Can this pool marriage be saved? Renovate or demo.

Bam Bam

Gold Supporter
Sep 14, 2019
69
Columbia, SC
Hi TFPers,
Thank you for such a great and informative site. I found it about a year ago but signed up yesterday since plans are coming together. Warning: This is a long post with many questions. I appreciate any insights. Photos included as bribery. Sorry about the formatting - learning the site.

Brief Intro: I promised myself that when my trustworthy, reliable pool man retired I would demolish the pool. The week I learned he quit I called the demolition man who planned to stop by over the weekend. A few days before his visit the weather was perfect so I went out to trim bushes from inside the pool area. On my way out the gate the primordial soup on top of the pool cover whispered “drain me”. As I was pushing the solids to one side walking around the covered coping I stepped through the pool cover smashing my foot & breaking my ankle against the shallow end step. A more detailed story is available upon request.

While committed to couch jail I realized that the pool needed to be opened for the summer quickly or else I’ll have every Canada goose and bull frog moving in for the summer. The pool was opened and I have voluntarily enjoyed going into the big bathtub many times.

Reality strikes: The pool was built in the late 80s and likely replastered in late 90s by 2nd owner who also applied some kind of goopy blue paint that rubbed off on the Polaris wheels and anything and one that contacted the surface. In 2004 the pool and I cemented our long term relationship. Over the years the Polaris swallowed bits and pieces of plaster; the pool separated from the coping - more severely on the side where I had 2 huge oak trees removed; and other “aesthetic” and likely functional issues continue to lurk beneath the surface.

During my couch incarceration I surveyed the female only community facebook group about whether to keep the pool or not. The first and almost instanteous response came from a real estate agent who echoed my thoughts that it will make it difficult to sell my house if and when I plan to move. To my shock the remaining 24 said keep it!

Decision: If/when I sell the pool will either need to be renovated or demolished although both need to be done soon rather than later due to the continuing deterioriation of the plaster. The estimate for repair is $31K - prep work $2.4k; quartz plaster with blue &7k, removal of tile/new tile $5.4, removal coping/deck replace with travertine and concrete (cool deck coating) to fence line...

What I have learned from you and questions: The estimate is sketchy so I studied tons of threads this weekend. I have changed my goal somewhat. My inclination is to do a state of the art budget repair so I can add a heater although I’m not sure how much that will cost yet. So here’s my plan:

1. Plaster finish - What are the big differences between quartz (5 yr warranty) vs. marble (2 yr) finishes - longevity; application skill needed; pool chemistry perfection: etc.? I will require inorganic pigments and attach the detailed plastering guideline from TFP.

2. Coping - I would like a modern look. Any suggestions of type of material that could give that look, not too expensive, durable, not slippery.

3. Tile - I fell in love with glass mosaic tiles but TFP convinced me to minimize grout lines. I can forego the glass for glossy porcelain(?) and dress up the pool area with shiE34A1E73-969D-4E1C-B2FD-DFFB54728C09.jpegE7FF35B6-FE60-4E40-A662-D087DD1A7E94.jpeg1D862866-309E-41EB-8235-8DDE32B884B6.jpegC041B87F-CE31-4EF0-BBFA-23FCB81F32F1.jpegE34A1E73-969D-4E1C-B2FD-DFFB54728C09.jpegE7FF35B6-FE60-4E40-A662-D087DD1A7E94.jpeg1D862866-309E-41EB-8235-8DDE32B884B6.jpegC041B87F-CE31-4EF0-BBFA-23FCB81F32F1.jpegC258461A-B974-4D49-A80B-C1A08DC9CBFB.jpegE62423E5-E564-4E63-959C-1B693A08EC6F.jpegmmery decor instead. Any tile suggestions or other issues to be aware of ?

4. Water fill - What is meant by aggressive tap water?

5. Start- up issues - I assumed incorrectly from TFP that the PB would manage this. I will discuss this with PB. This PB has a pool service dept. Seems that I should have them do start-up and possibly ongoing maintence. Ideas?

6. Heater - Is this a pipe dream? Will I be able to cut pool costs to cover half a heater?

This is probably too much for one post. I’ll stop now so I don’t push anyone into the deep end!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,445
Northern NJ
Welcome to TFP.

I suggest you do a basic pool renovation with no expensive bling - standard white or colored plaster, porcelain pool tiles, poured concrete coping and deck.

What is the status of your equipment - pump, filter, valves?

How do you chlorinate the pool? What test kit do you use?

We believe pool owners should be doing their own testing and water chemistry management. Pool services never give your pool the care you will.

Aggressive waiter is water with pH, TA or CH outside of recommended levels. Recommended Levels - Trouble Free Pool
 

Bam Bam

Gold Supporter
Sep 14, 2019
69
Columbia, SC
Thanks AJW22 for vote of support on de-blinging.

BTW, former NYer here.

Nothing has been done to equipment since 2004. One pipe leak that was fortunately near the surface by the pool. PVC pipes, valves. Heyward Superpump 2HP, Noryl; Heyward Sand Filter. I can get specific models during daylight.

Pool is chlorinated manually - tablets I presume since I have seen them in the skimmer basket.
I guess I should take over maintenance. I have many good excuses not to - hate big bugs especially in shed where equipment is; too hot and humid; fear of something breaking and not knowing what to do or whom to call, blah blah blah.

Water is added manually as well. PB said he would install and autofill sensor.

The diving board is leaving the premises.

This summer I resolved a 14 year problem with the Polaris dying that didn’t involve buying another one as was done in the past. Seems that when the pool team open the pump basket window they don’t pay attention to reseating the gasket. I ventured in one time to clean out the basket, found the gasket in the basket, bought a new gasket, installed but kept doing same thing. Finally learned about Jack’s lube, applied it and much better gasket seating.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,445
Northern NJ
Consider putting in a SWG. You cannot continuously use tablets without having your CYA get too high.

Sounds like you are finding your way around the pool equipment. You will be fine taking care of it.
 

mguzzy

Gold Supporter
Jul 8, 2015
2,391
OV, CA
I'll second Allen's SWG addition.. and send us pics of your pool equipment so we can make suggestions.... In fact, your first post said you had too much for one post... au contraire, let us have it!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,048
Tallahassee, FL
But the BLING!!! Everyone needs some BLING!! Well not everyone but I do! LOL

The first thing I want to say is make sure to get at least 2 more quotes. If possible try to get at total of 5. Prices will vary greatly you will find. Make sure to check the company saying they will do the work. Yelp, nextdoor, google, BBB, etc.

You NEED to get your own test kit and let us know when you have it so we can start you on the path of a GREAT pool owner.

Heater-if you cover the pool a heater might extend your swim time about a month on either side of the warm months. Raypack has a great rep around here.

You BROKE your ankle by stepping through the cover?? OUCH and scary I bet! How is it now? I am rehabbing a twisted ankle now and it was not fun in the beginning as it happened right after I started back to teaching Kindergarten after the summer off.

Kim:kim:
 

norcalpool1

Silver Supporter
Sep 16, 2017
87
Silicon Valley,CA
If it is not leaking, you still have a plaster layer.

My pool looked very much like yours when I bought this home. The previous owners used the pool in this condition for about 5-7 years (cracks and gaps between pool wall and coping/concretes, some broken tiles..) Every time I brushed, plaster bits would break away from chipped-off spots, and there would be plaster dust everywhere. People used get scratched quite a bit on those rougher spots and surfaces. The pool was still usable and no leaks. I had the pool fully renovated because there were other problems with the pool (solar valve actuator not working, pool light not working, breakers were loose), but I think your pool only needs replastering and not a full renovation.

- Tiling is expensive. If my tiles weren't broken and chipped off at many places, I would not have replaced it.
- Your coping looks like it only needs minor fixes. I had my coping completely removed and put back in again (bluestone cut to fit a curve). That was also an expensive item (lot of manual labor)

Your pool could simply use just replastering (and fixes to remove the gaps & cracks at coping & deck) and nothing else and minor fixes and not an entire renovation. I would certainly add items to make the pool maintenance more convenient.
- variable speed/flow pump and automation-electronics! - saves me a lot of time and money.
- I don't have a convenient way for filling the pool (in summer) or for draining the pool (in winter). (This is my biggest problem right now as it prevents me from taking long vacations).
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,907
Chapel Hill, NC
You should be able to get it renovated for less than half they are quoting. Plaster, repair coping, maybe replace tile (for some reason, tile work is very expensive). Like I said in your other post, it'ss a beautiful pool and deserves to be renovated.

I'd ignore the realtor - they'll say anything to get a quick sale. Yes, a pool may put off a small number of potential buyers (people who fear pretty much everything on this earth), but the house will definitely sell in our climate to someone who just has to have a pool in our long, hot, humid summers!
 
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Bam Bam

Gold Supporter
Sep 14, 2019
69
Columbia, SC
Mguzzy - haven’t forgotten about the equipment photos. Probably tomorrow I can get out there while the creepy critters are still asleep and there’s enough natural light.

Kim - I remember my kindergarten teacher very well. I had fun but I’m sure she didn’t! I broke the lateral malleolus which isn’t a “weight” bearing bone but still needed 8 weeks non-weight bearing. Didn’t need surgery thank goodness. I had minimal pain while non-weight bearing but things started hurting and still hurt in odd foot and lower leg locations once weight bearing. I’ve got a lot of coping issues at the moment.

Norcalpool1 - thank you for the different perspective. I panicked last week when I realized that it’s almost October eventhough it’s still 1000 degrees outside and I need to decide when to close the pool. It dawned on me that I should get the repairs done before closing which meant getting contractors over ASAP (hate!). (The pool is closed because that’s what’s been done by the pool man probably because there is so much pine straw and leaf debris in the fall/winter then pollen in spring.). Turns out a PB lives in the neighborhood. He came over within an hour of my call. Floored by his accessibility I just figured this was probably as good as it gets - still naive after all these years. With the TFPers insight I have calmed down and looking at the project more rationally.

Keith - Thanks for complementing my pool especially after reading a comment yesterday (another thread) that burned my hard exoskeleton a bit.

If anyone would like to comment on this device I installed please let me have it. I have been perplexed for years with why the Polaris stops running then starts, rinse repeat. A few weeks ago I ventured into the skimmer basket which was covered by a heap of clogging and floating pine straw. Cleaned that out, cleaned out the pump basket, fixed the gasket and voila, the Polaris flew around the pool for a few days until it didn’t. I think the basket gasket problem is mostly solved; but deforestation is the only solution for the pine straw. Not going to happen.

I turned to Dr. Google and found the device pictured below that easily attaches to the skimmer basket but not in my pool. The basket kept getting pulled up plus I realized it would make it difficult to empty the basket so I closed my eyes and stuck my hand into the skimmer opening and found a great way to attach the hooks without interfering with the basket, etc. The skimmer wizard (not as seen on TV) works great. The basket hasn’t been clogged since installed. https://skimmerwizard.ca/

Of course I’m worried about creating some unintended consequence. I installed it upside down because the little bit of coping overhang interfered with the location of the front and side slots. They were below the water line which resulted in a lot of teeny icky debris staying on the top and not getting filtered out. Any concerns anyone?

Also - can anyone tell if the exposed beige surface is the gunite/concrete? That’s what I think it is but maybe I’m wrong.

Thanks!

2AD6FD32-5F35-4732-93B2-A20EE5FF7FC0.jpeg
 

Deb04

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 12, 2008
388
Seacoast, NH
Regarding your trepidation at maintaining your own pool...it doesn’t have to be a 100% DIY thing. I maintain our water entirely. However, we have the PB open and close (with no chemicals added by them.). Also, PB is on my speed dial for when something breaks. If it’s minor, I deal with it myself with the TPF ppl guidance. Anything big, it’s 800-pool-guy.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,048
Tallahassee, FL
Have you opened and looked into the basket right in front of the pump? It might need to be cleaned out as well.

When was your filter last backwashed? If you have not done it we can walk you through it.

That sure does look like the shell of the pool!
 

Pv2

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2013
746
south east Arizona
LOL that plumbing looks too familiar to this rural, ranch inhabitant, and I am not talking about my pool! we call that ranch-rigged. you have a small leak and the deposit is most likely salt and/or calcium. (and out here on the ranch, if there isn't a big puddle we assume the crust may solve the leak so we don't worry about things like that unless it is also corroding some metal)

it has been cut and repaired a lot of times, I would be tempted to redo it, PVC is pretty cheap, but of course where it is coming out of the concrete will be the worst and unrepairable spot, so better to ignore unless you have to replace the pump.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,048
Tallahassee, FL
The good news is there are unions on those pipes. Easy to take apart and replace if needed without having to cut any pipe. That stuff does look like salt yuck. What does it feel and smell like?
 

Bam Bam

Gold Supporter
Sep 14, 2019
69
Columbia, SC
I met with PB3 today. He came highly recommended, nice work and good communication. I entered and finished the discussion biased in his favor especially when he said it is not necessary to remove the entire decking, tile and replace as stated by PB1 and PB2. PB3 said he can fix the uplifted part by removing that section and laying new concrete.

I obtained other estimates from PB1 and PB2 - one written with site visit and PB2 verbal from photos - both stated everything has to go. The verbal estimated in the range 25K and written 30K (attached).

I felt a piano land on me when today’s PB3 texted me a quote of 19.6k for replastering and concrete section repair with additional 2600 to convert to SWGS including salt and remote.

We spoke over phone and I told PB3 I was confused because for only 10K more I can have an entirely new deck, coping, tile, etc. He’s coming by with the written estimate tomorrow. I asked how can this be? Then asked what dimensions he calculated estimate based on. He measured pool 20x40 (800 sq ft) and 350 ft2 for concrete section Which includes the diving board section. The written estimate measured 35x15 (525sq ft) and 517 sqft for concrete.

PB3 said he wants my business so he said that he’ll include the swgs in the 19.6. I haven’t gotten any literature yet but he said it would be Hayward.

Now I’m a bit upset. The written quote attached was crumpled before today! Anyway, I asked about replacing the existing at least 18 year pump and sand filter and he said no included. I tried to find out on line if swgs comes with pump but literature isn’t very clear about that.

I have some other issues brewing in my boiling brain:
1. will the decking be painted all around;

2. how to handle existing broken tiles (i have some leftovers in garage) - one tile fell off last year that I reattached with underwater pool caulk

3.recaulking/grouting existing tiles;

4. filling in gap above tile on other side of pool

5. Based on TFP posts the bottom drain is not needed. Should I ask to have that sealed?

Questions for TFPers:

1. What do you think about the estimate variations? Like I said for $10k more I could have a brand new pool area.

2. If no pump with SWGS should I change the pump now too?

3. Can you suggest any other questions/issues to address?

Thanks.
 

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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
47,048
Tallahassee, FL
SWG do NOT come with a pump. They do need a pump to work though. Is your pump a 2 speed pump? You do NOT want a single speed pump. You want at least a 2 speed pump. If you wallet is fat then you can be a Variable speed pump.

I would jump on the "whole new pool area" for 10K! That is a lot of work and things will look so much better!

Kim:kim:
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,445
Northern NJ
Your crumpled quotes pricing looks very good. If that PB is reputable then go with it.

The pump and SWG are a very minor issue. They are not things that should influence your choice.
 

ManiacalMama

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2017
132
Antelope, CA
We just had our pool replastered 4 weeks ago, we opted for just tile cleaning instead of replacement (replacement would have been about $2500), I'm not sure if you have extensive tile damage or not, but if it's just a few popped tiles that might be something to consider.

In your crumpled estimate, they quoted for travertine coping. I don't know much about coping/decking, but wouldn't a concrete coping cost less?

As far as the gunite showing, I had a couple places where the plaster had broken away and the gunite was exposed and it was a dark gray color (we thought it was black algae for the longest time), it looked like those large spots around your main drain in your 4th picture down on your first post. I'm thinking those beige looking areas are where the paint wore off, or literally just beige stains (my old white plaster had a lot of beige looking discoloring). You can KIND OF see what I was coming from in my reno pictures here: Small reno with cabo shelf

I vote to keep your main drain, it came in handy when clearing plaster dust after the replaster, and you never know if your skimmer is going to clog up with debris. Also, we lose water like crazy in the summer to evap with no autofill, so for me it's extra insurance that our pump won't burn up.
 

Bam Bam

Gold Supporter
Sep 14, 2019
69
Columbia, SC
Thank you ManiacalMama for your non-maniacal advice.

You are correct. The dark spots are the gunnite. I spoke with PB after your post and he said yup. So I asked what’s the other discoloration. He didn’t know but could be calcium(?). It’s pretty rough when stepped on.

Well all that is now moot. I decided to sign up to have the only damaged concrete section removed/replaced, tile cleaning, tile replaced where needed (I have some spares in garage if I can only find them), replaster with basic coating.

PB spent about 1.5 hours this morning removing the concrete and found that indeed it was settling that heaved that damaged section and not roots. If only they didn’t add that step up feature when the pool was built!!!

Apparently concrete is very expensive these days. The PB is amazed at how much it costs too.

PB said he will finish the job in 2 weeks. He and a colleague are doing it themselves except they have another guy doing just the plaster. This is one of the major reasons I decided to sign the contract with him on Friday. So many times after agreeing contractors send subs, etc. and rarely show up on the job site.

Today’s work in the attached photo. E6198B14-284B-4E77-973E-F67D46153BB7.jpeg
 
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