge.


4. Should/could I do any maintenance to the existing pool light niche? - There is one light niche, original to the pool and I will plan to switch over to LED. Regarding the Niche itself though, is there anything I should consider doing prior to having the refinish work completed?
If you are going to do all this work, might as well change the pool light niche. You can change it to a 1 1/2" conduit and do just LED lights. I didn't do this on my pool and left my original pool light. As someone mentioned above the metal pool niche is used as the pool bonding. The water need to remain bonded. If you change the the skimmer you can add a new water bond kit in the new skimmer. This would allow for the water bond (By the time I was thinking about removing my niche, I had already changed the skimmer, so I could not go this route. If I would have done it again, I would have removed my niche and added this water bond kit to my skimmer).

5. Adding Nichless LED lights. I'd like to consider adding an additional light or two but haven't found much content on "how" people are doing this. Seems you would use a core drill and install. Any advice, install methods or existing threads the community would recommend?
One nicheless LED isn't going to put out the sufficient light. I would plan to run at least 3 or 4 to give a nice glow. It would be the same work as adding a return jet. They are installed in a 1 1/2" conduit just like a return jet. See my comments in question 3.

Wow, this initial post got longer than I expected! There's a lot here but the main question I've been wrestling is "what" all should I do since the pool deck will be removed and the pool will be getting refinished. Planning that I won't have this opportunity for another 20 years.
I added a auto water filler and an overflow drain. Now would be the time to do this if its something you want to do.
Do you want to add any extra in pool features like Benches around the perimeter, tanning shelves, depth changes etc? Now is the time.
 
Last edited:

txge429

New member
Feb 13, 2020
4
St. Louis, MO
Thanks Jimmy. Couple of follow up questions for you:

Not hard to do you use a core drill as you thought. Hitting rebar is the hard part lol.
I'm sure a core drill with mounting rig is the preferred tool here, but have you ever done this by hand, meaning core drill without the mount? I have a rotary hammer drill that I can toggle off the "hammer", I think the drill is powerful enough for t 2" diamond core, but have never done this.

Remember if you dig up the piping you have alot of compacting to do to be ready for paver base. The ground has 50yrs of natural settling so be careful you need mechanical compaction and its alot of digging and soil to make it wide enough for a plate to get in there. A mini ex is really handy for repipes.
I have a toro dingo on tracks, this project may give me the right excuse to buy a backhoe attachment to help with the excavation.

- Regarding backfill of plumbing trenches: Is backfilling with the same dirt the right move or would you recommend rock or another aggregate be used?

- Regarding compaction: Can you safely use a plate compactor over the plumbing? Any technique advice?

On concrete pool with tile the coping has to be dead level or tile will show everything.
Thanks for the warning on coping, I could opt to have my same pool re-finisher install the coping if I think I'd run into a problem.

- Order of install: Tile first or coping first or either way?

- When you say dead level, do you mean completely level on the beam because any variance would show a wider gap between bottom of coping and top of waterline tile?

Thanks for all the help!
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
1,459
Morris Cnty NJ
I use a 4" core drill or sometimes a smaller bit first and make a rough hole. You need some room for a patch around it the plaster fills in the imperfections but you need a bond to the shell too small a hole leaves no room for mud. If you have a tracked dingo you are in good shape for setting the base up and moving material. Just rent a mini for a weekend or a week tops you dont want to use a backhoe attachment they stink. I had one for my tracked bobcat I got on a payback deal and I sold it a week later. Not handy you cant move the arm enough like a trackhoe and spin to place material behind you. Plus too big for tight work a small 4k pound machine is perfect even better with expandable tracks. I use an E20 bobcat it's the cats meow for this work. You place concrete sand or stone dust over and around the piping. Use one main trench then branch off. Dig flat and smooth dont dig very toothy if u understand that pull bucket back to you so you scrape and dont disturb too much in trench. Then compact that first throw some road base in and set your pipes. When done a few inches to a foot of concrete sand or stone dust and compact that the pipes are fine. Then use road base in lifts of 6" max all the way up. Dont skimp on base for patio I do 12" here in NJ with geotextile under the whole base. Its cheap insurance nobody likes fixing heave pavers
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
42,519
Tallahassee, FL
My goodness is one is already fun to read and watch. SO much helping and teaching going on! LOVE IT! Thanks to all helping out on this! :hug: I am here to watch (more pics please!!) and learn!

Kim:kim: