50 Year Old Pool Reno

Dutiful Daughter

Gold Supporter
May 12, 2019
37
Oregon
Hi all --

I've been lurking on TFP for a bit. I'm a daughter (hence my handle) trying to help my 79 year old mother (who is a recent widow) do a massive in ground pool renovation. My father passed away without having done anything major to the pool for probably the last 15 years. Recently the pump started blowing air -- which apparently means holes in the copper plumbing. . . so basically this is going to be restoration that will include new pipes, pump, etc -- and maybe even adding in a jacuzzi. The pool hasn't been replastered in a long time etc. We are also bringing up the entire deck -- they have to repipe anyway -- so basically everything is up for grabs.

This project is actually a year out -- it wont happen until spring 2020 given the scope -- but I'm looking at bids now to lock it into place and I have a lot of big picture questions. I was hoping maybe some of the experienced forum members could chime in with perspective.

(1) How bad is it to expand an existing pool (remember its 50+ years old) to try an add a hottub/jacuzzi element? We are trying to understand what kind of can of worms (or not) this would add to the project. If that is a bad idea, then is there a way to build a separate in-ground tub near the pool ? Remember we can do anything at this point -- it will be a pool shell surrounded by a vast expanse of mud so we can run piping anywhere.

(2) What is the best approach to resurfacing an old pool? We have a quotation that includes sandblasting -- but I was reading that with old pools, one needs to chip away the plaster -- can someone help me? As I understand it, some of the piping runs under the pool so the bottom will have to be opened anyway to rerun pipes -- so how does sand blasting fit into all of this?

(3) Saltwater generator v. chlorine. My mother isn't getting any younger -- currently she has a pool guy who comes in and charges a fortune to maintain the pool but he does it all -- she doesn't have to do anything with chemicals etc. I'd been reading that these newer saltwater generators are easier -- but other forums suggest you still need to balance the pool. I also don't understand the salt part -- do you actually dump salt into the pool and then the salt cell runs a charge through to convert to chlorine? Can people chime in on the right system for a woman who will be in her 80s? My brother lives in the same town so he is around -- but I'm trying to sort the best system for an aging person -- so thoughts would be welcome.

(4) Skimmers. The pool contractors all agree we need more skimmers. The pool has 1. People are saying that 3 are needed. How do you determine how many skimmers are needed in a pool?

I know this is just a forum -- I won't hold anyone to anything -- I just need to get more educated and this seemed like a good way to start.
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,170
Stuart/FL
Daughter,

Welcome to TFP and sorry for your loss. We have experts in everything pool and all the issues you are confronting. What's best is we don't sell anything. For normal pool maintenance we rely on generic, low cost chemicals and we teach you to do your own tests. If you're not sure what to do we're a question away. For your more complicated questions, we have experts in all aspects of pool care, construction and renovation.

I can weigh in on Salt with a strong endorsement. I recently converted my 5-year old pool and I love it. My wife loves it even more for the feel and skin comfort. Balancing your water is needed whether you go chlorine or salt. The good news is that it's not rocket science. TFP methods are easy peasy. And you've got an armada of experts to help 'till you get the hang of it. Your other questions are way out of my wheelhouse so I'll see if I can get the attention of a few others to help. @bdavis466 @CJadamec @kimkats . Kim, if there are other's can you please add them?

A good next step for you is to add information about your pool in your signature. Click your screen name above right, click "signature", then add the information we need such as pool dimensions, capacity (in gallons) if you know it, Equipment brands and models plus anything else unique about your pool,. Then press SAVE. This information will be at the bottom of every post so it will reduce questions back to you before you get your answer.

Good luck with your pool renovation.

Chris
 

PoolguyinCT

In The Industry
Jul 21, 2014
3,061
Connecticut
Sound like a fun project & long due. Defer to a your qualified applicator for finish preparations.

Also:
International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) ; chapter 8 addresses most of your questions.
 

Dutiful Daughter

Gold Supporter
May 12, 2019
37
Oregon
thanks -- PoolguyinCT (or anyone) -- are there significant changes in the past few years? I found a 2011 pdf -- but there seem to be changes in 2018? I'm happy to read. Thanks.
Chris -- thanks. Getting a signature together -- I'll try. I just used a calculator that suggests the pool is probably somewhere in the 30 to 40K range. its about 10 feet deep at the deep end for the diving board.

The rest is probably irrelevant as we will be putting in everything new as its a copper piping system.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
39,199
Tallahassee, FL
D.D., HI and welcome! We are here ready to help you help your mom!

If we could see a pic of the pool that would be helpful as well. I don't know if a hand rail is needed or doable so a pic will help us know this.

Go ahead and fill in the size of the pool as well as the fact it is a plaster pool. That will give us something spring board off of. You can add in the fact it is a total redo.

I am also going to call in @Pool Clown and @ajw22 to get all of the good input we can.

-Spa-I will tell you a stand alone spa is MUCH more comfy than a stone one. It is also easier to heat and to keep the heat in with the lid.

-resurface-I would leave that up to the person doing the work. Each person has their own ideas. You are SHOULD share what each one is suggesting so we can look it over. Get as much detail as you can.

-swg-here is a link to help you learn about them. You are on the right track: Salt Water Chlorine Generators - Trouble Free Pool

-skimmers-Most pools have two at the most but it does depend on the size of your pool. Again the pics and signature info will be extra helpful for this one.

Kim:kim:
 

Dutiful Daughter

Gold Supporter
May 12, 2019
37
Oregon
I don't have a photo, but I do have the scaled landscaping plans. The pool is basically a 40X40 but the shallow end is near the house -- in fact the roof runs over the shallow end of the pool -- so part of the rectangle is "cut off" at the shallow end. I'm bad at uploading, but you can see below the scaled drawing. There are no ladders in the pool and 3 small steps at the shallow end -- I was reading that current code will probably require one now. Do I have to bring the whole pool up to the current code?

See below for a photo of the scaled drawing of the pool. The diving well is 20X20 and is about 10 feet deep at its deepest point.

I'm happy to provide any information needed. As mentioned, we are going to do this next spring -- that is the optimum time given the water tables where we are, and that also gives me time to self-educate.


100976fullsizeoutput_2963.jpeg
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
39,199
Tallahassee, FL
Since you will have everything open and ready to be worked on I would bring every thing up to code. You might HAVE to to get permits anyway so lets plan for it.

Rail-it will need to be bonded with your pool as it will be metal. Even if a handrail is not required it will bring your mom peace of mind by aiding her with getting in and out of the pool.

There is nothing in the deep end to allow someone to get out? We will have to see what your current codes say about that so we can plan for that!
 

MiaOKC

Well-known member
Apr 15, 2012
352
Oklahoma City, OK
Strongly recommend the salt system! We have two little kids and it's been a life-saver when we don't have time to do a lot with our pool. We renovated our 40-something year old pool about 5 years ago. We wanted to add a beach entry or sun shelf in our existing pool footprint, or incorporate a jacuzzi (we originally had an in-ground jacuzzi near the pool but it leaked like a sieve), but the cost was quite out of our range. It would take tying in the rebar into the existing shell and that was opening up a can of worms we couldn't swing. Our pool was sandblasted down to the gunite and re-plastered.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
6,100
Northern NJ
(1) How bad is it to expand an existing pool (remember its 50+ years old) to try an add a hottub/jacuzzi element? We are trying to understand what kind of can of worms (or not) this would add to the project. If that is a bad idea, then is there a way to build a separate in-ground tub near the pool ? Remember we can do anything at this point -- it will be a pool shell surrounded by a vast expanse of mud so we can run piping anywhere.
You can anything with enough money. There was a thread here last year by someone who did a major renovation that added a spa and changed the shape of his pool. He posted lots of pics. Really it becomes a project like building a new pool. You need a design, and engineering plans, permits, demo of the existing gunite in areas, excavation of the new area, tieing in the new structure, then gunite, plaster, etc just like new pool construction.

Your major decision is do you keep the pool shell as is or make major changes to it?

Who is going to oversee and manage such a project? Not your 79 year old mother.

There are pros and cons to an spa connected with the pool versus a standalone spa. You are in Oregon. Do you keep the pool open all winter? Do you want to use the spa 12 months out of the year? Do you use a pool cover? Maintenance of a spa connected with the pool is covered with the pool maintenance.

A standalone spa can be easier to heat and use in the winter. It requires dedicated daily maintenance. Can your mother handle opening and closing the cover on a spa?

(2) What is the best approach to resurfacing an old pool? We have a quotation that includes sandblasting -- but I was reading that with old pools, one needs to chip away the plaster -- can someone help me? As I understand it, some of the piping runs under the pool so the bottom will have to be opened anyway to rerun pipes -- so how does sand blasting fit into all of this?
I think sand blasting is another form of removing the old plaster as is chipping out the plaster by hand. Sand blasting may be quicker and more efficient but we have had reports of members who have had sand blasting done and the sand got into their main drain and blocked it. They didn't discover that until the pool was filled.

Unless you have leaks in the pipes under the pool I don;t knwo why they can;t tie into the existing pipe where it comes on the side with new pipes. I don't understand all the problems with your current pipes.

(3) Saltwater generator v. chlorine. My mother isn't getting any younger -- currently she has a pool guy who comes in and charges a fortune to maintain the pool but he does it all -- she doesn't have to do anything with chemicals etc. I'd been reading that these newer saltwater generators are easier -- but other forums suggest you still need to balance the pool. I also don't understand the salt part -- do you actually dump salt into the pool and then the salt cell runs a charge through to convert to chlorine? Can people chime in on the right system for a woman who will be in her 80s? My brother lives in the same town so he is around -- but I'm trying to sort the best system for an aging person -- so thoughts would be welcome.
Get the SWG. Getting the salt setup is a one time thing. If you don't get the SWG then someone will need to deal with pouring chlorine into the pool almost every day.

(4) Skimmers. The pool contractors all agree we need more skimmers. The pool has 1. People are saying that 3 are needed. How do you determine how many skimmers are needed in a pool?
You should have at least 2. To answer your question better we need to know where the existing skimmer and returns are and where the prevailing winds come from. Often the wind comes from one of two directions depending on the weather and you place the skimmers downwind from the two directions. Winds have more of an impact on flow into the skimmers then the returns do.
 

Dutiful Daughter

Gold Supporter
May 12, 2019
37
Oregon
Allen/Kimkats --
Thank you both for the responses.

Kimkat: Sounds like we bringing it all up to code will be the approach.

Allen -- I don't know how to respond to you inline, but below :

(1) On the potential hot tub -- I'm concerned with whether, structurally, it's going to be a headache. All other constraints aside, am I better off leaving the pool as is and digging a new hole for a stand alone jacuzzi, or should I mess with the shell itself? What issues will I open myself up to? Those are my questions at this point. Initially its sounding like we should just put a stands alone in next to the pool.

(2) Your questions on pool usage are incredibly helpful. The pool is not open during the winter. It tends to open around May 1 and then we shut it down in October depending on weather. This sounds like another reason for the spa to not be attached to the main pool. Good to know a spa needs daily maintenance. So no salt water generator for the spa :) Daily opening and closing of the spa cover are also helpful. I'll have to look into that -- if the standard covers are as heavy as those Ive seen -- the answer will be "no." My mom wants a spa because she wants to be able to use something daily -- but in the past, we have just increased the heat for winter use.

(3) Project managers: We have a few great ones -- including a dedicated pool consultant who is connected to our landscape architect. But I've worked with my mother as a widow -- we had to reroof and re-landscape the front last year and I have found that the more knowledgeable I am to ask questions, the better response we get from our contractors. We are the only people who know both our needs and what we want out of our end product -- so I'm working to get up to speed and understand the ins and outs so I am 100% we are getting an outcome that is best for this family.

(4) Thank you for your comments on the pipes. No one knows the problems with the pipes. Everyone agrees there is air in the piping system and everyone knows they are copper. However, because the pool is so old it even pre dates my parents living there, there don't seem to be any plans. All I hear is that copper will, sooner or later, corrode. So we should open the pool while the deck is up, and repipe. That's all I know. But a very good question to ask.

(5) I'll try to hand-draw the jets and the skimmer -- but basically the back of the shallow end is where the two jets are currently (those are your returns I believe) and the skimmer is on the right hand side of my drawing, just past the dog leg to the deeper end. Your comments on positioning and wind are really helpful -- I'll take this back and see how we can measure those elements.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
6,100
Northern NJ
Let me ask you this - if you had just flat ground and no existing pool what is it that you would build? What combination of pool/spa and standalone hot tub would best meet your needs? Don’t constrain yourself with what you have. It sounds like your existing pool needs so many changes it may not cost much more to build the pool you really want.
 
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KDpoolguy

Bronze Supporter
Mar 5, 2017
450
Palm Desert, CA
Spot on Allen, and so sorry for your loss. I can speak to the overwhelming nature of these projects and I can already tell you are making your mom very proud. I think Allen is so right about focusing in on design, and amending your pool’s story. From the sounds and scope, you are looking at this as an opportunity to improve the pool and it’s true that just like a home Reno, anything is possible. In most cases, even with 50 year old pool shells, pool contractors can add or remove anything, it’s all cement and steel. Cutting in a spa is very doable, as is adding/deleting pipe and designing it how you want is about that story. An aside, if mom is gonna use a spa, an in ground makes me feel more comfortable for slip/fall risk as opposed to above ground or elevated.
Find a project manager you like, but start with a good design and let the technical specs (SWG, skimmers...) come later. I’ve been to the point of blueprints and approved plan checks only to find I focused too much effort on specs rather than the features and design I wanted.
Also, you’ll find there are many new tech advances for chemical management, but likely a pool maintenance contract is still in the future especially for that size pond. If Apple and Samsung got into the pool biz, pool guys would be very afraid, but unfortunately the tech just isn’t there yet, but it’s gotten a lot better in the last 20 years. My parents are getting older and manage their own pool and they’re adding automation, updated pumps and salt system soon, and these all make the pool much more usable for the end users—if only that— and not so much to put the pool tech outta business.

Oh, check out the Animal Planet show ‘Lucas Lagoons’ and it might give you inspiration and reality center. It’s like Flip or Flop for pools. :cool:
 
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Dutiful Daughter

Gold Supporter
May 12, 2019
37
Oregon
Allen -- that is a great question. I will ask. And yes, I am suspecting the cost when priced will be closer than we suspect given that we have to upgrade to meet code which also means

Separate question: what does it mean to "Re-establish new level height for pool."
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
39,199
Tallahassee, FL
If you are replacing your skimmers you can make the WATER of the pool deeper or shallower. This is done by installing the skimmer higher or lower than it was before. The water height should be in the middle of the skimmer opening.

OR it could mean there is some uneven places in the pool...................How does the decking looking around the pool? Are there any places it looks like the pool has dropped down or heaved up?

Kim:kim:
 

Dutiful Daughter

Gold Supporter
May 12, 2019
37
Oregon
Ahh. So I'm hearing from all of you that I really need to

(1) Talk to the lady of the house and figure out what she really wants.
(2) Go back and get a requote that includes explicitly new/repiping, SWG, probably a new filter (we have a sand filter -- no idea of age) and pump+ anything needed to bring pool up to current code.

Note to KD pool guy -- our overall landscaping plans are amazing -- they echo an amazing front yard landscaping. So the deck has to go regardless --and that therefore means we are going to do what we decide to do to the pool -- and then be happy for another 50 years!

Is is possible to have a spa that is not connected to the pool, but still uses the same filtration system? The whole "do we finally add a spa" discussion arise b/c the design plans have a fire pit that we just wont use -- but then this opened up a discussion of spa.
 
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PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
3,205
Damascus, MD
Do you foresee selling this house within the next 3-5 years? If so, it may not make sense to do all these pool renovations. It isn't likely you will get that money back when you sell. Going to the extreme and depending on your area, it might even be better off for resale to spend $5k to have the pool removed. You are looking at probably at least $25k to do all the renovations. If the hot-tub is the main thing you are looking for, I suggest buying a stand-alone hot-tub which are way better than a gunite tub and simply placing it where it is most convenient.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
6,100
Northern NJ
Note that you can recess a stand alone hot tub in a wood deck so that it can be as easy to climb in and out if as an inground spa.

You should go to a hot tub store with your mother and take a close look at the standalone tubs. Evaluate the comfort, ease of entry, operation of covers, and decide if they are an option or rule them out. They do allow all year round use of the tub.
 
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Geebot

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2013
822
Our pool was built 46 years ago and we did a full replaster and retile 3 years ago (it was the 3rd surface/2nd resurfacing. Our pool company recommended sandblasting and it couldn't have been easier. Took about half a day and they cleaned everything up spotlessly. The shell was cleaned of all plaster and we were happy to see it looked as good as the day it was poured, 43 years earlier.
 

KDpoolguy

Bronze Supporter
Mar 5, 2017
450
Palm Desert, CA
Is is possible to have a spa that is not connected to the pool, but still uses the same filtration system? The whole "do we finally add a spa" discussion arise b/c the design plans have a fire pit that we just wont use -- but then this opened up a discussion of spa.
Don’t do it. It’s possible, but in most cases it will require separate circulation systems. By connecting the spa and pool, the ‘spillover’ helps the spa circulation and to skim the spa surface and sharing circulation means one less body of water to separately manage the chemicals.
Do you need such a deep pool? Again, back on the design/‘story’, deep residential pools (diving) are not legal or advisable in many municipalities. An (unsolicited) idea is to backfill the deep end to a more usable 6-7’ depth and cut in the spa to a corner of the old deep end. You can do an ‘infinity edge’ spa and visually it just looks like all pool. Cool huh? Does the pool need to have a 40’ swim length? Perhaps a tanning shelf to the left-or-right or the spa. They’re so desirable and usable and add value if you do intend to sell down the line. Also, a shallower pool means your costs of resurfacing will be considerably less.
 

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