Contractor drained my pool before a rain storm and popped it.

luna87

Member
May 17, 2015
18
Munster, IN
Title pretty much sums it up. I have a ~35 yr old in-ground kidney bean shaped diving pool, approx 35,000 gallons, fiberglass sides with a plaster/concrete bottom.
The pool finish has been aging pretty noticeably recently so we hired a pool contractor to refinish the pool surface with an epoxy. It took us over a year to find someone that would even take on the job so we were thrilled when they finally got us on the schedule.

They drained the pool (mostly, left maybe a foot or two in the bottom of the deep end) a week ago today (Monday) and I was immediately concerned based on the fact rain was forecast on Friday and through the weekend. We called them and they explained that they were well aware of the weather but needed to get moisture away from the walls etc.

So Friday night we got about 12" of rain and Saturday morning my wife and I woke up to the sound of our pool deck exploding all around the perimeter of the deep end. There are now huge cracks (like I can stick my hand in them) along the concrete edge of the pool deck 5-6 feet long. The entire pool deck on one side of the deep end has lifted about 6 inches.
We called the pool guy in a panic to have him come and look at his mess. He assured us that once we fill the pool back up it will settle back in place and they'll replace the pool deck that is damaged. He drilled a hole in the middle of the shallow end of the pool to relieve the ground water underneath and sure enough a 2ft jet of water shot into the pool for several hours.

The pool has been full for about 48 hours at this point and has settled back a few inches but the worst parts of the deck are still several inches (floating) above the ground around it and I'm starting to notice some bulges in the fiberglass walls around where the deck damage is worse. There is about a 2 inch difference in height of return jets between the shallow and deep end relative to the water level now. When the pool guy was out today he mentioned several times about how this pool has "floated before" which makes me feel like he's setting himself up to weasel his way out of repairs later.

Is the pool really going to settle back to anywhere near where it was? Should I let this guy fix his mess or just get the lawyers and insurance companies involved? What kind of long term damage may have occurred that I won't know about until this guy is long gone? Pool contractor wants to let the pool settle a few more days while full of water then try draining it and drilling more holes in the deep end to try to get it to settle. I'm skeptical that the 200,000+ lbs of water in the pool is going to push it any further down than it already has and I don't see how the bulging fiberglass walls could possibly be repaired...

Photos:
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
9,755
Northern NJ
WOW!

I would notify your insurance company and see what they say and how they want to get involved. Lawyers can wait until you see how insurance responds.

I would be concerned about how the skimmer and return pipes flexed or cracked and what leaks may be hidden.
 
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luna87

Member
May 17, 2015
18
Munster, IN
Agreed, I have been very level headed with the guy so far and haven't mentioned lawyers or insurance companies to him. I want to give him a chance to see what can be done, but on the other hand I'm not willing to let him just slap some new decking in and call it good if there is serious structural/long term damage to the pool.

The plumbing surprisingly seems to be working. I don't see any air in the basket from either the skimmer or the main drain. Return lines are a little harder to tell if they're leaking at this point but at least they are ... returning water. All of the plumbing uses black poly pipes so maybe their flexibility over PVC will save me there?
 

Neto

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2019
177
Urbana, MD
Thats not good, I have no experience here but to me it sounds like the contractor should have drilled the holes while the pool was still full... Is he a licensed contractor? If so, I would start looking for his license and all the information now just in case he disappears. How about you contact a solid pool builder and pay them to do a written assessment?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,342
How close are you to a body of water and what is the elevation in relation to the pool?

The contractor should have used any existing well points or dry wells available or installed some.
 

luna87

Member
May 17, 2015
18
Munster, IN
How close are you to a body of water and what is the elevation in relation to the pool?

The contractor should have used any existing well points or dry wells available or installed some.
maybe quarter mile from a retention pond in one direction and a quarter mile from a manmade lake/pond in the other direction. Both of which are about the same elevation as the pool... things are pretty flat around here.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,342
The contractor should have been aware of the ground water level and should have taken precautions to address the risk.

It's a bad situation for sure with no easy answers.

I would schedule an independent service technician to evaluate and advise.

Do you know if there were any well points installed during the original construction?
 
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sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,366
Chapel Hill, NC
Wow, sorry to hear of your dilemma. Unfortunately, I don't think hat pool is going to sink any lower, or level out. And if it popped up 6" or more, you almost certainly have damage to the plumbing.

Just make sure you get every conversation with him in writing (e-mail, text message, snail mail). Then "I never said that" won't be an issue if it does come to blows!
 

Flying Tivo

Well-known member
Jan 24, 2017
1,104
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
I would try to see it on the bright side. It was an old pool and you wanted a renovation. Try to get out the most from insurance and contractor and do it all over again. You dont need to loose sleep over it.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,984
Pacific NW
I've never heard of a pool floating out then settling back down. Sounds made up.

Bottom line is, he screwed up not checking your water table.
I'd be talking to your insurance co to get things rolling.

good news is, I have soon pools that floated out much much worse than this one.
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Aug 10, 2017
1,254
Morris Cnty NJ
It wont settle back to where it was. I'd this was a concrete only pool you could rip the deck and redo plumbing to be level after cutting pool bond beam down or raising the low side up. Then use non shrink grout or a mud jack to fill voids. With fiberglass walls that pool in my eyes is toast. But I would have to inspect it myself to say that firmly
 

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
721
OV, CA
Wow... Maybe the contractor has the skill to fix it. Let him do his thing.. Meanwhile get ready to have a potential battle, contact your insurance, get information on the contractor, maybe start inquiring about a second opinion. I second AJ's response... WOW.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,342
When the pool guy was out today he mentioned several times about how this pool has "floated before" which makes me feel like he's setting himself up to weasel his way out of repairs later.
If it was obvious to them that the pool had floated before, you would think that they would have been extra careful about making sure that it didn't happen again.
 
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Neto

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2019
177
Urbana, MD
what are those chalk lines on the cracks? Looks like some of them where still there and when the pool pushed up, they got bigger...
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
5,397
Central MD
Stating after the fact that it previously floated sounds like a big fat three-letter abbreviation for a pool chemical (cyanuric acid).

It's actually a brilliant plan. "You see, this here pool has floated many times. The amazing part is that you can't tell because it all looks so normal. It will all look normal again as soon as I'm paid and out of the picture as well. I'm sure of it. Bye."