Advice re: replacing brick coping - is it necessary in our situation?

vmacmore

Active member
Sep 17, 2021
27
Orange County, CA
Hello TFPers...I'm new here, but finding TFP SUCH a valuable resource in our upcoming pool resurfacing. Seriously, it's awesome, so thanks to all who help out here.

Our story:
Pool is 40 yrs old, everything original. We've lived here for last 30 yrs & had it acid washed once. It was covered w/ an automatic (Poolsaver) cover for about 15 yrs, which helped preserve it, but you can see from photos, it's needed new plaster for a l-o-n-g time! But, most things home-related took a backseat to our kids' school/sports and now college expenses (pool was in very back seat), so...that's my excuse 🤷‍♀️ Now, #3 graduates next year & pool is moving up. We will resurface, remove/replace tile, bring the drains up to code, replace lights to standard incandescent, (we don't feel color is necessary) and add a baja shelf. We've had 8 bids in the 26-32k range. Here in SoCal there are many contractors to choose from and Yelp has been super helpful. We've even visited two homes from folks I've met via messaging on Yelp, so it's a great resource. We've narrowed the list to 3; no contract signed yet.

My current dilemma is the red brick coping. We actually like it, even though most pool remodels these days seem to be removing it. Brick is woven throughout our yard, both front and back. We feel it fits well with our CA ranch home and exterior brick accents appear on homes throughout our neighborhood. None of the coping bricks are loose. There are two separate 1 ft sections under steps where the tiles have come off and the bond beam looks cracked behind. Our 4th quote said the coping along that 9 ft section needs to be replaced, bc the bond beam is cracked. None of the other companies had said that, but we brought it up with the last 4, and they started tap, tap, tapping the bricks and said "Ehhhh, it's prob fine." The replacement cost was reasonable ($450) but they said the bricks could NOT be saved. They would "try to match as best as psbl." Well, I've been on an exhaustive hunt for another project to match these bricks and the color combo isn't found anymore (I think they are Higgins). I ended up having some Mexican adobe bricks cut to match the modular size of another style so I could combine the two to get the same variation, but the sizes are slightly off, which is fine for the other project. It won't work with the coping. So, we can come close ~ but it won't look exactly the same ~ and it's in the most noticeable part of the pool.

And that hammer test? I think I failed it. It seems to depend on where you tap the hammer, how hard, the angle you hold it... Yes, some kinda of sound hollow, but it's not like porcelain tile bc I know exactly how a loose or hollow tile can sound. This isn't as easy. Plus, when I hammer around the rest of the pool - I hear some with more of a hollow sound than in any of these "suspect" ones along the steps. So, now I'm thinking maybe the entire brick coping needs to be replaced. But...must we? None of them are loose, they match the yard, we like them, and I'm sure that's another 5k... How long can a brick coping last?

Does anyone have any experience with 40 yr old brick coping in warmer climates? These pool contractors are contradicting each other and it's stressful not knowing who is right.🤔

Many thanks for any advice,
Vicki
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,903
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Did any of your contractor talk about why you have the horizontal cracks in your bond beam and what the root cause is so they don't return?

You don't have a proper expansion joint between your pool and deck. The pool and deck should be two separate structures that are able to move independently with an expansion joint separating them. Otherwise over time the movement of the3 deck puts pressure on the pool bond beam and eventually cracks it.

The contractor who said the brick coping should be removed is probably the only one who is planning on fixing the bond beam crack the correct way. The others are probably just planning on sticking some hydraulic cement in the crack to seal it. You should discuss exactly what methods each contractor is planning.

There is a good chance you will find other bond beam cracks when you remove the rest of the tile.

Installing a proper expansion joint should be part of the scope of work.

All that means the rest of your brick coping should be removed for those repairs. Maybe there are some sides where it may not be necessary but you will only know once they get into the work.


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vmacmore

Active member
Sep 17, 2021
27
Orange County, CA
Allen, thanks so much! I think we do have an expansion joint tho...Here's a view from above showing the mastic between coping and deck. We actually just had that replaced a year ago. Is that what you're referring to as an expansion joint? My husband actually thinks the cracks might not be in the bond beam, but in the mortar used to adhere the tile. I guess we will know once we get all the tile off. And please ignore the dirty bricks! Leftover residue from the automatic cover. We will power wash once we're finished.

Thank you again!

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,903
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Yes, that is your expansion joint.

Your bond beam could have cracked before you repaired your expansion joint last year.

I don't agree with your husbands wishful thinking. There is a root ause for WHY those cracks formed. They don't form just due to some tiles popping off. It takes a lot of pressure to crack concrete. The concrete bond beam cracked which caused the tiles to pop off.
 

AQUA~HOLICS

In The Industry
Jul 19, 2021
163
Southern California
Vmacmore, the bricks on the wall with the missing tile can be removed and re-used if done properly. Once the tile on that same wall is removed you are going to find that crack goes from one end of the wall to the other because over the 40 years the expansion joint has become compromised and is no longer a empty void. This has to be addressed or it will just be a matter of time and it will reoccur. Is there a second expansion joint against the house? If not I would seriously think about having one installed because that’s a lot of concrete movement between summer and winter here in SoCal. One more thing to think about in the remodel is have the old plaster removed by sandblasting and not air chiseled, too much Shotcrete/Gunite is removed when pointed tips are used with chisels and plaster is always not completely removed as when sandblasting is used for a stronger bond between the old shell and the new plaster, hope this helps and sorry for rambling on about other subjects, Ray.
 
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vmacmore

Active member
Sep 17, 2021
27
Orange County, CA
Vmacmore, the bricks on the wall with the missing tile can be removed and re-used if done properly. Once the tile on that same wall is removed you are going to find that crack goes from one end of the wall to the other because over the 40 years the expansion joint has become compromised and is no longer a empty void. This has to be addressed or it will just be a matter of time and it will reoccur. Is there a second expansion joint against the house? If not I would seriously think about having one installed because that’s a lot of concrete movement between summer and winter here in SoCal. One more thing to think about in the remodel is have the old plaster removed by sandblasting and not air chiseled, too much Shotcrete/Gunite is removed when pointed tips are used with chisels and plaster is always not completely removed as when sandblasting is used for a stronger bond between the old shell and the new plaster, hope this helps and sorry for rambling on about other subjects, Ray.

Thank you Ray, I'm not convinced the bricks cannot be saved, but when I asked about it, they said, "No, the bricks will be damaged upon removal" but I think that may mean they just don't want to bother with a time-consuming removal. I think you're right; that crack will prob run all along the wall. As for a second expansion joint against the house, no. But the concrete was poured all in separate forms (see pic below). Thanks for the sandblasting suggestion however that may be difficult since none of the 7 bids I have would use that method. One uses water blasting (you prob know who if you're in SoCal) but everyone else would chip out. I don't think I can start over with more bids using sandblasting at this point. I'm going to address reusing the bricks with whoever we use though. Thank you again!


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